ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale SU-85M Premium Kit

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale Kit Number 6415; Soviet
SU-85M Tank Destroyer - Premium Edition; (349 in grey styrene, 192
=93Magic Link=94 track links, 191 etched brass, 3 clear styrene, 1 length
of twisted steel wire, 1 turned aluminum gun barrel); price US$45.95
via DragonUSA Online
Advantages: Kit actually provides =932-in-1" choice of SU-85M or SU-100
vehicle; new moldings mixed with upgraded parts from earlier T-34-85
=93Premium=94 kits; plentiful etched brass parts
Disadvantages: still have to cut out engine deck grille to replace it
with screen version; plentiful etched brass parts
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all Soviet armor fans
The Soviets quickly realized that they needed more firepower to knock
out German tanks, and as such they modified their 85mm antiaircraft
gun design to fit in tanks and provide the necessary increase in
firepower. Two variants were produced: the D-5 from F. F. Petrov and
the later ZIS-S-53 from V. G. Grabin. The Ural Factory for Transport
Machinery Building (UZTM) quickly modified a T-34 Model 1942 chassis
to mount the new gun in a casemate, and starting in August 1943 it
entered production and service.
But even this gun eventually began to have problems in penetrating
the later German tanks, and as a result in mid 1944 a heavier gun, the
100mm D-10, was developed. UZTM Chief Designer L. I. Gorlitskiy
modified his SU-85 design to take the new gun, but as production was
slow in starting he decided to simply modify it to take either the
85mm D-5S or the new 100mm D-10S on a standardized (unifikatsionnaya)
chassis. The modified SU-85 became the SU-85M and was produced in
parallel with the SU-100 from September to December 1944. A total of
315 SU-85M guns were produced.
The main differences between the two externally were the smaller gun
and a different mantlet, as the chassis now had the expanded
commander=92s position with bulge to the right side of the hull and
other improvements.
DML has now released a =93Premium=94 level version of their earlier
SU-85M kit and also included parts to build an early model SU-100.The
model has some neat touches, such as totally separate parts for much
of the casemate, cupola and gun mounting. There are also separate
sides to the casemate, but DML=92s directions still have not improved
from their SU-100 Premium kit and this is still very fuzzy. They have
to be installed in in Step 5 (they are parts P8 and P9 and the upper
hull is C7.) While many modelers will probably figure this out (the
parts are not =93blued out=94 and it is obvious where they go) it is still
something more than one will miss until after other bits are
installed. This kit only comes with one rear plates for the casemate
without the =93dutch door=94 flap behind the ammo loading/access hatch.
The now all too common love/hate relationship with DML kits takes
over. They have made all of the grilles separate parts with optional
etched brass screens; happily this kit DOES include one with the
opening provided. The etched blades for the louvers which are
underneath it are included, and unlike the last iteration of these
they stand free so there is no brass tab to interfere with mounting
the screen assembly when finished.
The wheels are the 1944 production disk wheels with solid rubber
tires. The =93Magic Track=94 are pretty straightforward by now, but the
usual word of caution to leave the idler mounts (A6) loose until you
have the tracks ready to install so that you can get the right amount
of links to fit. Remember T-34 track links are =93A=94 and =93B=94 ones whi=
do not swap and must be added in pairs.
All hatches can be posed open or shut, which is nice, but since the
vehicle has not one whiff of interior I am not sure how many will be
used. It also comes with a choice between =93new=94 and =93slightly used=94
fuel tanks, so the modeler has an option. The exhausts designed for
this kit replicated welded tubes with =93slide molded=94 openings.
The kit provides three gun barrels: two 100mm ones (original two-
piece type and a =93slide molded=94 styrene one) and a turned aluminum
85mm barrel. The commander=92s cupola comes in 14 parts and has the
option for either styrene or brass components as well. In point of
fact, this kit comes with a plethora of brass parts =96 tie-downs,
louvers, grilles, fenders, trim, and even working snap-locks for the
tow hooks. Most have a plastic counterpart, but this is NOT a =93Smart
Kit=94 in that regard.
Technical assistance was provided by Nick Cortese.
Finishing information and a nice sheet of Cartograf decals provide
markings for six vehicles: Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front 1945 (4BO
green with white 119, =93bull=92s eye=94 cockade and white 7A); Unidentifie=
Unit, Poland 1945 (white overall, black 281); Unidentified Unit,
Bohemia 1945 (4BO green, white F2); 7th Mechanized Corps, Hungary 1945
(worn whitewash over 4BO green, white K-10); Unidentified Unit,
Bohemia 1945 (4BO green, white 432); and Captured SU-100,l 4th Panzer
Division, Danzig April 1945 (two color camo, black crosses.) The first
three are SU-85M and the last three are SU-100.
Overall this is a nice kit and the option to make either an SU-85M or
early SU-100 enhances it.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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