ARM: DML 1/35 Scale Tiger I Initial Production

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale ?39-?45 Series Kit No. 6252;
Pzkw. VI Ausf. E. Sd.Kfz. 181 Tiger I Initial Production sPzAbt 502 Leningrad
1943; 756 parts (395 in grey styrene, 180 "Magic Track" links, 113 etched
brass, 22 "DS 100" plastic/vinyl, 14 aluminum, 12 turned brass, 11 clear
styrene, 8 white metal, 4 bent wire, 1 spring, 1 turned aluminum barrel);
retail recommended price $31.95
Advantages: Most complete kit of this tank in one box on the market, all major
multimedia pats included, options abound for all parts and sections of the
Disadvantages: "Another Tiger" (see text)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German Armor and Tiger fans in particular
The Germans puttered around for several years before the war on a heavy tank
design, originally dubbed VK 36 (For 36 metric tons design weight) and later
bumped up to 45 metric tons as VK 45 when the prototype Rheimetall 8.8 cm tank
gun would not fit on that chassis. Two competing prototypes, VK45.01 (P) from
Porsche and VK45.01 (H) from Henschel, competed for the final design. Krupp
designed the turret that wound up on both tanks, with Henschel eventually
winning the competition. Part of the incentive to get the tank out and into
service was the shock of running into the Soviet T-34 medium and KV-1 heavy
tanks, which only the 8.8 cm FlaK gun was shown to be able to consistently
But the tank was more than a bit over the design weight, coming in at 56
metric tons or around 62 short tons combat ready. Nevertheless it entered
production in the summer of 1942 as the Sd. Kfz. 181, Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf.
E ? better known as simply the Tiger. Early production models were sent to
Russia in the fall of 1942 and operated with s.Pz.Abt. 502 (heavy tank
battalion) near Leningrad. One tank was lost in the fall of 1942 and later, in
January 1943, one was captured after a dogged fight by the Soviets.
In that battle the Soviets claim the Germans lost the Tiger, five Pzkw. III
tanks, and 200 infantry in an attempt to get it back. When the Soviets got to
the Tiger, they found it stuffed with explosives so that it could be destroyed
in place (it had broken down). After the Germans were chased out of the area,
the Soviets yoked five T-60 light tanks together (!) in order to drag it to a
place where heavier vehicles could be engaged to tow it back to their rear
This unit was equipped with some of the first 25 Tigers built, which were much
less refined than later models ? no fender skirts, no stowage bins, no turret
escape hatch, dedicated left and right tracks, and a number of other detail
variations on "standard" production tanks. Anyone interested in the "blow by
blow" is directed to Osprey/New Vanguard #5, Tiger I Heavy Tank, by Tom Jentz,
Hilary Doyle, and Peter Sarson to follow the detail evolution of the tank.
Before I proceed any further, let me state up front that I personally hate
Tigers. I find them to be a tiresome subject, long espoused on by SGFs as the
most wonderful tank ever made, a wonder weapon, best tank of the war, etc. None
of that is true, but you cannot get the faithful off message even when their
myths are exposed.
However, and ignoring the fanatics, the Tiger I is hands down the most popular
single armor modeling subject ever ? period. More different kits of this tank
have been made in more scales over the years than just about any other subject,
with only the Sherman running a close second. Andpersand Publishing even has a
complete book dedicated to modeling the Tiger, covering every one of the major
kits out at the time of its release. Kits of it exist in scales from 1/700 to
1/4 and in just about any medium you can think of, from plastic to various
forms of metal.
Most of us still stick to plastic, and the most popular current scale due to
the compromise between size and detail is 1/35. Over the last 15 year a number
of companies have released new kits of the Tiger I - Tamiya, Italeri and
Academy being the main competitors. Each one tried something different ?
Tamiya with different crew figure sets and options, Academy with a full
interior, and Italieri with optional "zimmerit" paste panels to install on the
outside of the hull and turret.
Now ? 15 year after their first kits were released, ? Dragon is entering
the Tiger "fray" with a new series of kits. The first one is the "Initial
Production" model as used by the aforementioned s.Pz.Abt. 502 in Russia, and it
comes with an absolutely stunning array of parts in one box ? grey styrene,
clear styrene, vinyl, brass, aluminum, and steel plus a new design of track
link set. The kit has "wraparound" box art (bottom, too!) that shows and
explains nearly every one of its special features, so the buyer gets a good
idea of what awaits inside the box.
The first two major features DML cites on this kit are its use of "Magic
Track" and "DS 100" vinyl. The former is something many modelers will like ?
separate link track with no sprues and ready for assembly. To be sure, there
are light ejection pin marks on the inside of each link, but they are ready to
go. These snap together to permit assembly and installation, and the directions
recommend a touch of liquid cement to each one after they are joined and in
position to set them in place. As is correct for this particular version of the
Tiger, they are "handed" ? set Y is the right side and set Z is the left side
? so modelers will have to pay close attention to them when assembling the
tracks as the bags are not marked. (They are separate and the directions show
which way they go and which way they face, but it will require a bit of
concentration to get them on right.)
"DS 100" is the new trade name for a vinyl/styrene plastic DML is marketing
that is unique. DS 100 permits DML to mold the figures in the manner of vinyl
("rubber soldiers") figures but takes cement and paint like styrene. The
details are much crisper than regular styrene (and DML is about the best in
styrene figures) and they also permit a bit of "wiggle room" to install the
figures in a vehicle. However, these are "bonus" figures and comprise a
propaganda team - one man with still camera, one with a 16mm movie camera. If
you want a crew, you will still have to get them separately.
The kit proper comes on 17 different sprues, two bags, a vacuformed box and
the now-standard DML card with attached bagged details. It fills the box to the
top (the one thing I have problems with for a review is getting out all the
bits and then getting them back into the box ? DML did it, but most of the
time I can't!)
The kit states it will produce three different models. This is basically true.
It can faithfully reproduce (based on photos) tank 100 from s.Pz.Abt. 502 with
twin lateral turret bins, tank 121 with a Pzkw. III style bustle bin, or a
straight early Tiger I with the snorkel erected. Three different style fenders
are including in etched brass (and one in styrene) as well as three different
mantelets (one with and two without the rain guard over the gunner's binocular
sight apertures). Other parts with options include metal or plastic smoke
grenade launchers, metal or plastic tow shackles (two styles in white metal
with aluminum pins are provided), and two muzzle brakes and three different
barrel options are included.
For whatever reason, DML has included the somewhat "Mickey Mouse" feature of a
recoiling spring-loaded gun barrel like AFV Club used to provide with its kits.
But the gun does come with a breech assembly; there are two basic seats as
well, but no other turret interior detail.
The hull comes with some interior elements, but not a complete interior. It
includes the torsion bar assemblies, bow gun assembly, hatch details, and
radiator bays and trunking at the rear of the hull. The rear engine deck
grilles (parsts P11/12 and P16/17) have the curved louvers found on the
original, and based on the use of the snorkel may be shown open or closed.
The hull top comes with a set of tools that have etched brass clasps
included, as well as a jig for bending the clasps to shape prior to
The turret is quite unique, as it consists of a one-piece asymmetric section
with the base, kit locking tabs, race and complete sidewall construction less
pistol ports. The commander's cupola can be built up from component parts or a
one-piece unit, complete with view slits, is also included.
The snorkel comes in one piece but all of the special covers and blanking
plates are also provided to set it up correctly by the manual.
The kit also comes with a plethora of small details: a brass bucket with
separate handle and base, 12 turned brass rounds, 12 styrene rounds (24 etched
brass bases with headstamps are included for them; there are 4 brass and 6
plastic empty casings and 8 brass and 6 plastic full rounds), three "jerry"
cans with etched brass center fold, and two crates for the ammo plus two "DS
100" spare crew jackets.
A decal sheet and painting directions are included for the two s.Pz.Abt. 502
tanks, but the generic one with snorkel is left Panzer Grey.
Overall, this is a stunning model of the one main version of the tank that no
one had kitted up to this point. And even though it's a Tiger, I'm impressed!
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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Hey! I just read your article in FSM on building limited run armor. Excellent article and great job on the model! I had no idea you used this NG - keep up the great work.
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