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Dragon 88mm FlaK36 w/FlaK Artillery Crew (6260)

by Frank De Sisto

1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene plastic. Contains: 559 styrene plastic parts (including 43 for the figures), 38 etched-brass parts, three turned-brass rounds, eight turned-aluminum parts, two chains, one length of soft plastic tubing, two decal sheets and ten pages of instructions in 36 steps. Price: unavailable.

What can one say about this kit that has not already been said? We know it is light-years ahead of the 30-plus year-old Tamiya kit, simply because of the age of that “old standard”. We know it has multi-media parts, innovative use of the latest injection molding technology, display options and a fine set of figures. So, what else? Not surprisingly, there’s plenty; so, I’ll tell you.

I guess the best place to start is with the display options. The gun itself has three different means of displaying the tube’s elevation. One is in the “85-degrees” position and static. The second is in the “zero-degrees” position, also static. The third uses turned metal sleeves and tubes and is movable. The next option is the position of the cruciform legs. They can be modeled either folded-up for travel, with the leveling pads retracted, ground anchors and locks fixed in place. Or, they can be in the extended in the firing position, with the pads dropped down, ground anchors driven in and locks holding the legs in position. The gun will also swivel in azimuth a full 360-degrees. There are parts to mount the often-seen splinter shield, or it can be left off by using alternate parts. If one wishes, the fuse setting box can be shown with a shell inserted into the orifice, or a second part can be used instead with caps in place over the opening.

To all these basic items a myriad of detail parts are to be attached. These include various sighting devices, traverse wheels, linkages, elevating gear, brass chains and folding seats for the gun mount. The cruciform also receives various hooks, conduit, boxes, hand-wheels, gun travel crutch and other gear.

There are choices of either the earlier one-piece gun tube or the later RA9 sectional gun tube. Both of these options are given as either full-styrene assemblies (with rifling at the tube’s bore) or turned aluminum items that use some styrene parts for details. Each version of gun tube also includes a different breech-block and other unique parts. All can be displayed with an open breech-block that can also have a shell inserted into it. There is also another option, that of either a folded-away ramming assist bar and deleted shell tray, or an extended bar with the tray in place for use.

The Sd.Ah.202 “special trailer” sections are small models in their own right. The basic fender sections are produced from a multi-part slide mold so that all details can be properly presented. But, this means that there are several fairly discreet mold seams that must be carefully cleaned up. The axles and leaf springs assemblies are beautifully rendered and also include steering linkages. The braces, lifting gear, tools and cruciform links are all equally well-represented. The front bogie features a two-position tow bar (hitched for towing or un-hitched for firing), while the rear bogie features a brakeman’s seat and controls. There is also an option of attaching the four reels that held the cables that were used to link a FlaK battery’s guns to the central anti-aircraft fire control device.

Next, we come to the wheels and tires. These feature brake-drums and exquisitely detailed hubs. By far, the most innovative item in this kit has to be the tires. In order to have the tread detail on the face of the tires, the traditional means has been to use soft rubber, vinyl or other materials, such as the new soft styrene. But, these always left the modeler with an unsightly seam, which was difficult, if not impossible, to properly remove. DML has cleverly presented each tire as five discs, which the modeler must “laminate” together. Each of the three inner disks has a seam that represents the tread detail, while the two outer disks have the proper side-wall detail. Outstanding! But, don’t get excited, glue them together at first glance and then get them ready for paint. Otherwise they will never fit on the wheel hubs. Carefully study the instructions to see how these parts go together. My suggestion is to cement two disks together (parts G1 and G2) and then cement the remaining three disks together (parts G1, G2 and G3), leaving these as two sub-assemblies. Paint these separately. Then after you paint the hubs, sandwich them in between the two painted disk assemblies, cement, and touch up the paint if needed.

This kit is also loaded with accessories for diorama use. These consist of three wooden ammo boxes, which can be shown opened or closed, and three wicker boxes that can also be shown opened or closed. To these are added turned brass rounds (three of them), six styrene rounds and six spent shell casings. These are all detailed with brass bases featuring tiny data etched into them.

Then there are the figures; six of them. They represent troops wearing the reversible hooded winter parka and trousers. They are very well-molded and feature excellent details. All wear helmets. Three of them are in various poses holding complete rounds. The fourth is depicted sitting, looking through the gun’s sight. The fifth is operating a stereo-optic range finder, while the last one, the gun’s commander is holding a pair of binoculars. They are best suited to a ground action, due to their poses. There are no weapons or equipment included for them; they are not depicted wearing any belts or harnesses to attach such items. Some may find this to be a problem, while others will move on. By adding resin heads with various head-gear, some individuality can be achieved.

The two decal sheets provide for generic as well as specific markings. The first includes divisional insignia for the 1. through 14. Panzer Divisions, tire pressure markings and nice (but useless in the context of this kit) variations of the Balkankreuz national insignia. Instead of the national insignia, it would have been more useful if this kit’s designers had included the “A-B-C-D” markings that the Germans used to distinguish guns within a battery. The second sheet provides markings for the Grossdeutschland Division and a pair of unidentified units, as well as various styles of barrel kill-rings, white fender trim and a ‘”scoreboard” for the gun shield. Lastly, there are decals that taken together will provide the shield with a ready-made camouflage pattern, which looks like mud smeared on a dunkelgrau base color. Whatever scheme is chosen, there will be plenty of spares left for the decal collection. There are painting and finishing instructions for six different guns, with the colors keyed to Gunze and Testors paints.

I test-fitted a number of major and minor assemblies and can say that there should not be any problems. As I did this I noted that DML’s designers engineered the parts so that they could only fit one way. They do this by intelligent placement of tabs and sockets so that it is impossible to misalign anything. This is a nice touch as there are so many parts (which are similar, but not identical) that can be improperly placed by a hasty modeler, regardless of how well he follows the instructions. The modeler will also note that there are a large number of small knock-out pin “nodes” attached to many of the parts. They are a chore to remove and clean up, that’s certain. But, I’d rather have these than knock-out pin marks to clean on the parts themselves. In addition, since artillery kits usually feature a number of in-scale moving parts (this one is no exception), the modeler will be rewarded by carefully cleaning and finishing the parts before paint is applied. For instance, part A14 will need the hole ever-so-slightly slightly enlarged so that the completed gun trunnion assembly, once painted and inserted, will be free enough to rotate easily in azimuth.

What’s it all add up to? Quite simply, an astonishingly well-detailed model of one of the most famous (THE most famous? I suppose so.) pieces of ordnance in history.

Highly recommended.

Reviewer’s note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.

DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.