Home > Reviews > Russia > Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37003; T-54-1 Soviet Medium Tank - Interior Kit

T-54-2 Soviet Medium Tank - Interior Kit

MiniArt, 1/35 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Stock Number and Description Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37004; T-54-2 Soviet Medium Tank - Interior Kit
Scale: 1/35
Media and Contents: 1,045 parts(938 in grey styrene, 84 etched brass, 23 clear styrene)
Price: US retail price US$79.95
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Very nicely done and extremely highly detailed kit of this seminal Soviet postwar medium tank; excellent details on parts
Disadvantages: Still no transmission or radiator/fan assemblies
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all Soviet Cold War and “54" fans


Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37004; T-54-2 Soviet Medium Tank - Interior Kit; ; retail price US$79.95

Advantages: very nicely done and extremely highly detailed kit of this developing Soviet postwar medium tank; excellent details on parts

Disadvantages: still no transmission or radiator/fan assemblies

Rating: Highly Recommended


While the T-54 Model 1947 was the first version accepted for production, the Red Army still looked at it as a “wet” design that needed a lot more development. It had a large number of teething troubles and TsNII-48 was very unhappy with the design of the turret. They noted it had huge shot traps at the front and rear which could deflect shells into the base, either blowing the turret off or jamming its traverse in the race.

It was also thought to be overweight at nearly 39 metric tons and had too high a ground pressure, as well as some faulty electrics and a very poor fire suppression systems (PPO). As a result production was halted in January 1949 for new modifications to be made and accepted for production. These included a new turret design where the front section was now thicker and came down to the top of the hull as well as had a very narrow opening for the main gun in its new “pig snout” mantlet; the offset to that was the telescopic sight and coaxial machine gun now needed their own dedicated ports in the front of the turret.

There were only two major external changes to the design: one was the use of new flat 95 liter external fuel tanks with two of them located on the right fender at the rear. The other was the introduction of a wider OMSh cast steel track link which would then serve for 21 more years as the standard medium track of the Red Army. (The RMSh tracks designed for Article 167 and Article 172M – the T-72 – would replace them in 1973). Also added was a built-in cupola ring for the DShKM AA machine gun integral with the loader’s hatch.

Production restarted late in 1949 and a total of 1,061 tanks were built before the next model, the definitive Model 1951, entered production in that year. Unlike the Model 1947 tanks, these were kept in service along with the Model 1951s and also were sold in small numbers to client states. As they were always subject to capital rebuilding, some may be seen in small armies today with later features such as “starfish” wheels and RMSh tracks as well as more external and auxiliary fuel tanks.

This is “Part 2" of the new Miniart full court press on postwar Soviet medium tanks and is the full equal of the previous T-44, T-44M and T-54 Model 1947 kits. While this one is the “With Interior” version, a non-interior kit of the T-54 Model 1949 is now listed for later release as No. 37012.

The factory and most Soviet armor historians refer to them by year of production, but NATO originally called them the T-54-1 (Model 1947), T-54-2 (Model 1949) and T-54-3 (Model 1951). That is where this kit got its name.

The kit does have a very complete interior from the bow to the rear of the engine, but once more there is no radiator, transmission, fan or oil cooler provided. The original has a flip-up rear deck and a flip-up radiator that permits access to the “guitara” transfer case, the transmission, fan drive, fan and oil cooler as well as other systems at the rear of the engine-transmission compartment.

The model is quite accurate for an original production Model 1949, and as compared with the previous Model 1947 kit (No. 37003) replaces 421 parts with 337 new mold parts specific to this kit. Both use the same etched brass and clear styrene parts.

Miniart provides very nice assembly and finishing manuals with their kits and this one is typical of their materials. Six full color finishing options form the end pieces and the assembly manual (directions) is in the center. A map of the 63 sprues in the kit (many are duplicates) makes finding parts a bit easier.

Assembly begins with the V-54 engine which is quite similar to the V-2-44 engine of its predecessor. No wiring or cabling is provided or shown and while easily doable will take a manual for the engine to match!

Next is the belly pan and torsion bars. The tank is a full production version so it has four lever-type shock absorbers that go on the 1st and 5th road wheel sets (early ones did not have them). Road wheel arms consist of either four or five parts each (based on whether or not they have a connector for the shock absorbers).

The driver’s compartment starts with the skid control levers and shifter, which has an etched brass gate for all six speeds (5 forward and reverse). Cable runs are molded together for simplicity.

The tank has both interior and exterior side panels, some of which need holes drilled in them and are called out in the directions. The complete “stellazh” fuel tank/ammo rack for the front of the fighting compartment is included as well as all 20 rounds and safety locks. Additional rounds rack on the sides of the hull. The engine is fitted with a six-part air cleaner assembly during installation. Note that as the design of the hull changed so does the model, and Miniart notes the sides will have to be chamfered in some places to match the Model 1949's modified hull (they cut corners on the original to get the weight down from 39 to 36 metric tons.)

Road wheels look good and while they have mold lines on them are not as pronounced as those on the Takom T-54/55 kits. Wheels are one piece with separate hubs and bearings. Hull assembly is very straightforward; here the rear deck vents are open with PE grilles under them but again there is nothing under them. Note that the directions indicate that 90 links are needed for each track run, so there are 10 leftovers.

All of the tanks (fuel and MDK smoke canisters) attach with etched brass straps and separate tie-down loops. Some may need to be annealed (heat treated) to make them more flexible however.

The turret has a full compliment of equipment to include five ready rounds and a radio set as well as various boxes for kit. New racks and fittings are provided in this kit to allow for the new turret design over the Model 1947.

During assembly the gun may be left moveable or more details added to it which fix it in elevation. These are clearly identified in the directions. Sights are very complete with the gunner’s direct fire sight (telescopic) consisting of seven parts. All viewers are separate parts as well.

The DShKM now uses the cupola mount so part of the parts needed for the Model 1947 mount are dropped.

The rear of the turret may be fitted with the stowage tarp but also includes the foul weather hood for the driver (albeit folded, not opened up). Parts for one in the erected position is included though. Assembly takes 90 steps over 17 pages.

Finishing options for six tanks are included as are specific decal markings; all are in 4BO protective green, and all are for the Soviet Army in the 1950s: Bort Number white 649 with diamond insignia; Bort Number white 003; Bort Number white 332; Bort Number white 84; Bort Number white 534; and Bort Number white 415 with callouts for fuel, oil and ZIP painted on the respective bins and tanks.

Overall this is again a truly stunning kit and one which is mostly styrene and well laid out. As noted if you are not an interior fan an exterior only kit is coming later.

Sprue Layout:

A 46 Hull, torsion bar mounts, details
Ab 38 V-2 engine, mounts
B 53 Gun details, ammo rack, interior details
Ba 21 Gun barrel, interior side panels, glacis, details
C 36 Final drives, engine bay internal details
Ca 35 Mud guards, rear plate, radiator louvers, details
Cb 9 Rear vent frames, details
F 20 T-54 Mod 1949 Turret, turret deck, turret race, fenders, details
G 23 Driver-mechanic’ compartment, SGMT machine gun
Gc 18 Turret ready racks, interior details
Gd 22 Fuel lines, details
Ge 21 Interior components, gun components
Gf 23 Interior details
H 6x7 5x 100mm rounds, guard
Hb 24 Engine block, mounts, details
Hd 8x4 Jounce stops, details
Hg 19x10 OMSh track links
Hj 2 x 4 Ammo cans
Hn 6x4 100mm round, ammo can, air tank, details
Ho 10x4 Road wheel arms, details
J 20 DShKM machine gun
Jb 14 Interior details
Jd 29 Turret exterior details
Je 23 Clear styrene
K 31x2 Idlers, interior details
Ka 10x2 ZIP bins
Kb 1x2 Tow cables (complete)
Kc 9x2 100mm round, torsion bar mount, road wheel arm mounts
Kd 17x2 Drivers, idlers, idler mounts
Ke 27x2 MDK smoke canisters, hull details
PEa 72 Etched brass
PEb 12 Etched brass