This may help out on some of the comments on the new kit.
Kit Review: DML 1/35 ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 6203: t-34/85 UTZ Mod. 1944;414 parts (412 in grey styrene, 1 in clear styrene, 1 nylon string); estimated US retail price $28-33
Advantages: Kit provides parts to make an earlier model of the main production version of the Model 1944 T-34-85; still the most accurate series of T-34 kits on the market
Disadvantages: Designation of kit is not correct; single link tracks not for all modelers; some changes could have made for more options to the kit
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendations: For all WWII Soviet and ?34' fans
For those of us who read Russian, there have been two really good books on the T-34 that have come out in the last two years. They are: Neizvestniy T-34 (The Unknown T-34) by I. Zheltov, M. Pavlov, I. Pavlov, A. Sergeyev and A. Solyankin, Exprint, Moscow 2001, ISBN 5-94038-013-1; and, Bronyekollektsiya Spetsial'niy Vypusk No. 3: T-34 - Istoriya Tanka (Armor Collection Special Issue No. 3: T-34 ? The History of a Tank) by Mikhail Baryatinskiy, Modelist-Konstruktor, Moscow 2003, no ISBN number.
Both of them provide a wealth of coverage on the entire history of the T-34 tank from the A-20 prototype all the way up to the T-34-85 series produced until 1946. Both of them have a number of 1/35 plans as well (albeit the Exprint one is not as complete, its drawings are more thorough) and data supporting the text. The Exprint has dual text captions; alas, the Modelist-Konstruktor one does not.
Having said all that, both books provide a blow-by-blow history of the T-34, and as such cover all of the factories that produced the tank and those which provided parts. This is what brings me around to the comment in the "Disadvantages" section that the subject of this kit is not correctly identified.
Once Soviet production got rolling in early 1942, they had a number of factories and factory conglomerates producing tanks and their constituent parts. Factory No. 185 (Chelyabinsk, AKA "Tankograd") was one such center, and Factory No. 183 (Nizhniy Tagil, AKA "Vagonka") was the other. Supporting those two main centers were a number of other factories. One of the biggest ones was the Ural Factory for Heavy Machinery (Ural'niy Zavod Tyazheloy Mashinostroyenii) or UZTM. This had heavy foundry equipment for casting turrets, and also produced some welded armor products such as the casemates for self-propelled guns such as the SU-122, SU-85, and SU-152.
Since the designers at UZTM figured out how to create reusable steel molds for casting turrets in 1941, they had become the largest producer of cast tank turrets in the USSR. They learned these skills when working on the KV-1 Model1942, and it transitioned over later to the T-34. In 1942-43 UZTM did produce complete 76mm model T-34 tanks., but ceased production when the T-34-85 series tanks replaced the T-34 76mm models.
DML's kit actually represents an early production T-34-85 (Russians use a dash, not the backslash used by many others and used on this kit) with a UZTM produced turret. Most of the kit is identical to the earlier DML T-34-85 Model1944 kit (No. 6066 which was released in 1998) but there are about 60 new parts to the kit.
Most of them are the "minor" difference items that make it an early production model. These include the rounded T-34 type fenders rather than the more familiar rectangular ones from the other kit; it also comes with a two-piece turret hatch for the commander, a different cupola design, and the1943 production "spider" wheels with "cheater" holes in the rims (used to cut down on the amount of rubber used) and only six holes in the wheel center and doubled webs, vice the single webs, solid tires and 12 holes found in the previous kit. I could have hoped for some more parts, like the rhombic shaped mantelet for the S-53 gun (predecessor of the full production ZIS-S-53 gun more commonly found in T-34-85 tanks) and the smooth pressed steel engine radiator exhaust louver grille cover, but the model is dead accurate as is so I really have no complaints.
The kit builds into a standard production ("series" to the Russians) tank built between March and September of 1944. If you want a later WWII production one, you will have to pick up the other kit. Three options for markings are included: one from the 1st Baltic Front, Koenigsberg, East Prussia 1944; one from the 55th Guards Tank Brigade, 7th Guards Tank Corps, Berlin 1945; and one of the tanks subscribed in the name of David Sasunskiy by the citizens of the Georgian SSR, fall 1944.
There are few tricky areas in this kit, and DML has included more than enough details for most modelers. The turret does take care, and there are some piddly sinkholes but most seem to be in places that can't be seen (example: the faces of the road wheel arms, which are right behind the large wheels and not visible once assembled.)
For those who hate single link track, the good news is that T-34 tracks are easy to assemble no matter who manufacturers them (well, in styrene at least) and these are among the best. Unless you really want working tracks (on fixed wheels it really doesn't make much sense) or weight (from Fruilmodel) there's no real reason to get another set. The Eduard etched metal set for the earlier kit should work on this model, but I expect they will come out with another version to provide metal fenders. A number of manufacturers also make turned aluminum ZIS-S-53 barrels for these tanks.
The box also has some good news, as DML is now advertising figure set No.6197, Soviet Tank Riders with six new figures, which should be a perfect compliment to this kit.
Overall, this is a nice kit and does make a accurate model of its subject. Just don't go by the name!
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell AMPS