Home > Reviews > Germany WWII > Dragon/Cyber-Hobby Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Initial production 1.Kompanie s.Pz.Abt.510 DAK “3-in-1” (6286)


Dragon/Cyber-Hobby Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Initial production 1.Kompanie s.Pz.Abt.510 DAK “3-in-1” (6286)

by Frank De Sisto

1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 515 styrene plastic parts (including 11 clear), one bag of Magic Tracks, three photo-etched brass frets, one turned aluminum and 19 turned brass parts, 11 stamped brass parts, 16 metal parts, one steel spring, one bucket, one piece of woven cloth, two pieces of braided wire, four formed wire parts, three decal marking schemes and ten pages of instructions in 22 steps.

The third kit to be released in DML’s ground-breaking Tiger I series will allow modelers to construct a replica of one of the early vehicles assigned to, and specially modified by, 1.Kompanie, s.Pz.Abt.501. This particular unit was assigned to the Deutsches Afrika Korps (DAK) and first saw action in December of 1942 in Tunisia. Much of what I say about this kit can be taken from my earlier review of the first kit in this series, the Initial Production Tiger I, as follows.

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.

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.

Among the almost 90 new parts are superstructure side plates, track changing cable and fenders; hull rear plate, mud flaps, tool box, exhaust pipe cowls and shields (in styrene or stamped/etched brass); complete Feifel air filter system including choice of woven cloth or styrene hoses and choice of manifold styles; revised upper hull and engine access hatch to accommodate Feifel system and new tool and cable stowage layout; new glacis plate with tread-plate pattern (as well as original plate with three optional etched brass tread plate patterns), new outer drive sprocket halves along with revise hubs for depicting a missing outer road wheel, and finally, a new turret bustle storage locker.

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. Unlike the Initial Tiger I kit, there are stamped/etched brass engine deck screens included in this kit. 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 earlier version, which did not have the small cleats on them, but, unlike those in the Initial Tiger I kit they are of the style that had the same links on each side, therefore they are not “handed”, which would mean that each track run was positioned facing in opposite directions. Mold limitations dictate 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, 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. However, 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 idler 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 so they can include the mounts for the provided side skirts, as well as locating holes for the small track mounting cable (which is in plastic or a combination of plastic, metal wire and etched brass). 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. However, 1.Kompanie Tiger Is did not use these.

The upper plate features separate parts for the bow MG34, including the option of either a cloth dust cover or deep-wading seal (although the small wing nut/bolts to fix the cover are absent from this newly re-worked part). 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 DAK vehicles. The driver’s and radio operator’s hatches are completely detailed inside and out and include locking levers and clear periscopes. The peculiar Bosch head-lamp mounts favored by this unit are represented with styrene, etched brass and formed wire. The hull roof has the proper weld layout (a first) as well as a newly-tooled separate engine access hatch, which has fittings to mount the Feiffel system parts. The re-tooled hull rear panel features new cowlings for the exhaust pipes, as well as the unique sheet metal covers in either plastic or photo-etch. There are also mounts for spare track links as seen on the lower edge of the plate, a new tool box and new mud flaps with the characteristic curved edge seen on these Panzers. The multi-part Feifel filter system is fitted and includes a choice of styrene or very nicely-done woven cloth hoses. There are two sets of pioneer tools (including a newly-tooled, slide-molded jack block). One set has basic clamps molded on, while the other set contains bare tools to which three-part photo-etch clamps are attached. 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 (for 1.Kp. use the version without the rain gutter over the binocular sights) and optional turned aluminum or plastic gun tubes. Both the aluminum and 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 is molded using slide mold technology for a hollowed-out bore. As an aside, there are sets of foundry casting numbers on the sprue. 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; some molded-on detail will have to be removed in order to fit the turret bustle storage locker peculiar to this unit. The turret sides are properly asymmetrical in shape, featuring 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.

As is my custom, I assembled the major components in order to see if there were any fit problems. It would appear that DML tweaked some fit problems noted on the Initial Version Tiger I kit. For instance, the upper glacis now fits much better to the hull. There may still be a slight gap where it meets the upper hull sides, so be careful when you mount the two outer side plates. The lower hull rear plate still needs 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 the three schemes given in the markings and painting section. All options are for Tigers of Heeres s.Pz.Abt. 501 in Tunisia in late 1942/early 1943. The markings feature large white outline Tac numbers, as well as balkenkreuz national insignia. Published photos confirm the markings in the kit, but note that tool stowage did vary, so do check your references. Also, more importantly, note that these Tigers would have been factory-finished in the “Tropen” scheme in effect from March of 1942, which consisted of Braun RAL 8020 and Grau RAL 7027. The instructions say to paint two of the Tigers (Tac number 142 and 141) in a dark grey color (RLM grey 02), and the other one (112) in “middle stone”. This goes counter to recently un-earthed evidence compiled by Jentz and Doyle. Also, just in case you are wondering, there is still no documented evidence (although there is some of the anecdotal variety) that any of these vehicles were finished in “Olive Drab from captured US stocks”.

The only problem with this kit is that it is billed as a limited-production item, and is only available through DML’s Cyber-Hobby web site. This may make it problematic for some die-hard Tiger fans to acquire it. But, I believe the extra effort will be worth it.

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/Cyberhobby kits are limited-run items and are available exclusively via their web site at: www.cyber-hobby.com.