Wednesday, March 14

Build Guide Pt I: 1:35th scale T-55A EARLY Mod. 1965 from MiniArt - Nothing dull in this Hull...

Andy King has already given us his In-Box review of the T-55A EARLY Mod.1965 kit From MiniArt in 35th scale – Today he gives us the first of two parts of his build of the kit - he shares how it goes together and what to know when making your own kit…

In-Boxed: T-55A EARLY Mod. 1965
From MiniArt
Kit No #37057
1:35th scale
Series: Military Miniatures
Box size: 386x240x80 mm
Parts QTY: 898
Product Link on the MiniArt Website

Instruction download link

In-Boxed: 1:35th scale T-55A EARLY Mod. 1965 from MiniArt 

With the in-box review done and being suitably impressed with the contents, the real proof now lies in how it actually goes together. Following the instructions, you detail the underside of the hull floor in step one but after dry fitting a couple of the suspension mounts (parts TC9) I began to have misgivings about the way the hull fitted together as it comprises six parts, the plastic used is quite soft too and there was a huge amount of flex in the floor.

The hull is a multi-part assembly and I would strongly recommend you glue it all together before doing anything else.

With that, I jumped to step five and glued the interior parts to the side hull pieces…aaaand promptly took them off and drilled the six holes each side for the track guards before re-gluing them as it’s impossible to drill these from the outside.

The rear hull plates (A3 and A6) and front glacis plate (A2) were cut from the sprues, cleaned up then using masking tape to hold everything in place the hull was glued together using Tamiya Extra Thin liquid cement followed up with superglue to reinforce the rather flimsy joints.

Masking tape helps keep it all together while setting.

One thing you need to be aware of with the soft plastic and positions of the sprue gates on parts, it is VERY easy to break delicate details and something I found out very quickly. Also, you need to decide at the very start which version you are doing as you need to make holes for the mine-clearing equipment mounts.

The internal firewall helps a great deal to keep the hull rigid.

With the hull firmly set I returned to step one and added the suspension mounts as with the hull sides in place I had something to glue them to rather than in thin air if you followed the instructions.

Step 2 and 3 concern the swing arms and torsion bar suspension and although these are workable, with the plastic being soft there is too much slack and your model will bottom out so it’s best to set the height and glue them. Also, I had to drill out the holes that the torsion bars pass through as these were very tight fitting and I actually broke a couple.

These two pics below show the number of parts that are included in the swing arm assemblies alone. The torsion bars don’t really work that well in practice and are better left off and the swing arms glued into place after setting the suspension height.

Steps 4 through to 10 are mostly concerned with adding the detail on the hull sides, and although I added some parts such as the track guards, I left the lights off and added these near to the end of the build as these would only be knocked off.

You have to be very careful removing the road wheels from the sprue as it is easy to destroy the raised detail, I used a micro chisel to help with the clean-up.

Parts DA24 and DA27 are the wiring conduits for the lights and horn and these gave a good indication of how the fuel lines will be later on as during clean up they broke so these were replaced with 0.6mm copper wire.

Step 11 deals with the glacis plate but as I was leaving off the mine clearing fixings I only had to add the tow hooks, again leaving the splash board, headlights, and brush guards until later.

Steps 12 to 19 mainly deals with the road wheels, idlers and sprockets. Here you have to be very careful, as although the wheels are identical there are some subtle differences in detail as the two front wheels (Step 13) have a slightly different hub cover pattern compared to the rest of those in step 12.

You might be wondering what the difference is between the road wheels as they are exactly the same but if you look closer the armoured hubcaps have a different bolt-head pattern.

The axles go through the wheels and fix into the swing arms and I could see issues here with wheels being out of alignment due to the short axle length, also the axles are not deep enough at the top and will fall back into the wheel making it impossible to glue them in place. In the end, I cut off the wide ends and glued the axles to the swing arms instead, that way I could leave the wheels off until it came to fit the tracks.

When the axles had set firmly I glued the swing arms into position using a straight edge to make sure all the axles lined up. When dry I loosely fitted the road wheels and it soon became apparent that wheels 3 and 4 on the right side of the hull were actually touching although those on the left side were OK.

These images show just how close the wheels are on stations 3 & 4 on the right hull, those on the left hull were OK.

The solution was to actually cut the fourth suspension mount out of the floor and side hull and move it back about 0.5mm. With the mount out of the way, I shaved off some material from the back edge of the hole left by the suspension mount and after constantly test fitting to see that enough material had been removed the mount was then glued back into place. The fact it happened at all may have been down to me but for anyone else building this model, it would be worthwhile checking this out.

To fix it I chopped out the suspension mount to remove some material from the back edge... 

...and then then fixed it back into place - much better! This may have been down to me but it’s worth checking on your own model and construction method just in case.

Going back to step 19 and carrying on through to step 26 the instructions deal with the upper hull and after gluing the parts to the under sides of the engine grills in step 23 and 24 all the plates for the upper hull and engine deck were glued into place before adding any detail.

As with the hull the rear engine deck parts were all glued into place before any detail was added.

Once these were set in place I added the etch grills and details, taking great care to remove parts DB38 and DB39 as it would have been very easy to break these two parts. The mesh fitted perfectly into these two parts however for part DB38 I would recommend using the round end of a scalpel handle (without the blade obviously) to get the mesh to conform to the radius otherwise it won’t sit down on the engine deck properly. There are some grab handles supplied in etch form but they were too flat so I replaced them with 10amp fuse wire instead.

Gluing the etched parts onto the engine deck grills.

The right grill has a radius on one side and you really need to push the etch into it otherwise the assembly won’t lie properly on the deck. I used the blunt end of a scalpel for this (minus the blade of course).

All the etched grills in place! There is the hull all made up, next, the turret and the rest of the assembly

The second, final part of this build will be with you next week, then a painting and weathering guide after that, so keep tuned for some lovely details to come

 THIS is what she looks like when finished...

Andy King 

Many thanks to the guys at MiniArt in Ukraine for sending me the kit. Stay tuned for the second part of this build here at TMN.