Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/72 Scale Armor Pro Kit No. 7211; Soviet SU-85M Tank Destroyer; 156 parts (138 in grey styrene, 14 etched brass, 2 DS plastic track runs, 2 twisted steel wires); price about US$14.95
Advantages: first new kit of this subject in this scale, very nicely rendered components
Disadvantages: relatively obscure interim vehicle
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all small-scale Soviet armor fans
Following on the heels of the DML SU-100 kit (No. 7208) is this 1/72 effort; the original 1/35 scale pairing of these two was reversed.
The SU-85M is a relatively obscure vehicle, as it was fielded as an interim version between the successful SU-85 and the more powerful SU-100. In December 1943 the GKO decided to move to the more powerful100mm D-10 gun and ordered that the new weapon be installed in a vehicle to replace the successful D-5 armed SU-85. Prototypes were built and testing was successful. But due to problems with getting the new D-10 into production, instead they converted over to producing the chassis for the new SU-100 but hastily refitted with a new mount for the older 85mm D-5. This vehicle, dubbed SU-85M, went into production from July to September 1944 when supplies of the D-10 began to reach the factory.
The SU-85M used the nearly complete hull of the SU-100 with its commander's station and cupola moved to the right to clear the bigger gun, but with a smaller "ball" mount for the smaller 85mm gun. A total of 315 were built, and they were fielded in tank destroyer units.
The DML kit is essentially that of the SU-100 kit but with a total of four new parts supplied for the 85mm D-5 gun, its mounts, and the rear of the casemate which was not quite the same as the SU-100. This includes the "slide molded" barrel with hollow muzzle.
The basic kit again provides only two sprues - one from the 1/72 scale T-34-85 kit family and a dedicated SU-100 upper hull. The lower hull is a late T-34 hull with separate "beak" edge for the bow and with the now-familiar DML "Slide Molded" wheel sets for their 1/72 scale '34s.
About half of the T-34-85 parts are not used, but the rest are the detail bits to complete the model. It comes with a choice of plastic or etched brass grilles for the rear, four new 95 liter spare fuel tanks, and twin tow cables made from twisted steel wire.
Assembly is simpler than the 1/35 scale version as the upper hull and casemate are in one piece, with only a "pulpit" to be added to the right side of the hul l and the hull rear and front plates. Both are, like all DML '34 series vehicles, basically appliques over a frame molded onto the hull part.
All hatches except the engine access hatch are separate parts and may be posed either open or closed. The gun barrel is styrene but is "slide molded" with a hollow bore.
Etched brass parts consist of the aforementioned grilles, the internal air louvers for the radiator exhaust grille, and some smaller fittings.
The kit offers three finishing options: Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1945 (white 119 with "gunsight" insignia on 4BO green); Unidentified unit, Poland 1945 (black 281 on whitewash); and Unidentified unit, Bohemia 1945 (white F2 on 4BO green). The decals are from Cartograf and it is a "targeted" sheet with just those markings on it.
Overall it is a good effort and fills in the "blanks" in the lineup nicely. DML now only needs the early war SU-122 and the original SU-85 to complete the series.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.