Dragon 88mm FlaK36 w/FlaK Artillery
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.
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.