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,
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
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.