SU-85, Soviet Tank Destroyer

Published on
January 24, 2011
Review Author(s)
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Company: Tamiya - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Tamiya America - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

The Model

The SU-85 is a Russian tank destroyer that has a massive 85-mm gun, and was capable of taking out nearly every foe it came across. The tank did not have a moving turret so it made it easy for the Russians to build. It was powered with a V-2 12-cylinder diesel engine that could reach speeds of 34-mph on rough roads. There were roughly 2,050 destroyers built from 1943 until late 1944. It was mainly used in the battle of Kursk, as well as being heavily used from December 1943 to counter-attack German Panthers and Tiger Tanks.

The Kit

The kit contained 4 bags, one with the main body of the tank, one that contained 4 sprues marked A.B, C, and D, a bag with the tracks, and hardware required. The fourth bag contained 6 Russian soldiers to assemble. The kit also came with Tamiya weathering master for Russian Tanks.

This is the first SU-85 I have ever built, and the first Military vehicle I have built in a very long time.

The Build

I followed the English instructions Tamiya included in the kit with some difficulty in figuring out exactly where some of the external add on parts belonged, or how they were to be placed as it did not show it clearly in the instruction sheet. The kit was damaged in shipping to me so I had a little trouble repairing the damaged areas, but it worked out just fine with some extra thin set and time.

  • The first step is to assemble 10 road wheels, 2 drive sprockets, and 2 idler wheels. The large wheels made assembling the rolling chassis easy, especially considering the tank does not have much of a suspension system.
  • Second step is to install wheels, sprockets, and idler wheels to the lower hull along with the front plate. There were 3 different ones provided in the kit. Only one is required for the build. Once the lower hull was completed you continue on building the top half of the hull.
  • Step three is to install the items on the right side of the top hull, with a gun port; handle bar; exhaust and exhaust covers; vision port; antenna mount; tool box, and right engine grill.
  • Step four is to install the engine cover, roof, and all the external parts on the left side: tool boxes; handles; engine grills; antenna mount; head light; horn extra tracks, and anything else you would like to add.
  • Step five is to install the front armor plate. This presented a bit of a problem with fit, and finish, but I think that was because the front suffered damage in shipping, but nothing that a file, putty, and sand paper could not handle. You install the periscope, and several periscope covers.
  • In step six you have to add the two body stops to the underside of the front hull, and assemble the hatch.
  • Step seven is where you have to decide if you want to keep the hatches open or closed. I chose closed because I would have to scratch built an interior to make it look correct. Add the extra track and tow hook to the front of the armor plate as well as any other external parts you want to add or not.
  • Step eight assembles the gun. There are 10 pieces for such a small part. At this point you need to take a piece of sprue, heat it, and pull it to make your antenna. This presented some difficulty for me since I have never tried this and took several times to do it without burning my fingers trying to make it look good. I think that one should have been added in the kit in the first place, but that’s just me.
  • Step nine is to install the antenna, and assembled gun, then attach top hull to the lower hull, and put on the tracks.

Finally I painted the model with Model Masters medium green, put on the very few decals that came in the kit. I chose the Berlin advance white identification stripe. An interesting thing I learned about the tank was that the numbers on the side of the tank were used as a deception. The first number was bogus, and was used to make the Germans think that each battalion had hundreds of tanks.

  • Completion and weathering: I let my imagination run wild as I applied a lot of the weathering that was provided with the kit. As I was unable to find any color pictures of the tank from that time frame finding only ones that were on display I chose to make it look like how I perceived it would have looked after fighting through a harsh winters of Russia.

Over all I found the build to be very easy and a welcome relief from my usual builds which are predominantly jet air craft. With the lighting, and white background the tank’s weathering does appear to be darker than it really is in the photos.

Thanks to Stevens International, Tamiya and IPMS/USA for this review model.


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