Home > Reviews > Germany WWII > Dragon 88mm Flak37 (6287)


Dragon 88mm Flak37 (6287)

by Frank De Sisto

1/35-scale injection-molded styrene kit containing 514 styrene parts, 33 etched brass parts, three clear styrene parts with integral dials, one length of insulated wire, two chains, three turned-brass and nine turned-aluminum parts, two decal sheets for four decal schemes, and ten pages of instructions comprised of 36 steps.

This is DMLs second kit based on the notorious 8.8cm FlaK gun, in this case the improved FlaK37. The major difference between this gun and the earlier weapons was as follows: “A later change was introduced in 1939 when the FlaK37 was produced with a revised data transmission system, which did not lend itself easily to any other role than that of the anti-aircraft gun.” (From Peter Chamberlain and Terry Gander’s “WW2 Fact Files, Anti-Aircraft Guns”, published in 1975). In 2001, Tom Jentz stated in his book “Dreaded Threat, The 8.8cm FlaK18/36/37 in the Anti-Tank Role”, the following: “The final model of the 8.8cm FlaK with the L/56 caliber length tube was the 8.8cm FlaK37. The Lampenempfaenger (light signal receiver) used for fire control from a central director for the FlaK18 und 36 was replaced on the FlaK37 with a Folgezeigeempfaenger (directional indicator with dials). In most other details, the FlaK37 remained un-changed from the predecessor model, the FlaK36.” The back cover of Jentz’s book also shows a photograph of a FlaK37 mounting a Flakzielfernrohr 20E (direct-fire sight) for use in the anti-tank role. The way I read this, it would seem that none of these sources have specifically stated that this particular piece could not be used against tanks, especially since Jentz shows a gun set up to do just that. So much for our technical-history lesson …

To describe this new variation, it’s best to repeat (in modified form) some of what is seen in my review of DMLs FlaK36 kit, as follows:

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. 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.

The new parts in this kit will allow for several variations in the specific type of gun shield used, as well as minor variations of the shields themselves. The three shields are: the original as included in the FlaK36 kit, a widened version of the original shield and curved shield for the FlaK37. The first two shields include pivoting gun sight flaps. The third shield features three sets of side extensions that can each be depicted at different angles (two for operation and one for travel). Also included are new parts to place shield sections over the recuperater cylinder. DML also includes parts for the later Folgezeigeempfaenger (directional indicator with dials) in a very unique fashion. They consist of clear styrene with dial faces embedded in the plastic. After carefully painting, these will look most realistic.

There are choices of either the earlier one-piece gun tube or the later RA9 sectional gun tube (which have absolutely nothing to do with the gun’s designation). 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. Note that some errors in the position of certain details on the turned aluminum gun tubes have been corrected, due to modeler feed-back. (In fact, it would be remiss of me not to mention that DML is virtually the only major manufacturer that carries on any sort of major dialog with their consumers, i.e. YOU.) 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. In the case of this kit, I will indeed include them as I will model a gun optimized for the anti-ai rcraft role (I left them off my FlaK36 model).

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 molded each hard styrene plastic tire from an eight-part slide-mold, leaving the sprue point inside the rim so there is no nasty seam to clean. The tires have excellent tread detail and include a very subtle bulge at the contact point with “mother earth”. Small rings are to be glued to the back side after the hubs are inserted. Paint everything separately. Then after you paint the hubs, sandwich them in between the two painted tire 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.

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. The second sheet provides markings for the “A-B-C-D” markings that the Germans used to distinguish guns within a battery (I criticized the first kit because these were not included…but here they are!). There are also various styles of barrel kill-rings and “scoreboard” markings for the gun shield. Lastly, there are decals for the fire control system dials faces. Whatever scheme is chosen, there will be plenty of spares left for the decal collection. There are painting and finishing instructions for four 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.

Overall, this kit is an improvement over what was an outstanding 21st-Century kit to begin with. The new innovations such as the dial faces and fully-detailed “weighted” tires simply indicate that no one is resting on their laurels at DML.

Highly recommended.

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.