by: Rick Cooper [ ]
I don’t think it is too far of a stretch to claim that the German Tiger 1 tank is the most famous tank in the world. Now before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, famous doesn’t always mean best, that is an argument that is outside of the scope of this review and a can of worms without end! However, with the enduring fame and popularity of the Tiger tank clearly in mind Dragon Models has released another in their long line of the big cats, and it is a safe bet that this one too will be a big seller.
An important point regarding the kit is that this is a virtual copy of the earlier Cyber-Hobby #74 release of the Otto Carius mid-production kit with the molded on zimmerit. There are a few things from the earlier kit that are omitted, but the fact that the Cyber-Hobby release is no longer available except through private sales, which almost always top $100.00, make this a welcome addition.
Before we get inside the box it is important to point out that the top cover is another great illustration from Ron Volstad of a 506 Battalion Tiger covering a retreat out of a Ukrainian village in spring of 1944. Any superlatives that I might add would be simply inadequate to describe Ron’s work.
Inside the large sized sturdy slip cover box you are confronted with a mass of light gray plastic divided into 28 sprues of differing sizes, 3 single moldings, 4 separate pre-shaped photo-etched brass engine a grates, 2 lengths of DS track, a sheet of photo-etched details, 2 clear sprues, a pre-formed metal conduit wire, a decal sheet, and the standard Dragon Models instruction sheet.
The first thing that any close inspection of the parts will reveal is the overall quality and fidelity of the moldings. Dragon Models is to be highly commended for the overall look of what you have in the box, absolutely flash free with superb detail throughout. Dragon Models has eliminated the problem of knockout pin marks with all the “slide molding” they use. It does mean you have a healthy amount of plastic nodes but they all appear to be placed intelligently so as to make clean up easy.
When you actually get to cutting parts from the sprue Dragon Models takes the traditional route of suspension and wheels first. Again, all these parts look great, just be sure to take your time as the instructions are a bit busy. One change from the earlier kit is the different final drive covers for this kit, they are included in the Carius box but not used, and unfortunately you don’t get the others for the spares box. Another smaller change is the bolt detail on the bump stops that are molded into the hull, the new bolts are now a bit more detailed than before.
Leaving the suspension you will move on to several steps that construct the rear hull and the engine cooling fan detail. The rear hull plate has some lovely zimmerit detail that should look incredible with a bit of weathering. One thing to point out, the color callouts for the engine cooling fans are not listed on the master list of colors that you will need for the kit so here you go; red, black, copper, and silver, all in gloss. I might use a flat red myself but that is what Dragon Models calls for.
As you finish up this section the instructions will have you attach the zimmerit coated side panels, the kit does include panels without the zimmerit so if you want to add your own this is your chance. Be aware, they do NOT include a zimmerit free front lower hull or turret molding so if you are planning on adding your own good luck with the sanding!
From there you will proceed to the upper hull. Dragon Models has cleaned up the instructions a bit making things a little easier to follow. That doesn’t mean they are perfect, just a bit better. Case in point, the upper front hull shows two horse shoes being added on either side of the drivers visor, part T11 which doesn’t actually exist in the kit. Also, the antennae mount has parts C5 and C11 labelled backwards, easy enough to figure out after a moment of head scratching. A final word about my favorite molding in the kit, the fire extinguishers which have the decal placard look simply sublime. The tools all have the molded on clamps, I know some people don’t like these but it does make life easier and they don’t look half bad. If you want to add your own from other sources most of the tools are included without clamps so you should be in business.
After all that the instructions will lead you into fussing with the turret and gun. Again here the instructions have been cleaned up a bit from the earlier release to make construction just a bit easier. This is also where you will find another change from the Carius version, the mantlet now features the co-axial MG as well as the strengthened/thickened binocular sight opening. The gun is provided in plastic as a 7 part assembly; this doesn’t include the breech block or anything inside the turret, which is a separate issue. Speaking of which, the interior does provide at least a rudimentary breech/hydraulic recuperator as well as seating for two crewmembers (that’s all you really need, right?) as well as detailed hatches.
The outside of the turret is also well done, and doesn’t look like there are any issues whatsoever. Be careful of just which Tiger you plan on modeling as some wear a nice frill of spare tracks but not all are outfitted in this way. The spare tracks are of the individual link type with separate guide horns that will need to be attached. The kit gives a nice bunch of the individual links but not enough to ditch the DS tracks. The commander’s cupola has everything for the AA machine gun except the Mg itself. I know the MG wasn’t fitted most of the time but it would have been a nice option. Of course the vertical walls of the turret shell are also molded with the zimmerit already applied. The pattern on the turret is noticeably heavier than the hull pattern, which is correct.
With the turret finished the only area left to discuss is the tracks and the marking options. The tracks are the DS variety, love them or hate them, everyone has their own opinions but I will say that these look very, very nice with some extremely well molded track pins and hollowed out guide horns. If you feel like you just have to add some aftermarket tracks the kit does include the sag guides from the earlier releases with the Magic Track offerings.
With this being about as close to a production version as you are likely to ever get with the almost ‘one off’ manufacturing of the Tiger 1 Dragon Models has provided a wealth of marking options. Decals for many different vehicles and units have been included; two vehicles from Abt. 506 in Ukraine (the box art version) five different Abt. 503 Tigers in the Cherkassy Pocket, and one from Abt. 502 on the Narva front. Two Abt. 507 Tigers in Poland and one Abt. 508 vehicle from the Italian campaign, and finally three SS-Abt. 101 Tigers from the fighting in Normandy. The decals printed by Cartograf, look very nice, everything in register and thin. One of the nice things that I noticed was the limited amount of carrier film surrounding the turret numbers which should play well with the molded on zimmerit.
Most of us know how hard it can be to find a Dragon Models Tiger kit and when one is released it seems the best policy is to grab one (or even two!) while you can. This kit, which is state of the art in every respect, will probably follow the same course as the earlier releases. This kit shows off all those things that Dragon Models has learnt over the years regarding slide molding, DS tracks, fine detail, as well as working on cleaning up their instructions (baby steps, but at least it is trending in the right direction!). With all that in mind it is easy to give this kit a highly recommended rating.