Kit Preview : 1/76 Fujimi SU-85

About the manufacturer
Fujimi is the only remaining active major 1/76 plastic injection molded kit manufacturer. They took on the Nitto range about a decade ago and have been re-releasing their catalog gradually. Their latest kits include link and length hard plastic tracks. Be sure to check if the kit you are buying has the old rubbery tracks or the new ones. Just a hint: the cheaper ones have the vinyl tracks.
Henk of Holland has a very useful list of all the serial numbers of Fujimi and Nitto kits.

About the vehicle
The T-34 tank series define Soviet armor in WW2. 57,000 were built during the war. Only the M4 Sherman has comparable production figures (about 50,000). On the opposing side a mere 6000 Panthers and 8500 Panzer IV's (all models) were built during the war. The SU series were tank destroyers built on a T-34 chassis, using whichever chassis was current at the time. The first model, the SU-122 mounted a 122mm howitzer with inadequate armor piercing capabilities. Th SU-85 mounted an adapted 85mm AA gun and was successfully introduced in August 1943, serving until the end of the war. It was obsoleted when the 85mm equipped the T-34/85 models in early 1944 and replaced by the much feared SU-100, one of the best tank destroyers of the war.
The Wikipedia entry on the SU-85 is a good place to start if you want to learn more.
About the kit

This model represents the early SU-85 model without a cupola. The lower hull and wheels are from the same sprue as in the T-34/85 kit. The tracks are a passable waffle type.

The vinyl tracks are not too bad on the outer side but the internal representation is non-existent. On the T-34/85 I used a knife to cut up individual links so that it does not appear to be a continuous band. It does not really show up after painting and weathering. I also stiffened the track with CA and cut link separations so that the individual links stay straight and don't wrap around the idler wheels. The guide teeth are much smaller than they should be. The real things were pretty large according to pictures.
Another apparent issue is that the bolts around the mantlet and the gun are much too small. They should be replaced for a better representation.
The fuel tank mounts are also very simplified and could use some detailing.

Reviewed on 8/8/2011.