Kit Preview : 1/76 Fujimi T-34/85 Model 1944 with flattened turret
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 Wikipedia entry on the T-34 is a good place to start if you want to learn more.
About the kit
This model represents the T-34/85 model 1944 with a flattened turret. It is a different model than the Fujimi T-34/76. I don't believe any parts are shared. The hull is a late model with square fenders, the tracks are waffle type.
Size-wise, the Fujimi T-34's are slightly too short. The turret is a bit undersize, especially at the base. The sides are too vertical. The rear is not vertical enough. I sanded it until it was almost vertical. The very visible seam running around the turret and with two cutouts at the front was simulated using Mr Surfacer 500 diluted with acetone (mask with tape, brush some liquid putty, remove mask before it is completely dry). The vision port on the left side of the turret above the pistol port needs to be removed for this turret type. The gun is too short by 2mm. I cut it off at the base and lengthened it with some pian wire. Fortunatley the added portion ca be hidden in the protruding mantlet.
Welcome to handle hell: 11 grab handles need to be added (4+3 on the hull sides, 2 on the turret sides, 2 on the engine deck, a small one for the engine access hatch). I use 8 thou brass wire shaped with the Grab Handler tool. Before you add them be sure to remove the ugly moldings that were supposed to represent them.
The vinyl tracks are not too bad on the outer side but the internal representation is non-existent. I used a knife to cut up individual links so that it does not appear to be a continuous band. 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 wer pretty large according to pictures.
Here is a link to pictures of the completed model: