Before I start construction, I drill out the main gun and exhausts. This is tricky on the main gun, even using a 1mm drill; there is barely room to fit a 1mm hole in the end of the gun. Which kind of makes me wonder if the diameter of the gun isn’t perhaps a little underscale?
Turret construction is straightforward and all parts fit together very well. I sand a small groove either side of the join between top and bottom halves and cement in place a small piece of soft plastic rod to simulate the weld between these parts. I also attempt to add some texture to the turret sides, but this isn’t particularly successful.
Then I join the upper and lower hull parts. I was a little disconcerted to see that there was a pronounced gap at the front, but this is covered by a small piece that forms the nose of the front hull so it doesn’t matter. Other than that, all the hull parts went together very nicely and no filler at all was required here or on the turret.
I then fixed the fuel tanks and other bits and pieces on to the hull. Some of these (the grab handles, for example) are really tiny and I spent even more time than usual on my hands and knees on the floor when parts pinged out of the tweezers and off into the middle distance.
One thing that I really appreciate on this kit is that the sprockets, idlers and roadwheels fit onto separate parts that are then joined to the hull sides. After checking fit, I left these off so that I can assemble the tracks more easily before fitting everything to the hull sides. Adding the roadwheels takes a little care – these are not a tight fit on the spindles and you do have to be careful to get everything aligned and straight.
Everything then gets a couple of coats of Tamiya Olive Drab including some highlights and an attempt at some basic colour modulation. Painting also clearly shows that the turret weld is visible.
Then, I add the decals to the turret using Vallejo Decal Fix and Decal Softener. This is quite challenging – the white cross on the turret top is made up of several separate decals and these do not fit precisely. Be prepared for some fiddling and touching up. I then give everything a coat of matt clear varnish.
Then, it’s on to the tracks. I paint these first, including the separate track links and I’ll touch-up them later. The inner surface gets a coat of fairly dark gunmetal and the outer surfaces and internal track horns are given a coat of lighter gunmetal. Then everything gets a brown acrylic wash.
The roadwheel tyres are painted with a fairly light grey. At least this is easy on this kit because there is good definition and distinction between wheels and tyres. I add an oil wash using Abteilung Shadow Green to pick out details on the roadwheels, sprockets and idlers and finally a brown wash to represent dust and dirt.
Then I assemble the tracks. The individual links are very small and there are fourteen each of two different types; with and without internal horns. These must be added alternately and the process of assembly takes some care. However, this is made much easier both because you can do this before joining the tracks and roadwheels to the hull sides and because the individual track links are accurately moulded and fit together positively. I have read some other reviews that note that, when assembled, there is a small gap left – all I can say is that I didn’t find that though I did use every individual link.
One small issue is the fit of the track links on the sprocket. On the T-34, the sprocket is at the rear and it doesn’t have teeth that engage with the track. Instead, the internal horns on the track engage into rollers inside the centre of the sprocket. All this is accurately modelled here, but I glued the sprockets into place before I started assembling the track links. This meant that on one side, the sprockets did not align with the track horns on the individual links. I got round this by cutting the track horns off on several of the links, but I now realise that it would have been better to leave the sprocket free to revolve until I had finished assembling the tracks.
Then I give the turret and hull an oil wash using the same Abteilung paint used on the wheels and sprockets. I try to use this to give definition to the various grilles and intakes on the rear hull – it’s moderately successful but on reflection, I think that a darker wash here would have worked better.
When I’m done with that, I give everything a final coat of clear matte varnish with a tiny spot of brown paint added to make everything look a bit dusty. Then, all I have to do is add the spare track links, towing eyes, saw, tow cable and the small brown pieces on the right side of the hull (I don’t actually know what these are, so I follow the colour scheme and paint them rusty brown).
And here is the finished result.
After Action Report
This was a straightforward build with no real problems. There are some very tiny parts and assembling these takes care. Getting the white cross on the turret to look half-way decent takes time – I almost gave up on this and used the other set of decals, but I like the way this turned out in the end.
I am happy with the way that the turret weld looks but less so with my attempt at adding texture to the cast side-walls. This looked all-right during construction but you really can’t see it on the finished, painted model. I would also have liked the option to model the driver’s hatch open, but this certainly wasn’t a show-stopper.
The process of building the track and link sections is tricky, but it is made much easier on this kit by having the sprockets, idlers, roadwheels and tracks in separate “pods” that are assembled separately and added to the model when complete. I do like the way that the finished tracks look and, to me, their appearance is notably better and more to scale than most rubber-band style tracks.
Overall, this is a very, very nice kit of the T-34/85. It’s accurate, nicely moulded and everything fits together well with no need for filler at all, though assembly is a little tricky due to some very small parts. The finished model looks like a T-34/85 and at this scale, that’s probably all you can ask. The fact that this is a late version also provides lots of scope for alternative post-war markings and colour schemes.
If you want to model a T-34/85 in 1/72, I really don’t think you will find a kit that is substantially better than this one.