Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale Kit Number 6319; T-34/85 Mod. 1944 - Premium Edition; 536 parts (231 in grey styrene, 160 "Magic Track" track links, 139 etched brass, 2 turned brass, 1 turned aluminum, 1 length twisted steel wire, 1 length stiff steel wire, 1 clear styrene); price estimated at US $41-45
Advantages: takes the best T-34-85 kit on the market and makes it better
Disadvantages: for many modelers may be unimpressive; odd choice of features or lack thereof in the kit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all "34-ka" fans
DML has now added one of their T-34-85 kits to the "Premium" offering by changing out one sprue and adding a number of new parts to their previous kit.
This is the T-34-85 Model 1944 (Late Production) with the single flap hatch and twin ventilators at the rear of the turret. The original T-34-85 kits came with just over 400 parts, all but one of which were in grey styrene, and setpiece tracks on sprues. The rear engine grille was a solid component and no other media came in the kit other than one length of nylon string.
This is the same kit but with some key changes. The C sprue (upper hull and gun) has been redone, with opened louver bays and places to add either styrene parts from the "H" sprue or etched brass parts. However, for some odd reason the kit comes with the original engine air exhaust decking (part B15) with the solid grille. There is a two-part etched grille on the brass fret, but the modeler still has to cut out the kit's grille to install it. Since it is solid, this will be somewhat tedious. Also, once cut open, there is no cute "gimmick" such as the photograph of the transmission to insert underneath it nor the louvers for the air exhaust flow from the engine bay.
The styrene gun barrel now is slide molded as are two new exhausts for the rear of the hull. Also included is a complete DT machine gun for the bow.
The rest of the kit is virtually the original kit (not that it was a bad kit!) with the addition of the "Magic Link" tracks. These come separately bagged as "Link 1" and "Link 2," but unlike German tanks with left and right side tracks, these are easy to sort out. However, it is recommended that the idler adjustment arms (parts A6) be left loose until the tracks are ready to test fit so that the length will come out right. As always, T-34 tracks HAVE to have an even number of links so the flat and toothed links will mesh.
Most of the changes in detailing comes in the form of the etched brass, and there are some new styrene parts to help out as well. The kit comes with twelve ice grousers and brass straps and tiedown straps to fit them to the right fender. The model also comes with etched brass straps for the three 95 liter fuel tanks as well as two smoke canisters (oddly not provided with the kit.)
The rest of the brass "spiffs up" the model with details on the hull and turret hatches.
A very nice Cartograf decail sheet - targeted - comes with the kit and provides markings for one of six tanks: 4th Guards Tank Brigade,2nd Guards Tank Corps Belorussia 1944 (4BO green); 55th Guards Tank Brigade, 7th Guards Tank Corps, Berlin 1945 (4BO green); 3rd Belorussian Front, East Prussia 1945 (whitewash); 3rd Belorussian Front, Koenigsberg, East Prussia 1945 (whitewashed); 22nd Guards Tank Brigade, 5th Guards Tank Corps, Prague 1945 (4BO green); and 63rd Guards Tank Brigade, Eastern Front 1944 (4BO green). The last unit is out of the 10th Guards Tank Corps (later 10th Guards Tank Division in GSFG, an old "friend" of mine).
Overall this does take an older kit and make it better, but as the extra cost for a bit more quality I am not sure if it will matter much to most modelers.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.