OK, so the real kit name is Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.E Tiger I Initial Production s.Pz.Abt.502 Leningrad Region 1942/43, but I was not going to squeeze that in above. This is another very impressive release from Dragon in 1/72 scale, and as with my other reviews in this scale, the level of detail is on par with what the company does in 1/35 scale. This release also includes a fret of photoetched parts, a length of wire to make tow cables with, and one-piece Dragon Styrene tracks.
According to most of the reading that I have done, and documentaries that I have watched, the Tiger was the most feared tank fielded by Germany during the Second World War. There is a tremendous amount of information available on the Tiger, so I will forego my typical history on this vehicle. What I will mention is that the markings that I utilized were for s.Pz.Abt.502 while serving in Mishkino in February of 1943. With some research I was actually able to find photographs of the real tank in action, and wearing this paint scheme. This tank was actually number 122, but in the winter camouflage scheme, wore the single number 3 on the turret sides. The scheme shown in the directions are very close to what I was able to find in some photographs on the internet.
Typical for the latest releases from Dragon, there is a painting on the top cover, a drawing of the side of the two vehicles whose markings are included in this kit, and CAD drawings on the other side of the box as well as on the bottom of the lower half of the box. There are four sprues covered with one hundred and thirty-five parts, while the hull bottom half is in the box loose. On a cardboard “extras” insert in separate plastic envelopes there are decals, a small length of metal tow cable, the two tracks (made of Dragon Styrene 100), and the photoetch fret containing fourteen parts. I found very few flaws on any of the moldings in my sample, just a little extra plastic on a few of the mold lines. There is a direction sheet, which consists of a single sheet of paper tri-folded, with the typical black, white, and blue drawings, a copy of the cover art (in full color), and a painting and marking page. As previously mentioned, there are two vehicle options, the one that I chose, and one for Tiger number 123 from the same unit serving in Tosno in September of 1942. The color recommendations are for GSI Creos Corp. Aqueous colors and Mr. Color as well as Model Master Paints.
Similar to the 251 that I reviewed a while back, Dragon has incorporated running wheels that are interconnected, which makes installation and alignment a snap. Only the outer sets of wheels are individual, and once assembled, it would be difficult at best to figure out the secret of this assembly. This is the first kit that I have built in this scale that includes a full main gun assembly, and I would call the level of detail adequate for the size. There are also a couple of seats included for inside the turret (for the commander and loader), so there is a little to see within the interior if you leave the hatches open on top. The hatch detail inside and out is very impressive as well, making it an easy decision to pose them open during construction. If I were to build another one of these kits for myself, I would be tempted to try scratch building an interior for the front of the hull to give the viewer something to see up there as well.
Overall, the construction was straightforward enough, but like other Dragon kits, test fitting is important, and careful attention is required. I only ran into a few issues during construction, and these were not that difficult to overcome. The first was that in Step 4, you will need to trim the hole in part B11 to get part A25 to fit (there are two other parts that can be installed, and I did not check to see if they fit any differently). In that same Step, there is a horseshoe (Part MA 2) that is shown installed sideways; I could not verify this being installed on the real tank I modeled, but I liked it, and I installed it with the tips up, “to keep the luck from running out”. The other glitch was in Step 8 during the assembly of the cupola as there are locating pins on the periscopes (Part B7), but no corresponding holes in B9. For a kit of this complexity, I would not consider this too outrageous.
When it comes to my hits of this kit, I am once again amazed by the level of detail that the folks at Dragon have placed into a 1/72 scale kit such as a single-piece gun barrel with a slide-molded open muzzle, and for the first time that I have seen it, slide molded machine gun barrels. I really do like the inclusion of the fuel tanks, radiators, and fans in the rear of the hull, but with the photoetch screens installed, they are impossible to see. If you have not dealt with Dragon Styrene yet, you may want to give a kit like this a look, as I think you will come to like it as I do. The tracks fit perfectly on this kit, and as they react to my glue of choice (Tenax-7R), and you can easily tack them to the road wheels to induce realistic sag. The included metal tow cable is a nice addition, but as the photos of the real tank did not show them installed, I opted to leave them off as well. The photoetch screens over the radiator and fans have wonderful detail, especially considering the scale, and the markings page shows five views of each vehicle (front, back, left, right, and top), which helps quite a bit if you do not have reference photos of the exact vehicle that you are modeling.
As far as what I would consider “misses” on this kit, I would really only comment on the direction sheet in Step 1, as the assembly of the road wheels did take some thinking to overcome. Aside from that, I really have nothing to comment on in this section as the previously mentioned construction issues were not that difficult to overcome.
Since this kit arrived during the winter, I had to make my first attempt at a winter camouflage scheme. I started by using a panzer schwarzgrau base coat (Model Master Acryl) over which I lightly sprayed semi-gloss white (Acryl again) to build up a not quite opaque layer on the upper and side surfaces. I them applied an oil wash made of Grumbacher Payne’s Gray and Turpenoid. After this had just dried, I dry brushed schwarzgrau, but used the Model Master Enamel. Whether I was lucky or good, this led to exactly the effect I was after, and the enamel and oil mixed nicely to prevent the wash from creating lines that were too heavy. The tracks were first painted with Panzer Aces Tack Color (by brush), and then I highlighted them using Humbrol Aluminum. The road wheels were painted using Warbird Aircraft Colors Tire Black, and the interior of the kit was airbrushed with Model Master Acryl Panzer Interior Buff and Tamiya Hull Red.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this kit to those who enjoy building 1/72 scale armor. The level of detail for a model in this scale is impressive indeed, and as I have mentioned before, these built up models will take far less space to display than their 1/35 scale counterparts. With slide molds now being used on machine gun barrels, I wonder what will be next from the folks at Dragon.
I want to express my thanks to the folks at Dragon and Dragon Models USA for providing this kit for the IPMS-USA to review, to John Noack for running the review corps that allowed me to do this evaluation, and as always to you for taking the time to read it.
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