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Pic 1, Pic 2, Pic 3, Pic 4, Pic 5, Pic 6, Pic 7, Pic 8,

First and foremost I would like to thank Vinnie for sending me this T34 to perform a full build on.

The Start!

Upon receiving the package, I was very impressed with the artwork (I can remember the days when Airfix kits came like that). I also noticed some very good information printed on the bottom of the box. Pic 1 &2.

When I opened the box, all the sprues were sealed in separate plastic bags. Items such as the decal sheet, photo etched fret, gun barrel and the two brass shells were all taped to a card for added protection, pic 4 to 8.

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Pic 9, Pic 10, Pic 11, Pic 12, Pic 13, Pic 14, Pic 15,

The Build!

On with the build! Stage 1 of the instructions deals with all the running gear. I chose to leave this until nearer painting time. So the next stage involved fixing the spring housings into the lower hull. As you can see in pic 9 & 10, there are 4 fitted each side. Each one of them has two tiny injection release marks beside the spring, these can be filled, but when fitted you can hardly see them anyway.

You will notice a little bit of filler around the rear drive sprocket fixing point. This will be rubbed down when dry.

Next I decided I was going to attempt to fit parts MA1 and MA2(the etched brass grill and surround) to part B15,the rear engine vent. I started by drilling around the outside and then using a knife, joining all the holes up and removing the centre section, pic 11. When I had done this I removed the grills from the fret. Take care they are very delicate. I filed away the inside of the hole until the brass parts fit okay. The brass parts were shaped around the handle of one of my modelling knives, pic 12.

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Pic 16, Pic 17, Pic 18, Pic 19, Pic 20, Pic 21,

As I had removed the moulded grill and replaced it with the photo etched one, it left me with the problem of being able to see through to the inside of the hull. Now I could have just blanked it off with some plastic card, but looking through my spares box I found a Verlinden detail set for the Tamiya T34/8, (I don't know why I had this as I don't have a Tamiya T34 and I don't build Russian tanks...Strange?). Anyway I cut the louver vents to fit over the gap in the upper hull. This will later be painted, and the cover glued into place, pic 13.

As I was sorting through my tool box I came across these two items, pic 14. I was wondering if anyone else out there still has any such free giveaways?

Anyway, back to the kit! As I had got the Verlinden set, I decided to use the three resin fuel tanks provided in the set (mainly because I didn't want to rub down the joint lines in the kit). The etched parts supplied in the kit fit the resin tanks with no problems. The only problem I did have was handling such small parts with fingers that resemble pork sausages! Pic 15.

This picture (pic 16) shows some of the etched detail parts fitted to the front of the tank. Again no problems were encountered.

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Pic 22, Pic 23, Pic 24, Pic 25, Pic 26, Pic 27, Pic 28, Pic 29, Pic 30, Pic 31,

The next stage was to fit the drivers hatch, pic 17. As can be seen the inside of the hatch is very well detailed, there are alternative photo etched fittings to be fitted, but as there is no interior detail in the kit I chose to glue the hatch shut. Next up came the machine gun assembly, no problems were encountered here, but care must be taken when cleaning up the gun itself, it is very delicate and mine was bent (probably done in transit). The next picture shows the machine gun assembly fitted to the hull. Note the barrel has been drilled out although it may not show on the picture, pic 18.

Next I replaced all the plastic handrails with items made from brass and copper wire. The next item on the agenda was the two smoke canister brackets fitted to the rear of the hull (I am now really beginning to hate brass photo etch!) If there is a drawback with this kit, it has got to be, why didn't Dragon supply the two canisters in the kit? It almost "spoils the ship for an apeth o' tar". Pic 19.

Next up came the road wheels. These come on two identical sprues and in my opinion are little masterpieces, the detail on them is superb, as can be seen in pic 20 & 21.

With the wheels test fitted to the main hull. They still need to be cleaned up a bit though. Pic 22.

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Pic 32, Pic 33, Pic 34, Pic 35,

With the hull all but complete, I turned my attention to the turret. There are four main parts to the turret, and when joined they leave a very visible seam, but looking at various pictures this is actually a welded joint on the real thing. To simulate this weld, I glued on some scrap plastic strip, and when dry scuffed it up to look like a weld seam, pic 23 to 25.

Next came the commanders hatch. Pic 26 & 27 show the various parts prior to assembly and assembled.

Pic 28 to 31 show the turret fully assembled. You will notice I have used the moulded barrel rather than the turned metal one provided in the kit, this is because the plastic one is a much better fit. To scuff up the weld seems I put on my optivizers, and using a new chisel blade in my knife, I worked it back and forth across the plastic strip until I got the effect I wanted.

Pic 32 to 35 are of the hull and turret together.

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Pic 36, Pic 37, Pic 38, Pic 39, Pic 40, Pic 41, Pic 42,

Painting

I then put the tracks on, and gave the tank an all over spray of matt black. Pic 36 & 37. When this had dried I sprayed the whole thing with Xtracolor Russian WWII Tank Green (X811). Strange as it may seem, this is also a good match for modern British armour. Pic 38 to 40. Please note, the bent bracket on the rear of the tank would be straightened out later.

The kit offers the choice of six different markings, four of which are green and two of which are white washed. I chose a green one from the 22nd Guards Armoured Brig.,5th Guards Armoured Corps, Prague 1945. The only reason for this was because I thought the two red stars with the white writing gave a bit of colour to a dull finish! Pic 41 & 42. The decals have been applied using Super Sol and Super Set. In these pictures the Super Set had only just been applied.

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Pic 43, Pic 44, Pic 45, Pic 46,

When all the paint had dried and the decals had set, I gave the whole thing a mist spray with Humbrol matt 29. This got rid of the gloss finish of the Extracolor paint and toned down the decals, this was then left for about 24hours. After that time I did some spot shading using various combinations of Winsor and Newton Lamp Black, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna. Pic 43 to 46.

Next the whole thing was dry-brushed using various shades of browns, grey, black and silver until I got the effect I was after. I applied a little mud to the lower hull, but tried not to go over the top!

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Pic 47, Pic 48, Pic 49, Pic 50, Pic 51, Pic 52,

Conclusion

So there we have it, one Dragon T34/85. Overall this has been a smashing kit, very little flash (except on a couple of the wheels), and all the parts went together with no problems.

I have enjoyed this build, and if my few pictures and comments can encourage somebody to buy a Dragon 1.35 scale T34/85 then it is a job well done. Thanks to everybody who helped!