The T34/85 needs no introduction form me as the T34 family must be the most well known tank type of all time. There are however many minor and major changes present on these vehicles depending on when and where the specific tank was built. Academy
has released a model identified as a T34/85 No 112 Factory Production. Due to this being described as a tank from a specific factory I will be using ĎT-34 Mythical Weaponí as my reference companion on this build and I should point out that I have been called out on some of my beliefs in regards to this book as it is not the latest reference available. The model can be built as either as a tank from the end of World War 2 or the 1950ís as used in the Korean War.
The lower hull of this model is a multi-part offering, that is not really a low in my books, but it does mean that care will be needed during assembly to ensure it is square. On a plus side there is a brace to be added for the inside of the lower hull and if this is used as a support during the attachment of the hull sides your assembly should be correctly placed. There are three holes that need to be drilled into the side walls of the hull, Academy
has pointed out these holes, but has failed to provide the size of the drill bits that are needed, I used a 1.3mm and 1mm as there are two different sizes. This stage also covers the assembly and attachment to the model of the suspension struts and at this point I do not see any issues as regards accuracy or moulding.
Here is where you add the suspension arms to the model and I found a minor issue here; I am using the T-34 Mythical Weapons as reference for the build, my reference shows the suspension arms at 90deg to the floor of the hull, but if you use the locations placed by Academy
the arms will between 80 and 85deg. Not a big issue but it may be something you want to remedy. The lower rear hull plate is added here and the fit is good, but it takes a bit of fettling to get it placed correctly. The two tow hitching points on the rear plate are correct and accurate for vehicles from factory 112 for the period this tank represents. The raised plate that attaches to side walls is also appropriate for this factory and period; its purpose is to reseat any track pins that are coming loose from memory. The twin bump stops for the front swing arms is something I cannot find any reference for and as such I cannot vouch for its accuracy. Finally in this stage you add the internal hull support, which is a very good fit and nice inclusion for supporting the upper hull.
Wheels glorious wheels; at this point all of the wheels are added to the model. My reference indicates that the road wheels are accurate for late war designs used by factory 112; this applies to both the pattern on the rubber tyre and on the actual wheel. The idler wheels are a perfect match for the last design used; this design is not accredited to any specific factory. The drive sprockets are also accurate for one of the generic versions used in the production of the T-34. The fit of the idler wheel is weak as there is a lot of movement on the spindle, because of this I suggest that the wheels are allowed to set up fully before messing with the tracks. The road wheels and drive sprockets are reasonable fits, but again I do suggest they be allowed to set up fully.
This section covers the tracks of the vehicle and there are a few issues present. The tracks are 500mm version, these tracks scaled up are 498.75mm; I can forgive that difference. The tread pattern is a good match for a track design usually used by factory 112 which came into service in 1942. The issue with this is that there are supposed to be 72 links in this track type and the instructions tell you to use 74 links. The other issue is that there are 2 ejector pin marks on the inner face of every other track link, a pain to fill and sand. Due to these issues I will likely seek out after-market tracks suitable for the model, Roman Volchenkov has reviewed some promising offerings from Master Club which may be suitable and I will provide a link at the end of this review.
In this stage you prepare the rear plate of the model, this involves removing the moulded heads of six bolts and then drilling six holes through the part from the rear. When drilling the holes no drill size is indicated; I used a 1.2mm drill bit as that seemed to be the best fit for the recessed holes indicating where to drill. Two of the holes you need to make are very close to the edge of the moulding and so care will be needed to avoid an unwanted result. The last thing to warn you about is that not all of the holes you need to make line up with the bolt detail you need to remove and so remove the bolt detail before drilling the holes to avoid the bit being knocked off line. It is at this point I jumped to stage 7 as I do not like the idea of attaching all of the parts to the upper hull before adding it to the lower hull which is supposed to be done in Stage 18.
The rear engine grill is what I tackled here and you have been provided with two options by Academy
. There is a single piece plastic moulding or a plastic frame to which you attach seven photo etched parts. I have assembled the photo etched offering and supplied a photograph of the two offerings together. I also added the rear plate to the upper hull minus any attachments. Finally I attached the lower and upper hulls together, which according to the instructions should not be done until the very end of the build. I think most of you will agree that leaving it to that point is asking for breakages. After attaching the upper and lower hull there is a seam line that should be filled and also three ejector pin marks. These marks will not be easily seen once the tracks are added, but it is good practice to fill such marks on your model.
I now went back to stage 6 as now the hull is closed up the risk of damage is reduced. Assembly here is straight forward with the exception of the hunt for part (I14), this part is the hull MG face plate for which Academy
has not supplied the number in the instructions. There are two pieces numbered (H7) and these parts are (U) shaped, the problem is that the slot needs to be opened up on one side of each as they have flash over them. The only other issue you may struggle with is the small size of some parts. My reference for T34/85ís from this factory do not show this exact set up; however I am reluctant to say it is wrong or right as I am told there is much more up to date publications that I do not own.
Stage 7 Again
I now added the detail to the rear plate such as exhausts and fuel tank hangers. The exhaust pipes have seams top and bottom and you should make sure NOT
to remove these seams as they should be there. The opening in the exhausts is shallow, but the recess being there will aid the modeller who opts to make these deeper and thinner and so a better scale representation. The handle on the rear access hatch snapped while being removed from the sprue; I can see this being an issue for more handles and grab handles where this model is concerned, but I am aware that many modellers will replace these with wire offerings as they can be made much thinner and so better scale wise, and so I am not overly concerned about the issue of these breaking. I should point out that the instructions show the storage box on the right side attached, but this is not placed until the next stage.
This stage is for the most part the construction of the external fuel tanks. Clean up of the fuel tanks is easy enough, but there is an issue with the side mounted tanks of which there are three. These fuel tanks have locating nipples on them, but Academy
has not supplied locating points on the hull of the tank. You could of course remove the locating nipples and use quesstimation for the locations, but that is not an acceptable solution for me. The reference material I used shows many different combinations of fuel tanks and so I have opted not to add the side mounted tanks and to just use the more unusual rear mounted ones.
This stage is little more than adding the grab handles on the opposite side of the tank and the rear mudguards. As such nothing to really cover here other than the fact that you are again instructed to apply a fuel tank that no locators have been provided for on the tank hull. The rear mudguards are a bit of a faff to attach, but take your time and all should be well.
Finally the turret is constructed here and you have two options of a turret for 1945 World War 2 or a 1950 turret for the Korean War; I opted for the World War 2 version. While attaching the top and bottom portions of the turret I was disappointed to see that Academy
have not used the tanks natural weld line and instead used a line that will then need to be hidden; not that easy due to the heavy cast texture present. While talking of the cast texture, it is quite good from a distance, but not so pleasing close up.
The next area covered is the commanderís cupola and this is for me the most annoying part of the model. Academy
goes to the trouble of providing separate parts for the internal and external viewing ports and then supplies them in green plastic rather than clear. That out of the way you take a look at the commanderís hatch covers and find three ejector pin marks on the rear portion of the hatch and two on the front; very disappointing.
This covers adding the grab handles to the turret and various small detail parts. You also add the loaders hatch and if you decide to have this hatch open Academy
have outdone themselves as there are four ejector pin marks present, but at least they added the interior latch detail.
Stage 12 and 13
covers the assembly of the later turret.
This only covers the addition of the main gun barrel and the cupola built previously. The barrel has been supplied as a single moulding I am pleased to say, and the only required work is the removal of two light seam lines on opposite sides of it. The seam lines are easily removed and the barrel is open at the end. The cupola fits well and no issues were encountered here.
covers the same aspects for the alternate turret option.
This covers the drivers hatch which has fair internal detail, but as there is no interior I see little point in having it open or adding the interior portion part, but it is there for modellers who are adding an interior or have an idea for hiding the lack there of. The armoured sight covers on the hatch are supplied separately and can be placed open or closed.
This covers the single hawser for the tank. Academy
have supplied two types of shackle depending on the version you are building and these all have a hole for placement of the cable, I much prefer this approach rather than the slot that is provided by some companies. The issue I do have is that Academy
has provided a piece of string for the actual cable which just does not cut it in my opinion. To overcome this I used a length of cable from RMG
that is far superior in my opinion.
basically covers the joining of the top and bottom hull parts which I performed much earlier for reasons as explained.
This is the final construction stage and covers adding the hawser to the model, basically place as desired. Also the addition of the front mudguards is covered and there are two types of mudguard offered which are angular or rounded. It is my belief that the rounded option is earlier than the angular offering, but Academy
does not clarify this aspect and my reference indicates either could be used; as such I feel it is the choice of the modeller as to which they prefer. But some may come up with a different conclusion.
I will say from the start that as a model there are some issues for those with basic concerns over the accuracy of their models, the tracks being a good case in point. In some ways I like that Academy
has opted to release a model of a tank made in a specific factory, but my reference tells me that there are issues here; some with more up to date reference may disagree. As a model of a T34/85 I rather like the model for the most part despite the issues with the upper and lower turret and of course the ejector pin marks in the turret hatches. Depending on what you are after from your models this will be one of those kits that you either like or hate, I lean slightly to the like as there are details I am keen on.
T-34 white metal tracks