MiniArt SU-85 with Interior

The SU-85 came about to meet a requirement to destroy the heavier German tanks. The SU-85 was a modification of the earlier SU-122 self-propelled howitzer, essentially replacing the 122 mm  howitzer of the SU-122 with a high-velocity 85 mm antitank gun. SU-85 production started in mid-1943, with the first vehicles reaching their units by August. When the up-gunned T-34-85 medium tank entered mass production in the spring of 1944, there was no point in continuing production of a tank destroyer without superior firepower, so SU-85 production was stopped in late 1944 after 2,050 vehicles had been produced. It was replaced on the production lines by the SU-100 tank destroyer, armed with the more powerful 100 mm gun.

The only other 1/35 SU-85 on the market is the Tamiya kit which dates back to 1975. Dragon did a SU-85M in 1998 which was re-released in 2010. The SU-85M is a SU-100 hull with an 85 mm gun fitted. The 100 mm gun wasn’t ready for production when the first SU-100 hulls were produced, so they fitted 85 mm guns instead. Either way the MiniArt kit is the only modern 1/35 kit on the market.

The box is a large top opening box and contains:

  • Total Parts 805
  • 707Plastic Parts on 76 sprues of various sizes.
  • 88Photoetched Parts
  • 10 Clear Plastic Parts
  • Decals Sheet For 2 Options
  • Full-colour Instruction Booklet of 22 pages with 78steps

As you can see in the attached  images the instructions  are in exploded black and white diagrams where each step  is usually  pretty small and straightforward. Things are clearly laid out and parts are labelled with sprue and part numbers. Colours are also mentioned where needed. You need to watch the video to see a comprehensive breakdown of the steps in the instructions and close ups of the relevant parts.

I’ve often wondered why MiniArt’s kits arrive with so many small sprues in the box. We’re used to the regular handful of big sprues, so why do they do ti differently. Initially I thought it might be a cost saving thing, but now I think I have it. With all the small sprues, it’s easy to swap a few sprues and make a similar kit. For example in the version of this kit without the interior, if we swap out the sprues for the main armament and the sides of the fighting compartment we can make a SU-100. Swap even fewer sprues and you can have a SU-85M. Anyway, there’s my prediction, a SU-100 is not far away.

The level of detail is very good and this kit is the best on the market right now.

The paints used are on the first page of the instructions in colour and are called out in AMMO and  by name. Paints are called out where needed in the instructions, usually for interior details that you won’t be able to get to once the kit is built.

There are 2 build options; both in all green with one of them with winter whitewash. A decal sheet supplies all the necessary decals along with a full set of 4 of each number 1 to 9 in both red and white.

  • Winter 1943
  • 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade 1944/45

This kit is currently on sale for approx US$44.00 plus shipping at HobbyEasy.

This is a very good kit and streets ahead of the Tamiya kit, which is the only alternative apart from the full interior kit, also from MiniArt. The level of detail is very good even down to the cast texture on the mantle. The workable tracks are a good move and I’m really interested to see if it can be made into a working suspension by replacing some plastic parts with real springs. Being competitively priced his kit should sell well and be quite popular seeing as it is the only modern kit of this type. The only downside I see by looking in the box is the time it will take to build.

Many thanks to MiniArt for the review sample.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International

Paul Tosney

Paul has been with Model Builder International since almost the beginning. He started building models as a boy, and took a hiatus, but started building again a few years ago. He builds pretty much anything, but mostly WW2, with a smattering of modern and the occasional SciFi model.


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