Dragon have previously released three T-34-85 kits back in the late 90’s- early 2000s, Kit #6066 T-34-85 Mod.1944, Kit #6203 T-45-85 UTZ Mod.1944 and Kit #3318 NVA T-34-85M with this Premium Edition kit being based on the 1997 Kit #6066 T-34-85 Mod.1944.
The kit best represents a late 1944 Factory 183 produced T-34-85 with the distinctive cast ribbing around the bottom of the turret and twin ventilator covers at the back of the roof along with ‘spider web’ wheels but it should be noted that there are many variations in the details found on T-34s making it hard to say this or that is right or wrong. There are the various turret features from different factories to smaller details like the wheels where there are numerous variations in the drive sprockets, idlers and road wheels.
There are a number of variations of the ‘spider web’ wheels with some having ribs only half distance and a lesser number of smaller holes around the hub as well as variations of the type with full length ribs with some having a coupe of the inner holes blanked off while others have them all open and the wheels in this kit represent just one of those variations.
The kit has 232 parts in light grey plastic with one clear part, a couple of bags of individual link “magic” tracks plus a large fret of etched parts, the metal barrel, two brass 85mm rounds and a length of braided wire as well as the decal and instruction sheets.
The standard of moulding is typical Dragon with good crisp details and a minimum of flash, pin marks or other blemishes with only the usual minor moulding seams to be cleaned off the parts as with any kit. There are many small ‘nodes’ on the parts to be removed but these are a small price to pay for the cleaner parts overall.
All of the major components, the upper and lower hull, road wheels, drive sprockets and idlers as well as the turret are the same as in the earlier kit with some details updated such as the bow machine gun, minor tweaks on the road wheels, turret and rear engine intake cover plus a new plastic and metal.
The large etched fret has many small brackets and other details such as grab handles plus the engine intake grills that adds many of the finer details to the kit; well almost as we will see.
Throughout the review I will include side by side images of some parts from this kit with the previous kit #6066 to show the updates, or not as the case may be.
This is a conventional tub with bottom, sides and sponson covers with separate front and rear panels as well as the four internal suspension towers with inner spring detail added to the insides. There are two small discs added to the underside and added to the sides are the separate axles, idler mountings and final drive housings as well as the rear side track pin retainer bracket.
The axles are fixed in the neutral position but it would be easy to reposition for a diorama setting if required and the idler mounting can be fixed at different angles and it my be an idea not to glue this until fitting the tracks to get the correct tension.
At the front is a separate lower plate with nice weld seam details and the lower rear hull panel includes the final drive bulges as well as towing hooks added to both panels with the fit to the hull being very good.
The road wheels as mentioned are the same ‘spider web’ type as in the previous kit with nice rib details and has the rubber section sidewall detail redone to better represent what is seen on some wheels, again there are variations in this detail seen on different wheels and the central hub cap is a separate part.
Both the drive sprockets and idler wheels are the same as the previous kit with nicely represented rim details with the idler having a separate hub cap while the drive sprocket has the cap moulded with the wheel meaning there is no undercut around the hub cap as with the idlers and road wheels but this is only a minor issue.
This is again the same as in the previous kit and is complete with the side fenders and cut-outs for the turret ring, glacis driver’s hatch and machine gun plus having a separate rear plate. All the rear engine deck panels are also separate including the top engine inspection hatch and the four intake grills plus a separate rear intake screen hatch with the deck below this hollowed out with bolt head detail included even though the solid mesh screen hides this after assembly.
Added to the this kit are etched screen mesh and bolted surrounds which requires you to cut out the moulded screen mesh before adding the etched mesh which is a fairly easy operation for anyone with basic modelling skills but obviously care is needed when doing any cutting.
One thing not included which is quite noticeable if you use the etched mesh is there is no inner detail and you can see straight through into the hull and you should add the two large intake louvers that are located on the rear deck of actual T-34s.
This is very easy to do with a couple of strips of 5mm wide plastic card and some wire pins and this fills the void very nicely, I have included a small guide to adding the etched screen and the louvers here for those wanting to add this detail to the kit.
The four smaller intakes added to the side and top of the engine deck are separate parts with nice clean grill work included and these fit snugly into the hull cut-outs without any trimming needed and you are also provided with etched grill covers to add if you wish? Unfortunately these etched grills are simply too big both in height and width to fit the kit grills and they are basically a waste of time. It would seem that someone had a major brain fart when designing these as they have obviously not test fitted them but as mentioned the plastic grills are quite nice and the etched grills are not really needed anyway.
At the back the separate rear panel fits snugly to the hull and there is a separate round inspection hatch and separate exhaust pipe covers plus the separate exhaust pipe stubs. The original stubs are in two sections to give the open pipes and there are also new one piece pipes moulded with slide moulds to give the open appearance but are actually not a good as the originals as they extend too far out of the exhaust covers when compared to most photos and as there is a small weld join on the stubs and this will nicely cover the join line of the original stubs.
A case of adding new “slide mould” detail that sounds good but doesn’t do anything for the actual detail but of course you could use the excellent Moskit metal T-34 exhaust pipes (set#35-06) if you really wanted to improve this area.
The kit includes the four hull side mounted fuel tanks that have simulated damage which is a little uniform in appearance but not really a problem and include the retaining brackets moulded on. The large etched fret includes an elaborate array of fuel tank mounting brackets and securing strips with separate clips that require you to cut off the moulded strips but the added level of details will look impressive.
Also included are the mountings brackets are clips for the two smaller tanks carried on the rear hull plate of some T-34s but the tanks themselves are not included leaving you with empty brackets as seen in some photos.
Moving to the front the five part driver’s hatch has separate periscope covers and the hatch itself has an inner and out panel to allow good detail on both with the inner latches provided as etched parts if you want to cut off the moulded on latches but if you do remember to add small discs to lift the two latches off the door so they don’t sit flush or the effect will be lost.
The separate machine gun coaming is the same as in the original kit and has very nice cast effect and weld beads included around the lower edges and the front opening has been modified to accept the new complete 7.62mm DTM machine gun with magazine with a movable ball mounting that allows the gun to move after assembly and this is really a nice improvement over the simple MG barrel included with the original kit.
Also added to the glacis are the tow hooks along with etched fittings and the fender mounted storage boxes have etched latches included plus all the right side track grouser mountings and securing straps are in fine etched parts to add more detail definition here.
The large bow saw and mountings are also in etched parts and the left side mounted head light has a separate clear lens and the new braided wire tow cable has separate plastic end shackles.
After fitting the upper and lower hulls together which sees a very good fit there is a separate front nose cap that includes nice weld bead texture to nicely cover the front join line.
These are in the form of individual “magic” track links that don’t have any sprue attachments to clear up but there are two shallow pin marks on the inside of each link which will be easy to remove but makes things a little tedious.
The links are not workable and are designed to be simply glued together and as there is only minor track sag on the T-34 you can assemble the top and bottom runs beforehand and add after the glue is nearly dry.
As mentioned this is also the same as in the original kit and is a nice representation of the Factory 183 turret which from most photos do not have as rough cast texture as some other turrets and also don’t have the large casting numbers on the back which are seen on other factory turrets.
The turret measures out quite well with only minor shape discrepancies here and there but nothing to get excited about with the width at the front being slightly too narrow when compared the available data. This is not really that noticeable on the assembled turret and to fix this would mean destroying the cast texture and weld ribbing along the sides as well as the side fillet section joins so is probably not worth the effort.
The cast ribbing along the side joins is quite nicely done but you should take care not to damage this detail when fitting the upper and lower turret halves together and there are two small panels at the lower front corners to give the contours of the actual turret. It should be noted that the kit join lines of the upper and lower turret halves and also the front fillets all correspond to weld seams on the actual turret which means you don’t have the eliminate these as they should remain. You may want to enhance the welds a little with lengths of stretched sprue textured to simulate welds or by you favourite method of adding weld seams for a better look.
On the top are the twin rear mounting ventilator covers of the later turrets and these have the top slightly flattened which does represent one of the variations seen on these covers with others have a more rounded profile and there are the two forward periscopes made up of two separate parts each with alternate plastic or etched top covers.
Added around the Commander’s cupola opening is a raised weld bead to add nice detail around the base of the cupola but the cupola itself has a large mould seam around the outside to be removed and the vision slits are moulded separately but take care as these are quite small to remove from the sprue and to fit. On the inside are new etched vision port surrounds and the top split hatch has a separate periscope for the fixed forward section while the hatch proper has nice detail but a large pin mark on the inside to contend with if you show the hatch open.
Added around the turret walls are the six small attachment hooks on the rear wall, the three grab rails in plastic plus the side vision slits and pistol port plugs and four lifting hooks on each corner.
The large front mantlet again has nice cast and flame cut texture and includes the machine gun and sight openings and this is trapped between the upper and lower turret halves to allow elevation with the barrel fitting into the mantlet neck.
There is a choice of single piece plastic barrel with hollowed out muzzle that just needs the small moulding seam sanded smooth or the turned aluminium barrel which also has the muzzle hollowed out but not as deeply as the plastic barrel with the length of both being spot on.
The barrels simply fit into the mantlet neck but the base of the metal barrel is fractionally smaller than the plastic barrel and the fit of the metal barrel is a little sloppy with a noticeable gap between it and the neck making lining the barrel up correctly a little tricky and the gap will require attention while the fit of the plastic barrel is a lot better.
A large sheet is included with well printed markings with very thin carrier film cropped close the printed image with the markings in white and red for six T-34s.
This kit was always a nice representation of the Mod.1944 T-34-85 and the additional detailing such as the hull machine gun and smaller tweaks make it an even better proposition as does the added etched parts for the fuel tanks and smaller details. Unfortunately some of the added features seem more to do with sounding good in the promos that actually adding to the kit such as poorly fitting engine intake grills and metal barrel but just ignoring these will still give you a very nice model from the box.
Highly recommended.The Sprues:
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by Robert Michulec
Published by AirConnection
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Page created October 30, 2006