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
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
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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