ARM: Review - DML 1/35 T-34/85 UTZ Mod. 1944

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 Model
1942, 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 Model
1944 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 the
1943 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
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