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T-34/85

Trumpeter 1/16 T-34/85 Model 1944, Factory Nr.183 "Late" Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2004 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject T-34/85 Model 1944, Factory Nr.183 "Late" Scale 1/16
Kit Number 0902 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Incredible Exterior and Interior Details Cons Engine won't start
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $167.95

First Look

T-34/85
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There have been lots of publications that have outlined the developmental and operational history of the T-34, so I won't try to summarize the history of this potent combat vehicle in a few paragraphs. In fact, the folks at AirConnection are about to release a very detailed history of the T-34 in a book entitled "T-34 Mythical Weapon". Stop by AirConnection to reserve a copy of this in-depth look at the Soviet's leading tank of the Great Patriotic War (WW2).

I prefer the summary that one of my Russian history professors would tell about the evolution of tank warfare on the eastern front. As the Germans advanced eastward to Stalingrad and Moscow, Soviet Generals would ask the Germans to show them their heavy armor. The Germans would proudly push their Panthers and Tigers forward in reply, but the disbelieving Soviet Generals would shake their heads at the sight of these medium tanks. Nevertheless, the Soviets sent forth their heavy tank, the T-34, to wipe these impudent Nazis from the Motherland.

As Peter Ustinov would comment on the history of the Il-2 Sturmovik for the episode of Wings of the Red Star, the Il-2 and T-34 were two key weapons that halted the German war machine and sent the Nazis back from whence they came. It evolved from a 76mm main gun (hence the notation T-34/76 to a more potent 85mm main gun in the T-34/85. It would be the T-34/85 that would enter the streets of Berlin in 1945, and would stand upon monuments to commemorate the heroism of the Soviet tank crews and their infantry in achieving victory over Nazi Germany.

I can't begin to tell you how huge this kit is! The box is very large, seen here with my 1/35 T-34/85 parked in front of it. On opening the box, I am very impressed with the packaging to prevent all of their styrene mass from self-destructing during shipment. According to the statistics, there are 831 injection-molded parts inside the box! The turret top and bottom halves are housed inside one internal box. The hull top and bottom halves are housed in a second internal box. The road wheels, rubber tires and individual track links are likewise separately boxed. Each of the trees of the remainder of the kit are individually wrapped, with only a few trees doubled-up in a wrapper. There are 26 sprues in the kit. This kit was sent through standard UPS, yet every part was pristine. Nice job Trumpeter!

The majority of the kit is molded in dark green styrene, with beautifully detailed parts showing nice molded-on casting roughness on the turret. The remainder of the kit trees are cast in light grey styrene for the interior and engine compartment details. A set of rubber road wheels are provided to slip over the steel hubs, making painting a snap. The individual track links snap together and are cast in black plastic.

Two frets of photo-etched parts are included, which provide for machine gun ammo storage racks, external fuel tank frames and other details.

A set of metal springs are also included as these are used to support the working suspension in the tank, just like the real vehicle. It is clear that the Trumpeter engineers had a T-34/85 somewhere nearby for reference. I think the most refreshing think about this kit is that there are no 'legacy holes' in the hull left over from some remote control version of the kit. This kit was designed from the outset to be super-detailed inside and out.

I am very impressed with the level of detail inside this tank. The driver's compartment is nicely done, right down to the tractor brakes and steering levers. But if that isn't enough, the engine compartment is a complete kit of its own right, complete with highly detailed engine, cooling system, battery cells, and transmission.

Another interesting detail is the ammo storage. All of the racks are loaded with different types of 85mm rounds, supplied in the kit, and are nicely detailed in their own right. On top of that, ammo for the coaxial and bow machine guns is provided on photo-etched racks in the hull and in the turret. You'll have to see these to believe the detail.

The interior of the turret is also complete with radio equipment, cooling fans, ammo storage, and of course another complete kit - the 85mm main gun. It is simply unbelievable the level of detail that is provided straight out of the box. I'm almost afraid to ask what Aber or Eduard could possibly do in photo-etch!

Markings are provided for one example, a T-34/85 from the 55th Guards Tank Brigade, 7th Guards Tank Corps as it appeared during the final push into Berlin. The vehicle, number 36, carries the white ID stripes and the markings of the unit's award of the Order of Suvorov.

This is an incredible kit. While there are 44 steps to complete this kit, the instructions are nicely laid out and assembly appears to be very straightforward. I am certain that there is someone who will discover an incorrect number of bolts on some obscure access plate or other 'flaw', but from where I sit this is a beautiful kit!

If it wasn't for the sheer number of parts in the kit, plus the photo-etched details that are also included, I would recommend this kit for the more experienced basic modeler, but I'll leave the judgment call on your experience to you. You will find that the MSRP for this kit is worth every penny!

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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