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First Look Review
135
T-34/85 with Interior
T-34/85 Model 1944-'45 production, Factory No. 174
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by: Ted Hayward [ TED_HAYWARD ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

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.

contents

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.

construction

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.

decals

Markings for 3 vehicles are included: two for Poland, 1944 and one for Germany, 1945. They seem crisp and on-register.

parting shots

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!

References:
Mythical Weapon (Airconnection Publishing), by Robert Michulec.
Follow the step-by-step build of my T-34/76 (item AF 35143) in my Build Log.
SUMMARY
Highs: As the only plastic T-34/85 kit in this scale with a full interior, it has no equal. It scores 100 on ease-of-build and fun. I'm glad the separate tires are plastic, instead of the hated vinyl! Let's wish for a nice brass 85mm ammuniton set!
Lows: Some research is needed when painting the interior. Internal fuel tanks have no outside face.
Verdict: This kit offers true value for money. The most complete T-34 kit in 1/35th scale, but super-detailers will still have fun adding minor enhancements. No pitfalls in the instructions, and it's a surprisingly simple build for such a detailed kit.
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AF 35S56
  Suggested Retail: 41.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 12, 2009
  NATIONALITY: Russia
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 92.73%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.65%

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About Ted Hayward (ted_hayward)
FROM: TAIPEI, TAIWAN / 台灣

From B.C., Canada. Living in Taiwan for past several years. I've been building kits for as long as memory serves -armor, aircraft, cars. Big fan of 1/16th scale armor kits. Currently serving as poster boy for working with CA adhesives in a well-ventilated area. My first kit was the positively awful ...

Copyright ©2017 text by Ted Hayward [ TED_HAYWARD ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

...and here I am thinking I can skip the 1/35 T-34s... it's a must-buy. It's great that they made a scaled-up version of the Hobby Boss kit (On a more serious note, a question: how comes this kit is so reasonably priced? It certainly has a lot of plastic, so the price of oil, as it is claimed, should be a factor. It is very well designed, so it, too, should be something that puts the price over the "ordinary" kits. And it's new, and shipped from Asia. In the middle of a recession, and the dollar is pretty low. It's cheaper than the new DML, even Trumpeter offerings -and it kind of proves that the reasons people cite for the high prices are not the right ones.)
OCT 15, 2009 - 04:20 PM
Ted- I appreciate this review. I ordered one of these and I am looking forward to getting it. I have a couple of questions about your review? I see in pic 30 of 34 the 85mm ammo boxes- then in another shot (31 of 34) the 76mm ammo boxes. In 33 of 34 I see dished fighting compartment interior walls numbered 4 and 5. (Correct parts for a T-34/85) Then in pic 7 of 34 Step 1 of the instruction sheet shows dished parts for the fighting compartment walls- while Step 2 shows the T-34/76 flat sided walls. Step 1 calls out sidewall part #'s D30 and D29.?? I draw two conclusions from this: 1. The instruction sheet Step 1 may be Wrong. Looks like AFV Club is using the T-34/76 part numbers D29 & D30 (flat sidewalls) vs. 4 & 5 (the correct dished sidewalls). 2. The T-34/85 kit uses most of the sprues from the T-34/76 factory 112 kit plus a few more that are specific to the T-34/85. Is there a lot of overlap between the two kits? Not in the clear parts but in terms of the interior sprues- are we going to end up with a lot of spares from the T-34/85 kit? Steve
OCT 15, 2009 - 08:16 PM
Hey Ted Skyhawk in Tainan has a bunch of these in stock. I'm tempted to get one. Am into the T-34s like a bee on honey right now.
OCT 29, 2009 - 11:56 AM
has anyone compared this to Dragon's bedspring T-34-85? I had screwed up by gluing the hull pieces together before I got the Verlinden interior set and am tempted to just say screw it, harvest the detail parts, and stop chiseling the pieces out of the Dragon Hull to fit the interior. Matt
OCT 29, 2009 - 12:15 PM
With the exception of the interior DML's kits are much more accurate in all but a very few respects. (I appreciate how Trumpeter/Hobby Boss, and make no mistake this is the linage of the AFV Club kits, mastered the engine deck. It's not completely correct but give's a fair feel for how the real item was made.) Mark
OCT 30, 2009 - 10:33 AM
Ted made one small error in his concluding paragraph; no production version of the T-34-76 was ever fitted with a three man turret. Both the "flat" (early) and "hex" turrets had two man crews. Mark
OCT 30, 2009 - 10:36 AM
Can you elaborate on that please Mark? I haven't got the kit yet but it's on the way. higherlevel.jpg
OCT 30, 2009 - 04:27 PM
I'd like to but that would take a couple of pages to do it any justice, but here's a readers digest version: From my point of view it's a question of the "quality of detail" more than anything, by which I mean how well each detail part is rendered. The drive and ideler are too flat and details poorly proportioned, the tracks are better in the DML kits, though some might like the rubber band tracks better, the clear hull and turret can't really be seen through, but if you paint it it's missing weld beads and texture, the engine deck details (screens, etc., especially the side screens) are fairly poor (though I like the fact that the made some attempt to represent it "true to form"), the list goes on and on. And, for me at least, the fighting compartment interior leaves something to be desired, fixable but annoying. The engine/transmission compartment and turret details are pretty nice, though. The AFVC kit biggest advantages are its lower hull and suspension, less the drives and idlers, and it's comparatively low retail price. The DML kits, though nothing like "perfect, are overall better rendered. Mark
NOV 01, 2009 - 10:48 PM
Great pics! Can you tell us if the commander's cupola is conical or cilindrical? It's hard to see.
NOV 07, 2009 - 02:40 PM
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