Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-45 Series Kit No.6303: Sd.Kfz. 182 Kingtiger Henschel Turret w/Zimmerit - Dragon Zimmerit; 831 parts (437 in grey styrene, 240 "Magic Track links, 142 etched brass, 4 white metal, 3 turned brass, 2 twisted steel wire, 1 brass chain, 1 preformed brass wire, 1 aluminum turned barrel); estimated retail price US $45
Advantages: older kit brought up to more modern standards with "slide molded" parts, brass and "Magic Track"; provision of cast-in zimmerit will be appreciated by many modelers
Disadvantages: Fixed zimmerit pattern not appreciated by all modelers
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: to all German and Tiger fans
When larger scale armor modeling (e.g. 1/35 scale) began to catch on in the early 1970s it did not take long before many German modeling fans realized many of the German tanks were fitted with a concrete paste at the factory which was designed to prevent the adherence of magnetic or "sticky" explosive charges to the outside of the vehicle. Put on with special trowels by hand, the paste, called "zimmerit" by the Germans, was an essential item for finishing off the model. This caused a great deal of grief, as many modelers had no idea how to do it and as a result wound up in some cases putting in on at a 1/1 scale thickness.
Over the years it became a mark of good modeling of mid-war German subjects to see if the zimmerit paste could be accurately replicated, and many home-grown formulas came about to accomplish this, usually involving some type of plastic model putty, liquid cement, and broken Xacto knives.
About 15 years ago the Italian firm of Italeri made a bold experiment with providing modelers with a factory-based choice for optional zimmerit on their Tiger I and Panther Ausf. A kits. This consisted of form-fitting panels of injection molded styrene that fit on the model to replicate the finish. However, while the base kits themselves had some errors, the problem with this finish turned out that it if was not use the model was undersized and did not look right.
Later, new products came out to ease the problem of applying zimmerit, including thin flexible resin panels and even etched brass ones. Each had their adherents, but the most popular method still seemed to be "the hard way." R&J Enterprises offered a "package deal" of the best of the old methods dubbed "Zimmer-it-Right" and this became the best approach for some time. Companies like Tamiya even offered different pattern scale trowels for applying it.
Then in June 2004 Dragon Models introduced a 1/72 scale kit of the Tiger I with zimmerit patterns molded directly into the surface of the kit. This was a major breakthrough as it now meant that a new or average modeler could produce an accurate replica of a generic vehicle without the trial and error of applying zimmerit. They followed this with Tiger II and Jadgtiger variants later on.
My original observation was that this was a brilliant idea and that they should carry it over to their 1/35 scale line of kits. Now, three years later, the first one has been released, and is the very popular subject of the Tiger II (King Tiger) with Henschel turret.
DML took the improved parts for their "Premium" kits of the Tiger II with newly molded bits and their generic accessory kits for German vehicles and changed out a total of 18 parts from the "Premium" kits, replacing them with neatly done parts simulating being coated with zimmerit paste. These include the upper hull (sides only), the turret shell, the hull rear plate, the machine gun ball mount for the glacis, the lower glacis, the turret rear hatch (two options), and the turret glacis.
The remainder of the kit provides for a Tiger II with Henschel turret with the "normal" steel road wheels, "Magic Track" pre-trimmed two- part single link track (toothed links and plate links), a slightly smaller sheet of etched brass for the screens and detail parts, and a complete set of the "T" series recently molded German tools and OVM. The ones provided are as follows: TA - pioneer tools and a fire extinguisher; TB - jack and cable hooks; TC -tow cable heads; TD - auxiliary cable heads; TF - 8.8 cm muzzle brake for aluminum barrel; TG - self-defense projector weapon; TH - hatch braces; TJ - turret AA MG ring mount; and TK - bow machine gun mount. It also comes with an aluminum gun barrel with "slide molded" muzzle brake and three turned brass 8.8 cm rounds.
But as the old proverb goes, be careful what you wish for. There are some areas which will require concentration and some extra work. The zimmerit is there and well done, but it also covers most of the areas where mounts and clamps need to be attached to the hull and turret. DML got around this on the hull sides with raised smooth areas, but for mounting the extra track links on the turret it will take a ruler and a mini-chisel to skim off enough of the zimmerit coating to get a good mounting area. It will also require getting a good smooth finish on the model (as in Future floor wax or a similar product) to permit the kit's decals to be used and snug down with out the normal pesky "silvering" caused by a lack of smooth areas for adhesion.
Also, the kit regretfully uses the "Color Photo" version of the DML directions, using a pre-painted or primed version of the kit, which makes it far more difficult to determine the correct location of parts as it shows them installed and not when or how to install them.
The kit provides a total of seven different finishing opitions: s.Pz.Abt. 503, France 1944 (black 300, tricolor pattern); 1./s.Pz.Abt.101, France 1944 (yellow 111, tricolor pattern); 3./s.H.Pz.Abt. 501, Ohrdruf, Germany 1944 (red 333, green stripes over sand); s.Pz.Abt. 506, Germany 1945 (red 2-14, three color patch pattern); 1./s.Pz.Abt. 101, France 1944 (yellow 113, three color patch pattern); 3/ s.H.Pz.Abt. 506, Germany 1945 (black 3-13, brown stripes over sand); and 3./s.H.Pz.Abt. 506, Germany 1945 (blcak 3-14, brown stripes over sand). The kit has a relatively large sheet of Cartograf decals provided for these options.
Overall this is a brilliant idea and while many "die-hards" (those who broke the "code" of how to apply zimmerit) will grouse, it will be very popular with "newbies" and those who want a good looking model without the tedium of applying zimmerit. For those fans of the Porsche version, be patient; several parts for an early production vehicle were on the sprues of this kit.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.