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"Most accurate 1/76 T-34/85?" Topic


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829 hits since 14 Nov 2023
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Comments or corrections?

4th Cuirassier14 Nov 2023 4:19 a.m. PST

I picked up a resin 1/76 Centurion Mk 1 at SMW last weekend and I am thinking of pitting it against some late war German adversaries. While I am doing that I might as well have some Russkis for the same Germans to fight, so I am wondering, who does the best 1/76 T-34s?

I am not interested in 1/72 so while this is certainly more logical, it's not the answer when you luvs yer 1/76 like I do.

As I recall there is Airfix, Matchbox / Revell and Nitto / Fujimi (unless those two are different tools). Then you have the resin offerings, likely better than the injected plastic but two to three times the price. Vintage 20mm Hinchliffe metal kits were all 1/76 but I don't recall a T34.

Have I missed any?

Of the plastics, which is best? The Airfix comes with both a 76mm and an 85mm turret, and both were around in 1945 obvs so it's useful. But it has post-war mudguards and I am really not at all sure about the hull shape. The Matchbox hull is markedly longer than the Airfix, but the wheels are hopelessly inaccurate flat disks. The Fujimi I know nothing about.

I have a feeling that the best answer may be the Airfix turret and wheels on the Matchbox hull, but I really hope I don't have to expend two kits per one decent model. Can anyone comment?

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2023 6:53 a.m. PST

Another issue with the Airfix kit is the barrels on both the 76 and the 85 are too thin. Otherwise, I like the models.

I really like the Fujimi model.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Nov 2023 7:15 a.m. PST

Time to consider 3D printed models? They can be printed at your desired scale.

4th Cuirassier14 Nov 2023 9:37 a.m. PST

@ Col Durnford

Yes, they both need new barrels. Back in the day I found the gun from the Airfix JS3 did the job for the /85 – not the whole tube, just a suitable length from behind the muzzle brake.

The thing is the hulls of the Airfix and Matchbox are different, so at least one is wrong. I just don't know which one.

@Extra Crispy

Any recommendations?

Trockledockle14 Nov 2023 11:17 a.m. PST

I had a look at this a few years ago. I'll dig up what I have.

Toombe14 Nov 2023 11:29 a.m. PST

The Fujimi models are very nice kits. The T34/76 1940 model comes with both the rubber tyred and all steel road wheels. Back in the 1980's I used the Fujimi wheels as the outer ones and the Matchbox as inners on both the Fujimi and Matchbox hulls.

The Airfix isn't very accurate, probably the weakest of the 3.

If I wanted 1/76 T34/85's today I would choose the Fujimi in plastic and the Milicast in resin.

The only issues with the Fujimi model is the later mudguards and the way the hand rails are moulded on the hull sides.

As far as I'm aware there are no 1/76 plastic injection moulded T34/76 for 1943 on.

Best wishes, Martin

Andy ONeill14 Nov 2023 11:33 a.m. PST

The milicast t34/85 might be cheaper than two kits.

Trockledockle14 Nov 2023 1:44 p.m. PST

I've dug up my stuff and have the following comments. This can be as complex as Shermans if you really want to delve into it.

As Andy has mentioned and as a simplification, there are two types of T34/76- the 1940-42 version and the 43 onwards version (sometimes called the T34/76 B and C and T34/76D). It's a simplification as there were varieties within those depending on gun barrel length, which factory made the turret and whether it was cast or welded. The T34/76 B and C are the types made by Airfix, Matchbox and Fujimi. The major change with the D was that a larger hexagonal turret was introduced with two hatches on the roof and on later versions a commander's cupola. The earlier B/C ones had a single large hatch .There is no 76D in 1/76 plastic but I'll come back to that.

The hull in 1/76 should be 80-81mm long and 40-41mm wide for all types depending on which plans you use. The Airfix, Matchbox and Fujimi all are about this size (within an mm) although the mudguards make them look a little longer. The postwar mudguards on the Airfix are easy to modify as they are two straight sections that can be filed to a round shape as the earlier ones had. In the field, they were often removed. Have a look at some photos on the internet. The thin guns are easy to replace with rod or RB barrels.

If you want to do late war, most of the T34/76s would be the D model as a result of casualties and breakdowns.

I suspect the Fujimi is the most accurate. I remember seeing some reviews which complained about the turret shape etc. on the others. I guess that this depends on your level of tolerance for these things. I think that the Fujimi T34/76 and T34/85 each had their own moulds but there is very little difference. Fujimi are usually more expensive than Airfix but you may be lucky on eBay. Copies of the T34/85 were made by Science Treasury (I think under licence) and may be a little cheaper but not quite as detailed or well cast.

I have all of the above but also some resin Frontline models. These are possibly very very slightly under 1/76 but they make a T34/76D and T34/85. I bought some T34/85s and Frontline were kind enough to sell me separate T34/76D turrets for these and my Airfix/Matchbox and Fujimi. This would almost certainly be the cheapest option as the are £6.40 GBP per model but they are resin Wargames models with the simplifications that includes (e.g. the running gear has no gaps between wheels). It's a personal choice.

I don't have any Milicast but they do a very high quality product albeit at a price. All the T34/76Ds are out of stock (production?) on their web page. Have a look at their site to see the differences between T34/76 B, C and D.

A rough price comparison (excl postage)
Frontline £6.40 GBP
Airfix £8.00 GBP
Science Treasury (often listed as Fujimi) £8.00 GBP
Fujimi £8.00 GBP
Milicast £13.00 GBP

If you want to send me an email address, I can send some comparison pictures.

Trockledockle14 Nov 2023 1:56 p.m. PST

Here's some more reading. It seems that Fujimi is the most accurate followed by Airfix then Matchbox.

link

link

I was surprised that the Milicast is not that much more expensive (30-60%) than the Fujimi and Airfix.

Trockledockle14 Nov 2023 1:58 p.m. PST

I've had a look at the Frontline T34/76D turret and it is a little small. The 85mm turret seems fine.

Trockledockle14 Nov 2023 11:58 p.m. PST

Hinchliffe/Skytrex did make T34s but their WW2 stuff has disappeared. Here is an extract from their catalogue 20 years ago.

S20/194A T34/76 Late 1941 £9.20 GBP
S20/194B T34/76D 1942-44 £9.20 GBP
S20/195 T34/85 1944 £9.20 GBP

SHQ also did a T34/76D (with two 76mm turrets and a T34/85 but they are closed at the moment. I'd guess about the same price as Milicast.

Another option is Britannia but they may be 1/72 or something in between 1/76 and 1/72 and will need a bit of filler work. They have the full range of turrets.

I suspect Cromwell made 1/76 T-34s but they will be rare. Minimi made a B/C and an 85mm but long OOP.

Trockledockle15 Nov 2023 1:18 a.m. PST

One I forgot – MMS. They had a reputation for very accurate metal models. There is a T34/85 for sale on eBay at the moment. They also did a T34/76D

There are probably others such as Red Star, Vac-U-Cast etc but I'll stop now.

4th Cuirassier15 Nov 2023 4:51 a.m. PST

Thanks all.

So my preference in the T-34 line would be for 76mm ones to have the later hex turrets, for the reasons Trockledockle gave at 1.44 yesterday; and the odd 85mm. Somewhat to my surprise, I find that while you can get complete kits of hex turret T-34s, nobody seems ever to have done just this turret as a resin replacement part for Airfix, Matchbox or Fujimi plastic kits. I am wondering if this is because all the hulls / wheels are inaccurate and hence there's no kit such a turret could complement?

The Fujimi does sound like the best option in plastic, although as I'm not in a hurry, picking them up cheap at shows and on the 'bay may be the way ahead.

I'd never heard of MMS but eek, £24.00 GBP including postage is 1/35 scale money.

It is quite surprising that these things are so inconsistent. I was under the impression that apart from the bolt-ons such as fuel tanks, a T-34 hull was a T-34 hull was a T-34 hull in which case why are the Airfix, Matchbox, Fujimi, Skytrex, MMS etc all apparently different?

Andy ONeill15 Nov 2023 8:57 a.m. PST

If you could live with 1:72 there is of course unimodel.

Trockledockle15 Nov 2023 11:17 a.m. PST

I think you are correct, T34 hulls are all essentially the same at a wargaming scale.

Separate hex turrets were produced I think by Vac-U-Cast but are very rare. I have made a master out of balsa and card and cast some in Miliput using the soft heat mouldable plastic to make a mould. However, I'm not a great modeller so they are crude.

SHQ may be an option for you. I think they will only be slightly more expensive than Fujimi when they reappear but come with two hex turrets in each pack.

Hornswoggler15 Nov 2023 8:18 p.m. PST

Nice tute on making your own turrets:

link

Trockledockle16 Nov 2023 1:54 a.m. PST

That's a nice tutorial. Thanks for that.

4th Cuirassier
There is someone selling 6 unbuilt Airfix T34s for £5.00 GBP each for a charity.

link

Trockledockle16 Nov 2023 2:21 a.m. PST

I forgot but Butlers 3D do separate turrets for £2.77 GBP each. Depends on what you think of 3D printing.

link

4th Cuirassier16 Nov 2023 3:48 a.m. PST

@ Trockledockle

Well those 3D ones look pretty good one could add those to the appropriate plastic hulls and you're away.

I am still a bit mystified though. The Fujimi (x2), Airfix and Matchbox T-34s all have slightly different engine deck configurations. Was this something that differed from one factory to another, or over time? Or are some or all of them just wrong?

It's going to look a bit weird (to my eyes anyway) if there are SU-100s, 76mm and 85mm T-34s on the table all with ostensibly the same hull and mechanicals but all looking different because different manufacturers.

It feels like Fujimi hulls and wheels could be the way to go, with 3D late 76mm turrets on top.

@ Hornswoggler: he missed out the key thing! which is, how did he get the slab of layered plastic into that lovely symmetrical truncated hexagonal pyramid?

Andy ONeill16 Nov 2023 8:40 a.m. PST

MMS were nice miniatures but the owner retired and Iirc it closed down about 5 years ago.

Zephyr116 Nov 2023 3:26 p.m. PST

ESCI had really good T-34's, but not any T-34/85's that I can recall…

4th Cuirassier17 Nov 2023 1:40 a.m. PST

ESCI were 1/69 or 1/70 – not even 1/72, never mind 1/76…

Trockledockle17 Nov 2023 4:48 a.m. PST

4th Cuirassier,

I've had a look at my books and Milsom says that all T-34 hulls and suspensions had the same components albeit with different tracks and bogie wheels. The only major visual difference I can see is the auxiliary fuel tank. The later 76Ds had the cylinders mounted on the side while the earlier ones had box like ones on the rear hull. There are probably others but relatively minor.

Why are the 1/76 models all different? They are all roughly 50 years old and the standards and kit manufacturing equipment of the time meant that, I suspect, short cuts were taken. Information from the USSR was also less available. Personally, I can accept these differences but you may feel differently. If you want a really accurate model with decent tracks, I think you'll have to go to 1/72.

4th Cuirassier17 Nov 2023 6:12 a.m. PST

@ Trockle

Thanks. I am less concerned about actual exact accuracy; I can live with this being a bit off because you don't really notice it. I'm more about consistency. If the /76D, /85, and SU-85 were all based off the same chassis, then the top view of engine decks etc on models should look the same too. It would not do so if one went for three or four different manufacturers. Hence I would want to go with one for everything.

This tends to eliminate Matchbox, because their /76 is too early, meaning I could only use the hulls. I would need donor or aftermarket turrets, plus I'd need to scratchbuild any SU variant.

Airfix does better because its /85 is usable, but I would need donor or aftermarket turrets again to make /76s, and again I'd have to scratchbuild any SU-85.

Fujimi does an /85 and an SU-85, so only for 76mm models would I need aftermarket turrets. This is the least hassle, and as Fujimi seem to be most accurate, there must be a good likelihood of the hulls looking similar. Oddly the /85 and /76 kits apparently share no parts, but that's not a problem. If I acquired all /85s, I'd just put a resin 76mm turret on those.

Phew.

Thanks to all for the help, thoughts and insights. There are some pretty vehement opinions about these models for some reason (not here but elsewhere) which is kinda weird.

Trockledockle17 Nov 2023 3:11 p.m. PST

4th Cuirassier

Your choice makes sense to me. Good luck with finding Fujimi kits but watch out for Science Treasury copies. They aren't as good. I've seen them advertised as Fujimi on eBay.

Andy ONeill18 Nov 2023 4:43 a.m. PST

Unimodel would be consistent and you could buy all your sov tanks from them.

4th Cuirassier20 Nov 2023 1:44 p.m. PST

I found a Fujimi T34/76, /85 and SU85 on the 'Bay for £20.00 GBP and I have ordered a late hex turret off Butlers so I will see how these look. Anyone have a sense for how many T34s were 76mm and how many 85mm by 1945?

Hornswoggler21 Nov 2023 1:29 a.m. PST

@4thC,

I do love to build a Fujimi kit! By coincidence, here is another topic I stumbled across this evening that may provide some further inspiration:
link

4th Cuirassier21 Nov 2023 2:43 a.m. PST

Thanks Hornswoggler. Yes, from that and other pieces by people who've really looked into this, it did appear that Fujimi is the way to go. I don't see a lot of point buying a Fujimi for every Airfix / Matchbox / Revell in order to cannibalise the Fujimi's wheels to fix the other one…

Aesthetically it would jar with me to have T-34s and variants all with obviously different hulls that should all be the same. It's unfortunate that 1/72 and 1/76 are so visibly different. You can get away with gun barrels and hull "clutter" but an 18% difference in size overall is really noticeable. I used to have Esci T-34s with the hex turret alongside Matchbox T-34s and it just looked a mess. At least with Airfix and Matchbox the Airfix 85mm turret could be swapped onto the Matchbox hull, which was handy.

Of course back in the day you had rules like Operation Warboard in which the author mixed 1/76 with 1/87 (50% bigger) and cheerfully recommended not bothering to paint them…!

Trockledockle22 Nov 2023 12:09 a.m. PST

4th Cuirassier,

Regarding the relative numbers of T34/76s and 85s in 1945, I've struggled to find numbers. A very rough guess from total production figures and photographs would be 10-25%.

This seems to be the best source but only covers one group of units in mid 1944 and works out at 32% 76s, 68% 85s. As production of 76s stopped in mid 1943, I would expect the number in 1945 to be much lower. A guess is 10%. However, from another place on the website, the Soviets were using Matildas in front line units in 1944 so anything is possible.

link

colkitto22 Nov 2023 4:34 a.m. PST

As it happens I have just been making an Airfix T-34. I would just observe that some of the parts are poorly moulded (especially the smaller ones, but also the edges of things) and some are a poor fit; and yes, the barrels are too thin. And the plastic seems a bit soft. On the other hand, it stands up reasonably well for such an ancient kit – last time I made one of these was nearly 50 years ago …

4th Cuirassier22 Nov 2023 7:20 a.m. PST

AIUI, if you take off the post-war mudguards, omit the fuel tanks (correct on the box art, but wrong in the box), beef up the gun tube, and turn the bumps onto the wheels into holes (someone misreading a drawing, by the looks of it), you can get a passable T-34/85 out of the Airfix kit. The /76 turret does not really work with the hull, as it is a very early specimen that would have had to be retrofitted to a later hull, which doesn't seem likely.

I've had my doubts about the Airfix hull, mainly the engine deck, ever since I noticed how different it was from the Matchbox and Esci versions – but it seems possible neither of those is actually any better.

Hornswoggler22 Nov 2023 4:00 p.m. PST

As it happens I have just been making an Airfix T-34. I would just observe that some of the parts are poorly moulded (especially the smaller ones, but also the edges of things) and some are a poor fit; and yes, the barrels are too thin. And the plastic seems a bit soft. On the other hand, it stands up reasonably well for such an ancient kit last time I made one of these was nearly 50 years ago …

Is that a new "Vintage Classics" moulding? I have had a couple of these and found them nowhere near as good as the Airfix originals. Apart from some obvious deterioration of the mould due to age, there was quite a bit of flash.

4th Cuirassier22 Nov 2023 4:44 p.m. PST

The main advantage of the Vintage Classics rereleases is that the online price of the old kits falls. For a lot less money than hitherto, you can buy examples from the 70s, produced before the moulds got completely clapped out, like they now are.

Hornswoggler23 Nov 2023 2:02 a.m. PST

Haha, yes, I had noticed that too !

colkitto23 Nov 2023 10:57 a.m. PST

@Hornswoggler – it's a "Vintage Classics" model, not (alas) one from years ago. I never thought of trying to find one of those. It's OK for the price, I suppose, but it's some way behind being great. I tried a Bren carrier (and 6pdr) not that long ago and found it *really* disappointing.

4th Cuirassier23 Nov 2023 11:48 a.m. PST

My Fujimi T34s and SU85 have turned up and interestingly the hulls and engine decks resemble the Airfix more than the Matchbox. The /85 copies Airfix's error of having straight-edged mudguards (whereas the /76A does not), which makes me wonder if they copied it, as they seem to have done with their supposed M3 half-track. Like Airfix's M3, it's not an M3 at all, it's an IH M14 – and quite serviceable as such, it's just not an M3.

The wheels and gun barrels all look excellent.

I think the next question is whether if I want JS2s and JS3s, which should have more or less the same running gear, am I better off with Airfix JS3s that I convert to JS2s, or do I convert Fujimi JS2s to JS3s? The Airfix JS3 needs a new turret anyway, so the JS2 to JS3 route may be simpler.

Hornswoggler23 Nov 2023 10:37 p.m. PST

…it's an IH M14 and quite serviceable as such, it's just not an M3.

Here's how I deal with Airfix HT scrappers that come my way. I fix the IHC mudguards and either slap an Airfix tarp on, or scratch the interior seating from card. Leftovers like the MG pulpits I reshape and use to convert Italeri M3s into M3A1s.

picture

4th Cuirassier24 Nov 2023 2:22 a.m. PST

Very sensible and the tilt does indeed hide a multitude of sins!

Trockledockle24 Nov 2023 10:17 a.m. PST

Hornswoggler,

That's a nice job. I did something similar with restoring mine from the 1970s but I had to make the pulpits from scratch as they had disappeared. Unfortunately the Airfix kit doesn't come with the tarpaulin any more and hasn't for 25 years. S&S Models make tarpaulins (and pulpits) for the Italeri mode, they may be too big for the Airfix. I think he still makes drop in seats for the Airfix. Here's a link to the tarpaulins, you can find the other stuff from there. I see he even does the specific M14 wooden seats.

link

4th Cuirassier

I'm going to a show tomorrow where one of the traders usually has boxes of second hand 1/72 and 1/76 tanks and vehicles for sale for £5.00 GBP each. They are built and painted but it is in a basic way and there may be some wear and tear but we all need a challenge! I can see if he has any Fujimi T-34/85s. I'm fairly certain that he had SU85s but they may have been Armourfast.

Hornswoggler24 Nov 2023 2:44 p.m. PST

Thanks!

Yes, I managed to snaffle quite a few of the old Airfix kits with the tarp.

Here are a few more of my Italeri-based mash-ups this time most of the "donated" bits (winches, MG pulpits, mine racks, etc) came from the Fujimi US HT kit that 4thC mentioned:

picture

Base coated:

picture

P.S. I do love those boxes of pre-loved beaten up models at shows …

Trockledockle25 Nov 2023 3:26 a.m. PST

Had a look and I could find the following Fujimi built models

2 SU85s – may be more
2 T34/76
1 T34/85

All look complete. I can't be absolutely certain that they are Fujimi but the are the same size as Airfix but have the wheels with holes.

Trockledockle27 Nov 2023 11:53 p.m. PST

A bit late but here is a comparison of the Fujimi and Matchbox.

link

4th Cuirassier28 Nov 2023 1:46 a.m. PST

Thanks TD. I have to say though that the article leaves me scratching my head a bit. If you buy a Fujimi and a Matchbox, you can use the former's wheels to correct the latter's. Or presumably you could just buy two Fujimis??

Trockledockle28 Nov 2023 2:29 a.m. PST

I think that it's a modeller wanting two different turret versions. I'd be interested in your thoughts on the 3D print of the later 76mm turret. How does it compare in terms of size and does it have printing lines?

Are you interested in the details of the Fujimi models I saw at the show. I took some pictures.

4th Cuirassier28 Nov 2023 5:13 a.m. PST

The 3D print does indeed have printing lines (I bought the cheapo one that's under £3.00 GBP; there's a higher res version that may be better). I think a scrape of putty followed by some filler will probably take care of it. I may copy it in case I need more, but I have always tended to do skirmish actions in this scale, so about four or five vehicles per side is as many as I ever need.

No interest in the Fujimis, but thanks for the trouble. I've now got three T-34s, one with a hex turret, and an SU-85. I figure those plus a couple of resin T-70s and I'm more or less there.

Trockledockle06 Dec 2023 10:58 a.m. PST

I did a bit more research on the numbers of T34/76s and T34/85s. The reference below contains extracts of operational summaries. I skimmed through it and do my comments are not based on a complete analysis.

1: The 2nd Guards Tank Corps was completely reequipped with 85s in August 1944 before the offensive.

2: The 4th Guards Tank Corps was also reequipped and 94% of their T34s were newly issued T34/85s.

3: There are photographs of T34/76s (with the hexagonal turret) but a small number compared with the 85s.

4: Unfortunately, the later summaries don't distinguish between T34/76s and 85s. However, what is surprising is the low number of T34s vs assault guns e.g.

10th Tank Corps Feb 1945
Tanks 30 T34s, 1 M4A2, 1 IS122
Assault guns 7 SU122, 10 SU100, 6 SU85, 5 SU76

Overall roughly equal numbers of tanks and SUs. I'm not sure why this was. Perhaps the tanks were used more often in assaults so suffered more casualties or broke down more often. That seems unlikely as many had similar running gear. Figures for the 29th Tank Corps are similar in February and the ratios are similar in January albeit with more vehicles.

For comparison, the 2nd Tank Corps had 210 T34/85s, 21 SU85s and 21 SU76s at full strength in October 1944.

5: The book also contains more detailed lists of German unit strengths. Another surprise is that a couple of units still had a 38t's on their books.

I suspect that there were very few 76s around in 1945, perhaps fewer than 10% and probably a lot more SUs.

Trockledockle06 Dec 2023 11:00 a.m. PST

The reference is:

"Tank Battles in East Prussia and Poland 1944-45", Igor Nebolsin.

Andy ONeill06 Dec 2023 12:52 p.m. PST

Sov artillery wasn't very flexible. I thought the so guns were there to offer reliable artillery fire, take on dug in infantry directly and ko big cats.

4th Cuirassier06 Dec 2023 1:51 p.m. PST

Thanks TD, interesting. I figure 76mm T34s were still around and probably so were SU85s until clobbered, and it looks like I'm not far off.

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