Wednesday, September 2

Construction Guide Pt 1:1/35th scale T-34/85 Zavod 183 Mod.44 from Italeri

Italeri's all-new tool kit of the T-34/85 Zavod 183 Mod.44 had a few surprises for Clayton when he first cast his eyes on it. He loves this tank - so he swallowed and got to building it, pausing only to take pictures and write a story about it for you all. See what he thought in the first part of his build guide...

Construction Guide Pt 1: T-34/85 Zavod 183 Mod.44 
From: Italeri
1/35th scale
Plastic Injection kit with Photo-Etch included

Painting & Weathering Guide Pt II: 1/35th scale T-34/85 Zavod 183 Mod.44 from Italeri

In terms of an in-box review and ‘first look’ at this kit, it’s probably safe to say we have missed the boat a little on this release. The kit came out toward the end of last year and is now readily available on shelves and online around the World. If you want a catalogue of sprue shots and pictures of the instruction sheet, they can be easily found online if you go looking. I know this to be a fact because I was out looking for information on this kit from the moment it was released.

If I had to pick a favourite tank, the T34 is the one I keep coming back to. The story of its’ manufacture and the accounts of its time on the battlefield are all legendary, and the scope of its’ service is extraordinary. The T34 is one of those tanks that everyone knows a little something about…and if you don’t then do yourself a favour and take a look at how amazing this tank was.

I read a number of main-stream reviews singing the praises of this kit and dishing up glowing reviews, so I was quite excited at the prospect of getting my hands on one and getting some glue on plastic. So here is my journey with the new Italeri T34/85.

The box is bursting at the seams and has the typical Italeri look about the plastic and the way the instructions are presented. Here you see the rubber band tracks that come with the kit, but the modeller is also offered the option of link and length tracks (I will go into this in part 2)

Four schemes are offered in the kit
On first opening the box and trawling through the sprues, the thing that caught my attention was the texture and attempt at the weld seams on the body and turret. Obviously, the texture on the turret was supposed to simulate the texture left by the casting process, but from my understanding that shouldn’t be present on the body of the tank (at least not to any great extent). 
I’ll let you be the judge, but the parts are going to need some attention. The turret will be an easy fix with recreating the casting texture, but from a first look, I am thinking I will need to sand the texture of the body and try and smooth it out somewhat.

I thought rather than rushing into the sanding process I decided to lay some paint on the part and see how that looked. It was actually a lot better than I was expecting and I made the decision (for the sake of keeping the build moving) to leave the part as it was. I figured with all of the pieces fitted, the paint down and with weathering, the texture would all but vanish in the noise. I’m really hoping at this point I haven’t made a monumental error in judgment… Guess time will tell.

The springs for the suspension system are painted and fitted to the housing pieces. The locator pins for the springs actually come through the other side and will be visible in the cabin. Given the obstructed view the interior will have on the finished model, it probably won’t be an issue, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
The assembly of the wheels was straight forward, and they look OK. With a fine drill, I set about drilling out the smaller inner hole that was left filled in the part.
Here you see the subtle difference drilling the inner holes makes. Left has been drilled and the right is straight from the kit. Once weathered and finished you probably wouldn’t notice if they hadn’t been drilled out, but this was a quick and simple way to add a little more detail to the model.
The wheels are now painted in 4BO from the AK Real Colour range of lacquers and the rubber parts are painted with Rubber Black. (I would later go on to make the rubber parts a darker shade of grey because the longer I looked at this lighter colour the less I liked it…)
The engine section is essentially one moulded piece of plastic with nothing under what you see in the picture. My initial thought was that it seemed to be oversimplified, but again, there isn’t a great deal of this part that will get seen once the model has been built…so in reality, it is probably a sensible way to present that part. The piece was first painted in Silver Lacquer and chipping techniques were used to weather the rocker covers. Enamel washes and shading with the airbrush helped to add some depth to the piece.

You can also see the flywheel has been painted and fitted to the model. 
The underside is now completed and giving a quick coat of paint. The swing arms are all in a fixed position, so if you were wanting to pose the model on anything other than a flat surface you would need to address this.
The transmission is now assembled and painted. Only a small parts count for this section. 
Moving to the interior of the tank, the side walls are prepainted in white and installed. The seats are painted and attached as are the pedals and levers.

The ammunition boxes are again a single piece and were painted and weathered prior to attaching to the floor of the model. Chipping was done using a simple hairspray technique. The parts are a little light on detail and quite oversimplified, but they are very easy to construct. Given the limited view of the interior on the finished model, this is completely acceptable.
From the get-go, I promised myself I wasn’t going to get too caught up in detailing the interior of this model. With the flood of recent releases of full interior kits, it can be really easy to get consumed with painting and detailing the interior…most of which will never see the light of day. So, with that said, I did some very quick (and a little sloppy if I am being honest), chipping using a sponge and some dark grey acrylic paint. It was just a matter of adding a little wear to the walls should someones’ eye actually make its way into the belly of the model.
To add a little more interest to the engine I added some leads. On researching this I am not entirely sure how accurate the kit part is, or if my wiring is correct, but at the end of the day it is within the realm of what the real thing should look like and it will add some more depth to the finished model.
The transmission is weathered with AMMO enamels and pigments and is fitting in place. The sprocket on this part didn’t align with the flywheel, but that could have been something I had set in the wrong place. It really wasn’t going to matter in the scheme of things.
Here you see the radiator covers. The kit part on the right felt a little unrefined to me, so I drilled out the pieces and added an after-market etch set to it. The fit wasn’t 100% but the etch set did give the extra refinement and detail it needed.
The gun breech, ammo racks and interior parts were painted and given a light weathering treatment and installed in the turret pieces. The pieces are very basic and a little underwhelming. The instructions call out for decals to be applied to the shells, but in reality, this detail is never going to be seen…so whilst I like the idea of the detail on the ammunition, it was going to be a pointless exercise to apply them, so I didn’t bother.

I applied some shading with the airbrush in an attempt to give the part a little more visual depth when peering through the top of the cupola.

The pieces and the assembly of this section had a real old school ‘Italeri feel’ about them. A little over-simplified for this day and age, but in the scheme of things would probably be adequate for most modellers.
With the turret halves together, a test fit revealed that the piece needed this ring attached to the underside to allow it to sit on the hull of the model. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of this piece in the instructions.
The air vents and cupola sections are now attached to the turret. The cupola has absolutely no detail on the inside walls which is a real oversight and is painfully bare. I am thinking about posing a figure in the area in the hope of hiding the missing detail.
The kit supplied barrel is moulded in two halves. It is very basic and lacks any detail on the interior walls. I happened to have an aftermarket barrel in the stash so I substituted the part.
The hull section is now assembled. There were some very obvious gaps that would need some attention to correct. Given the rough nature of this style of tank, it wouldn’t be hard to add some weld lines and filler to hide the gaps.
As mentioned earlier, the texture on the kit supplied turret was pretty basic, so in order to better simulate that, Mr Hobby dissolved putty was stippled onto the surface using an old brush. Weld lines and beading were created by layering the putty up over seamlines.
To add a little more detail to the model, straps and handles were applied using lead foil and fuse wire.
A coat of paint was applied to the turret to better show the newly applied cast texture. A little more laying was added using the dissolved putty and grab handles were applied using fuse wire.
With the bulk of the pieces now attached, a coat of 4BO is applied to the model. The lacquer paint will serve as an undercoat as well as setting the base colour for the model. The lacquer is pretty tough stuff.
The top side and hull are now glued together. The fit wasn’t perfect, but I couldn’t quite see where the issue was coming from. I ended up having to man-handle the piece and superglue it together. Here you can see that the back hatch had some large gaps that would need to be tended to.
The gaps were so big I used slithers of styrene to fill it.
With everything in place, the wheels were now dry-fitted, and the tanks were starting to take shape. I will deal with the tracks in the second part of this build, but for now, here are a few pictures of how this was starting to come together.
When I first opened the box I have to admit, I was a little concerned about the look of the kit. It looked to be a little over-simplified, soft around the edges and quite old fashioned. The one sprue that contained the engine pieces was the exception and looked to be produced at a higher quality than the rest of the kit. If I didn’t know better, I would have said this was a re-boxing of an older kit with the addition of the engine details…but that is just not the case.
As I started to build the model though, it became really clear that the level of detail and the way the model went together was not only appropriate but refreshing in the fact that the construction side of the model was quite uncomplicated. This was a model that would appeal to a vast number of skill sets and would be accessible to most modellers.
Italeri has bucked the trend of a high parts count and an over-engineered kit. They have kept the process simple, yet have still managed to present a really nice looking T34/85. In terms of the interior and the claims of the model having a ‘full interior’, I’m not so sure about that. Comparing it next to some of the true ‘full interior’ kits I have worked with, this gets left wanting, but it is a basic interior none the less and is an adequate representation of the insides of the tank. Most people will be more than happy with that I would imagine.
With a little additional work, the more skilled modellers can extract more life from the model, but if you just want a nice, quick build with not too much fuss, this kit will meet those desires too.
I have really enjoyed the model to this point and am really looking forward to bringing her to life in part 2, where I will go on to paint and weather the model. Stay tuned!

Painting & Weathering Guide Pt II: 1/35th scale T-34/85 Zavod 183 Mod.44 from Italeri

Clayton Ockerby

The new T-34/85 is available from Italeri directly from their website or many distributors worldwide
Thanks also to AK Interactive for sending the paints and weathering gear to Clayton for this build
See more of Clayton's work on his excellent website Workbench Hobbies.