Home > Reviews > German WWII > DRAGON MODELS LIMITED (kit no. 6252) Tiger I Initial Version in 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene plastic


DRAGON MODELS LIMITED (kit no. 6252) Tiger I Initial Version in 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene plastic

by Frank De Sisto

Contains: 440 styrene parts (including 11 clear and 23 in DS100 soft styrene) plus two bags of individual track links, 48 metal parts, three frets of photo-etched brass, waterslide decals for two vehicles and 10 pages of instructions in 20 steps. Price: $31.95 USD.

There has been an unprecedented amount of hype and pre-release publicity generated around this kit. I have seen the continuously updated previews on the DML web site, Terry Ashley’s review at PMMS and comments on the various DGs. To be honest, most of what I will say has already been said by others, but there is much I have noticed that still may be of use to those modelers that will never tire of having another Tiger to build.


To start with, this kit is absolutely remarkable. The attention to the small details, the features and the options that are included in the box, have set this kit in a class by itself. One of the first things I noticed was the protective vac-form plastic tray which contains the various metal parts. These include: six full and six spent 8.8cm rounds; two versions of pre-formed head-lamp wiring, smoke grenade launch tubes, brackets and wiring; turned aluminum gun tube and recoil spring; pre-formed bucket with wire handle and separate bottom plate; two different styles of tow brackets along with their mounting studs; a cast brass shovel blade storage sheath and finally, a turned brass spare antenna storage tube.

Attached to the now-typical card that holds accessory parts are three separate photo-etched brass frets. One contains base plates (with engraved lettering) for the brass and plastic 8.8cm rounds. The second contains tool storage clamps and brackets as well as parts to be sandwiched between the provided plastic jerry can halves. The last fret contains three variations on the tread plates for the front mud flaps, a pair of rear mud flaps and assorted other detail parts. Also included on the card are the decals from Cartograf, and clear parts for head-lamp lenses, commander’s cupola view ports, driver’s visor armored glass and access hatch periscopes. In the now-standard DS100 soft styrene there are two figures (representing cameramen from a PK unit) as well as two folded garments and a pair of boots. There are two bags of pre-cleaned “Magic Tracks”, which represent the very early “handed tracks”. The remainder of the kit consists of parts molded in the typical DML light grey styrene plastic. The kit’s designers have taken extra care to ensure that there are only a bare minimum of knock-out pin marks, while using slide-mold technology to provide an unprecedented level of detail in certain areas.

The kit’s basic options include parts to represent two different stowage bin types, as well as the snorkel tube, deep wading fittings and bow plate without fenders seen on prototype Tiger Is. Other options include styrene parts to replace nearly all of the various metal bits, four mantlet variations, head-lamp mount variations (including “plugged” Bosch light sockets and alternate mounting brackets) and road wheel variations (the front stations have the outer wheel left off, to be replaced by a hub cap). Accessories in the form of three multi-part jerry cans and three 8.8cm ammo boxes, with plastic full and spent rounds are included for diorama or vignette use.

There is a modest amount of interior detail included as well. For instance, in the turret there are the commander’s and loader’s seats, as well as basic gun breech and pistol port details. All hatches are fully detailed inside and out, while the outstanding one-piece commander’s cupola includes view slits and drain holes around the outer rim, as well as separate clear glass block inserts for the interior. Beneath the engine deck, the engine cooling fans, fuel tanks and radiators, which can be seen through the grills, are included. The two rear grill sections are separate and can be fixed in the opened position for a better view of the fans. The internal torsion bars are included and can be made to work. The bow MG34 is broken down into multiple parts and includes the internal mechanism complete with sight, head pad and ammo sack. There are clear inserts for the interior of the driver’s view port.


The tracks are the earliest version, which did not have the small cleats on them. They are also “handed” in that each side is a mirror image of the other. Later Tiger Is used the same track for both sides, which would mean that each track run was positioned facing in opposite directions. Mold limitations mean that the guide teeth are not hollow. And since these are “Magic Tracks”, there are no sprue attachments to clean up. But, this means that each link has two knock-out pin marks. The modeler that wishes to, will only need to clean the outer marks, as the others are effectively covered by the wheels. Another feature of these tracks is that they fit together due to friction. But, they will not take to rough handling; gluing them as soon as possible is something I’d recommend. There is a jig to help shape them for attachment to the drive sprockets and i dler wheels. I would also recommend that the modeler does not glue the idler wheel arm to the hull until the tracks are fitted. This will allow for any gap to be covered by simply adjusting the idler wheel (after removing the small pips that position it at a certain angle), much like on a real tank. The road wheels are beautifully rendered and include crisp bolts, nice texture and excellent weld beads. The tire manufacturer’s name, “Continental” is purposefully misspelled as “Continentau” to avoid copyright infringement. The modeler can change the “U” to an “L” with a careful swipe of a knife blade, but it is extremely difficult to make out without magnification, so I will not even bother. The suspension swing arms can be mounted in such a way as to leave them workable, but the modeler must take care with the glue.


The hull’s belly plate is representative of an early Tiger I and includes the scalloped flanges that are used to connect the upper sections to the lower sections. To this is added separate front- and rear-side panels so that later tow hook mount variations can be made by substituting parts. Likewise, the upper hull outer side panels are also separate and do not have any mounts for fenders, cables or tools, which is correct for these very early tanks. Excellent weld and interlocking plate detail is given all around. There is a choice of front plates either with or without the front mud flap bases. To these bases, the variations of photo-etch tread plate are to be fixed. The lower glacis plate features spare track racks and a part to be used as a template to properly place the brackets. The upper plate features separate parts for the bow MG34, including the option of either a cloth dust cover or deep-wading seal. The driver’s visor is broken down into separate parts and can be positioned opened or closed. All vents and tools are separate, but it would appear from reference photos that the tool fit varied on these early vehicles. The driver’s and radio operator’s hatches are completely detailed inside and out and include locking levers and clear periscopes. The hull roof has the proper weld layout (a first) as well as a separate engine access hatch, a separate snorkel outlet cap, and as I mentioned earlier, separate rear-most grill doors. The hull rear panel features exhaust pipes without the sheet metal covers and either plastic or photo-etched rear mud flaps. There are two sets of pioneer tools. One has basic clamps molded on, while the other set contains bare tools to which three-part photo-etch clamps are attached. Uniquely, DML has provided bending guides for the photo-etch clamps on the sprue that contains the bare tools, which ought to make things easier on the modeler.


The turret features four mantlet variations and either a turned aluminum or two plastic gun tubes. Both the aluminum and one of the plastic gun tube options can be built with an internal spring to allow recoil. All options feature the small faceted locking collar seen inside the muzzle brake. The muzzle brake for the two recoiling gun options is molded using slide mold technology for a hollowed-out bore. There are three new mantlets, all with binocular sight openings. One has a small rain guard over the sight, while the other two do not. Those two appear to be identical, but upon closer examination, one was shown to have a casting number on the top surface. That’s the one I used. As an aside, there are sets of foundry casting numbers on the sprue, which are noted in the instructions. The modeler can cut these off and place them where appropriate. There is a rudimentary gun breech and a separate co-axial MG34 insert.The turret shell itself is a one-piece affair created from a five-part slide mold. This results in two faint seams towards the rear, which will easily disappear after a light sanding. The turret sides are properly asymmetrical in shape, featureing the dual pistol port layout. These are separate parts, with separate internal plugs. The roof plate clicks into place and has a separate vent that can also be configured in the standard manner or set up for deep wading. The one-piece, slide-molded commander’s cupola features well-shaped view ports, water drainage holes around the circumference of the rim and a multi-part hatch assembly. The loader’s hatch is also separate and completely detailed inside and out. There are two sets of optional stowage boxes; one is a Pz.Kpw. III type, while the second option features a pair of unique boxes as seen on a specific Tiger I that was captured by the Red Army.


As is my custom, I assembled the major components in order to see if there were any major fit problems. I did indeed find a few, but they are minor and quite easy to correct. For instance, the commander’s cupola needs to have its base sanded down a bit as it stands too high off of the ring molded on the turret roof, leaving a gap. The upper bow plate, part F20, does not fit very well to the hull. The two grooves that are seen at the bottom need to be widened otherwise it will not sit properly on the lower hull sides. There may also be a slight gap where it meets the upper hull sides, so be careful when you mount the two outer side plates (parts G2 and G3). The lower hull rear plate, part G25, may need a bit of trimming on either side of the upright section of the “T” shape.The instructions, although clearly rendered in the traditional drawn style, are extremely “busy”. This may lead to some confusion, so study each step carefully before applying glue. The variations are pointed out, but again, it will be up to the modeler to keep track of what’s going on. The crisply-printed decals from Italy’s Cartograf will allow for more than the two schemes given in the markings and painting section. Both options are for Tigers of s.Pz.Abt. 502 on the Leningrad front from the summer of 1942, through the winter of 1943. The markings feature white outline crosses and tac numbers, as well as the “Mammut” unit insignia. Photos in references confirm the markings in the kit, while I was able to confirm an additional set for Tiger number 111, which had no stowage box on the turret, but did sport a large “Mammut” insignia on the turret’s rear. Again note that tool stowage did vary, so do check your references.


This kit has definitely raised the bar as far as features, engineering, detail and value is concerned. Not only would I rate this offering superior to all previous 1/35th-scale Tiger I kits, I would also say that it is superior to most (possibly all…but this is open to debate) plastic 1/35th-scale AFV kits of the last ten years, regardless of manufacturer or subject. As far as I am concerned, this kit has put DML on top of the heap…for the time being, that is.

Highly recommended.

Frank V. De Sisto

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