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US T34 Heavy Tank (84513) 1:35


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US T34 Heavy Tank (84513)

1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd




Toward the end of WWII, when Allied tanks were encountering German heavy tanks such as the King Tiger and Jagdtiger, the American military put projects in motion that would be capable of matching them and dealing with German heavy armour (or Soviet for that matter), whilst remaining safe thanks to their own thick frontal and side armour.  The designs were designated T29 and T30, both of which were almost identical save for the guns mounted in their turrets, sporting 105mm and 155mm main guns respectively.  A further development, possibly inspired by the Nazis using their 88mm anti-aircraft gun in heavy tanks, was to see the high velocity 120mm M1 Anti-Aircraft gun reconfigured into an adapted turret.  The gun could fire on aircraft up to 60,000ft, and consequently its armour penetrating power was devastating, far outstripping the other two guns that suffered from lighter-weight shells and with slower muzzle velocity respectively.  It took until 1947 for the prototypes to be delivered to the proving ground in the US, and to balance the enormous barrel a sizeable chunk of armour was fitted on the bustle of the turret, possibly 99% redundant, but useful if the crew were caught napping.


At a startling sixty-five tons, it was a weighty beast, and the US Army felt that it would be difficult to find a use for it thinking its weight could cause problems with bogging down on softer ground, and crossing bridges, in much the same manner that the Germans experienced with their heavy tanks during WWII.  There was also an issue with fumes from the gun entering the turret, which was fixed by using an aspirator, but this came too late, and no production orders were made, the prototypes going into storage, and eventually finding their way into museums.  The work wasn’t a total waste however, as a year later a lightened version of the T34 was designated as the T43, and was to enter service later as the M103 Heavy Tank, by which time its weight had ballooned up to the same 65 tons that had doomed the T34, using the same M1 gun, which was re-designated as M58 due to changes that had been made to it in the interim, including higher barrel pressure and quick-change capability.  The M103 served with US forces until retired in the mid-70s, by which time Main Battle Tank doctrine had rendered the Heavy Tank a historic dead-end of tank design.



The Kit

Unsurprisingly, this kit is based upon the 2016 tooling of the US T29 tank that the T34 was based on, in a case of modelling production mirroring history.  It has since had new parts added to turn it into a later T29 variant, a T30 and now a T34.  The kit arrives in a typical Hobby Boss top-opening box with a slight corrugated surface to the lid, which has a dramatic painting of a T34 in the process of firing its main gun, with the muzzle-flash rebounding from the mantlet and turret.  Inside the box is a cardboard divider glued to the tray to keep the large hull and turret parts from moving around the box and causing damage, plus most of the sprues are individually bagged, with additional foam strapping taped around various areas of the sprues and the front of the upper hull to further protect them during shipping and storage.  There are ten sprues, two hull parts and the upper turret in grey styrene, eight sprues of track-links in brown styrene, two small frets of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and a tiny decal sheet.  The package is completed by the black & white instruction booklet that has a glossy, full-colour painting and markings sheet loosely inserted between the pages.  Detail is good, and includes weld-beads, sand-casting and rolled-steel armour textures, plus individual track links and PE grab-handles/tie-downs for the sides of the many stowage boxes on the hull deck.
















Construction begins with preparing the lower hull for its road wheels by adding bump-stops, swing-arms and other suspension parts to the sides of the hull, including the idler and drive axles, with some wheel stations having additional dampers moulded-in to improve the ride for the crew.  Massive final-drive housings are inserted into gaps in the rear bulkhead, along with a pair of hinged armoured panels, first fitting the seven paired idler wheels all along the upper run of each track, then building paired road wheels with a loose washer trapped between them, doing the same with the four-part drive sprockets, all of which can be carefully glued to the axles with the hope that they will remain mobile once the glue has cured, which might work, or might not, depending on how dainty you are with the glue.  Each track run consists of 113 links, which are joined together by fitting the figure-eight pivots to the track pins, the outer edge having additional plates to widen the track that spreads ground pressure.  A jig is included to assist you with production, and you’ll be pleased to hear that there are no ejector-pin marks on the inner faces of the tracks.  Each of the track links has three sprue gates, while the pivots have just one each, all of which are sensibly placed to minimise clean-up, so whilst it will take some time to create the tracks, it shouldn’t drive you crazy in the process.  With the lower hull looking good, attention turns to the upper hull where all the detail is.




The upper deck is started by building two banks of stowage boxes around the base of the turret, which have separate lids, rails with eyes, and eight PE handles running along the outer sides.  These assemblies are installed either side of the turret aperture, adding various small parts, including headlights, side-facing vision slots for the front crew, and a pair of two-part exhausts that mount at the rear of both fenders.  A short run of track is bracketed to the glacis opposite the bow machine gun housing, and a few pioneer tool are fitted onto the fenders.  On the engine deck, six louvred panels are inserted into holes, fixing a C-shaped exhaust pipe to the backs of the mufflers on the fenders, with an armoured cover protecting the straight central section.  More pioneer tools are glued to the fenders, and these are joined by more PE handles along the edges, with cages mounted over the headlamps and the bow gun made from three parts including the barrel, sliding into the armoured shroud moulded into the glacis.  The front crew hatches have rotating 360° vision blocks inserted into holes in the surfaces, then they are fitted into the hull, adding a grab-handle next to each one for egress purposes.  At the rear, a small section of bulkhead is inserted into the remaining space, adding rear lights and other small parts once installed.


The turret of the T34 is as large as some early WWII tanks, and is built from upper and lower halves, with a seam running along the side of the deep bustle, along the swage-line where the vertical side sweeps underneath.  A machine gun is flex-fitted in a pintle-mount, adding twin grips, an ammo box made from three parts, and a two-part post into which the mount slides.  The mantlet is also prepared from two layers of styrene, adding caps over the pivot pins so the gun can elevate, plus a pair of lifting eyes on the upper surface, making the commander’s cupola with a separate hatch, then fitting this and the mantlet to the turret, which has some very nice texture moulded-in, including weld-beads and casting roughness.  The bustle receives an armoured panel to balance the barrel weight, inserting four parts into holes in the lower edge, plus brackets around the bustle sides, a shell-ejection port on the right side, stowage basket on the same side, a pair of aerial bases at the rear of the bustle, and the other two hatches either side of the keel that is moulded into the roof of the turret.  The machine gun fits in front of the left hatch, and behind the commander’s cupola, a fairing sweeps around the side of the deck.  The last parts for the turret include a choice of two styles of barrel, both of which are made from two halves that are split vertically, inserting your choice into the mantlet with a circular PE washer trapped between them.  The turret locks in place on the hull by its bayonet lugs, and you have a choice of finishing the build with the travel lock in the stowed position flat against the engine deck, or vertically, supporting the barrel of the turret, which must be turned to the rear.




There is just one option on the decal sheet, and four white decals on the front fenders and the rear bulkhead, denoting T34 and 1949 on opposite sides.  You might have already guessed that it’s a green tank, so pat yourself on the back if you did.






Hobby Boss decals can be a little scant, but that’s what’s needed for this prototype, and as there is no registration to worry about, they’re perfect for the job in hand.




The T34, not to be confused with the Soviet T-34, was a monster of a tank, and it’s the first thing that hits you on opening the box.  Detail is good, especially the textures moulded into the surface, resulting in a good-looking model that can be a canvas for your weathering techniques.


Highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of



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I hate to be picky but...


12 hours ago, Mike said:

possibly inspired by the Nazis using their 88mm anti-aircraft gun in heavy tanks

The 75mm M2 gun used on the M4 Sherman started as the T6 anti-aircraft gun and the 90mm M3 used on the M36 an M26 Pershing was modified from the 90mm M1 anti-aircraft gun. Using the 120mm M1 as the base for the T34's 120mm T53 gun was just a continuation of standard practices. The German 88mm gets way to much credit in this regard IMO when modifying anti-aircraft guns into anti-tank guns was done by every major combatant during WW2 😕 


13 hours ago, Mike said:

The gun could fire on aircraft up to 60,000ft

I presume you're referencing the 120mm M1 and not the 120mm T53 but your wording makes it sound like the T34 could shot at aircraft 😅

I've actually been thinking about making a what-if SPAAG version of the T29/T30/T34 fitted with a standard 120mm M1 in place of the turret so this made me giggle 😋

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