The T-34 was the most mass produced tank of WW2 and is an attractive subject for modelling. The tank itself was produced in various modifications and at different factories leading to a broad range of possible alterations and modifications. Several manufacturers (AFV club, Dragon, Zvezda) made styrene kits trying to cover different variants of T-34 and all these kits are a good base to start for an accurate model of T-34. However, if you want to model a particular vehicle from a particular image you will meet some challenges. Despite general necessities like detail correction on hulls and turret there are a mix of components as some hulls were sent for repairs to a different factory meaning that you can have a photograph of a tank that was initially produced on one factory, repaired on another and then got components from the field workshop. Challenging? Yes and no. Kitbash and aftermarket manufacturers are here to rescue.
The current set of “Late spider wheels” from Panzer Art would perfectly fit tanks from late 1944 until the end of the war and also post war examples, including T-54 tanks. Packed in a small cardboard box with product photograph on the top inside there is a small plastic bag with 20 resin parts necessary for completion of 10 T-34 85 road wheels. As you can tell from the name of this set, these have 12 reinforcing ribs (therefore “spider wheels”), 12 large lightening holes and 11 small lightening holes closer to wheel hub. The tyre was solid rubber without any perforations on the side. The casting quality is very good with all bolt detail nicely reproduced. Some of the lightening holes on 2 or 3 wheels in the set required small clean up. I used a round tooth pick to remove small resin leftovers from them. The casting blocks are attached to the tyre side of the wheel and these are removed without any trace. Otherwise a couple of wheels in my set had small imperfections on the working side of the tyre; however, these are easily sanded off without damaging detail.
The assembly is very easy – the wheel halves have location pin on the inner side of the outer half which goes into twelve lightening hole of the inner half of the wheel. Note that some factories had 10 holes, having cast number instead of one of the holes and some of us might want to reproduce that detail. The fit of the assembled wheels to Dragon wheel hubs does not require any adjustment while I had to trim the wheel hubs on AFV club kit. Otherwise they are dimensionally accurate and have appropriate look.
Definitely, this is a good set of road wheels for T-34-85 or even T-34-76 model during the late stages of war. But please refer to reference images to match the period photographs. For me it was a life-saver as none of the kits I had in my collection had these kind of wheels in styrene and it is much easier to order from Panzer Art then hunt for Maquette on Ebay, especially considering outdated detail on the Maquette.
Highs: good accurate detail for late spider wheels.Lows: Fitting to AFV club T-34 model requires trimming of hubs.Verdict: Highly recommended.