ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale Tiger I Late/Final Production 3-in-1 kit

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale '39-'45 Series Kit No. 6253; Pzkw. VI Ausf. E Sd.Kfz. 181 Tiger I Late Production 3-in-1 Kit;
720 parts (590 parts in grey styrene, 104 etched brass, 21 clear styrene, 2 DS track runs, 2 twisted steel wires, 1 spring); price US $44.95
Advantages: molds cleaned up and improved once more; DS tracks solve the tedium of single link track assembly; choice of detail parts
Disadvantages: fifth Tiger from DML (and second "late" version) may muddy the waters and confuse modelers; still no zimmerit on hull or turret
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German Tiger fans
    There is a point in life when the number of versions of a specific vehicle offered tend to boggle the mind of the average modeler; in the words of Al Capp's famous mountaineer, Li'l Abner, "it's cornfusin'." Such is the case for most of us when it comes to DML's Tiger releases.
    There are now five of them on the market based on availability (at least one is "sold out") and as near as I can figure it looks like this:
Kit Number    Production variants    Release Date    Parts in kit    Price
6252        Initial            Jan 2005    756        $32 6253        Late            Jul 2005    1,134        $45 6286        Initial - DAK        Oct 2005    950        $45 6350        Early "Wittmann"     Nov 2006    1,053        $100 ( 6406        Late            Jun 2007    720        $45
    Most kits were "3-in-1" kits, but in this case the choice was basically a line tank, company commander, or battalion/regimental commander based on radio antennas. This new kit is also a "3-in-1" with the same level of options and command antennas. The "Initial" production ones were either the dual "saddlebag" bin ones used near Leningrad or single bin "common" versions with "Fiefel" air cleaners. The "Early" Wittman tank was a special release "boutique" version, but the late ones have the final "Steel Wheels" vice the "Rubber Tired" wheels and a number of detail options for specific sub-variants based on build date.
    The main difference between the kits other than their variant was the inclusion of either more or less etched brass (five frets being the maximum noted), figures, and the use of regular, "Magic Track" links or now the much simpler DS plastic runs. Some purists have already squawked about the latter, but many modelers have found out the hard way to be careful what you wish for, as single link tracks, some consisting of as many as five parts a link, may look good but are incredibly boring and tedious to build, plus generally quite fragile on top of it. The DS plastic looks good, takes paint well, and glues with common plastic solvents; it also permits undercutting such as the pin ends of the track and even open teeth to replicate castings as is the case here. Overall, cleanup is simple and I do believe most people will like these better. The two "sag guides" from previous kits are included so you can get a good fit over the wheels with the tracks.
    There are a great number of options with the kit: two styles of idlers, two different rear plates, three different mantelets, two different turret roofs, two different commander's cupolas, two different muzzle brakes - the list goes on. As before a partial interior is included for the engine compartment as well as all of the torsion bars and the 8.8 cm gun breech in the turret.
    There are still some oddities, such as no zimmerit yet even though it has been provided on the 1/72 versions of this tank. I suppose some modelers prefer doing their own and matching a specific tank, but for the majority providing it would make life easier. While the mount for the AA MG is provided, no machine gun is provided in the kit once again.
    I noted changes in only three of the sprues that came with the kit from the previous "late" version, but DML has once again included a four page "brag book" as to what has been done to the kit. They state they have redone the mufflers and armored covers for the rear plate, fixed some problems with the turret escape hatch, redone the hull shell to make more use of "Slide Molding" features, and provided for the use of a engine pre-heater (read blowtorch) at the rear of the hull. However, if you wish to use that you will have to either knock one together from scratch or use the one in the VW Starter kit that DML just released.
    The amount of etched brass has been reduced, and my take on that is that the molds have all been "tweaked" a bit to clean up earlier problems and thus much of the brass detailing is now superfluous.
    The kit comes with a nice sheet of targeted Cartograf decals and a choice of one of six different finishing options, all but one in a variety of late war tricolor schemes: "334", 1./s.Pz.Abt. 505, Nowe Koszary 1944 (green over Panzerbraun); "122", 1.s. SS-Pz.Abt. 101, Normandy 1944; "242", 2./s. SS-Pz.Abt. 102, France 1944; "304", 3./s SS-Pz.Abt. 101, Normandy 1944; "933," 9./s. SS-Pz.Regt. 3, 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf", Poland 1944; and "133", 1./s. H. Pz.Abt. 510, Kovno 1944. Technical assistance and research for this kit came from David Byrden, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
    Overall it is a nice kit and simpler to assemble due to the lesser amounts of brass and single-section track runs, but I am not sure how many more Tigers the market can absorb with relatively minor "tweaks" between kits or choices of options.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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