by: Christopher Wilson [ ]
The Tiger is one of the most famous tanks is history. Its development began in 1937 and the first production Tiger I was ready in August of 1942 and saw combat southeast of Leningrad that month. The Tigerís official designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf E - Sd.Kfz.181. It had a five man crew consisting of a commander, loader, gunner, radio operator, and driver; and was armed with the famous German 88mm gun. Only one type of Tiger was ever manufactured, but it is possible to divide the sub-types into early, mid, and late production models. Over the production run many improvements and changes were made as well as parts swapped when necessary. By the end of production just over 1,300 Tigers were produced.
The KitThe box contains 3 sprues, and upper and lower hull, metal exhaust shields, metal tow cables and vinyl tracks. My upper hull had a mold defect in the rear engine deck that I will hopefully cover with something later on as it cannot be fixed. Tools are molded on and hatches are closed, except for the commanderís hatch which can be posed open. There are two choices for markings, both are a tri-color scheme from Normandy, 1944. Instructions are the new style Dragon two page color sheet with photos of the subject and some ambiguous instructions. Six steps are involved from beginning to end.
AssemblyI started my assembly this time with the turret because Dragon does not provide any instructions for its assembly. The turret is first shown, fully assembled in step three. It does mention hatches and the main gun as it mounts to the turret, but ignores completely a hole in the top of the turret (not shown in the instructions at all) that needs to be filled using part A16. The gun assembly was equally puzzling. Not being familiar with the mantlet assembly on the Tiger I was confused when they show the gun being held in place by two small plastic pins. I was also confused because the instructions do not show the assembly of the barrel, mantlet, and another piece that accepts these small pins. These parts are only shown completed in the instructions and the modeler must figure out from other sources how things go together. The good news is that the turret goes together pretty well, though one really should clamp it while drying to insure a good fit.
Next up was the lower hull and that went together perfectly. I then moved to the road wheels and again, there were no problems. After this road wheels and tracks were primed and set aside for paint.
At this time the modeler needs to make a choice of a command tank or regular late model. I picked the command version, but later decided I didnít want to do the kitís ď007Ē So I had to find something else.
I started with the small bits to add before painting. Tools are molded on, but the tow cables have an odd front, rear assembly with the rear part being actual metal and the front plastic. I did not like the look of this and since there was more than enough metal cable for two full length tow cables I cut off the eyes, drilled them and glued the metal cable into place. With this done I turned my attention the exhaust. I was not happy with the kit parts, though in the scale they are fine, so I opened up the exhaust and rebuilt the tops including new bolts from styrene rod. I then heated the very nice brass exhaust shields over a flame and dunked them into water. This process makes them malleable and they were shaped to represent some wear and dents.
It was then I realized the mud guards that came with the kit would not do. They are very thick and mine were not straight. An added difficulty is that they do not have locator holes on the hull, even though the pieces have pins, so aligning them could be a problem. I elected to build new ones using lead foil. This was easier than I thought and also a first for me. Having added two guards per side I made some more bolt heads from styrene rod and added those as well. Since I was on a roll I also added the small brackets that hold the track changing cable to the side of the hull. Note: the kit does not supply the smaller cable at all and the brackets are not molded or supplied with the kit so you are on your own here.
Before painting I also added a wire for the front light and cut some vision slits into the turret sides since Dragon molded the ports but didnít add detail at all.
I robbed an MG and cupola mount from a Dragon King Tiger and some spare track from the Revell Tiger. With all this done it was time for paint.
Painting and DecalingI started with Dunkelgelb (tan/green) lightened with white and when dry freehanded a green and chocolate brown pattern typical of those seen in Normandy, 1944. By this time I had decided to use markings from the Dragon King Tiger kit. I picked 224. Iím not 100% sure, but from pictures I could find it appeared this tank was a command tank with the 503rd in Normandy. However, now that Iíve said it Iím sure someone will tell me Iím wrong. The decals went down great and are printed by Cartograf. A little Solvaset and they snuggled deeply into the zimmerit. The kit supplied decals are also Cartograf so I would expect the same performance from them. I then used a raw umber wash followed by two filters of tan and brown (5% paint 95% thinner) and some weathering using powders and some mud using wood putty.
Final NotesOne thing the modeler needs to know is the idler wheel doesnít allow the track guide horns to run in correct alignment if they are assembled per the instructions. This is pretty obvious to those familiar with the Tiger in step 2 of the instructions, but it caught me off guard. The fix is quite easy if done before assembly. The modeler needs to sand the rear portion of the idler wheel (B6R) so that when installed the entire idler wheel is on the same guide line as the inner road wheels. Only then will the tracks fit properly. It is an easy fix and only requires sanding of two parts (B6R), but it does make a difference in the finished model.
Recommendation The Tiger is a subject that modelers have built as long as there have been models of it. Dragon breaks new ground with this kit by providing molded on zimmerit (allowing those who donít want to or cannot make their own zimmerit) model a nice example of German armor history. I have one more in my stash and would recommend this model to anyone interested in German armor. Many thanks to Dragon Models USA, via Saķl GarcŪa, for the review sample.