Home > Reviews > Russia > Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37007; T-54-3 Mod. 51 - Interior Kit

T-54-3 Mod. 51 - Interior Kit

MiniArt, 1/35 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Stock Number and Description Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37007; T-54-3 Mod. 51 - Interior Kit
Scale: 1/35
Media and Contents: 1,193 parts (1,038 in grey styrene, 113 etched brass, 42 clear styrene)
Price: US retail price US$79.95
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Very nicely done and extremely highly detailed kit of this main production T-54 variant; excellent details on parts
Disadvantages: Still no transmission or radiator/fan assemblies
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all Soviet Cold War and “54" fans


There is an old adage that “Third time’s the charm” and in the cast of the T-54 medium tank that was certainly the case. Even during the initial stages of the development of the T-54 tank in 1945 NII-48, the armor design institute, called for giving the new tank a turret with the ballistic coefficients of the IS-3 turret, namely a spherical shape with few openings and no shot traps. The Model 1947 (“T-54-1") failed badly at this, but the second model, the Model 1949 (“T-54-2) did provide a new design frontal aspect of the turret that did. But the latter kept the large shot trap bustle at the rear of the turret.

Finally, in 1951 the designers produced the desired turret shape in what appeared to be a half-eggshell shaped turret that fit nearly flush with the turret roof. The turret had a slight bulge to the left to accommodate the gunner and an offset gun to the right but finally fit the required shape per NII-48. The new tank also had two new design 95 liter welded fuel tanks at the rear of the right fender plumbed into the fuel system and new stowage bin arrangements and other details,.

At least 10,126 line tanks and 215 T-54K Model 1951 command tanks were built before production switched to the T-54A with single axis stabilizer in 1955-56. These tanks soon became the iconic Cold War instrument of power projection for the USSR and were seen in action in Hungary and Czechoslovakia as well as sold to third world customers like Egypt and Syria.

This is the “hat trick” version of the original T-54 tank from Miniart and joins both their T-44 kits and T-54 kits as another excellent offering. Again, it has a daunting number of parts with not one wasted cubic centimeter of space inside it! This kit shares more parts with the later T-54B Early Production kit than the T-54-1 and T-54-2 kits.

Once more the kit has a very complete interior from the bow to the rear of the engine, but again 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.

Miniart provides excellent assembly and finishing manuals with their kits and this one continues that legacy. Five pages of full color finishing options form the end pieces. As is the usual offering a “road map” of the kit’s s as well as A map of the 83 sprues and frets in the kit (many are duplicates) makes finding parts a bit easier.
As with earlier kits assembly begins with the V-54 engine. Note that while most of the kits contain the same sprues the parts used are always a bit different. 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. This has the same layout as the -1 and -2 kits with four lever-type shock absorbers that go on the 1st and 5th road wheel sets. 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. Also the turret floor and side panels are installed here.

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” 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 right side of the hull with the “stellazh” racks is assembled first and then installed to the belly pan assembly. While the rounds are shown fully painted once in the rack all 20 of them only have their bases exposed so painting is not necessary unless you leave the roof loose for display of the interior when finished.

The engine, firewall and left side come next, followed by the road wheels. The glacis and headlights are also mounted here. This tank uses the original “Tsiklon” air cleaner consisting of some 22 parts including air lines to the injector system. The glacis (upper and lower) may also be fitted with the numerous external fittings for mine clearing equipment but note that it is keyed to the finishing directions.

The rear plate now includes plastic mounts and connectors for the MDK-5 smoke canisters which makes them easier to install.

The rear deck vents are open with PE grilles under them but again there is nothing under them. This kit uses a different set of fittings from the earlier ones or the T-54B kit.

The OMSh links are slightly different from past models but note that the directions indicate that 90 links are needed for each track run resulting in 10 spare links.

Note that this tank uses the original version of the 95 liter tanks which are welded together from four parts (shell, base and two ends) vice the better known two-part pressed steel versions. This is correct for an initial production tank (changed during capital rebuilding).

The turret in this version has a different interior layout from the T-54-2 kit and is not as full as that in the T-54B Early, but that is not to say it is not packed with details! It has the earlier 10R-26 radio set with booster plus the original turret drive system as well as a full compliment of five ready rounds and one round in the breech. The SGMT machine gun and ammo box are nicely done and the complete mount and gun requires 15 parts. Even the TSh2-22 sight consists of eight parts.

The turret roof correctly reflects the non-IR version of this turret with only viewers and a day periscope for the commander and MK4 viewer for the gunner and loader.

The DShKM machine gun mount is excellent and consists of some 24 parts including an ammo feed of 12 rounds.

The rear of the turret may be fitted with the stowage tarp but also includes the foul weather hood for the driver (here either folded and stored or opened up for installation on the driver’s hatch). Assembly takes “only” 89 steps over 24 pages.

Finishing options for no less than seven tanks are included as are specific decal markings; all are in base 4BO protective green. These include: 2nd Guards Motorized Rifle Division (GMRD), Hungary October 1956 (white diamond, bort number 815, glacis fittings); 2nd GMRD, Hungary October 1956 (white diamond, bort number 536, glacis fittings); 2nd GMRD, Hungary October 1956 (white diamond, bort numeber 324, no fittings); 1st Panzer Division, NVA GDR, on exercise 1961 (white square, bort number 154, glacis fittings); 23rd “Taman” GMRD, early 1960s (bort number 329, glacis fittings); 23rd “Taman” GMRD, winter 1962 (whitewash over 4BO green, bort number 322, no fittings); Iraqi Army, Baghdad, 1963 (protective green, painted out bort number 405, Arabic markings with Army insignia, white circle trigon, and white 4/716).

Overall this completes the main course of early T-54s less an A, a late B, and any command vehicles. While they do have a heady number of parts are mostly styrene and well laid out. An exterior only kit is coming later.

Note: for some reason this is the hardest one of the T-54 kits to find in the US with most suppliers shown “in stock soon” or “on backorder”. I ordered this one from a company called Scale Hobbyist in New Hampshire and it apparently was his last one in stock. The only other company I found offering it was Hannants in the UK and that would have been US$97 with shipping.

Sprue Layout:

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 
G 23 Driver-mechanic’ compartment, SGMT machine gun
Gd 21 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 3 Ammo cans
Hk 6x10 “Spider” wheel sets, torsion bars
Ho 10x4 Road wheel arms, details 
J 20 DShKM machine gun 
Jb 14 Interior details 
Jc 16 Clear styrene
Je 23 Clear styrene 
Ka 10X2 ZIP bin, fuel tank shells 
Kb 1x2 Tow cables (complete) 
Kd 17x2 Drivers, idlers, idler mounts
Ke 27x2 MDK smoke canisters, hull details 
Ma 6 Floor, hull roof, driver’s hatch, details
Na 41 Turret interior, 100mm rounds, details 
Pc 7 Floor, interior details 
Q 12 Turret
S 40 T-54A/B hull sides, fenders, firewall, details
T 12x3 Hull details, shovel
Tb 21 Engine deck details, commander’s hatch
Tc 16x3 Turret hand rails, hand holds, torsion bar mounts
Td 4x3 Shock absorber fitted road wheel arms
Te 6 Engine deck, left side turret roof, gun mantlet
PEa 95 Etched brass
PEb 24 Etched brass