Fujimi 1/76 T-34/85 Volga

KIT #: WA 16
PRICE: $1.85 back in the Ď70s
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Peter Kwong
NOTES:

HISTORY

The T-34 tank was a relatively simple design that allowed for fast mass manufacturing. The tank featured sloped armour, rugged suspension, wide tracks for good mobility in mud and snow and a high caliber gun. Originally it was equipped with a 75 mm gun but later upgraded with an 85 mm gun that is the subject of this kit. The simple design allowed it to be manufactured quickly and sent to the front lines in overwhelming numbers.

The T-34/85 was used after WW2 by many countries such as the Soviet Bloc countries, North Korea during the Korean war and by middle east countries such as Egypt in wars with Israel during the late 1960s.

THE KIT

The kit has 58 parts molded in dark green styrene. The lower hull is made up of three pieces: a middle piece (with front and back), left and right sides. The gun barrel is in one piece. A tank commander in a relaxed leaning pose is also included but my commander suffered from a lower abdomen injury. Two vinyl tracks with fairly simple details are provided.

The left and right lower hull sides have mold sink marks that needs filling. The small tow hooks had small amounts of flash that would be easiest to clean up while they are still attached to the sprue. The left side tool box has a slight sink mark on the top. The hand holds are all molded flush to the hull and turret. The tool boxes are blank rectangles without any latch or handle details. The extra fuel drums are molded in upper and lower halves, resulting in a challenging seam line to clean up. The drum faces have no grab handle or cap detail.

Instructions provide a historical background and technical specifications for the T-34. Painting information for the tank and commander, plus paint mix information are also provided.  Assembly takes 4 steps using exploded diagrams and decent English explanations for detailed explanations.

Decals are for three versions: a Czech Army tank (CS-043), a 1st White Russian Regiment 1945 (#209) and an iron coloured (it supposedly left the factory unpainted in the rush to get to the front) tank captured by the Germans at the Eastern Front (#212) which is shown on the action box art, strangely, in action against a Japanese tank. Unfortunately, the decals have yellowed by now so you will have to try and bleach them white by putting them out in the sun before using them.

CONSTRUCTION

Building this kit began as an exercise in doing a quick out of the box build to pare down my stash of old kits, and to build something different, such as armour. Construction began with assembling the lower hull. It is made up of left and right hull sides attached to the center. The upper hull is then to be glued to the lower hull assembly. I had difficulty trying to keep the left and right hull sides perpendicular to the middle lower hull (so that the wheels will later sit on the ground properly later) and at the same time, minimizing the gap between the top of the lower hulls and the sides of the upper hull. Fortunately, the gap is on the underside so it is hidden from view. There is also a gap by the front wheel where the upper and lower hull haves join, but the front wheel hides it quite well so I just roughly filled and sanded it.

The 14 wheels halves were glued together and then the sprue attachment points and mold limes on the edge of the wheels were sanded off with a sanding stick. The wheels were not glued to the hull until after painting.

 The turret pieces fit pretty well although I found the elevating gun barrel assembly at bit fiddly and ended up sanded off too much plastic to make it fit between the turret halves. In the end, it was still able to move up and down. The gun barrel mold line was carefully removed by rubbing fine sand paper around the barrel rather than just along the length of the barrel.

At this late point in assembly, I decided to replace the molded on hand holds on the upper hull and turret with ones made from wire. I would recommend doing this before assembling the hull. The molded on hand hold details were removed with a ľĒ chisel (I would recommend using a knife or a micro-chisel to do this) and sanded with various sanding tools. Following that, holes were drilled to accept the wire rails made from electronic wire bent around wooden popsicle stick. The wire rails were attached with super-glue.

The fuel drums that come with the kit were in two halves. I gave up trying to eliminate the seams of the halves so I scratch built 3 new drums. To do this, I used the kit pieces to measure and cut 3 correct lengths of drinking straw of the right diameter. Then pieces of wooden takeout chopsticks were cut slightly shorter and glued to the inside of the straw with white glue. One metal grab handle and one cap were made per drum. The grab handles were made by bending short, thin strips of thin aluminum and and the caps were made by cutting thin pieces of styrene rod. These were attached using super glue to one face of each drum. Mr. Surfacer 500 was used to prime all the metal pieces and to hide the wood grain. To simulate the frame upon which the drums attach to the tank, I drilled 2 holes in each barrel for the 2 frame post, then wrapped 2 thin strips of tape to simulate the frame straps that sit on top of the posts. 

The towing hooks at the front and lower hull were attached. One of them flew off into a corner so it was replaced with one carved from a thick strip of plastic. The spare track link section was glued to the front chassis as was the machine gun. A small hole was drilled above the machine gun as per the box art picture. I decided not to use he kitís commander so the commander hatch was glued closed.

Both tool boxes did not have any detail on them so I scribed a line around both boxes to simulate lids, and simplified handles and the latches were made with short lengths of stretched sprue glued to the boxes. 

The searchlight was hollowed out and glued to the left hull. The various view ports were hollowed up as best as I could with a small drill and then carefully cutting away plastic with a #11 blade.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Before painting began, I used wire coat hanger to make handles to insert into the turret and chassis told these pieces during painting. From the paint collection, I chose Gunze H302 (Green FS34012 for USAF A-10 etc) as a generic Russian armour green, thinned it with Tamiya acrylic retarder and sprayed all tank parts (wheels, chassis, turret, barrels) with it using my Bader 350 airbrush. This was followed by light mists of Testors Acryl RLM 70 Black-Green (just because I was painting a Fw-190 propeller during the same painting session) here and there to break up the monotony of a single colour.

After the wheels were dried, Polly Scale Railroad Grimy Black was hand painted around the edges of the road wheels to simulate the rubber around the wheels as per box art.

The tank was then lightly dirtied up with a wash of Grimy Black brushed across the big rivets, the engine screens, the road wheels and crevices. Thinned brown paint was then brushed across the road wheels and around the lower sides of the chassis.

The inside of the light was painted silver and the clear lens made with a drop of white glue. The view ports were painted with amounts of black.

The vinyl track and spare track link were painted Gunze Burnt Iron, as was the exhaust stack. The exhaust stack was then brushed with bits of black and brown to vary its colour.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

I initially glued all the wheels to the lower chassis and then tried to attach the track to the wheels. Unfortunately, this did not work because there is not enough slack left in the track to either glue or use a hot screwdriver (as per instructions). A quick search on the Internet came up with several solutions. The one I chose was leave off one wheel and attach the track and the last wheel at the same time to the chassis.                                                                                        

The instructions suggested using a hot knife to put together each of the two vinyl tracks. Not wanting to do this, I used 5-minute epoxy (super-glue will not work) to glue the track together. To change the circular track assembly to an oblong shape while drying, I put 2 wooden clothes pegs inside the track and a weight on top of the track. While this was drying, I removed the front wheel from the chassis that fortunately was not glued on very tightly and came off easily with some twisting.

After drying over night, the track was wrapped around the wheels. Then the front wheel was inserted into the track and the track pulled (tensioned) enough to get the front wheel inserted into the wheel pin on the lower chassis. The track stayed glued together and the front wheel did not need gluing.

Now would be the time to glue the drums to the rear of the tank. Once done, the turret was carefully squeezed into the chassis and assembly was completed.

The decals were quite yellowed and the prospects of enough sunlight to bleach it white was not too good during Winter here, so I found some white numbers from a police car kit to use. These were cut out, soaked in water, dragged across a puddle of Future before applying the decal to the turret. I found the decals did not want to budge after laying them down so be careful with the placement. Excess Future was brushed out of the decal and when dried, very little decal film was visible.

After reviewing the pictures, I noticed the tracks were riding higher on the right side than the left side. Donít know what happened.

CONCLUSIONS

This was a simple kit with few parts (compared to, say, the Revell 1/72 T-34 kit) and fairly easy to assemble. Challenging assembly areas were the hull sides and the tracks. The single colour scheme made painting very straightforward with lots of opportunity for applying shading and weathering techniques. Replacing the hand holds with wire and replacing the drums really improved the appearance. I had lots of fun building this kit which is suitable for modelers of all levels.

REFERENCES

Kit instructions.

Internet pictures of T-34ís.

Peter Kwong

February 2012

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