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Italeri T-34/85

Review of the 1/35 scale armor kit with an interior
Up-arming the successful T-34 with an 85mm anti-aircraft gun gave the Soviet Union a tank capable of taking on German Tiger Is and Panthers.

While Italeri has previously re-boxed Zvezda’s T-34/85, this is an all-new tool that replicates the Zavod 183 Mod. 1944 variant. Features include interior details for the engine, fighting compartment, and turret, optional link-and-length or vinyl tracks, photo-etched (PE) screens and straps, and markings for four vehicles.

The build starts with the lower hull. I painted the interior and exterior before installing walls and suspension.

The engine comprises just the upper half with valve covers, intake, and radiator tops. Since it will be visible on the finished tank through the screens, louvers, and posable hatches, I painted it and applied a dark brown wash. Next came the transmission and starter, which went together easily. The clutch and brake assembly came in two pieces with a large seam that needed to be cleaned up.

The fighting compartment’s seats, driver controls, and ammo storage boxes were painted and set aside. After consulting my primary reference, T-34 Mythical Weapon by Robert Michulec and Miroslaw Zientarzewski (Air Connection, ISBN 978-0-97810-910-3), I strayed from the directions and painted the air cylinders blue instead of black. No ammunition cans or racks are provided for the bow machine gun.

Several locating holes need to be drilled and louvers attached from underneath before the upper hull is attached to the lower section. The axles for the nicely-molded half-spider pattern road wheels were too big, so I bored out each wheel’s mounting hole for fit.

When I went to attach the one-piece link-and-length tracks, I found they were too short using the number of parts called for in the instructions. I tried adding two extra links per side — T-34 track links are paired so you can’t add just one — but the tracks look sloppy. So, I used the vinyl tracks instead.

Next, I painted the tools and ice cleats and attached them to the hull. Warning: The PE belts were fiddly. I cut off the buckle pin and slid the belt through, which made assembly easier, but it still took an hour just to add these. The intake screen consists of two parts, the screen, and the frame. I glued the screen first, let the super glue cure, then added the frame. I rolled one edge of the screen over a paintbrush handle to match the curve.

When working on the turret, be aware that the ready rounds are molded together in sets of three. In Step 21, be sure to attach the gunner’s seat and sight assembly to the turret after the gun’s breech has been lowered into its cradle. As with the bow, no racks or magazines for the coaxial machine gun are provided. The main gun barrel is molded in halves.

After painting, I used Tamiya weathering pastel snow to add the patchy wintry camouflage to the upper surfaces.

I spent 42 hours building Italeri’s T-34/85. For anyone looking to build their first tank with an interior, it would be a good choice as it offers plenty of detail and is a fairly straightforward build.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2019 issue.


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