by: Vinnie Branigan [ ]
introductionThe appearance of the T-34 on the battlefields of Russia during WWII, as everybody knows, put the fear of God into the Germans, and led them to develop the whole idea of sloping armour in the Panther. The T34/85 was equipped with a more powerful gun and thicker armour than it's predecessor, but was still ultimately out-performed by it's German adversaries, making up for these deficiencies by sheer number.
The following is a first-look review only. I know very little indeed on the subject of Russian armour, but was so impressed by this diminutive kit from a new manufacturer that I picked up all 10 kits they had to offer! I will therefore not comment at all on accuracy, but will confine myself to commenting on the quality of the kit and leave the accuracy issues (if there are any) to others.
the kitThe packaging is impressive to say the least! A strong proper cardboard box, with a lid. Great box art, and when you open the box it's equally impressive. Each sprue is separately sealed in it's own bag, therefore no damaged parts, and the separate hull tub and top are held securely in a cardboard structure at the end of the box. The instruction booklet is of the exploded line drawing type and looks extremely professional, which is not what we always get from new manufacturers.
The painting schemes are on a separate glossy insert too.
The kit comes on 9 fair-sized sprues of light grey styrene, with separate 2-piece hulls mentioned, and as you examine them, the first thing that comes to mind is that they exude quality. Very little flash indeed, and really, really sharp detail. Which is what attracted me to them.
Also included in the box there are two small clear headlights, a length of copper tow rope, very similar in composition to Karaya tow ropes, a small decal sheet, and the really innovative touch........... a PE grill already moulded into the styrene rear engine cover! Quite how they achieve this is beyond me, but it looks fantastic! A huge step forward.
the partsThe finesse of the parts is quite stunning, from the full crew compartment to the engine, transmission and full turret interior, and remember this is in 1/48th scale! There is a tiny amount of flash around some of the smaller parts, but easily cleaned off.
Construction begins with the drivers station, and includes some very fine detail indeed. There are separate sidewall inserts to be detailed, and moving back into the fighting compartment there are full arrays of batteries, and more highly-detailed sidewall inserts. Construction continues with the full engine, transmission, air cleaners.......... this small kit really does have a full interior! Some of the smaller parts look to be a tad simplified, but at this scale, that's something you would expect.
After inserting the firewalls and the radiators, work continues on the external upper deck. Again, fine detail is the order of the day, with some detail already being moulded onto the inside surface of the hull. Then there's that innovative engine screen.
The tracks are supplied as link and length, the instructions being very clear indeed on which section to use where. Each link does have a tiny ejector pin mark on it's surface, not very noticeable, but if you do choose to remove them you'll need a micro-chisel such as that available from Mission Models in order not to mar the surrounding detail.
The gun barrel is in one piece and has a pre-drilled opening........nice touch. Also for the turret interior there is lot's of detail...............and I do mean lots! A full breech assembly, moulded on detail in the turret itself, ready ammunition racks with ammunition, and the test of a good moulding..........all the rounds supplied are round!
marking optionsAs mentioned earlier, the marking scheme is supplied on a separate full-colour glossy insert. There aren't any options really. It's dark green or nothing! There is only one scheme shown on the insert, although as you can see from the decal sheet, more options are there, we're just not shown what to do with them?
conclusionThere's only one conclusion i could reach, and that's that this kit represents remarkable value for money. 1/48th scale, with a full interior, and including that PE & styrene engine screen. There has been speculation that these kits are in fact scaled down Trumpeter 1/16 kits, and whilst that might be true, my money is on the profits from these going to a certain other far east kit manufacturer. Highly recommended.