KV-85 Russian Heavy Tank
The KV-85 was a stop-gap tank that was basically the turret off the IS-85 on a KV-1S hull. It was brought into quick production in the latter half of 1943 to provide a short term answer to the Tiger and Panther tanks. Only 148 were built before production of the T-34/85 and JS-2 tanks ramped up and production of the KV-85 was no longer needed.
Though produced in small numbers, the tank was reasonably effective and provided the Red Army with a counter to the Tiger at a critical time.
This is complex kit with a very high part count. Of course the nice aspect of this is that there is excellent detail. But there are also a lot of small parts and complex assemblies so modelers should be aware of this in deciding if this kit is for them.
The kit uses a number of sprues from the previously released SU-152 (KV-14) kit and several sprues have the same letter. Also, there are a number of the same part on multiple sprues; be sure to carefully follow the instructions.
In addition to the standard plastic pieces, there is a very useful photoetch sheet and a pair of nice braided copper wires for tow cables included in the kit.
Here’s a look at the sprues:
The kit comes with a really nice instruction sheet with clear drawings and a very nice use of color to show specific parts that need to be mounted in a particular manner.
There are marking for 4 tanks. Three of these are Soviet in overall green and the fourth is a captured tank in German markings with a partial white wash.
The first construction steps are mostly related to the suspension. Before I got going on these, I checked the fit of the upper hull to the lower hull and found it was very good; this gave me confidence in following the kit instructions at this point.
The kit included a partial interior for the driver’s compartment. However, since there is no front hatch, you can’t see any of these parts once the hull is closed up. Therefore, I didn’t use them (steps 3 and 4).
The suspension assembly begins with the mounts for the torsion bars on the inside of the lower hull followed by the torsion bar themselves. I needed to do some trimming to make sure that a few of the bars didn’t protrude out past the hull side which would have affected the position of the rocker arms.
Then I assembled the road wheels and rocker arms. The road wheels are designed to turn but I really saw no reason for this so I glued them in place. After they were dry, I tried to mount them to the torsion bars and ran into a number of problems.
I found that the wheels didn’t hang down the same distance (not even close) and all of them seemed to hang to a very extended position. I attempted to apply a little weight to see if the vehicle would settle to the suspension’s neutral position. Instead, the vehicle ended up settling nose down. After I pondered this problem for a while, I gave up and cut the torsion bars and glued the rocker arms to the hull side in the neutral position. I’m not sure if I goofed or what, but in the end, this turned into a big hassle. I figured out the hard way that you can basically bypass all of the steps in assembling the torsion bars and just glue the rocker arms to the hull.
After all of this was fully dry, I turned to the rest of the suspension. No problems were encountered but there is again a high part count. At this time, I attached the rear hull plate. Sitting above this is a deflector and above that is a photoetch screen. There is no mount for the screen and the instructions would have you simply glue its edges to the inside of the hull. That would be way too flimsy and difficult so I added a couple of strips of 0.020 inch plastic strip to act as a mounting flange.
Next, I deviated from the instructions and moved straight to assembling the tracks. These are quite nice. There are no pin marks on the links and, once assembled, they are fully workable. There are two type of links, one with a guide horn and the other without. The kit comes with a small jig that lets you assemble four pairs at a time. There are small pins that are inserted into each end. The kit indicates not to use glue but the pins were loose enough to fall out easily. I decided to dip them in white glue before inserting them. This held them in place and the assembled tracks remained workable. The pins' sprue is designed with correct spacing so you can insert a whole side of pins into the track in the jig and then snip the pins off the sprue.
The instructions indicate the use of 44 pairs of tracks per side but it seemed way too long. I settled on 43 pairs which still resulted in a lot of sag.
Next is a step to assemble the ‘through the hatch’ engine -- a partial engine visible through the opened main engine hatch. It’s pretty nice and required only the wiring and plumbing to be complete. I skipped this step since I was going to close the engine hatch.
I again deviated from the instructions to work on the fenders. These are nicely rendered with separate parts for the supports. But I noticed that the supports and most of the equipment mounted to the fenders had tabs that extended straight through the fender. So, before mounting the fenders, I turned to the 4 spare fuel tanks.
Bronco designed these well by molding them in three barrel sections rather than as split halves as in many other kits. The three sections mated at the mounting straps and no seams remained visible. The modeler only needs a little clean up and glue without having to fix a mold line that splits the tanks. This methods also allows for truly excellent definition of the strap mounts to the hull.
I mounted them to the fenders and then puttied and sanded from below to fill in all of the tabbed attachment points.
Now I turned back to the upper hull. The most complex parts are the two intake screens on the engine deck. Bronco offers these as a three part photoetch assembly, mounted to a plastic frame. It’s very complex and I failed in my attempts to get them to look right due to their asymmetric shape. Thankfully, Bronco offers the identical assembly in plastic that should look quite good with careful painting.
The rest of the upper hull parts fit together well and the fit of the upper to lower hull was good, requiring only a little filler. Bronco provides great tow cables. The kit comes with braided copper wire and two sets of cable ends so you could actually have 4 cables if you wish. I decided to use only two and hooked them to the front clevises though I believe attaching them to the rear ones was more common. Bronco provides extremely detailed hooks used to hold the tow cables to the side of the hull. These are about as nice a set as I’ve seen.
I next turned to the turret. The turret comes with a reasonably complete gun breech assembly along with many of the turret interior parts. Unless you are going to leave open the hatches with no figures in them, the interior isn't visible. The gun barrel mounts directly to the mantlet. Thus, most turret interior parts can be omitted which greatly simplifies assembly.
I glued the upper and lower halves of the turret together and I was impressed by the extremely nice fit. Most of the join line is along the weld line. Since I needed no filler or sanding, the nice looking weld line was preserved.
The only area where I had to do a little sanding a re-texturing was the front part where the parts deviated upward from the weld line due to molding constraints. But it was a simple job to sand the join line smooth and then add texture by stippling some Tenax liquid cement.
Next I turned to the mantlet and the barrel. There is no clear mount for the mantlet on the front turret housing. My first attempt ended up with the barrel being depressed so I had to cut it free and repositioned it. I think Bronco could have made a more definitive location since the gun can't move once mounted.
The barrel is a one piece plastic part with some rifling molded into the end. Unfortunately, I found the there was a little shift between the mold halves. I had to do a lot of work to clean off the mold seam due to a step in the part. It took a lot of scraping and sanding but the part ended up reasonably round.
After that I turned to the rest of the turret details. There has been some discussion online that the cupola may be over-sized. I’m not enough of an expert to comment but regardless, it didn’t seem to impact the overall look of the turret.
Most of the remaining details went on with no issues except for the lack of location holes for the grab rails. You just have to eyeball it.
So that wrapped up the construction and it was time for painting.
The kit has painting options for three green Soviet tanks and a captured KV-85 in winter white wash. I went for the first Soviet option which included red stars.
I started by giving the model an overall base coat of flat black. Then I panel faded with Model Master Green Drab and then a second panel fade with Model Master Russian Green. I did some further fading using thinned Tamiya buff.
I applied the decals (all four of them), gave the model a flat coat, and followed by dry brushing with Model Master Afrika Dunkelgrau. I next painted the few details on the tank (tow cables, machine guns, etc.) followed by another flat coat.
I followed this up with thinned Raw Umber oil paint and then a little more fading using thinned Tamiya Deck Tan. Then I added some dust to the lower surfaces and finally, I dry brushed with flat black to simulate wear and tear.
I wrapped up the build with a simple base.
This is a very nice kit but it is also quite complex -- especially the suspension. Patience is required due to the number of little parts. However the result is very nice with the fine details adding a lot to the final look.
My sincere thanks to
for the review sample
Reviewed by Jim Wechsler, SoCal AMPS