DML (1/35 scale, Kit No. 6252)
‘39-‘45 Series; Pzkw. VI Ausf. E. Sd.Kfz. 181 Tiger I Initial
Production sPzAbt 502 Leningrad 1943
by Cookie Sewell
756 parts (395 in grey styrene, 180 "Magic Track" links, 113
etched brass, 22 "DS 100" plastic/vinyl, 14 aluminum, 12 turned
brass, 11 clear styrene, 8 white metal, 4 bent wire, 1 spring, 1 turned
aluminum barrel); retail recommended price $31.95.
Advantages: Most complete kit of this tank in one box on the market,
all major multimedia pats included, options abound for all parts and sections
of the model.
Disadvantages: "Another Tiger" (see text)
Rating: Highly Recommended for all German Armor and Tiger fans in particular.
F I R S T L O O K
The Germans puttered around for several years before the war on a heavy
tank design, originally dubbed VK 36 (For 36 metric tons design weight)
and later bumped up to 45 metric tons as VK 45 when the prototype Rheimetall
8.8 cm tank gun would not fit on that chassis. Two competing prototypes,
VK45.01 (P) from Porsche and VK45.01 (H) from Henschel, competed for the
final design. Krupp designed the turret that wound up on both tanks, with
Henschel eventually winning the competition. Part of the incentive to
get the tank out and into service was the shock of running into the Soviet
T-34 medium and KV-1 heavy tanks, which only the 8.8 cm FlaK gun was shown
to be able to consistently master.
But the tank was more than a bit over the design weight, coming in at
56 metric tons or around 62 short tons combat ready. Nevertheless it entered
production in the summer of 1942 as the Sd. Kfz. 181, Panzerkampfwagen
VI Ausf. E – better known as simply the Tiger. Early production
models were sent to Russia in the fall of 1942 and operated with s.Pz.Abt.
502 (heavy tank battalion) near Leningrad. One tank was lost in the fall
of 1942 and later, in January 1943, one was captured after a dogged fight
by the Soviets.
In that battle the Soviets claim the Germans lost the Tiger, five Pzkw.
III tanks, and 200 infantry in an attempt to get it back. When the Soviets
got to the Tiger, they found it stuffed with explosives so that it could
be destroyed in place (it had broken down). After the Germans were chased
out of the area, the Soviets yoked five T-60 light tanks together (!)
in order to drag it to a place where heavier vehicles could be engaged
to tow it back to their rear area.
This unit was equipped with some of the first 25 Tigers built, which
were much less refined than later models – no fender skirts, no
stowage bins, no turret escape hatch, dedicated left and right tracks,
and a number of other detail variations on "standard" production
tanks. Anyone interested in the "blow by blow" is directed to
Osprey/New Vanguard #5, Tiger I Heavy Tank, by Tom Jentz, Hilary Doyle,
and Peter Sarson to follow the detail evolution of the tank.
Before I proceed any further, let me state up front that I personally
hate Tigers. I find them to be a tiresome subject, long espoused on by
SGFs as the most wonderful tank ever made, a wonder weapon, best tank
of the war, etc. None of that is true, but you cannot get the faithful
off message even when their myths are exposed.
However, and ignoring the fanatics, the Tiger I is hands down the most
popular single armor modeling subject ever – period. More different
kits of this tank have been made in more scales over the years than just
about any other subject, with only the Sherman running a close second.
Andpersand Publishing even has a complete book dedicated to modeling the
Tiger, covering every one of the major kits out at the time of its release.
Kits of it exist in scales from 1/700 to 1/4 and in just about any medium
you can think of, from plastic to various forms of metal.
Most of us still stick to plastic, and the most popular current scale
due to the compromise between size and detail is 1/35. Over the last 15
year a number of companies have released new kits of the Tiger I - Tamiya,
Italeri and Academy being the main competitors. Each one tried something
different – Tamiya with different crew figure sets and options,
Academy with a full interior, and Italieri with optional "zimmerit"
paste panels to install on the outside of the hull and turret.
Now – 15 year after their first kits were released, – Dragon
is entering the Tiger "fray" with a new series of kits. The
first one is the "Initial Production" model as used by the aforementioned
s.Pz.Abt. 502 in Russia, and it comes with an absolutely stunning array
of parts in one box – grey styrene, clear styrene, vinyl, brass,
aluminum, and steel plus a new design of track link set. The kit has "wraparound"
box art (bottom, too!) that shows and explains nearly every one of its
special features, so the buyer gets a good idea of what awaits inside
The first two major features DML cites on this kit are its use of "Magic
Track" and "DS 100" vinyl. The former is something many
modelers will like – separate link track with no sprues and ready
for assembly. To be sure, there are light ejection pin marks on the inside
of each link, but they are ready to go. These snap together to permit
assembly and installation, and the directions recommend a touch of liquid
cement to each one after they are joined and in position to set them in
place. As is correct for this particular version of the Tiger, they are
"handed" – set Y is the right side and set Z is the left
side – so modelers will have to pay close attention to them when
assembling the tracks as the bags are not marked. (They are separate and
the directions show which way they go and which way they face, but it
will require a bit of concentration to get them on right.)
"DS 100" is the new trade name for a vinyl/styrene plastic
DML is marketing that is unique. DS 100 permits DML to mold the figures
in the manner of vinyl ("rubber soldiers") figures but takes
cement and paint like styrene. The details are much crisper than regular
styrene (and DML is about the best in styrene figures) and they also permit
a bit of "wiggle room" to install the figures in a vehicle.
However, these are "bonus" figures and comprise a propaganda
team - one man with still camera, one with a 16mm movie camera. If you
want a crew, you will still have to get them separately.
The kit proper comes on 17 different sprues, two bags, a vacuformed box
and the now-standard DML card with attached bagged details. It fills the
box to the top (the one thing I have problems with for a review is getting
out all the bits and then getting them back into the box – DML did
it, but most of the time I can't!)
The kit states it will produce three different models. This is basically
true. It can faithfully reproduce (based on photos) tank 100 from s.Pz.Abt.
502 with twin lateral turret bins, tank 121 with a Pzkw. III style bustle
bin, or a straight early Tiger I with the snorkel erected. Three different
style fenders are including in etched brass (and one in styrene) as well
as three different mantelets (one with and two without the rain guard
over the gunner's binocular sight apertures). Other parts with options
include metal or plastic smoke grenade launchers, metal or plastic tow
shackles (two styles in white metal with aluminum pins are provided),
and two muzzle brakes and three different barrel options are included.
For whatever reason, DML has included the somewhat "Mickey Mouse"
feature of a recoiling spring-loaded gun barrel like AFV Club used to
provide with its kits. But the gun does come with a breech assembly; there
are two basic seats as well, but no other turret interior detail.
The hull comes with some interior elements, but not a complete interior.
It includes the torsion bar assemblies, bow gun assembly, hatch details,
and radiator bays and trunking at the rear of the hull. The rear engine
deck grilles (parsts P11/12 and P16/17) have the curved louvers found
on the original, and based on the use of the snorkel may be shown open
The hull top comes with a set of tools that have etched brass clasps
included, as well as a jig for bending the clasps to shape prior to installation.
The turret is quite unique, as it consists of a one-piece asymmetric
section with the base, kit locking tabs, race and complete sidewall construction
less pistol ports. The commander's cupola can be built up from component
parts or a one-piece unit, complete with view slits, is also included.
The snorkel comes in one piece but all of the special covers and blanking
plates are also provided to set it up correctly by the manual.
The kit also comes with a plethora of small details: a brass bucket with
separate handle and base, 12 turned brass rounds, 12 styrene rounds (24
etched brass bases with headstamps are included for them; there are 4
brass and 6 plastic empty casings and 8 brass and 6 plastic full rounds),
three "jerry" cans with etched brass center fold, and two crates
for the ammo plus two "DS 100" spare crew jackets.
A decal sheet and painting directions are included for the two s.Pz.Abt.
502 tanks, but the generic one with snorkel is left Panzer Grey.
Overall, this is a stunning model of the one main version of the tank
that no one had kitted up to this point. And even though it's a Tiger,
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.