ARM: Review - Miniart 1/35 scale SU-85 Model 1943 Mid Production

Kit Review: Miniart 1/35 scale Kit No. 35187; SU-85 Mod. 1943 Mid Productio n; 1,016 parts (888 in grey styrene, 116 etched brass, 14 clear styrene); r
etail price US$79.95
Advantages: nice new mold kit of this famous antitank gun; full interior wi th several options
Disadvantages: most of the interior will not be visible without some tricke ry; lots of tiny etched brass parts
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Soviet WWII and ?34" fans
    Recently I received a copy of ?Sverdlovskiye SUshki? which is the factory history of Soviet SP guns starting with the SU-122. It reco unts how the Urals Factory for Heavy Transport Machinery Construction (UZTM in Russian) only came up in conversation as a possible tank factory in the late 1930s. Up until that point it had only worked on heavy construction e quipment. But with the assignment of L.S. Vladimirov as director (who had w orked closely on the BT-2 tank at Kharkov) things began to change.
    With B.G. Muzrukov taking over in 1939, the factory began to move to the f ore and was first tasked to make KV-1 hulls in 1941; then later it was refo cused on T-34 hulls. While they initially decided to make T-34 tanks, in No vember 1941 they were ordered to coordinate with Plant No. 9 (artillery) to work on artillery tanks for the Red Army. L.I. Gorlitskiy was assigned as the chief designer of this class of weapons.
    After the factory branched out on its own and produced the SU-122 self-pro pelled howitzer, in 1943 the Red Army noted the Germans were upgrading all of their weapons systems and soon their powerful 76mm guns would not be abl e to take down German armored vehicles. Kursk was an object lesson for the General Staff and they took it to heart. The SU-122 was a great close suppo rt vehicle but its low-velocity 122mm round was not effective beyond 500 me ters on tanks. So a new tank destroyer was to be created using the SU-122 c hassis.
    After suggestions to use a 57mm gun or even an experimental 95mm one, the decision was made to create a tank gun based on the 52-K 85mm antiaircraft gun, with F. F. Petrov offering up the D-5S85 and V.G. Grabin the 85mm S-18 . The D-5S85 was deemed the best of the two and was adopted for the new gun , now dubbed SU-85.
    Production began in August 1943 but the need for the D-5S85 guns outstripp ed the production capability at Factory No. 9. Some xxxx were built betwee n then and September 1944 when the SU-85 was completely replaced in product ion by the even more powerful SU-100; the T-34-85 tanks had come into full production early in 1944 and obviated the need for it. Around 2,050 of all models were built with the last ones being the SU-85M that shared some desi gn features with the SU-100.          Roughly 40 years ago Tamiya introduced the first kit of the SU-85 availabl e in styrene, but it shared a poor chassis with their T-34 tank kits of the day. About 15 years ago DML released much better kits of the SU-85 and SU- 85M, but they had some problems as well. Miniart has released a new mold ki t of the vehicle that shares part of its design with their recent SU-122 ki ts (as did the original!) The result is an excellent kit.
    Like the earlier kits this model seems to match up reasonably well with th e blueprints with some differences in the spring tower locations and the fi rewall, but none of these seem to have a major impact on the overall accura cy of the kit (especially if the hull is cemented together and only hatches are left open for viewing the cramped interior!) While much comes from the SU-122 kit this has 224 new styrene parts and a new fret of 116 etched bra ss parts. Note that the kit is typical of recent Miniart efforts with the k it on some 75 sprues and one fret of etched brass.
    The directions are as with all recent Miniart kits a handsome booklet with clear locations called out for all parts.
    As with previous new released Miniart kits assembly starts with the V-2 en gine. Only the injector tubing seems missing from the engine as it comes wi th all of the other items including radiator balance pipes and fittings. Th e transmission includes the shift linkages and all accessories such as the generator/starter. The brakes have a correct ?ribbon? from etched brass and the proper actuating gear. However, all of the control rod s are molded to the belly plate (B2) and not separate; considering they are on the floor of the hull this is not a big whoop.
    This vehicle has the ?Tsiklon? air cleaners and the kit do es a nice job of representing them to include etched brass latches. Some mo dification needs to be made to the intake tubes (Da1/Da2) due to this parti cular air cleaner setup (as shown in the directions).
    Each spring tower has a separate spring and adjustment mechanism inside it . While the road wheel arms have the same round pins for mounting which mad e the SU-76M kit a pain to assemble, these also have locks on one end (F5) and fit into the springs to lock them in place so a pretty positive fit and result. The front spring mounts are quite complete and each one consists o f some five parts.
    Step 41 basically completes the lower hull, and then the construction swit ches to the D-5S85 gun. If assembled correctly the gun will elevate and tra verse within the limited arc that the original gun possessed. Also note the main item of the interior is ammunition - the kit provides the authorized 486 complete rounds plus some other elements stowed inside the rather cramp ed interior. (Realize the original had a crew of five inside there with the gun and all of that ammunition...)          The last parts of assembly cover the rear upper hull and fenders as well a s the engine deck. They provide both a complete etched radiator exhaust gri lle (the big one at the rear of the engine deck) or a single part ? quickie? solid styrene one. When completed the rest of the model is then assembled to include mudguards and external items such as the auxilia ry fuel tanks. Note that the indirect fire panoramic sight is included and it can be mounted sticking out of the open gunner?s hatches if desi red.
    Finishing instructions cover only two SU-85s: an unidentified unit, Red Ar my, winter 1943-44 (4BO green with whitewash and red 214 or 4BO with white 214); 1st Czech Armored Brigade, 1944-1945 (4BO green with white logo ? ??Kapitan Otacar Jaros?). A good-sized decal sheet is provided for these markings. This was a bit surprising as with three times more bui lt (plus postwar ?trickle down? to client states) you would think they would have more options.
    Overall like the SU-122 with interior it almost is a shame to complete as is and seal up all of that detail inside it!
Cookie Sewell
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