KIT: Dragon 1/72 SU-85M Tank Destroyer
KIT #: 7211
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


During early World War II, Soviet tanks such as the T-34 and KV-1 had sufficient firepower to destroy any German tank they encountered. However, in the fall of 1942, Soviet forces first encountered the German Tiger tank. By spring 1943, they knew of the existence of the German Panther tank, although the Panther was not seen in combat until July 1943 at the battle of Kursk. 

The fielding of these new-generation German vehicles meant that the Red Army required a more powerful anti-tank gun. The SU-85 was a modification of the earlier SU-122 assault gun, essentially replacing the SU-122's 122 mm howitzer with a D-5T high-velocity 85 mm antitank gun. The 85 mm gun could penetrate the side armor of a Panther or Tiger at long range, and do so from a small, highly mobile vehicle with all-around armor protection.

 The SU-85 entered combat for the first time in August 1943. It was employed by Soviet, Polish and Czechoslovak forces right up tothe end of the war. There were two versions: the basic SU-85 had a fixed commander's cupola with rotating periscope and three vision blocks; the improved SU-85M had the same commander's all-around vision cupola used on the T-34-85. When the up-gunned T-34-85 tank was in full production in the summer of 1944, there was no point in continuing to produce a tank destroyer without superior firepower, so SU-85 production was stopped in late 1944, and replaced with the SU-100, armed with the D-10S 100mm gun.


This kit is based pretty much on Dragon's superb T-34 kit, which was one of the first really nice 1/72 small armor kits I ever bought. Never built it, but always wanted to! As so much of the running gear is the same as the T-34, it is probably no surprise that you get an upper hull for that particular kit. However, you also get a large sprue that is nothing but tank destroyer. In fact, it appears that there are bits for the SU-122 or perhaps the SU-100 on this one as well.

A small photo etch fret is included for the engine cooling screens and some other small bits. You also get updated wheels, sprocket and idler. The superlative DS one piece tracks are also part of the package. One needs to be careful about over-applying cement to these tracks. They also take paint just like the plastic bits and it will not flake off in handling.

Instructions are very well done providing both Gunze and Model Master references. Markings are for three SU-85Ms, all late war (1945). All are listed as 'unidentified unit' and there are two in overall Soviet armor green and one in overall winter white. Decals are well done and my past experience shows that they will provide no difficulties in use.


Another outstanding small armor kit from Dragon. Thanks to the somewhat low parts count when compared to some of the other kits, this would be a great introductory kit to the genre.


Thanks to  for the historical background.

October 2007

My thanks to for the review kit. You can find yours at your local retailer. If they don't have it, ask them to order you one.

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