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T-34/85 Mod.1945 Plant 112 (37065) 1:35


Mike

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T-34/85 Mod.1945 Plant 112 (37065)

1:35 MiniArt via Creative Models Ltd

 

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The T-34 was Stalin's mainstay medium tank that was produced in huge numbers by sometimes crude and expedient methods, to be thrown into the fray against the numerically inferior German tanks on the Eastern Front, sometimes even before the paint was fully dry. The designers combined several important advances in design such as sloped frontal armour, wide tracks to spread the ground load, and the ability to cope with the harsh Russian winters without freezing to a halt, which was a problem that affected the Germans badly after the initial successes in the summer of Operation Barbarossa. The part count and cost of the tank was continuously reduced during production, with plants turning out up to 1,300 per month at the height of WWII. The initial cramped welded turret was replaced by a cast turret with more room, and later the 76mm gun was replaced by a more powerful 85mm main gun in the T-34/85 with an enlarged three-man turret, giving even the Tiger pause for thought.

 

The T-34/85 with the composite turret was manufactured from the summer of 1944 at Krasnoye Sormova plant #112 on the Volga River, with a simplified gun in the turret in the shape of the ZiS-S-53, as well as some other changes.  The Composite turret was electrically operated, fitted with a flat roof that had a pair of hatches, one of which was the enlarged commander’s cupola, and with two mushroom vents on the roof to clear fumes from repeated firing.  There were some messy welds between the various castings, which gives them a rough appearance 1that belies their capability.

 

 

The Kit

This is a new Interior Kit boxing from MiniArt’s recent T-34 line, so the box is loaded with sprues of all shapes and sizes.  In total there are seventy-five sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a Photo-Etch (PE) brass fret, a small decal sheet and instruction booklet with colour profiles inside each of the front and rear covers.  Many of the sprues will be seen in various other boxings of the T-34, notably the other Factory 112 boxings that we have reviewed here, which is one of the reasons for their use of smaller sprues that make their kits so eminently modular.  It makes the process easier and more cost-effective for them, and makes the likelihood of receiving a wide array of options to choose from more likely, which with the rate we’ve received them for review over the years seems to be the case.  As always with MiniArt, the design, detail and crispness of moulding is excellent, and the inclusion of PE brass in the box is one less thing you need to fork out additional modelling funds for.

 

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Unsurprisingly, construction begins with the lower hull.  The floor is decked out with four H-shaped tubular fittings for the suspension on each side and a lower escape hatch, then the engine firewall near the rear, and a pair of pressurised bottles and an axe in the lower glacis.  The low-level ammunition storage boxes are made from several parts and is laid in the floor under the turret, with a transverse bar running under the forward crew.  The driver’s equipment area is built, adding levers, pioneer tools and foot pedals with actuators into position, and a rack of plate-mags in a tray behind him.  The seats are each made from separate pads that share identical back and arm components, fixing them into position on opposite sides of the hull, plus a drum on the left side.  The lower hull walls are next, with their Christie-style suspension springs contained in channels up the inside face, drilling a pair of holes near the final drive housing to mount a pair of bump-stop pads later.  Additional channels are installed on the inner faces, interspersed with tanks, the inner final drive fairing, and additional suspension detail inside the front.  Another layer of detail is placed over the sides, adding ready-rounds, extinguishers and small equipment boxes, plus more ammo on a rack near the bow gunner.  The lower hull components are brought together while the engine block is being built, comprehensively depicting the detail of the V12 block, cylinder heads, manifolds, ancillaries and support frame under the sump, building the radiators and fan before the cylinder and two radiator panels are inserted into the rear hull, the engine longitudinally mounted, the radiators facing out along the sides of the engine bay at an angle, linking them with lengths of hose between them and their input/output points on the engine.  A bulkhead with a large circular hole in the centre is fitted to the centre of the engine bay, filling the space with the cylindrical fan unit made earlier, then adding supports to the rear end, then building the transmission in the rear compartment with twin cylindrical clutch units, one on each end, followed by linkages and the dynamo.  Twin cylindrical airboxes are made from three parts each, fixing them to the inner face of the bulkhead, their shapes contoured to fit around the fan component.  Two thick exhaust hoses snake from the rear to the bulkhead, linking the manifolds to the rear of the vehicle.

 

The upper hull begins with the ball-mount and DT Machine gun for the bow, with an extending stock for the gunner’s comfort.  The gun is left to swivel inside the port, so be sparing with the glue when you complete this assembly.  The glacis plate accepts the gun from inside after fitting of the armoured outer protection, fixing an armoured hinge over the driver’s hatch, towing hooks on the glacis, and some combined PE/styrene lugs above them.  The upper hull deck and sides are moulded as one, and the sides have several holes drilled out before they are applied to the hull, with a few nubs cut from the exterior on the way.  The glacis plate it fitted to the front, then the assembly is glued to the lower hull, fitting a triangular profile tip across the front, and a row of five track links as combination spares/appliqué armour.   At the rear the engine bay is still exposed, which is next to be addressed by adding a frame around the rear bulkhead then attaching a choice of three rear panel that have a circular inspection panel in the centre, drilling some holes for some variants, removing raised detail for another, with a pair of armoured exhaust covers over the short exhaust stubs, and inserting the circular hatch in the centre in open or closed position.  The engine deck is covered with vents and louvres that are added with a central inspection hatch, then the completed assembly is fixed over the engine bay.  Additional armoured covers with louvred grilles are fitted over the large flush louvres later, then the suspension swing-arms and stub axles are installed under the sponsons, putting the idler axles in at the front, and the small pads mentioned earlier next to the drive sprocket housing.  A stowage box is made from two styrene parts with PE brackets and shackles, adding it to the right fender behind a dozen tie-down shackles, and three longer rails on the sloped side of the hull.  The driver’s hatch is a complex affair, layered from two thicknesses, adding two periscopes, a bullet-splash shield, an actuator support bracket, and six locking parts, plus a pair of armoured domes over the periscopes on the outside.  It can be fitted open or closed, depending on your choice of short or long ram on the hull interior, which also has PE detail.  Another stowage box, four more rails, a 2-man saw, and brackets for the spare fuel drums are attached to the left fender, making up two more fuel drum supports on the right, and mounting three rows of track grousers where the tie-downs were glued earlier, stacking six together and using PE straps to hold them down.

 

Three slim fuel drums are built from two halves with end-caps, a filler cap and two PE grab-handles on the ends, also making up two additional short examples, and a further two drums with wire grab-handles moulded-in.  The mudguards with PE detail parts are glued into place at the front, with simplified flaps that have PE inner lips to the rear.  Depending on which rear bulkhead you chose, different brackets and choice of drums are used, strapping them onto their carriers using PE straps, which are shown being made in a scrap diagram nearby.  The longer side tanks are similarly attached, placing two on the right and one on the left of the engine deck, and adding a pair of shovels on a turn-buckle and two PE straps.  Ten pairs of road wheels with smooth tyres and separate hub caps are built with two pairs of drive sprockets and idler wheels to complete the running gear.  At the same time the main towing cables are made from styrene towing eyes, but you will need to supply two lengths of 100mm braided cord or wire, so make sure you have some on hand when you begin.

 

Now for the tracks.  The T-34’s wide tracks were simple and easy to produce, as well as efficiently spreading the vehicle’s weight and helping prevent freezing of the drivetrain in cold weather, of which Russia has more than its fair share.  There are two different track parts, one flat, the other with a guide horn in the centre, and both have exquisite casting details that includes the ID numbers on both parts and indeed both faces.  They have four sprue gates on each link, attached on the curved hinge-points, making them easy to cut back flush and then sand smooth with a sanding stick to ease assembly and gluing.  I made up a short length as a test for a previous boxing, and was finished in a few minutes with a little liquid glue thanks to their close tolerances that keep them together while you glue.  Each side needs 72 links, which equates to 36 of each part, and once you get into a rhythm, it won’t take too long to complete the task, wrapping the still flexible links around the curved sections and holding them in place with tape and other clamps etc. to obtain the correct sag on the top run once the glue has cured.  The detail is so good it’s almost a shame to weather them once painted.

 

The turret starts with the breech, which is built up from dozens of parts over several steps, with another 7.62mm DT machine gun that will be mounted coaxially in the mantlet, with the trunnions fully depicted inside.  The turret ring is inserted into the lower turret from within, and the main storage for the bustle ready-rounds is built from five frames that are attached to two angled brackets at the rear, painted, then have the shells with their decal stripes applied after painting inserted tip first, adding locking levers to nubs on one side of the frames.  This is inserted into the bustle floor with a stop-board preventing them from falling out, alongside a radio box and some spare magazines for their personal weapons, which are added next with a canister and the rotation mechanism for the turret.  A small round fold-up seat is added to the ring, inserting a bracket for another seat across the interior, following which the mantlet is installed, then the breech is slipped into the rear of the mantlet and joined by the sighting gear, then the coax gun in a two-part bracket.  Another seat is suspended across the remaining space on three PE straps, The roof is detailed inside with periscopes, wires, lights, vents and other details, applying armoured mushroom shrouds and a short aerial to the exterior in front of the commander’s cupola space, then it is glued to the turret sides, which are moulded as one, briefly prepared by drilling out several holes beforehand.  The sidewalls have an interior skin that is first detailed with more ready shells on brackets, spare ammunition magazines, and other small details, then they are glued into position.  The commander's cupola is more the complex of the two hatches, made from two rings that has five periscopes inserted in the centre, then it is glued to the roof, creating the hatch frame with a rotating periscope in the fixed forward section, and a simple hatch that can be posed open or closed, adding two small parts inside once it is in position.  The Gunner/Loader’s hatch is a simple circular panel with a hinge on one edge, and this too can be posed open or closed as you wish.  There are addition details added to the hinge from within, differing in layout between open and closed.  The turret halves are then joined, adding tie-downs, a DIY canvas roll that is attached with three PE straps, or if you don’t feel the urge to make a canvas, just leave the straps dangling, or put something else in the straps instead.  There is a rectangular cover added over the portion of the breech still visible at the front of the turret, then the slide-moulded gun tube is slotted in, with the mantlet cover slid over the barrel.  Rails and a few small parts are fixed to the turret sides, then the completed turret can be lowered into the turret ring in the hull, remembering that this kit doesn’t have toy-like bayonet lugs to hold the turret in place, so you must remember this whenever handling your model after completion.

 

 

Markings

There are seven decal options in the box and they’re all shades of green, which is what you’d expect from a Soviet era-example made in '45 and used after the war.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • 16th Armoured Brigade, Korean People’s Army, 1950
  • 16th Armoured Brigade, Korean People’s Army, 1950
  • Polish People’s Army, 1950
  • Polish People’s Army, 1950s
  • National People’s Army of DDR, Early 1960s
  • Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, Early 1960s
  • Operation ‘Whirlwind’ Soviet Army, Hungry, Budapest, Autumn 1956

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt/gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

The T-34 played a huge part in Soviet military operations both during WWII and after, finding its way into the arsenals of many Soviet-friendly nations following the war, especially once it had fallen out of frontline use in Soviet forces, at which point it became a bargain basement tank for their neighbours and affiliates.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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