Home > Reviews > Germany WWII > Dragon's Sd.Kfz. 181, Pz.Kpw. VI Tiger (P), (1/35th) Item number 6210


Dragon's Sd.Kfz. 181, Pz.Kpw. VI Tiger (P), (1/35th) Item number 6210

by Frank De Sisto

Contains: 309 styrene parts, two pieces of brass wire, 18 photo-etched brass parts, two soft styrene track lengths, one set of markings and eight pages of instructions in 19 steps. Price: Unavailable.

Sometimes one wonders why certain relatively unimportant tanks are produced in plastic, while others that are arguably more important are still overlooked by manufacturers. In the case of this kit, it does make economic sense that DML would release it since the chassis and suspension has been used for their Elefant and Ferdinand kits, while some new components in this kit will certainly be used in their upcoming Tiger I series.

For my part, the rarity of this version of the Tiger gives this kit a great deal of appeal, although I’d be much happier to see DML release something really cool, such as the French Char B. But, this is the kit we have, so I’ll get on with the review.

The lower chassis pan and the suspension components are holdovers from the afore-mentioned Ferdinand and Elefant kits and feature semi-articulating bogies and an adjustable idler sprocket. A nice feature of the road wheels is the location of the mold seam at the edge, rather than the center of the steel “tire” portion. This cuts clean-up time of the 24 wheels quite a bit. The new addition in this area is the tracks, which are composed of two lengths of the new D-100 pliable styrene. This means that they can be glued together with normal styrene cement, easing the construction of the kit, versus the use of individual link tracks. The tracks are not, as stated in other reviews, too long or too loose. Remember however, to leave the movable front idler sprocket mounting loose until such time as the tracks are fitted, so it can be adjusted to provide proper sag. Then, the tracks should be able to be glued to the tops of the road wheels to complete the illusion.

The idea of the tracks being too loose started with the release of DML’s M4A2 Soviet Sherman kit. Some folks said the tracks were too long, but in fact the problem was that the final drive axle was designed to be fitted to the kit too far back on the hull side. When it was placed correctly, the tracks fit fine (and the tracks fit an Academy and Italeri hull/suspension equally well, BTW). So, don’t worry about the tracks in this kit, OK?

The hull itself receives new parts for the bow and stern plates, as well as fittings such as the extra tow points and newly designed tow hitch. The new hull roof plate features separate engine deck air intake and exhaust grates, with the pair on either side further enhanced by well-done separate slats, as well as photo-etched screens. The rear grate does not have the proper screens and is open enough so that it is easy to view the empty inner hull. Some sort of baffles or other detail (perhaps a transmission unit?) may be necessary to fill this area, although I will probably simply paint it black. The remaining upper hull details faithfully reproduce the features of the tank including the three driver’s periscopes on the roof, the remaining engine deck detail, new fenders, appliqué armor panels, location of the two Bosch head-lamps and tool stowage.

For the tow cables, the kit has optional all-plastic parts or a combination of brass wire cable (already blackened for a weathered effect), photo-etch mounting clamps and plastic end loops. It appears that, according to drawings in Jentz and Doyle’s “Panzerkampfwagen VI P (Sd.Kfz. 181), the History of the Porche Typ 100 and 101 also known as the Leopard and Tiger P” (whew!), the hull may be a couple of millimeters too short, and that the pattern of the turret ring splash guard is incorrect. This last bit can be easily corrected by using a piece of styrene angle-iron strip, from Evergreen. Likewise, Doyle’s drawings show a Sternantenna and armored mounting on the port side of the hull rear, but photos show the standard installation. This leads to questions as to who is correct, Doyle or the kit’s designers? In this case, photos confirm that the kit’s designers are correct.

This discrepancy regarding Doyle’s drawing is more pertinent when it comes to the turret. Doyle’s drawing shows two pistol ports at the turret rear, which is what’s provided in the kit. Recent evaluation of the few photographs that exist of this tank has led to the conclusion that there was probably a standard escape hatch retro-fitted to the starboard side of the turret rear. So a hatch will have to be sourced from another kit and the turret modified for it to fit.

Furthermore, it would also appear (from photos) that the two view ports on either side of the turret, just behind the smoke grenade launcher mounts, are a bit too highly placed. The kit again matched Doyle’s drawings. This is really not too big of a deal to fix since there is a pair of separate ports left over from the “parts not used” (two parts E-15 from the original kits). Simply shave off the offending ports, smooth the area and replace with the separate parts. Doyle’s drawing also indicates that the Pz.Kpw. IV-style stowage bin is undersized in width. I thought that I could replace it with one left-over from a Tamiya Pz.Kpw. IV kit, which was used for a conversion. However, when I compared the Tamiya assembly to the drawings in the above-mentioned book, as well as Doyle’s drawings in the book #4 (on the Pz.Kpw. IV) in the Panzer Tracts series, I saw that the Tamiya bin was also too small. In fact, the size of the Tamiya and DML bins were identical. So, who is correct here, the two kit manufacturers or Mr. Doyle? Beats me!

Other features of this turret, such as the cupola hatch and the little smoke candle basket are well done, with a choice of two hatches so that the signal port can be depicted opened or closed. There are view port episcopes for the cupola interior, while the loader’s hatch has locking wheel and lift handle detail on its inner face. The smoke grenade launcher mounts are left properly empty, since the launch tubes were apparently never fitted to this tank. The mantlet is the proper configuration for this tank and features binocular sight openings, off-set gun tube, separate MG34 and the small notch in the lower corner. The gun tube itself features the locking collar that is seen inside the muzzle break as a separate part; another nice touch. Detail behind the mantlet is also there, and finally, the turret is the correct asymmetrical shape.

The fit of the parts are generally good-to-excellent with the panel for the turret rear needing the attention of some wet-or-dry sandpaper. I also had problems properly aligning the lower front of the turret, so filler was needed there. On the completed model, there are knock-out pins visible only on the cupola hatch inner surface; their clean-up will be a snap. The instructions are clearly drawn, show where parts need to be modified, and include notes on colors and markings.

The modeler should note that although the correct markings are given, the use of the battalion crest was not seen in all extant photos. And, of course, the vehicle had zimmerit, while the kit does not. Most modelers with experience will not find this last item a daunting proposition. For my part, a bit of A+B plumber’s epoxy, an artist’s paint knife, some water and a jeweler’s screwdriver will suffice to model this feature.

Overall, this kit has only a couple of vices, which any modeler with a decent spares box should be able to overcome. The error on the turret, regarding the pistol port/escape hatch is what I’d term “an honest mistake”, since it was probably based on the best information available. Otherwise, this is an easy build and will certainly gain wide acceptance from the Tigerphiles amongst us.


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