by: Jeremy Hengest [ ]
So called Paper Panzers may not be at the top of everyone’s interest, but this one should be considered an exception. Porsche had a notable, if not entirely successful, history with the development of the Tiger series, especially with the heavier variants. Two concepts were submitted for the VK.45.02 (P) by Porsche, distinguished as the Type 180 and Type 181, for consideration as the Tiger B. Both versions were based on a strengthened version of the running gear used on the now famous Type 101.
Following the design elements of the Type 101, the Type 180 featured a turret positioned towards the front of the hull which really encroached on the driver and radio operator and ironically gave an elephant-like look to the tank. However on the type 181 Porsche decided to place the turret towards the rear of the hull, thus pushing the engine(s) farther forward into the middle of the hull which placed the firewall and electric generators against the backs of the driver and radio operator. This would have created a huge offset of weight towards the rear of the vehicle, placing a very biased load on the rear of the suspension. The weight of the turret and gun, even at it’s loading weight, would be more than the two engines, generators, and transmission could counter balance unless the suspension were modified even further to support it.
Given the benefit of the doubt however, the Type 181 would have been a lot more maneuverable in tight quarters and had a nice “slingshot” look to it. Porsche was evidently so confident that one of their concepts would be chosen as the Tiger B that they ordered 50 turrets from Krupp. Although neither the Porsche Types 180 or 181 were chosen, the “Porsche” turrets were used on the original 50 VK.45.03(H) Type 182 designed by Henschel when it went into production as the Tiger B.
Upon opening the box I found it nicely filled with styrene, but not to the point where there was so much stuff inside that I couldn’t fit it all back into the box and close the lid after emptying the contents. Most will be pleased to find that Dragon has provided the traditional style of instructions, instead of the photo type that has been widely criticized by many for being challenging to use.
Sprue A, which is actually two trees, makes up the only styrene that I can say for certain are new to this kit. Sprue A contains the upper hull, exhaust, rear plate for lower hull, and a few other small parts unique to the Type 181. The PE set, MA, is unique to this kit as well and provides some very nice brass mesh for the grills in addition to other fine details. Those who have built any of Dragon’s Kingtiger kits will find sprues H, M, and N familiar with a few small bits added to sprue N based on my comparison to kit 6189.
Elefant fans will recognize sprue F(x3) which contains the running gear from that kit. Part X is the one piece lower hull and I would not be surprised if it was the same as the one used for Dragon’s Elefant kits, but I don’t have one for definitive comparison, so this is speculation on my part. Sprues E(x2), J, K(x2), TA, TB, TC, TD, TF, TG, TH, TK, TJ, and U(1 and 2) are mostly standard Dragon items and will provide the bulk of the small details. Sprues L and S contain clear vision blocks.
The remaining multimedia pieces consist of W – two sizes of braided metal cables, and MB – a length of metal wire and a turned aluminum barrel. This kit comes with a very nice set of DS tracks that have good details, your only option for building this kit as no styrene tracks are provided.
Sprue TL is not listed in the instructions, and consists of the Kingtiger muffler covers. You will have quite a collection of nice little bits for the spares box when you are done with your build.
You will need to be aware that there are two options for the commander’s cupola U, annotated by a very small number “1” and “2” on the instruction sheet, but come loose in a small bag without any means of identification.
You will also have a choice of barrels, unfortunately the turned aluminum barrel does not depict the barrel type used in the box art and marking options. I don’t understand why Dragon would provide a turned aluminum barrel for the optional barrel, but not for the one intended to depict the Type “181”. Dragon, if you are reading this, I encourage you to consider addressing this issue.
The only markings provided come in the form a very small decal sheet consisting of four black Balkenkreuz outlined in white. Of course markings are entirely up to you as this is an overall theoretical vehicle.
Be on the lookout for a full build review where I will address any additional issues and/or welcome surprises.
This is a great looking kit based on inspection of parts, although it is a bit of a let down that so many parts are recycled from Dragon’s early kits. Thankfully those are good kits to begin with, so there shouldn’t be any disappointment with the quality of the parts.
It is interesting that this wasn’t released as one of Cyber-Hobby’s value series as there was minimal new tooling and I don’t think that the rather high MSRP accurately reflects this. Regardless, this will be a welcome addition to Tiger and Paper Panzer fans, and will certainly stand out as a conversation piece in your collection.