Dragon DRR60256 Soviet T-34/85 Mod. 1944 Medium Tank - 38th Independent Tank Regiment, Eastern Front, 1945 (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
After the Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943, panic began to spread in the ranks of Soviet tank units. They had met the German Panther for the first time on the field of battle, and the mighty Tiger I was being encountered in increasing numbers. The Soviets desperately needed a tank with a longer arm so-to-speak, and the solution offered up by a crash development program was a T-34 with a larger turret and a larger gun. This new tank was known as the T-34/85, which featured an 85mm anti-tank gun (derived from an anti-aircraft gun of the same caliber) mounted in a larger three-man turret. This more powerful tank entered service from March 1944 onwards and it was an immediate hit since it could now stand toe-to-toe with the more powerful tanks being fielded by the Wehrmacht.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Soviet T-34/85 Mod. 1944 medium tank that was attached to the 38th Independent Tank Regiment, then deployed to the Eastern Front during 1945.
Release Date: September 2017
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.