MiniArt T-44 Review

The T-44 is a medium tank first produced near the end of the World War II by the Soviet Union. It was the successor to the T-34, offering improved ride and cross-country performance and much greater armour. Designed to be equipped with a powerful 85 mm main gun, by the time it was fully tested the T-34 had also moved to this weapon. Both tanks offered similar performance, so introducing the T-44 was not considered as important as increasing T-34 production. Fewer than 2,000 T-44s were built, compared to about 84,000 T-34s. Although the T-44 was available by the end of the war, they were not used in combat. Design work on a slightly enlarged version of the T-44 began during the war and a prototype was produced in 1945. This newer design entered production in 1947 as the T-54/55 series of medium tanks, the most-produced tank of all time.

Prior to this kit the only 1/35 option for a T-44 were resin kits by Accurate Armour and Hobby Planet, so if you want a plastic T-44 on your shelf you now have an option. The box is a standard top opening 385 mm x 240 mm x 80 mm – that’s about 15″ x 9″ x 3″ in imperial. Everything except the instructions are all in one package inside. What they’ve done is put a lot of small sprues into one bag, then placed 2 full-size sprues and 2 half size on top. Then add on the PE fret, which is sandwiched between 2 pieces of cardboard, a small bag containing the decals and clear parts and a bag containing 6 small sprues of track links. Then put all those parts inside another sealed bag and put them in the box. The box is pretty full, so things are not going to be rattling around inside. There are a lot of sprues in this kit, more than you would usually expect, with most of them being small in size. There are 65 frets, so you are going to need to be a bit more organised than usual. The total parts breakdown is:

  • Total parts 768
  • 659 plastic parts
  • 94 photo etched parts
  • 15 clear plastic parts

The instructions are in a 20-page A4 booklet with 62 building steps over 11 of the pages. There are 4 pages of decal options, 2 pages showing the layout of those 65 frets and 2 pages give a brief history of the vehicle and colour references. The first 4 pages and last 4 pages are on glossy paper and in colour while the middle pages are on regular paper in black and white.

The paints used in the colour call outs are by Ammo. On page 2 they are listed with a colour chart, colour name and Ammo reference number; twenty-one colours are listed.

The details on the sprues are very good and show fine details, as you can see in the photos below. The engine has some very fine details on it and the turret has a cast iron textured surface to its sides and bottom. Overall the sprues look as good as you will get anywhere else.

This kit has a mostly full interior, just like the SU-122 that MiniArt announced they had in development last year. So, that being said, the first 8 steps in the instructions build the V-44 engine from 36 parts. I noticed that the parts are identified by both sprue letter and part number. All the parts have colour callouts that show the Ammo reference number used. Steps 9 to 11 build the torsion bar suspension from 43 parts. Step 12 puts the engine and some of the interior parts onto the floor of the hull. Steps 13 and 14 build the side walls with 16 parts, followed by another 4 steps that bring most of the lower hull together, with ammunition for the main gun and machine guns stowed inside the vehicle. By the time you get to step 21 the bottom and interior of the lower hull are pretty much together and the wheels are mounted. The 3 maintenance panels over the engine are separate, so you can mount those open to show off the engine compartment. Steps 22 to 29 are adding PE grills and external details to the lower hull, with 35 individual track link pairs (70 parts in total) per side, while steps 30 to 32 adds the mudguards. From step 33 to 35, we put the last parts of the top of the hull together and seal in all those details. Oddly there’s a full engine and a lot of interior detail in the hull, but there’s nothing at the front under the driver’s hatch. You have the option to display the driver’s hatch open, but there’s nothing under it unless you look in at an angle to look further back under the turret. Step 36 starts on the turret and up to step 44 we’re mostly putting the breech together. The turret itself comes in 4 parts, top, bottom and 2 sides halves. Having the 2 side halves will make it a lot easier to add all the interior details that attach to these 2 parts – about 16 pieces, some of which are themselves made of a few parts before being fitted to the interior turret wall. The turret bustle is mostly taken up with a rack for 16 pieces of main ammunition. The interior of the turret roof has 13 parts attached, not counting 15 more parts that make up the 2 hatches, which can be displayed open or closed. The final step, step 62, brings together the 5 main parts of the turret and puts them on top of the hull. Overall the instructions are clear and well drawn and I like that all the parts are given colour references.

The  colour info and colour profiles were done by Ammo. There are 13 options, 2 of which are for ‘what if’ captured German vehicles. The Russian options are green with different decals and the German options are whitewash over Russian green and dunkelgelb over Russian green. Whatever you chose, Russian green is going to figure in it.

So, first impressions are a highly detailed kit, wiht lots of interior detail, that will build into a nice model of the real thing. The only thing I see missing is a driver’s seat and controls so you can display the driver’s hatch open. Failing that, position it open and place a standing figure in it and problem solved. I don’t think it will be too long before we see the aftermarket manufacturers produce a metal barrel and further details for this kit, hopefully a driver’s position and perhaps a transmission. I’m looking forward to putting this one together.

References for your build

Many thanks to MiniArt for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International

Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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