The Elefant came into being from improvements made to the tank destroyer Ferdinand. After the battle of Kursk, surviving Ferdinands from sPz.Jg.Abt.654 were consolidated into sPz.Jg.Abt.653. The unit withdrew to St. Polten in December 1943 for overhauls and modifications, which included the addition of a machine gun at the radio operator's position, a commander's cupola, new tracks, rain gutters on the front of the superstructure, and new armored engine grilles. A Zimmerit coating was also applied. These modifications coincided with Hitler's order to have the vehicles redesignated with the name Elefant. Elefants served on the Russia front, in Italy, and in the defense of Berlin.
Inside there are five sprues molded in tan plastic, four sprues in brown plastic that make up the tracks, a decal sheet, a bag of Polly caps, a piece of white string, an instruction booklet, and a separate colored vehicle camouflage fold out sheet. The detail is excellent and, as with all Tamiya kits, little to no clean up is required. The kit also comes with three figures: driver, commander, and loader. The detail is fantastic on the figures and is a great addition to the model.
The build starts with the hull and superstructure, then follows into the running gear. The tracks are individual link with larger sections on longer runs. A word of caution – follow the instruction to the letter, as the tracks are laid out in a way with sag built into the runs. The instructions continue with the gun barrel and detail work on the vehicle. I must say that the parts are so well engineered that at times they just fell into place. The model does not come with Zimmerit, so you will need to make your own or use a aftermarket product. I used the Tamiya stick-on Zimmerit sheet designed for this kit. See review of this product at http://web.ipmsusa3.org/content/zimmerit-coating-sheet-elefant-kit. The decals are a little thick, as are most Tamiya decals, but with setting solution settle down nicely. I did add wire to the headsets of the figures and a strap to the binoculars of the commander figure.
Painting and Weathering
I primed and painted the model with Tamiya paints. I weathered with AK interactive weathering products, Mig pigments, and pastel chalks.
This kit is very well engineered and goes together beautifully. I highly recommend this kit to all modelers of every skill group. Thanks go out to Tamiya USA and IPMS for allowing me to build and review this kit.