The T34 tank must be the most produced and widest distributed tank and that saw combat for the longest time. From its earliest introduction it was not the best tank in the world, with the Tiger and the Panther of the German Wehrmacht being more than a match for it. The 76mm gun was just not up to the task of penetrating these tanks at range. Enter the T-34 with an 85mm gun, it still could be argued that it was not the best tank, but it was a tank that now packed a real punch. One thing I have learnt from reviewing T-34 models is that experts in the field all have slightly different opinions as to what was what, and so in this review I will not be deciding what is accurate or not accurate as regards a T34/85 MOD 1960.
This offering from MiniArt arrives in a cardboard tray with a card lid depicting the artwork for the model. Inside all of the contents are packed together in a single plastic bag, which is one of the few aspects of MiniArt products that I do not like. My reason being that it leaves some very finely moulded parts open to damage, due to being forced together, and it could also result in the bowing of the major components. I did not observe any breakages in this release, but that does not mean that it can’t happen. Another issue that causes me concern is the packaging of the decal sheet with the clear sprues which is bad enough, but the decals themselves are facing the clear parts which means that in addition to the risk or puncture or scoring, other damage could occur to the decal sheet.
This particular release is not an internal kit, but there are some internal elements provided to support the structure, and it also means that the modeller that wants to place a crew in the vehicle could with a little bit of thought, add the elements that they wish to have on view. The firewall between the engine and crew compartment is a great inclusion for those with open hatches on their models. MiniArt has not included the interior firewall out of kindness, as it provides the support structure for the side walls of the model. Due to the sponsons not being moulded as part of the tank hull, and so the firewall gives you a good guide for adding the parts even though it is not shown, using that methodology. The suspension springs are a detailed part of this release, but are not functional and will not be seen, however the addition of the covers over these springs will help to further support the side walls.
The suspension arms of this release are designed to be locked in place, to enable the model to sit correctly on a flat surface. For those wishing to display this on an uneven surface some thought before adding the arms will enable this to sit on a surface of any configuration. The main road wheels of this release are the vented type that reduced weight. The idler wheel has good mud clearance holes in them, the drive wheels are also vented but obviously the pins that catch the guide horns are hidden. The tracks for this release are a set of MiniArt’s individual track links, with nicely moulded detail in all ways, especially the hollow elements of the guide horns, but having used these tracks on more than one occasion, I know that they need to be cleaned up very well in order to go together well. It needs to be considered that lots of different track designs were utilised and you may wish to look at alternate options.
The upper hull front and rear plates, plus the engine deck make up the main structures of the upper hull and are another great reason to be thankful for the internal firewall inclusion for the structures, as placing the engine deck could be tedious otherwise. The vents in the deck are well designed and tackled in a way that makes life easier for the modeller. The rear vent is a combination of two photo etch parts and a plastic base, and this will not be such an easy task to tackle, but if done well will look good. There are quite a lot of small photo etch elements to this kit, that will make it hard work for anyone uncomfortable with using photo etch. The drivers hatch has good detail on the inner and outer face and provided you add something on the inside to hide the fact its empty all should be well. The periscopes have been supplied clear and all hatch furniture has been provided separately.
This kit has been supplied with both side and rear mounted fuel tanks, with details such as photo etch straps, making their addition to the model look realistic. The rear mounted tanks are the 200ltr type seen on Soviet vehicles of the period and have a very nice level of detail. Tool storage bins have been provided in more than one piece, and so while not indicated in the instructions having them open will not be difficult with the minimum of scratch work. The various brackets/handles/tie downs that go along the edge of the tank have been provided in photo etch, and I personally would replace them with wire, as a round profile would seem to me to be more realistic than a flat profile. The grousers are provided as individual parts secured to a mounting plate with photo etch detail, and so you could if so desired add them to the tracks for a Winter or snow scene. The tow cables have been provided with plastic coupling ends, with the modeller having to add their own cable of choice and I will leave you to choose your favourite for this purpose.
The turret of the model has good cast texture on it, and please note when cementing them together try to get an invisible joint, as the Russians did not look for the perfect finish and there are some very rough welds seen on some/most vehicles. On the interior of the turret there are some inserts, which are leftovers from the interior kit models. It is indicated that you need to drill some holes, and while the placement of these holes are good, no drill size is included. All periscopes and viewing ports of the Commander’s hatch have been provided in clear plastic, which is something that I like to see. The main gun has been moulded as a single piece, with good use of slide moulding at the muzzle end. A photo etch rain cover for above the gun mantlet is provided which will give a realistic thickness to this element. A canvas is mounted on the rear of the turret, but you could of course leave it off if so desired, or add something else to the area as three two part photo etch straps are included.
MiniArt has provided five finishing options for this model, and these cover a good number of operators plus of course with the limited amount of stencilling on the T34/85 I am sure you could make it look however you so wished. Perhaps of most interest to many modellers are the tanks used during the Vietnam War. The five finishing options provided are:
Soviet Army, late 1960’s
North Vietnamese Army (People’s Army of Vietnam) Early 1970’s
Army of Rhodesia, Early 1970’s
Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, Early 1980’s
Unidentified Unit, Yemen, Late 2010’s
MiniArt has been releasing a great number of T-34/85’s and I am also well aware that getting all of the fine details right is next to impossible. Details such as specific tracks and user added details are things that jump out at me, but I do feel that the T-34/85’s being offered from MiniArt give you a great model from the box and a brilliant starting point for the super detailers amongst us. The high point for me in this release is two fold, one the chance to paint a T-34 that is not just green and secondly a Vietnam War period tank.