IntroductionT-34/85 vz. 1944
is a new model by SDV Model
of the Czech Republic, kit number 87154
. It is an injection molded 1/87 kit with photo-etched parts. T-34/85 vz. 1944
is a recent release, one of seven new T-34 variants.
The model assembly has been documented in the forums. The link is in the summary box at the end of this review, titled Building SDV's T-34/85
The T-34 may be the most widely documented and discussed tank in the world, so I will not present much history. I know that, like the M4 Sherman, there are many versions as the type was improved, plus many sub-variants due to production at different factories as well as production line battlefield inspired modifications. The 76.2mm gun of the T-34 was lacking punch by 1943 and STAVKA recognized the need to up-gun the tank. The KV-series heavy tank had already tried the 85 mm and the T-34 was found to accept the bigger gun in a new turret. The first T-34/85s mounted the D-5T 85mm and prototypes filtered into Red Army units by late 1943. The "standardized" T-34/85 mounted the ZIS-S-53 85mm gun and production ramped up in 1944. Thus the main T-34/85 was known as the "Model 1944" (T-34/85 vz. 1944). The tank also received a new 3-man turret with an electric traverse plus a cupola for the commander, and a 5-speed transmission.
Some 55,000 T-34/85s were produced, many thousands by Czechoslovakia. It proved to be the basis of subsequent Soviet Cold War tank designs.
SDV Model writes;
The Czech company SDV model® was established in Prague in 1989. It specializes in production of short-run plastic kits of military machinery, trucks and buses in 1:87 scale. Our family-type company operates its own tool shop and press machines. Many other kits that are being sold under other trademarks were actually made by us.
At the time of this review SDV
's catalogue offers 1/87 and 1/120 models in five main categories and three subcategories;
BasicLine 1:87 - 163 civilian buses, trucks, farm equipment and circus vehicles.
MilitaryLine 1:87 - 100 military German and Russian or Warsaw Pact vehicles AFVs and soft skins.
Helicopters 1:87 - two Mi-24 Hind gunships.
Objektů 1:87 - a field fortification
Velikost TT (1:120) - 51 railway rolling stock and military vehicles, and accessories.
Nákladní vagóny 1:87 - a flat car with a tracked vehicle load.
Doplňky 1:87 - 52 sets of decals, paints, and model accessories.
Poslední kusy 1:87 - VT-55A railway wreck recovery vehicle.
While 1/87 military may not be as widely known in the US and UK as other “Braille scales”, 1/87 has been huge since Roco began releasing their MiniTanks back in the early 1960s, especially in Continental Europe. 1/87 is popular for wargaming as well as stand-alone models. It is also popular for dioramas because of the expansive availability of model railroad buildings, figures and scenery; 1/87 is model railroading's HO scale, thus perhaps the most prolific scale in the world. Huge dioramas are possible.
Let's look at this new offering.
SDV T-34/85 vz. 1944
I initially thought this model would be more like traditional injection or resin 1/87 kits - a few parts of combined major component assemblies. Surprise! It is a traditional kit consisting of over four dozen pieces on nine sprues, photo-etch included.
It is interesting how SDV Models engineered some parts. Instead of separate road wheel and track, the running gear is molded as a wheel set with the track but with the exterior wheel halves molded separately. This affords much greater detail and ease of painting. Otherwise the model looks conventional for assembly: top & bottom hull parts with fender ends; the running gear; two-piece turret with separate gun and cupola; individual headlamps and assemblies for the fuel tanks and turret vents. And then there are the 13 P/E hand grabs.
Molding is good in that most parts are sharp. Especially the outer road wheels. However, there is some flash to trim away, some mold seam lines and one sink dimple. To me, the worst seam to clean away is on the 85mm barrel. I did not spot any ejector circles that will be visible after assembly. The main problem I see with molding are the huge sprue gates holding the parts to the trees.
Detail is hit-or-miss. The model has both separate and molded detail. The engine access hatches and intake screens are molded on and look fine, but the exhausts are molded on and look like lumps. It also appears to have weld seams replicated. Tool boxes, extra gas tanks, the horn, driver's hatch, bow machine gun mantel, and spare tracks are separate parts.
The track is almost without detail which is odd considering how fairly bland many types of T-34 track links were - flat plates with some grips cast into them.
The road wheels look top-notch, sharply molded with fine detail and open holes, plus tire tread; some holes have some flash to clean out. And the the rear transmission covers are separate pieces.
The turret looks good with that rough Soviet casting texture added. The separate cupola will make it look better.
Bolts and rivets are molded on and they are over-scale though not disturbingly so.
SDV's molding and detail is commendable.
Instructions, Decals, Painting Guide
T-34/85 vz. 1944's instructions are a simple, neat and clean affair. It is printed in Czech and German. Black-and-white line art with shading. A view of all parts with their numbers is included. The back page shows a very detailed four-view of the tank: profile, planform, front, rear. SDV also includes shaded profiles showing the placement of the model's decal choices.
Granted, I do not read Czech and barely read German. That said, I don't see anything that seems to be paint color guidance.
The decal sheet is impressive. They are crisply printed and in register, and opaque. The carrier film looks thin and without much excess around the markings, considering the size. The instructions show decals for four different T-34/85 vz. 1944 subjects:
Captured by the Wehrmacht
A Czech brigade
A Russian unit
A unit I can't figure out
SDV also supplies plenty of numbers in two colors to allow the modeler a choice for different tactical numbers.
That's not all. I see insignia for a North Vietnamese and an Arab (Syrian?) tank. Modelers will have to rely on their own resourcefulness to figure out placement of their insignia.
ConclusionSDV Model's T-34/85 vz. 1944
is a neat small model of a Soviet war machine. Their engineering of the kit is clever yet not over-engineered. Molding is good for this small concern although not up to the level of the major model manufacturers; clean-up of the parts should be minor and easily within the ability of young modelers. My main concern is the hefty attachment points between the sprues and parts. SDV decals and instructions look as good as most major model manufacturers - and better than some.
new T-34/85 Model 1944 is good news for 1/87 modelers. It looks like it will build into a fine tank. Recommended.
Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on