Home > Reviews > Russia > Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37011; T-54B Early Production Medium Tank - Interior Kit

T-54B Early Production Medium Tank - Interior Kit

MiniArt, 1/35 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell


Stock Number and Description Miniart 1/35 Scale Kit No. 37011; T-54B Early Production Medium Tank - Interior Kit
Scale: 1/35
Media and Contents: 1,434 parts (1,272 in grey styrene, 120 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 penultimate T-54 variant; excellent details on parts; choice of IR fit or no fit as well as two sets of road wheels
Disadvantages: Still no transmission or radiator/fan assemblies
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all Soviet Cold War and “54" fans


During WWII the Soviets received a number of M4 Sherman tank variants fitted with vertical axis stabilizers. This intrigued them even though they had problems using and maintaining the devices. After the war they began research into them with the goal of eventually creating two-axis (vertical and horizontal) stabilizers. In the case of the T-54, the first version to be fielded was the T-54A with a single axis “Gorizont” stabilizer in 1956. Later, in 1957 they came up with the T-54B with the two-axis “Tsiklon” stabilizer as well as a full infrared night combat system with two searchlights and night sights for the gunner and commander.

A total of 1,628 T-54B tanks were built at three factories - Nizhniy Tagil, Omsk and Kharkov. 73 of those built at Kharkov were also fitted for the PST-54 floatation device, but early in 1958 the first OPVT underwater driving sets were issued for the T-54B. This is the discriminator between the early (non-OPVT) and late (OPVT fitted) tanks. There were also 180 T-54BK command tanks fitted with an R-113 VHF FM set like all others as well as an R-112 HF AM set and onboard generator plus antennas and other fittings. 

The tanks also had the bore evacuator introduced on the T-54A as well as the new “Starfish” cast wheels that were designed for the T-54A. But due to a surfeit of early “Spider” cast wheels the tanks could be seen with either one based on where and when they were built.

This is another fine step in the sequential issue of Soviet tank kits from Miniart and follows on the heels of their T-44, T-44M, T-54-1 and T-54-2 kits with a T-54-3 (Model 1951) due shortly. And it does have a scary amount of parts; realize that this large box does not have one wasted cubic centimeter of space inside it! 565 parts are carried over from previous kits and 744 are new as are both etched brass frets. 

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. 

Miniart provides very nice assembly and finishing manuals with their kits and this one is typical of their materials. Four full color finishing options form the end pieces as well as four images of the tank with and without the IR systems installed. and the assembly manual (directions) is in the center. A map of the 94 (!) sprues in the kit and two etched brass frets (many are duplicates) makes finding parts a bit easier. 

As with earlier kits 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. This has the revised belly pan caused when the turret floor was introduced on this version. The tank has 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. Note that the center section is designed to rotate with the turret when attached; with some finagling it could be left out and attached to the turret base later. 

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.

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. 

The engine, firewall and left side come next, followed by the road wheels. Happily Miniart gives you TWO complete sets of road wheels with fittings and grease caps so they can provide a set for another project. The glacis and headlights are also mounted 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. Note that the kit is very complete; part M11 is the dismounted cover for the main searchlight when used at night and stores on the right fender. Stowage is very complete as well. (Note that during the run of the tanks they began to be fitted with the twin 200 liter auxiliary fuel tanks as the tanks had the TDA internal smoke generation system; if you have spare tanks from another model you can install them on this model.) 

The turret in this version has a lot more interior details such as the parts of the “Tsiklon” stabilizer system as well as a full compliment five ready rounds and a radio set. It even provides for one round in the breech. The SGMT machine gun and ammo box are nicely done and the complete mount and gun requires 15 parts. The gunner’s seat includes ammo for the SGMT and guards so is quite an impressive subassembly. 

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

You have options of either installing the night operations sights or storing them, and this is covered in Step 75. Two different commander’s sights are provided as well as the gunner’s night sight. While this is clear the installation of the night sight is not well documented and only the optional cover plate is shown in the directions; the necessary parts for use with the night sight are called out however. 

Someone on the internet noted the mounting of the searchlight and was surprised that it did not look like the later articulated mounts, being fixed solidly to the mantlet instead. This is correct for all T-54B production tanks as well as many early production T-55 Model 1958 tanks. Miniart gives you two options for it, either installed on a “naked” mantlet or to one with a canvas cover and boot for the searchlight mount. 

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 100 steps over 25 pages. Note that in Step 100 it shows the tiedown rails for the fording equipment being installed; this is not necessary on an early production tank. 

Finishing options for four 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 236 has no insignia; Bort Number white 371 has oak leaves and is noted as serving with the 2nd “Taman” Guards Motorized Rifle Division in the 1960s; one tank has Guards badges but no markings and white parade trim; and Bort Number white 145 is show in winter camouflage for winter combat operations. 

Overall this continues what at the moment are the definitive T-54 kits and even though having a heady number of parts are mostly styrene and well laid out. As noted if you are not an interior fan an exterior only kit is coming later. 

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
Ge 21 Interior components, gun components
Gf 23 Interior details 
H 6x7 5x 100mm rounds, guard
Ha 18 Fuel lines, covers, components
Hb 24 Engine block, mounts, details
Hd 8x4 Jounce stops, details 
Hf 19x10 OMSh track links 
Hj 2 x 3 Ammo cans
Hk 6x10 “Spider” wheel sets, torsion bars
Hm 6x10 “Starfish” wheel sets, torsion bars
Hn 6x4 100mm round, ammo can, air tank, details
Ho 10x4 Road wheel arms, details 
J 20 DShKM machine gun 
Jb 14 Interior details 
Jc 16 Clear styrene
Je 23 Clear styrene 
Kb 1x2 Tow cables (complete) 
Kd 17x2 Drivers, idlers, idler mounts
Ke 27x2 MDK smoke canisters, hull details 
L 19 Turret, hull roof, new belly pan, details 
M 36 T-54B fittings, mantlet, engine waterproof frames, details 
N 51 Turret floor, stabilizer components, interior details 
Na 41 Turret interior, 100mm rounds, details 
P 55 Gun guards and details, radio, turret details 
Pa 13 Searchlights
Pb 12 Glacis, lights, wave breaker
R 43 T-54A/B gun barrel, turret base details, turret roof, fuel lines
S 40 T-54A/B hull sides, fenders, firewall, details
T 12x2 Hull details, shovel
Ta 4x2 Idlers, driver outside ring
Tc 16x3 Turret hand rails, hand holds, torsion bar mounts
Td 4x3 Shock absorber fitted road wheel arms
PEa 95 Etched brass
PEb 25 Etched brass