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UM 1/72 scale T-34/85 with S-53 gun

Kit: No. 328
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: UM, available from Squadron Mail Order, 972-242-8663,
Price: $10.98
Comments: Injection-molded, 223 parts (3 photoetched metal, 22 vinyl), decals
Pros: Lots of detail parts, crisp molding, well-engineered styrene tracks
Cons: Scale and parts count may be beyond beginner-level skills
With 223 parts, the 1/72 scale UM Models T-34/85 has as many bits and pieces as some 1/35 scale kits. Surface detail is excellent with crisp molding, although some parts, like the fenders, look a bit thick for this scale. The photoetched parts, a nice addition, are crisp. One interesting feature of the kit is the vinyl "tires" for the road wheels. I loved the idea of not having to paint the road wheels' rims, but each vinyl part had a thick ridge that required sanding. They were a tight fit, too, and scraped some paint off the wheels during installation. Stretching the tire with a paintbrush handle helped.

The three-color decal sheet provides markings for seven units. Although they're a little thick and brittle, the decals conformed with a little Micro Sol. The two-page, 15-step instructions feature clear line drawings with part numbers identifying part locations. On my sample, the instructions identified the decals with numbers that didn't match those on the decal sheet.

Humbrol paint numbers are used throughout the instructions. Additionally, the back of the box has color three-view illustrations of the tank.

Building the kit was straightforward. While it wasn't quite a "box shaker," it was close. The only areas that required filling were the mating seams for the upper and lower hull. A little sanding was also required on the fender sides to achieve a tighter fit with the fenders.

The kit's styrene tracks are a nice feature. The long runs are molded in a single piece, and individual links are supplied to wrap around the drive/idler sprockets.

In step 6, ensure the grab handles on the engine deck are attached far enough to the rear so the turret will miss them. Also, the photoetched engine grate will need a slight downward roll added to match the rear engine glacis' rounded edge. Drilling out the main gun barrel and adding an antenna wrapped up the building process. I painted the model with Tamiya acrylics.

Overall, this was a fun kit, and it took a quick 16 hours to build. Whether you're an advanced beginner who's looking for a project that requires no special modeling tools, or an experienced armor modeler looking for a small-scale subject, UM's T-34 could be ideal.

- Phil Kirchmeier


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