AER Kit # 7209; Toga Kit # 251; Cooperativa/Eastern Express Kit # 720009

For a while, this was the only T-34 kit available, until the recent release of the Eastern Express T-34/76. It is still the only T-34/85 kit available in plastic, although several resin companies produce 85mm conversion turrets for the other T-34 kits.

While the molding quality of this kit isn't quite as sharp as the other T-34 kits, it is still a fairly decent model. The hull in particular, is pretty well done. There is good bolt detail on the rear hull plate, and around the hull machinegun mount. The rear transmission access hatch is molded in good relief, as is the welded hinge for the driver's hatch, although the hatch itself can only be posed in the open position without major work. The screening hatch over the engine fans is molded as a separate piece, as is the small, rectangular engine access hatch in the center of the engine deck, but there is no interior or engine detail.

The turret is not quite as fine as the hull. The loader's hatch and commander's cupola are separate pieces, but both hatches are molded shut. It will be easy to open the loader's hatch, but not the commander's. The periscopes are a little too flat, but the separate ventilation covers are a nice touch. The gun barrel is far too large, and looks more like a 100mm gun than 85mm.

These two scans show both sides of the sprue, but only one is included with each kit.

The wheel axles are molded onto the hull sides, like all T-34 kits, and are a little flat. Also, the spacing between the axles is incorrect. The kit has the front three wheels on each side very close to one another, when in fact, it should be the rear three wheels which are close. It probably wouldn't be too difficult to cut off an axle or two to correct the problem.

The wheels are flat and poorly detailed. Also, there are too few lightening holes in them. The spare fuel drums are fair, molded in halves, which may present a problem forming a clean join. The screening over the engine fans is not as good as the other T-34 kits, and lacks detail. The storage bins are simple blocks of plastic without any sort of hinges or lid detail whatsoever. Only one smoke barrel is included with the kit, and the instructions indicate it should be attached on the hull side, which I believe is incorrect. There should be two of them, and they should be located on the rear hull. Also there is no bolt detail around the rims of the muffler guards.

The tracks are the hard plastic, link and length style. While these are not quite as nice as the newest tracks from Eastern Express, or the ESCI hard plastic tracks, they are still light years ahead of vinyl tracks. The waffle pattern on the outside of the track is pretty good, and the inside surface of the track is fairly well represented also, although the track guide teeth could have been taller, and more pronounced (although limitations in molding technology may have prevented this). The tracks are very thick, but very easy to work with.

The decals sheet is very comprehensive, with two dozen different marking options. They are printed in single colors, so registration is not a problem, and although the carrier film is spread over most of the sheet, it is very thin and with a matte surface texture. They look like they should be pretty decent decals, although I haven't tried them yet.

All in all, this is not too bad of a kit, although I'd recommend replacing the wheels with either resin after-market items, or plastic items from other T-34 kits. Also, the gun needs replacing, and perhaps it would be better to use a completely resin turret, although with care, and especially with the photo-etched brass after-market detail sets available for this kit, it should build into a decent model.

I have used the hull of this kit for a conversion project, and reviewed it here.

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