The last year has seen the wishes of Allied armor fans granted by those tireless geniuses at AFV Club
, this new 85mm version adds some perks to the initial T-34/76 release (Item AF 35143). Happily, the few small inaccuracies of the T-34/76 kit have been rectified in the new T-34/85. This latest kit now includes the previously-omitted turret traverse electrical connector and correct air-cleaner arrangement.
In a departure from its familiar green styrene, the parts sprues are moulded in gray. Road wheel tires are superbly-detailed in plastic, not vinyl, while vision blocks, periscopes, and headlamp lense are clear. This kit has everything one could wish for: a fully-detailed interior and engine compartment, working suspension, brass photo-etched engine mesh and fuel tank straps, and a clear exterior. A nice touch was to provide a turned-aluminum barrel, complete with rifling detail. This 85mm gun version of the T-34 adds 4 new parts sprues to the T-34/76 kit, including a clear rear (lower) hull plate to show-off that exquisite transmission. As well as the periscopes, the commander's cupola and hatches are also clear this time. There are obviously many more parts in this kit, compared to the smaller, 76mm gun version.
The T-34 was simplicity itself, and construction of the kit, even with full interior detail, is fairly straight-forward. AFV Club
tank kits are known for their working suspensions, and the new T-34/85 is no exception. Working suspensions have improved dramatically since AFV Club first used metal coil springs in their 1/35th scale Centurion series. A challenge in producing this new kit was to develop a spring which is robust, yet supple. Much research has been invested to produce a coil spring which is to scale, yet is not so strong as to break tracks or axles. This innovation makes for a trouble-free build, allowing the suspension components to realistically articulate.
The working suspension is built by inserting the coil spring assemblies into their housings in the inner hull walls. Building the suspension and lower hull is identical to the previous kit, so check out my build log of the T-34/76 (see LINK, below) for tips. One end of each spring connector is connected to a pin on each torsion arm, which pivots by having its shaft trapped with a cap on the inside of the hull. The whole assembly is clever and simple.
The road wheels with their separate black styrene tires are next, held to their axles with hubcaps. Although I love the challenge of individual track links, the kit-supplied vinyl tracks are among the best I’ve seen recently. As with the T-34/76 kit, they are extremely supple –so much so, that one must take care not to melt them with over-use of cement. No need for CA cement with these! Additionally, a new separate track link set has been released for both AFV Club T-34 kits (Item AF 35173: T-34/85), and (Item AF 35242: T-34/76). I shall be adding these to my T-34s, as the detail and articulation with the working suspension is superb.
The next six steps of the instructions are devoted to building the interior of the hull, complete with machine gun and 85mm ammunition, pedal linkages, and a separate floor escape hatch. This release includes the correctly-relieved hull interior walls, but still no outside faces to the interior fuel tanks -not a problem, as I will just paint the exterior of the hull walls up to that point, anyways.
The outstanding feature of this kit is its fully-detailed V2 diesel engine/transmission assembly. Covering two full pages of the instructions, building the engine/transmission compartment is a mini-kit in itself! I was very impressed with the flywheel/cooling fan assembly: when compared to photos of the real thing, AFV Club has recreated this detail down to the last rivet.
Parts A 31,32, and 54 are not used, those being intended for early models with a single air-cleaner. The engine compartment is nicely finished with a separate access hatch and cooling slats (which can be angled open within their openings). The beautifully-rendered PE brass screen conforms to the curve of the engine deck with locating pins and holes. Another nice touch is the very complete driver’s hatch with clear episcopes. Because many parts, such as grab handles and tow hooks will be attached to the crystal-clear exterior, extreme care with the cement must be taken. Likewise, care must be taken to avoid cracking these clear parts when removing sprues.
Construction of the big 85mm-gun turret, another mini-kit in itself, covers the final page and a half of the instructions. Every detail is present –down to the clear periscopes. All this work will be displayed through the clear turret walls and roof, even the commander’s cupola and hatches are clear- so paint all these small interior details before fitting to the turret interior, as it will be impossible to do so later.
Markings for 3 vehicles are included: two for Poland, 1944 and one for Germany, 1945. They seem crisp and on-register.
The only rivals to this kit are the expensive interior conversion set by Verlinden, the giant 1/16th scale T-34 kits from Trumpeter, or the 1/48th scale offerings from Hobby Boss with their troublesome tracks. I'm eagerly anticipating the next T-34 release from AFV Club -the 76mm late model, with the 3-man turret.
Stay tuned to Armorama for a more-detailed review as I tackle building this gem!
(Airconnection Publishing), by Robert Michulec.
Follow the step-by-step build of my T-34/76 (item AF 35143) in my Build Log