DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6415, Soviet SU-85M Tank Destroyer Premium Edition 2-in-1. 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 362 styrene parts (including 3 clear), two bags of individual-link Magic Tracks, one turned aluminum 85mm gun tube, one photo-etched brass fret, one piece of braided metal wire, six decal/marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 18 steps.
This re-working of DMLs older SU-85M is actually more than it at first glance seems. While the modeler can certainly construct an SU-85M with an aluminum gun tube, all the parts for an early SU-100 are also in the box, to include a slide-molded, all-styrene 100mm gun tube. Coupled with some interesting color and markings combinations, a single, revised etched brass fret (replacing the three seen in kit 6359) and several assembly options, this latest re-box should appeal to modelers of Soviet WW2 AFVs, especially those who want as many options in a box as possible.
This model includes a set of individual-link Magic Tracks first seen in the release of the T-34 Model 1944 Premium Edition kit. They come packed loose in two bags and fit together quite easily, but will not stay together without glue. Each link has a pair of ejector pin marks on their inner faces; they are subtle but the more fastidious modeler will wish to remove them. Since they are above the surface, a swipe with a sanding device will suffice; no filler will be needed.
The road-wheels are of the type with smooth dished surfaces and smooth rubber tire rims. The idler wheel is of the all-steel type with ten perforations and ten ribs; there is a second type with the same amount of holes and ribs, but the holes have rims around them. The drive sprockets have six perforations and six ribs. All wheels, except the drive sprockets, have separate hub caps. The drive sprocket and idler wheel from the original T-34 Model 1940 kit are also included.
Separate swing arms and separate, internal Christie coil spring housings are provided for mounting the road-wheels, while a separate final drive housing and separate adjustable idler wheel axle is also provided. Dont fix the idler wheel axle in place until you have fitted the tracks. The final separate item related to the suspension is the track pin retainer plate.
The hull pan is from a slide mold; its sides feature molded-on bump stops, bolt patterns and the various openings for the suspension swing arms, etc. The belly plate has panel line details, access plates, drain plugs and separate access panel parts; some of the latter are provided as styrene or etched brass options. The lower bow plate is a separate part with fine weld detail, and the nose plate is the sharp-edge style featuring excellent weld bead details. The rear panel/transmission final drive housing also features weld details, as well as separate hammerhead-style tow hooks; the final touches are multi-part etched brass keepers to hold the tow cables in place on the hooks, or styrene alternatives.
The main superstructure part has excellent molded-on surface detail to include panel lines, recessed and raised bolt patterns, filler ports and engine deck. The engine deck features a separate access hatch lid, separate side and top air cooling grills (in styrene or etched brass), and a separate grill door panel. This last item is provided with an etched brass frame and screen. If using the etched screen and frame, the inner engine deck is visible; DML thoughtfully provided the movable baffles that will be easily seen beneath the screen, as well as other baffles seen beneath the side intakes, as etched brass parts. Also, the intake grilles themselves, both on top and on the sides, are given as etched brass or styrene parts. Finally, for those uncomfortable using etched brass, an all-styrene grill door panel is provided.
Two sets of separate front fenders are provided: the later type with the hinged front sections, which have a sharp bend (for the SU-100) and the earlier style of rounded, non-hinged fenders (for the SU-85M). They are both dented a bit here and there. The rear fenders are molded in place, while the front fenders are enhanced by etched brass flanges where they attach to the glacis plate.
The characteristic external fuel drums are provided in a distressed condition and include strap and filler cap details molded on. A second set of drums is provided depicting items that are not as yet damaged; this is a fine idea and it will allow maximum flexibility for modelers. New etched brass mounting straps and clasps are given as are flat handles for the ends of the drums. New ice cleats and their attendant etched tie-down loops and straps are provided as are the usual grab-handles for the convenience of any mounted Desant troops. Fuel cells from the T-34 Model 1940 are also still in the box.
A fender-mounted tool box is provided and this can be detailed with etched brass parts. The typical two-handed saw is provided as a styrene entity, while there are parts in etched brass to help stow the tow cable, which itself is made from wound metal wire and styrene end loops. The head-lamp has a clear styrene lens part and can also be mounted on an optional etched brass bracket. Ice cleat stowage straps and tie-down loops are given as styrene or etched brass parts; if using the latter, some surgery will be required to remove molded-on detail from the fenders and casemate side walls.
The casemate segment of the superstructure was re-tooled when DML revised their SU-100 kit. The side armor panels are separate parts with add-on pistol-port covers and replacement etched brass tie-down loops. There are two sets of side plates, each tailored for the two different rear plates. The two types of rear casemate armor plate sections include one with the lower hatch opening and separate lid, the other has a plain surface; note that the former is now marked as not for use on the parts map, but the instructions show it being used. Naturally, the modeler should consult his references to determine what features his replica needs and act accordingly. Regardless, both have a pistol-port plug and a view-port slit molded in place, and there are separate triangular-shaped fillets added to them at each corner.
The roof plate features molded-on hinges and torsion bar details, as well as separate cast vent covers and hatch lids; the latter feature separate periscope heads and covers and etched brass detail parts. The commanders split-hatch lid cupola has been enhanced with etched brass parts for the view-port innards, as well as internal details for the periscope heads. A separate fairing blends the cupola in with the side plate; it has an attached radio antenna mount that is also enhanced with brass parts.
The separate glacis plate has an opening for the separate inner and outer cast mantlet (with excellent texture and details on both parts) as well as the separate drivers hatch lid. There are two sets of mantlets, one for either the 85mm or 100mm gun. The SU-100 option has a slide-molded, pre-bored styrene gun tube, while the SU-85 option has one in turned aluminum. The drivers hatch lid includes separate clear styrene periscope heads as well as etched brass detail enhancement parts; it can be modeled opened or closed, but there is no internal detail in the drivers compartment if its left open. Individual link spare track sections are given to mount on the glacis, along with tow hooks and cable keepers.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
I have built enough of DMLs T-34-based kits to state with some confidence that there are no issues with the fit of most of the styrene parts. The casemate configuration (remember, it has separate side plates) means that extra care will be needed here, but a dry fit of the parts indicated that there should not be any major problems. If there are, a bit of filler will suffice.
Scale plans in the cited references indicate that the kit has no substantial dimensional issues, while photos indicate that the details are accurately rendered.
These consist of traditional line drawings and should be easily followed, especially since they contain only 18 main steps. I have also noted a discrepancy regarding the casemates rear plates, so the modeler should proceed with caution. As usual, colors are keyed to Gunze and Model Master paints.
Decals and Markings Information.
Water-slide decals for six different vehicles are provided by Cartograf of Italy. They are in perfect register, have crisp, sharp edges and excellent color saturation. They depict the following five SU-85Ms and one early SU-100:
White 432, unidentified unit, Bohemia 1945.
White K-10, 7th Mechanized Corps, Hungary 1945.
White 2, unidentified unit, Bohemia 1945.
White 119, unidentified unit, Ostfront 1945.
Black 281, unidentified unit, Poland 1945.
Captured SU-100, 4.Panzer-Division, Danzig 1945.
This is another worthwhile re-vamping of an older, yet sound kit. The ability to model an early SU-100 is also a plus, as are the many display options. Now, one hopes that DML will finally get around to kitting an early SU-85 as well as an SU-122, to fill out the series.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included, but were not limited to the following books:
1. T-34/85 Medium Tank 1944-1994; Osprey New Vanguard 20, by S. Zaloga & J. Kinnear.
2. T-34 in Action; Squadron Armor 20, by S. Zaloga.
3. Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of WW 2; Arms and Armour Press, by S. Zaloga & J. Grandsen.
4. Russian Tanks 1900-1970; by J. Milsom.
5. Soviet Tanks in Combat 1941-1945; Concord 7011, by S. Zaloga.
6. Russian T-34; AFV Weapons Profile 47, by J.M. Brereton & Maj. M. Norman, RTR.
7. Camouflage of the Tanks of the Red Army 1930-1945; Armada, by M. Kolomiyets & I. Moshchanskiy.
8. Sowiecka Artyleria Samobiezna 1941-1945; Wydawnictwo Militaria 171, by M. Kolomyjec & M. Makarow.
9. SU-85/100/122; Wydawnictwo Militaria 240, by M. Baryatinsky.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.
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