History and Performance
The references I used for this review include Panzer Tracts No 20-1, Paper Panzers, and Germany’s Tiger Tanks VK 45.02 to Tiger II.
The production contract to build these vehicles had been awarded in February 1942. The subject vehicle for this review never made it to full production. Several turrets and hulls were completed, but because of significant problems with the Porsche designed and built engines and suspension the contracts for the production series were terminated in November 1942. The fifty turrets manufactured for this vehicle eventually were used on the first 50 Tiger II tanks, and were known as the “Porsche“turrets...
The basis for this vehicle was the requirement to mount the 8.8 cm Kw.K L/71 gun starting with the 101st Pz. Kpfw VI (VK 45.01). The Tiger I Ausf E was armed with the 8.8 cm Kw.K 36 L/56, and weighed in at 57 tons, while the Tiger II was armed with the 8.8 cm Kw.K 43 L/71, and weighed in at 68 tons. The VK 45.01 was to weigh about 45 tons. Both references noted include line drawing for the side and plan views of the proposed vehicle. The power train included two 10-cylinder engines connected to electric generators powering two electric motors one for each rear drive sprocket. The vehicle was designed to travel at 35 kilometers per hour.
It can only speculated on how well this tank may have fared in combat had it made it to full production. It was a complicated machine, no doubt, and if the history of the mechanical problems for the Elefant/Ferdinand and Tiger II are any clues, most of the VK 45.02 would have been disabled or lost by mechanical failures than by combat.
The kit is packaged in a typical large and sturdy cardboard box with an image of the vehicle in a city scene on the top panel. The box bottom features several details that are often helpful in the build when the instructions may be a bit unclear. The box top also includes information that the kit contains over 300 parts for skilled modelers 14 and over.
- Instructions: The instructions are the typical and current Dragon format, with six fold-out pages. The construction appears to be quite simple when compared to other recent Dragon kits, but from past history the builder should be aware that an occasional error may be found in the instructions. They will be found.
- Sprues and packaging: There are twenty two sprues molded in grey styrene. The hull bottom is molded as a large tub, while the top of the hull is also a large molding. The bottom of the hull includes several access panels, drain ports and rivets. The driver and radio operator hatches are molded closed, as are the large engine access covers. The turret is taken from an earlier issue of the Tiger II, “Porsche” turret. There will be several parts destined for the spares box. Ejector pin marks when found were located where they would not be visible on the finished model, and therefore no effort was required to eliminate the marks.
- Clear parts:Two clears parts sprues are included for the many periscopes.
- Photo etch: The single PE fret contains among other details the large screens for the engine deck vents, tools clamps and a length of chain. The screens are simple affairs that resemble residential window screen fabric, and in my opinion not too realistic (after the painting was completed these grills did not detract from the finished model at all). In the event the modeler wishes to replace the screens with scale welded wire fabric some preliminary work will be required to paint the underlying engine grates before the screens are installed. The opening on the grates are molded solid and should be painted black to add depth.
- Figures:There are no figures included in this kit.
- Running Gear and Tracks: The tracks are supplied as two runs of DS tracks. The road wheels and suspension are taken from a previous kit of the Elefant, and are a bit soft in detail when compared to the turret and subject hull.
- Decals/Markings: Markings are limited to national crosses only, and are printed by Cartograf of Italy. The instructions and box top side show profiles for two hypothetical camouflage schemes: one vehicle is all dark yellow, while the second vehicle is wood brown over dark yellow. Being a “paper panzer” the model really has the option of most any camouflage scheme and markings.
- Miscellaneous: Two lengths of stainless steel cable are included for use with plastic ends. In addition a single-piece aluminum gun barrel is also provided. Two, two-part plastic gun barrels (a single part and a two-part barrel) with molded-on muzzle brakes are also provided.
- Running Gear: The first step is dedicated to the front and rear toothed sprockets which are installed in the following step. These sprockets should not be glued in place until after the DS tracks are installed to allow the proper alignment of the teeth into the tracks.
Each road wheel has four sprue attachment points that will require careful removal and cleanup. The road wheel suspension system consists of three dual wheel assemblies per side. The instructions call for four of one style and two of the opposite style. There are parts to build three of each. Review the instructions carefully to see how each is mounted. There are small mounting tabs on each hull attachment point that align with recesses is each suspension subassembly, and therefore it should be difficult to install these assemblies incorrectly. There are mold lines on all suspension subassemblies that must be removed.
I did find a ragged surface at the ends of the suspension assemblies and rather than try to fill and sand smooth I added small disc punched from a sheet of styrene.
I mounted all road wheels, sprockets and suspension units on round toothpick is preparation for priming and painting. Also, it is a good idea to mask over the mounting pegs for all the road wheels and suspension parts: Dragon kits are known for their tight tolerances for these connections, and even thin films of paint will make it difficult to insert the male part into the female receptor.
- Lower Hull: The rear hull panel is installed in step 10. I found a rather deep seam on each side of the hull where these two parts are fixed together. I used a length of sprue to form a welded bead line to conceal the gap.
- Upper Hull: Contrary to the instructions I fitted the upper hull to the lower tub to avoid possible damage to the many small parts (both photo etch and plastic) that are shown installed before the two hull parts are joined.
- Turret and Armament: The Porsche-style turret sides have U-shaped raised mounting guides for spare track hangers. These raised guides need to be eliminated as no spare track links are included in the kit. I textured the sides and rear of the turret with Mr. Surfacer stippled with an old brush.
In the event the builder elects to use the aluminum gun barrel be aware that the plastic muzzle brake (part TF3) must be modified slightly to accept the aluminum part. The aluminum gun barrel is the single piece barrel, whereas the instructions show the plastic alternative barrel as the two-piece barrel. The kit also includes a single piece plastic gun barrel. Although this is a hypothetic build the single piece gun barrel is probably more appropriate.
The instructions do not show any parts for the main gun breach being used in the build and the sprue breakdown show the parts as not being used. That is incorrect. Without parts of the gun breach and retainer brackets installed the main gun mantle has nothing to attach to. Also, the aluminum gun barrel is a good deal heavier than the plastic barrels, and gravity will win out and cause the barrel to lay a maximum deflection. I glued a short piece of plastic tube to the underside of the turret roof, right above the cannon breech, creating a stop for the breech. The gun will elevate, but will not depress below the horizontal.
- Tool and Brackets: All of the tools require photo etch mounting brackets. Plan to spend several evenings assembling and mounting the tools and brackets. Study the instructions closely before placing any of the tools to avoid any misplacement.
- Track: I have used the DS tracks on a previous build and like them. They glue together nicely, and take paint well. Sag for the upper run can be achieved with an application of superglue or epoxy between the track inside and tops of selected road wheels. The appearance of the finished tracks once painted and weathered is quite satisfactory.
As noted above the road wheels, sprockets and suspension assemblies were are painted separately. I did find that the rear sprockets did not fit into the hull mounting openings without increasing the size of the opening. I used a number 11 blade to make the opening more oval in shape before the parts fit. The front sprockets did require some finessing of the parts before they fit in place. The sprockets were installed with the tracks in place. Once the road wheels and sprockets were set in place I placed small drops of Gorilla super glue on the bottoms and tops for the road wheel to secure the tracks in place and create sag in the upper run.
Had production proceeded on this tank the first vehicles most likely would have entered combat by as early as mid-to late 1943 (??). Colors and camouflage schemes would have been whatever the order of the day happened to be. I decided not to follow the instructions and use my own camouflage scheme just for fun...
The model was first primed with Rustoleum’s Painter’s Touch white, sandable primer. After allowing the primer to thoroughly dry for two days a coat of red oxide primer (a Tamiya mix) was applied, followed by dark yellow, olive green and red brown, all Tamiya acrylic paint mixes.
Frompast experience the kit decals perform well and this kit was no exception. I felt the turret looked a bit bare and took the liberty of adding numbers to the sides. One the decals were in place and allowed to dry over night the weathering was applied and the model was finished.
The large rear-mounted turret gives this vehicle an interesting and unique look. The “Porsche” turret has a certain sleekness about it, while the hull and running gear shows its “Elefant/Ferdinand” heritage. It is a rather interesting combination. I did add a tail light and machine mount to the commander’s copula.
I would recommend this kit for any armor builder interested in Paper panzers or just plain armor subjects. This model will certainly be appreciated by the “what if? “crowd, and does offer an interesting addition to any collection. Aside from the minor errors in the instructions I enjoyed this project. This was not a difficult build and the average modeler should have no problems with the kit. I enjoyed this project and am happy to add this unique vehicle to my collection.
I thank Dragon USA and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to build and review this kit.