Home > Military > T-34/85 “Rudy” Tank

T-34/85 “Rudy” Tank

T-34/85Model of the T-34/85 tank stylized as “Rudy” tank. Features drive, steering, elevated cannon, rotating turret, opening engine deck with a V12 piston engine, full suspension and custom stickers.


Completion date: 19/06/2016
Power: electric (Power Functions)
Dimensions: length 51 studs (including barrel) / width 18 studs / height 17 studs (not including antenna)
Weight: 1.301 kg
Suspension: torsion bars
Propulsion: 1 x PF L motor geared 1:1
Motors: 2 x PF L motor, 1 x PF M motor, 1 x 71427 motor, 1 x Micromotor

The original T-34 tank, along with its later upgrade, the T-34/85, is perhaps the best-known tank in the history. It had enormous impact on both the course of WW2 and the entire evolution of tanks. For the same reason it is a tank that has been described in smallest details countless times, so I will just list some facts that caught my attention while researching it:

  • it is considered the most effective and influential design of the entire WW2. As of 2016, there are still some countries that use it in active service.
  • the T-34 wasn’t distinguished by any particular parameter. It was distinguished by an excellent combination of crucial parameters, such as firepower, survivability and mobility.
  • despite the superb design, the T-34s were affected by poor quality and haste, both in terms of manufacturing and of crews’ training. For example the transmission in early T-34s was so unreliable that it was common to carry a spare transmission on top of the engine deck at all times. There were constant problems with quality of steel and welding, and the comfort of the crew wasn’t even considered. During WW2 most crews were assigned to T-34s after just 72 hours of training, and the drivers would often train in older tanks and only get to know the T-34 on their way to the frontlines. The tank was notorious for poor visibility and crude instruments. German analysis states that on average, a crew of a German medium tank was able to fire three shots per one shot fired by T-34’s crew. All in all, there was an average of 7 destroyed T-34s per 1 destroyed German tank of any kind. Still, the Soviets were able to produce these tanks faster (up and above 1,200 tanks per month) than the Germans were destroying them.
  • the tank was in production without a single interruption since 1940. Even evacuation of the entire factories after the German invasion of the USSR did not disrupt the production. One of the largest factories was located at Staliningrad and it kept operating throughout the entire battle of Staliningrad, even when materials ran short. Stories persist of unpainted T-34s going to battle directly from the assembly halls.
  • the Soviet high command was well aware of the many initial flaws of the T-34. But the priority was fast mass production, so any changes that would slow it down were not allowed. Major changes were introduced only when tanks became ineffective, as it happened in 1944 when T-34 was finally equipped with a more powerful gun and larger turret, resulting in the T-34/85.
  • despite the official “no changes” policy, the design of the T-34’s many variants was being fine-tuned bit by bit for the entire duration of WW2. It is estimated that the basic T-34 variant from the end of war has twice the armor and firepower of the initial variant, while retaining the same mobility. Huge effort was also spent on simplifying the tank and speeding up its production. The production cost per unit was decreased nearly by half by 1945, and the design was severely streamlined, e.g. the T-34’s main gun’s parts count went from 861 to 614.
  • the chief designer of the T-34, Mikhail Koshkin, died of pneumonia during a 2,000 km drive with the tank’s prototypes which was demanded by Soviet leaders as a demonstration.

As for the model itself, it proved surprisingly challenging, mainly because of its modest size and the many elements I wanted to include in it. At 1:21 scale it was a medium-sized model at best, only 14.4 cm wide, while at the same time housing 5 motors, 1 SBrick, a battery and a V-12 piston engine. Adding the V12 was cause of many difficulties, because it meant that I had no room for the turret’s rotation mechanism in the hull and instead I was forced to install it in the turret itself. This meant that the turret’s turntable had to be driven from the inside, and I had only 2-studs-wide space left for the main gun’s elevation mechanism. I estimate that building the turret took easily half of the entire time spent on this model, and no less than a month. It would be much easier at bigger scale or with a regular rotation mechanism in the hull.

On the technical side the model was fairly simple, with two PF L motors driving the rear sprockets with 1:1 gearing. The V12 engine was situated between their driveshafts and driven by a 71427 motor which I chose because it was short and relatively silent (still, I find it very annoying to hear a motor running all the time in a model, but there was no room for a switch). I had to gear that motor down because if it ran too fast, the “pistons” would pop out of the V12. Next to the 71427 motor was a single SBrick and they were both located directly under the turret. In front was a 8878 rechargeable battery, sitting so close to the front glacis plate that I had to keep some areas of the plate just 1 plate thick as 2 plates would be too thick. The battery was accessed by removing the entire front glacis plate, which was difficult as the part of front MG’s armor was attached to the hull and placed in a “window” in the plate. The turret was rotated by a 8-tooth gear meshed with its inner ring and driven by a PF M motor in the center of hull’s rear. Next to it was a Micromotor operating a small lever through a worm gear. The lever had a link connecting it to the axle of the main gun’s barrel, and it was located literally millimeters from the turret’s inner side. The essential challenge with the turret was the shape of its sides, which are tilted in two planes. I was able to achieve a similar shape after many attempts, but in the end the turret’s front was too wide and the rear was covered by a piece of canvas. The canvas was supposed to imitate a tarpaulin cover often carried on the T-34s, but it looked crude and I had to add a piece of paper under it to prevent it from catching on the gear wheels.

On the aesthetic side, I was mainly happy with the hull, not so much with the turret. I have put a lot of work into the front and rear armor, because the first had to be removable as a single piece and the latter included many complex details crammed into a limited space, especially the exhausts. I have also worked really hard on the stickers, many of which were just 3 or 4 millimeters big, such as the caps on top of the external fuel tanks or hinges on the sides of the toolboxes above the tracks. Most stickers were copied from a decal sheet for a model of the T-34/85 “Rudy” tank from a Polish Czterej pancerni i pies TV series which featured this tank prominently. I have also relied on the Rudy’s model available in the World Of Tanks game. Fun fact: rudy means a ginger in Polish, and I happen to be one 🙂

All in all, the model was very challenging and while it wasn’t perfect, I was happy that I was able to pull if off at all with all the functions I wanted. It would be very easy to compromise and abandon some functions or care less about the aesthetics and accuracy.

Work in progress photos:

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Categories: Military Tags: , , , , ,
  1. Björn Groen
    June 23rd, 2016 at 10:49 | #1

    @Sariel Thank you very much! I think the Pagani would be even as nice as this tank with you as builder 🙂

  2. Sariel
    June 21st, 2016 at 18:07 | #2
  3. Björn Groen
    June 21st, 2016 at 13:47 | #3

    Amazing tank! The big number of details on it, the engine… And of course the turret! But what is the number of wheels you used?

  4. Bartek
    June 20th, 2016 at 20:52 | #4

    Na Boga, instrukcje poproszę. Mój syn będzie miał chyba swój pierwszy orgazm jeżeli będzie mógł to zbudować.
    Niesamowita robota.


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