Revell 1/72 T-34/85 (03302) In-Box Review and History


It’s time for a review of another Revell kit and this time it’s the 1/72 T-34/85. This kit was originally released in 2002 and this boxing in 2016. It’s a similar kit to the 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.H Tiger from the same company that I built recently and, like the Tiger, this one includes tracks made of sections and individual links.

I was mightily impressed by the Tiger and keen to try another similar Revell kit so, here it is. Is it as good?


Many Russian tank units in the 1930s were equipped with light tanks or Bystrokhodny Tanks (BTs), relatively small, lightly armoured but fast tanks, many of which were capable of operating on both wheels or tracks. However, experience during the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) and in an undeclared border war with Japan during the same period had shown a need for a heavier tank with a more powerful main gun.

In response, design on a new ‘Universal Tank’ began in 1937 at the Kharkov Komintern Locomotive Plant in Ukraine under the leadership of designer Mikhail Koshkin. The new tank, initially designated A-32, was a combination of tried and tested technology combined with innovation.

It used coil-spring Christie suspension similar to that used on the BT series of tanks, but employed a wholly new, wider track design which gave it a phenomenally low ground pressure. This made the new tank less liable to being bogged down in mud and soft ground.

This 1941 photograph shows, from the left, the Russian BT-7M, A-20, T-34 Model 1940 with the L-11 main gun and T-34 Model 1941 with the more powerful F-34 main gun. All these Russian tanks have two-man turrets and all lack a commander’s cupola.

Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

The engine was a powerful V12 diesel and main gun was an L-11 76mm with a muzzle velocity of around 2,000 ft/s (600 m/s). The new tank had frontal armour that was 45mm thick, but this was also sloped at an angle of 60°. The notion of sloping front armour to make it harder to penetrate was relatively new in the late 1930s and the new tank was one of the first medium tanks to use this.

Koshkin elected to call the new design the “Tank 34” because that was the year in which he first started thinking about this design. Production of the T-34 began in September 1940. There would be four distinct version of the T-34 with the 76mm main gun; the Model 1940 was the first production version. This was replaced by the Model 1941 equipped with the more powerful F-34 76mm gun and thicker frontal armour. The Model 1942 incorporated several minor modifications to simplify manufacture. The final version was the Model 1943 and this incorporated for the first time a new turret with a commander’s cupola. Retrospectively, these four first versions have become known as the T-34/76, as all were equipped with 76mm main guns, but these designations were never used in Russian service.

A T-34 Model 1943 at the Panzermuseum in Munster

Image; baku13 via Wikimedia Commons

In March 1944, a new T-34 equipped with an 85mm gun began production. The main gun was derived from the M1939 (52-K) anti-aircraft gun and was a direct response to the appearance of the German Tiger tank equipped with an 88mm main gun, also derived from an anti-aircraft weapon. However, this version of the T-34 also had a larger turret that, for the first time, allowed the use of a three-man turret crew. Three models of T-34/85 were produced during the war; the Model 1943 was produced from February to March 1944 and featured the 85 mm D-5T gun. The Model 1944 was produced from Match 1944 to the end of that year and featured the 85 mm ZiS-S-53 gun. The Model 1945 was introduced in late 1944 and produced until the end of the war. It also featured the 85 mm ZiS-S-53 gun, an enlarged commander’s cupola and an electric traverse system for the turret.

T-34/85 tank captured during the Korean War in Waegwan, Korea, 1950.

Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

The T-34/76 had some serious flaws. The two-man turret placed an unacceptably high workload on the commander. Even the improved F-34 main gun was not capable of penetrating the frontal armour on some German tanks. Reliability on early versions was truly appalling, mainly due to flaws in the manufacturing process. Documents from the Armored Directorate of the Red Army show that the average factory-fresh T-34/76 lasted less than 200 kilometers (124 miles) before requiring a major overhaul. Russian tank units reported operational losses of anything from 30% – 50% of their T-34/76s due to breakdowns.

With the development of the T-34/85, with its three-man turret, lethally effective main gun and improved reliability, the T-34 finally became one of the best tanks of World War Two. More than fifty-five thousand of all models of T-34 were produced during the war and in T-34/85 it remained in service around the world long after that conflict ended.

What’s in the Box?

This kit models the T-34/85 Model 1945 and the box contains three sprues in light grey plastic, full-colour instructions and decals.

The mouldings are very crisp and nicely detailed. There does not appear to be any flash at all and the detail is very good indeed. The roadwheels in particular are a real joy – very nicely mounded and accurately reproduced including the characteristic smooth rubber tyres, lightening holes and twelve spokes of the “Full Spider” T-34/85 roadwheels.

The upper hull also has good and sharp detail. However, I’m not so sure about the mesh screens on the rear hull – we’ll see how these will look when they’re painted, and the driver’s hatch and the flaps over the driver’s vision slots are moulded closed.

The turret is very impressive. The turret on the T-34/85 Model 1945 had a couple of small but notable features. A larger cupola extended close to the edge of the turret top and this necessitated a small lip beneath the cupola on the left side. On the same side, the turret has an odd rectangular bulge about half-way along – this was to provide space for a new electric turret traverse system. Finally, the turret has a distinct casting seam running along its lower edge with an extra section welded in just above this by the mantlet. You can see all that on the photo below.

Now look at this picture of the Revell turret.

The lip under the cupola is there as is the bulge for the turret traverse mechanism. The join between the upper and lower parts in the kit follows the line of the welding seam on the original and the additional, welded-in front section is a separate part. To me at least, that sort of care and attention is impressive and precisely what I like to see. I cannot honestly see how you could produce a better representation of the T-34/85 Model 1945 turret at this scale.

There are some very small parts, the grab-handles for the turret and hull, for example. Getting these off the sprue without damaging them may be a challenge, but it’s good so see that they are included.

The instructions are the usual full-colour, three dimensional Revell offerings and they look perfectly clear though the process of building the track-and links sections is a little vague. Nothing in the instructions or on the box gives any information about the T-34/85 or notes that this is a Model 1945, though I believe that’s what it is due to the turret detail.

The decals and colour schemes are for a tank of an unknown unit in the autumn of 1945 or a tank of the 7th Tank Corps, 55th Tank Brigade in Berlin in April 1945.

You know what? I’m really looking forward to building this kit. It exudes quality and care and I believe it will build into a very nice T-34/85 Model 1945. Which is not to say that I am capable of building it into a reasonable model, but there is certainly nothing in the kit to make this impossible.   

Would You Want One?

Short answer; yes. The only very small criticisms I can see are that the driver’s hatch is moulded closed and that the small flaps over the vision slots on the hatch are also closed, so the driver of this tank isn’t going to be able to see where he’s going! The turret and mantlet mouldings also don’t have any casting texture and the join between the upper and lower turret mouldings is too smooth to show the weld in this area. The exhausts and main gun will also have to be drilled out, but that’s typical of most small-scale tank kits other than those using slide-moulding technology.

Despite these very minor flaws, this looks like another cracking Revell 1/72 tank kit with no serious issues and lots of positive features. It may be almost twenty years old now, but I am not sure that there is really much out there that is significantly better than this in terms of a small-scale late T-34 kit. Being an accurate Model 1945 also means that this was the same type of tank used, for example, in the Korean War and during wars in the Middle-East, which gives plenty of scope for alternative colour schemes and decals.


Dragon 1/72 T-34/85 Mod. 1944. Released in 2005, this features the usual Dragon crisp mouldings, a separate driver’s hatch with interior hatch detail, PE parts, DS rubber-band style tracks and twisted wire tow-cables. The slide moulded exhausts and gun don’t need to be drilled but, don’t put that drill away yet because the double roadwheels are moulded with the lightening holes closed and these will need to be drilled out.

Zvezda T-34/85. Released in 2011 this is one of Zvesda’s “snap-fit” range. It has fewer parts than the Dragon or Revell kits and it is missing small details like grab-handles, but it is actually not bad in terms of detail and it has plastic, not rubber-band, tracks.

Related Posts

Revell 1/72 T-34/85 (03302) Build Review

Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.H Tiger (03262) In-Box Review

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