Hobby Boss 1/48 T-34/85

KIT #: 84809
PRICE: $26.99 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Includes photo etch


When new German tanks types with thicker armour began appearing in mid-1942, the T-34's 76.2 mm cannon had to fire at their flanks to assure penetration. As a result, the T-34 was upgraded to the T-34-85 model. This model, with its 85 mm (3.35 in) ZiS gun, provided greatly increased firepower compared to the previous T-34's 76.2mm gun. The 85 mm gun could penetrate the turret front of a Tiger I tank from 500 m (550 yd) and the driver's front plate "DFP" from 300 m (330 yd) at the side angle of 30 degrees, and the larger turret enabled the addition of another crew member, allowing the roles of commander and gunner to be separated and increasing the rate of fire and overall effectiveness. Against the frontal armour of the Panther at 30 degree sidewards, the T-34-85 could penetrate the non-mantlet  areas of its turret at 500 m (550 yd), meaning that even upgraded models of the T-34 usually needed tungsten rounds or had to flank a Panther to destroy it.

The greater length of the 85 mm gun barrel (4.645 meters) made it necessary for crews to be careful not to plough it into the ground on bumpy roads or in combat. Tank commander A.K. Rodkin commented: "the tank could have dug the ground with it in the smallest ditch. If you fired it after that, the barrel would open up at the end like the petals of a flower." Standard practice when moving the T-34-85 cross-country in non-combat situations was to fully elevate the gun, or reverse the turret.

According to the reference, the turret was used on the short production T-44 built right at the end of the war, which had a new chassis. This tank then led to the T-54 a few years post war.

The type was widely exported to Soviet client states and reported as still being currently active in North Korea, Somalia and Yemen. It was in Yemen in 2015 that it was last photographed in action.  


 Hobby Boss is the first company to kit this version of the T-34 in 1/48 scale and as of yet, is still the only one available in the scale. The kit is of the initial production model from 1944 with the single seam weld turret. Those expecting a simple, quick building kit will soon realize that it will not be the case. The kit is very detailed and comes with a full interior. There will be some 'modeling for God' in this one as once the upper hull and turret are installed, there will be areas that will be invisible to all but IPMS judges' fiber optic inspection lights.

Since it is full interior, you will spend some quality time building up this section of the kit. Full driver's position, full engine and transmission, complete interior suspension housings and engine radiators are provided. Also included are the appropriate bulkhead between the crew and engine compartment. A full exhaust system and cooling fan are also part of the construct.  

On the hull you'll have a myriad of cooling vents, spare tracks, fuel tanks, driver's hatch and pioneer tools. The very aft cooling cover comes with a section of photo etch screen already installed in the piece. Tracks are link and length, a system that some prefer and one that seems more prevalent in 1/48 than other scales.

The inside of the turret is fully detailed with a proper breech assembly on the rear of the gun barrel as well as radios and stored ammunition. Also in there is a coaxial machine gun, elevation apparatus and the crew's seats. The upper hatch can be posed open though the instructions show it closed. Most modelers will want to built this one so that the turret can be easily removed to show the inside. Frankly, if you leave the rear access panels closed as the instructions show, you might as well leave out all that engine compartment detail or at least figure out what little will be seen through the p.e. screen. The terminally lazy will not build any interior bits and leave the turret on all the time.

Instructions are well written and offer component color info during the build, but do not tell us what color the interior should be. I'm guessing white. Gunze and generic paint references are provided. The decal sheet is obviously meant for more than one boxing, but only the box art tank is shown in the full color camo and markings guide. The sheet itself is nicely done and I'm sure many could figure out the others if they wish to use them.


Considering how important a tank this was to the Soviets during the end of the war and later into the post war period, it is a subject that belongs in any 1/48 collection. Those who choose to go full Monty on this one will end up with a superlative replica. Well worth the dollars asked.



May 2016

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