Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.E Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Initial Production 3 in 1
1.Kompanie s.Pz.Abt.501 DAK Tunisia 1942/43

Cyber-Hobby 1:35 Scale Kit #6286 (01)
Review b
y Terry Ashley
The kit:
This limited edition kit is marketed under the Cyber label but contains the Dragon produced Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.E Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Initial Production 3 in 1 (Kit #6252) kit with additional and reworked parts for this kit and is available only from for US modellers, for the Japanese modellers and through for the rest of the world.

It is not the scope of this review to dwell on the merits or otherwise of this limited availability but suffice to quote from the enclosed pamphlet; " is proud to present to you our very own line of high end plastic model kit products! Our model kits are designed specifically for Expert Modelers who demand only the Finest Quality products with many additional bonus parts and features. The topics and items that we choose are catered to the most die-hard Military and Modeling Fans. OEM by Dragon Models, our kits are limited to only One Production Run per item, and Quantities are Limited so you don't want to miss out on them!"

That said we will concentrate on looking at what is in the box which is the same size as the recent Dragon Tiger I kits.

The kit box has the following contents;
517 parts in light grey plastic
11 parts in clear plastic
4 frets of etched metal parts
2 pre-formed brass exhaust guards
1 metal barrel and recoil spring
12 turned brass 88mm rounds and shell cases
38 assorted metal parts
2 lengths of metal tow cable
1 length of woven tubing
Individual link “Magic Track” tracks
Decal Sheet
Instruction sheet

The 3 in 1 tag applies to slightly different fittings for three vehicles from s.Pz.Abt.501 in Tunisia during 1942/43 provided on the decal sheet and so the options are not as marked as some other 3 in 1 kits from Dragon.  

The standard of the plastic moulding is superb with virtually no pin ejector marks on any parts due to the use of many small knock out nodes on the parts and while this makes for a little more cleanup it is a very small price for the clean parts and is a lot easier than filling pin marks.

There are many alternate parts with all the clear parts having grey plastic equivalents to use if you wish and most of the metal parts also have plastic equivalents such as the barrel, 88 ammo, the towing shackles and smoke grenade launchers which again gives you a choice of medium depending on your preference but the finesse of the metal parts makes them irresistible. There are also pioneer tools with the tool clips moulded on and additional bare tools with etched tool clips provided as well as templates on the sprue for bending the clips to the correct shape.

The etched parts are also done to a high standard with clean etching and well defined parts with the usual bending lines and the other metal parts in different mediums are equally well done with pre-formed smoke grenade mountings and metal bucket which is simply superb with wire handle already fitted.

The majority of the parts are from the Dragon kit 6252 Tiger I Initial Production 3 in 1 with some having minor re-working as well as a few from the Dragon kit 6253 Tiger I Late Production and some new sprues for this kit and so is not just a re-box with new decals.

Etched parts
Exhaust shrouds and engine deck screens
Smoke grenade parts and additional wiring, Shackles and pre-formed bucket
DragonDragon Dragon
Metal barrel and recoil spring
Brass 88mm rounds and sheel cases
Clear parts

Lower Hull:
This is the same large tub with separate front hull sections, final drive fillets and straight towing shackles but these have a couple of small pin marks which is about the only ones to be seen on the whole kit as well as separate inner fillets with bolt head details on the inside of the final drives. The new side panels include the small fender attachment blocks that fit into indentations on the insides of the full length plastic fenders and also correctly depict the welded locking fillets and small square weld mark on the lower rear corner although this is hidden when the fenders are attached.

On the inside are separate torsion bars which allow the suspension to work if you are sparing with the glue during assembly but you have a choice in fitting the separate axles with central weld seam in the normal manner with pins on the hull sides to hold the axles in the neutral position and you have to cut off these pins if you want the axles to articulate.

Other details on the hull sides include the distinctive flanges between the hull and top sponsons and the external shock absorber bolts, bump stops on the first and last road wheels and separate track pin bumper plates.

New drive sprockets provided are updated with more refined outer rim bolts and nice hub details with the inner sprocket wheel having bolt head details around the outer rim on both sides with the original sprockets still included to use as spares. The road wheels and idlers are superb with subtle weld seam and bolt head details on the outer road wheels with the correctly spaced bolts on the inside faces as well as fine embossing ‘Continental’ on rubber section of the road wheel although this actually says ‘Continentau’ as before due to copyright issues.

The idlers are the 700mm type as they should be with separate inner and outer wheel with inside details and the final drive housings are separate parts with nice detail with all wheels being designed to be glued in place.

A new separate rear hull panel has most details separate with nicely detailed exhausts and the covers which come in plastic or pre-formed etched metal with open cooling vents. The plastic shrouds have a small contour on the side profile which isn’t included on the etched shrouds. There are separate tow shackle mounts and alternate metal or plastic shackles, the metal ones also give you a choice of the early square profile or later rounded profile shackles for some variety. There are new rear fenders with rounded profile and a new seven part jack with separate etched clips that looks very impressive.

Also on the inside are rear radiator assemblies to fill the void under the engine deck grates and have the large tubs with separate fans and radiator grillwork that should look quite convincing when looking through the grills with additional etched parts are included for the fan mountings to add further details.

I fitted together the major parts either with dry fit or with glue and found the fit very good. The rear hull sides were slightly bowed inwards but after fitting the rear hull plate and fenders these re-aligned themselves okay.
When first fitting the rear hull plate there were two large gaps low down on either side between the rear plate and hull side but these are supposed to be there to accept the rear towing shackles (parts F16/F17) in the next step in the instructions, so don’t be tempted to fill these.

The tracks included are non handed “Magic Tracks” and are all individual links that require no cleanup but are not designed to be workable with the links just gluing together to form the track runs.

These are probably the only area of the kit not as well detailed as each link has a couple of small pin marks on the inside and the guide horns do not have the cut-outs. To aid in assembling the track runs two large jigs are provided for forming the track around the drive sprocket and idler wheels and this does make it easy to assemble the tracks.

Once assembled using the jig and the glue has dried completely the track snapped perfectly around the drive sprocket after a little coaxing as you have to open the links a little to fit the teeth in place but no problems if care is taken and the idler just slipped into place no problem, also don’t glue the idler axle to the hull until after fitting the track as you may have to move this a little to get the good fit.

Upper Hull:
This single large moulding has had minor re-working of some weld seams and small additional fittings added with separate engine access door, rear intake grates and front crew hatches and features cast texture on the panels between the engine grates. The upper engine grate mesh screens are supplied as etched parts but these are not the same screens as included in the Tiger I Late Production kit (#6253) having been re-worked with slightly heavier gauge meshing but still include the pre-formed side contours for fitting over the engine deck grating.
At the front the separate driver’s plate has separate outer ball mounting with etched wing nut fasteners and a full MG with its own spent shell case bag and the mounting also comes with alternate parts for the snorkel sealing and a moulded canvas cover if you wish to fit this?

The driver’s vision port comes as a complete open assembly as well as a four part assembly which allows you to position the visor open or closed and there is an additional clear part for the inside vision block.
The two crew hatches have excellent details on the inside with separate clear periscopes, inner latch and separate outer periscope cover and hatch hinge which allows the hatches to be positioned open of closed.
On either side are the two Bosch head lights with separate mountings on the hull front peculiar to Abt.501 with pre-formed wire ‘cabling’ while the lights themselves have separate front section with hollow cut out and clear lens for the inside for a well detailed assembly and the central front ventilator cover is also a separate part.

The rear engine deck has excellent details with correct style deck grates with the two rear panels being separate parts with a separate inner grate panel and you can position these grates open or closed to show off the inner radiator details included and there is also a separate supporting latch. The cover for the snorkel attachment is a separate part to allow the use if snorkel device and the full Feifel air cleaner system is mounted on a new engine bay door with two alternate “V” mountings that have subtle welds along the edges and the details on the piping and fittings are superb. There is very nice ‘ribbing’ on the plastic piping with the ends hollowed out with slide moulds, also the attachment fittings have excellent bolt heads again added with slide moulds and as an alternative there is a length of flexible woven tubing to use in place of the plastic piping if you wish. The large air cleaners on the back plate are made up of six parts each and are also very nicely detailed.

The large central forged intake cap is a separate part with the ‘star’ tightening lug included and there is also internal detail in the intake opening which won’t be seen on the finished kit unless you show the assemblies apart for maintenance as well as nicely moulded fire extinguisher for the right side of the deck.

At the front is a re-worked glacis with the tread plate pattern included on the fenders as well as the three etched tread plate sections to use as alternatives and the armoured fillet in front of the driver’s visor is a separate part plus the front securing latch included on the hull side extension parts which can be cut off and replaced the etched latch and securing bracket to add even more detail.

All the tools are separate parts and as mentioned you can use the tools with clips moulded on or the bare tools with the etched clips which do look much better when fitted and the inclusion of the bending template a very nice touch.
Again the fit of the major components presented no problems with things like the rear engine deck doors and grates fitting like gloves.

The Turret:
The turret roof has the correct layout for the early Tigers with nice weld seams and recessed gun travel lock screws in the roof and early style loader’s hatch and also includes the early style ventilator with or without the bolted cover and the new drum cupola is a superb one piece moulding with excellent details including bolt head details around the hatch ring and indented drain holes with completely open vision slots. The original three part cupola is still included but the detail on the new one is so much better.
On the inside of the cupola are vision block mountings with a choice of normal plastic or clear parts and the top hatch has excellent details on both sides with separate securing latches on the inside as does the loader’s hatch with separate grab handles and latch wheel on the inside.

The asymmetrical turret shell has re-worked weld seam details and side vision slots with more refined weld seams set at the correct height for this version and separate pistol ports for the rear sides and these also have additional internal plugs to fit into the open hole in the ports for another nice detail addition.

At the front is a choice of four mantlets, the original from the Dragon Panzerkampfwagen VI(P) kit (#6210) which you wouldn’t bother with here and three new mantlets with separate one piece gun collar which again feature the two recessed screw heads at the front of the collar in three positions.

The 88mm barrel offers a choice of three setups, the original full barrel and muzzle brake from the Panzerkampfwagen VI(P) kit, a three part plastic barrel moulded without join seams or the full metal barrel with the new single piece muzzle brake with separate end cap and internal fillet with the last two barrels also having a recoil spring that is trapped when fitting to the mantlet but this is a little on the  gimmicky side.

The three alternate mantlets all with the binocular sight holes offer small variations seen on early mantlets including the sun/rain shield added over the sight openings and weld beads around the collar junction as well as small numbers on the sprue runners that can be cut off and positioned on the mantlets for the casting numbers.

On the inside is a basic gun and breech with side guards and spent shell basket as well as two crew seats to add a bit of detail if looking through the open turret hatches.

The side mounted smoke grenades are provided in plastic or completely in metal which are really quite intricate assemblies with pre-formed brass turret mounting brackets and grenade mounting plates with nickel grenade canisters and etched parts for the connectors and build into impressive little assemblies.

A new rear storage bin is provided with nice details included with alternate etched parts to add further details.

Additional metal parts include the 88mm rounds and shell cases with separate etched end caps for good detail definition and as mentioned these are also included as plastic parts with the plastic shell cases hollowed out using Dragon’s slide mould technology and the pre-formed bucket is excellent.

Additional items include the nicely detailed Jerry Cans from with the Dragon Panzer 1B DAK version which have etched brackets to form the central join seam on the cans for very good effect and a couple of plastic ‘wood’ ammo boxes for the 88mm rounds to add to a diorama setting.

Instructions & Decals:
These are traditional exploded view line drawings which I found the be very clear and easy to follow but take care as there is a lot going on in some stages with multiple choices of medium as well as options for the different version in the kit so make sure you study the instructions carefully and there shouldn’t be any problems.

The small decal sheet is well printed and has a selection of three vehicle numbers and balkenkreuz to make one of three vehicles from Abt.501
This is not just a quick re-box with new decals but has several re-worked parts as well as new parts and details applicable to Abt.501 vehicles such as the exhaust guards and head light arrangements for another very well detailed kit.

The attention to detail seen in the original Dragon kit is followed through with this kit not only for the peculiar fittings for the Abt.501 vehicles but the highly detailed Feifel air cleaner system and minor re-working of some original parts to improve the detail.

Highly recommended

The Sprues:
Sprue images
Click on thumbnails for larger view

Sprue detail images

Germany's Tiger Tanks
Thomas L Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle
Modeler's Guide to the Tiger Tank
A complete and comprehensive guide to modelling the Tiger I and Tiger II in 1/35th scale

Military Miniatures in Review. Ampersand Publishing.
Panzerkampfwagen Tiger
Actung Panzer No.6

Tank Power 13 Tiger I (Vol.1), 14 Tiger I (Vol.2), 15 Tiger I (Vol.3), 16 Tiger I (Vol.4) and Sturmtiger.
AJ Press
AJ PressAJ PressAJ PressAJ Press
And countless other excellent books on the Tiger Series, too many to list here.

Thanks to my overworked Credit Card and for the review kit.

Page created October 19, 2005

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