War Master WMTK019 Soviet SU-85M Tank Destroyer - Unidentified Unit, Ukraine, 1943 (1:72 Scale)
"By powerful artillery fire, air strikes, and a wave of attacking tanks, we're supposed to swiftly crush the enemy."
- Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov
The SU-85 (Samokhodnaya Ustanovka, self-propelled carriage), was a Soviet self-propelled anti-tank gun used during World War II, based on the chassis of the T-34 medium tank. Unlike earlier Soviet self-propelled guns which were meant to serve as either assault guns or anti-tank weapons, this vehicle was a dedicated tank destroyer.
During early World War II, Soviet tanks such as the T-34 and KV-1 had sufficient firepower to destroy any German tank they encountered. However, in the fall of 1942, Soviet forces first encountered the German Tiger tank. By spring 1943, they knew of the existence of the German Panther tank, although the Panther was not seen in combat until July 1943 at the battle of Kursk.
The fielding of these new-generation German vehicles meant that the Red Army required a more powerful anti-tank gun. The SU-85 was a modification of the earlier SU-122 assault gun, essentially replacing the SU-122's 122 mm howitzer with a D-5T high-velocity 85 mm antitank gun. The 85 mm gun could penetrate the side armor of a Panther or Tiger at long range, and do so from a small, highly mobile vehicle with all-around armor protection.
The SU-85 entered combat for the first time in August 1943. It was employed by Soviet, Polish and Czechoslovak forces right up to the end of the war. There were two versions: the basic SU-85 had a fixed commander's cupola with rotating periscope and three vision blocks; the improved SU-85M had the same commander's all-around vision cupola used on the T-34-85. When the up-gunned T-34-85 tank was in full production in the summer of 1944, there was no point in continuing to produce a tank destroyer without superior firepower, so SU-85 production was stopped in late 1944, and replaced with the SU-100, armed with the D-10S 100mm gun.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Soviet SU-85M tank destroyer that saw action on the Eastern Front during 1945.
Length: 3.5 inches
Width: 1.5 inches
Release Date: September 2012
Historical Account: "The Eastern Wall" - The Soviet juggernaut got rolling in earnest with the advance into the Germans' Orel salient in August 1943. The diversion of Hitler's Grossdeutschland Division from Belgorod to Karachev could not halt the tide, and a strategic decision was made to abandon Orel, which fell to the Red Army on August 5th, 1943, so they could fall back to the Hagen line in front of Bryansk. To the south, the Soviets blasted through Army Group South's Belgorod positions and headed for Kharkov once again. Though intense battles of movement throughout late July and into August 1943 saw the Germans blunting Soviet tank attacks on one axis, they were soon outflanked on another line to the west as the Soviets advanced down the Psel. Kharkov had to be evacuated for the final time on August 22nd, thus ending the battle for this all-important city.
The German forces on the Mius, now constituting the 1.Panzer Armee and a reconstituted 6. Armee, were by August too weak to sustain a Soviet onslaught on their own front, and when the Soviets hit them they had to fall back all the way through the Donbass industrial region to the Dnieper, losing the industrial resources and half the farmland that Germany had invaded the Soviet Union to exploit. At this time, Hitler agreed to a general withdrawal to the Dnieper line, dubbed the
Ostwall, a line of defensive fortifications similar to the Westwall which situated along the West German frontier. Trouble was, it hadn't been built yet, and by the time Army Group South had evacuated eastern Ukraine and begun withdrawing across the Dnieper during September, the Soviets were fast on their heels. Tenaciously, small units paddled their way across the 3-km (2-mile) wide river and established bridgeheads. A second attempt by the Soviets to gain land using parachutists, mounted at Kanev on September 24th, proved as luckless as at Dorogobuzh eighteen months previously, and the paratroopers were soon repelled - but not before still more Red Army troops had used the cover they provided to get themselves over the Dnieper and securely dug in. As September proceeded into October, the Germans found the Dnieper line impossible to hold as the Soviet bridgeheads grew and grew, and important Dnieper towns started to fall, with Zaporozhye the first to go, followed by Dnepropetrovsk.