Sd.Kfz.181 Panzerkampfwagen VI(P)
Dragon Kit No. 6210

1/35th Scale

First Look Review by Terry Ashley

The history of this vehicle is well documented but it is basically the only Porsche VK4501 design fitted with early Krupp turret to see service as the Command Tank of sPzJgAbt 653 on the Eastern Front in early 1944 and had a few additional features such as a Panzer IV type storage bin on the rear turret and a Zimmerit coating on the hull and turret. There is also debate as to wether this particular turret had the rear escape hatch as the early Krupp turrets did not have this fitted but instead two pistol ports, one on each side of the storage bin.

The kit consist of 301 parts in light grey plastic but only 240 are used in this kit along with two frets of etched metal and two lengths of twisted wire for realistic tow cables plus a set of full length vinyl track made from the new glueable DS100 plastic and the small decal sheet and instructions.


Three of the sprues (B, E and F) and the lower hull tub come from Dragon’s earlier Elefant (#6126) and Ferdinand (#6133) kits with five new sprues for this kit (A, C, H, K and L) and the 61 unused parts can be consigned to the spares box.

One thing noticeable about the parts is that all known photos of the vehicle in service show a Zimmerit coating on the turret and hull sides but the kit parts are smooth so you will have to add the Zimmerit yourself using whatever method you find best.

But moving on the parts are cleanly moulded and have a nice level of detail with well defined weld seams and the large bolts on the front armour plates and on the rear engine deck the three large intake louvered panels are separate parts for good detail definition.

The Hull:
The large lower hull tub is a robust mounding that includes the lower tub and upper hull side sponson panels with reinforcing fillets on the insides to ensure the side panels remain vertical, as they are. There are four large rivets on the side panels that are not on the Tiger (P) but the instructions show to cut these off as they are left overs from the Elefant/Ferdinand kits, so Dragon new about this.

The suspension consists of the three suspension units per side with two sets of road wheels each and the details on the road wheels is quite good but the contours of the wheel with raised centre hub should be slightly more curved than the straight hub depicted on the kit wheels.

The toothed drive and idler wheels have the correct variation in hub details with twelve hub bolts on the idler and only six on the drive sprocket and the open bolt holes on the outer drive sprocket disc and the correct nineteen teeth on each sprocket.
The outer sprocket disc on each wheel also has the bolt head details on the inside as does the inner drive sprocket disc for good detail appearance.

The new vinyl track is very flexible with excellent details inside and out and glues together using normal plastic cement to make things easy and also fit precisely around the sprocket teeth and should look good on the final kit.

At the front is the added armour panels with large bolt head and weld seam details but the superstructure panels looks a little simplified at the edges and around the MG opening compared to available photos as there were actually two layers of armour fitted which explains why some photos of 003 show a round MG port and others square after the outer layer of armour was fitted. The second layer did not completely cover the first and there should be small step at the edges as on the Elefant/Ferdinand and not smooth as with the Dragon part and as mentioned there should be Zimmerit added so the weld seams are not really important. New side fenders are included with subtle tread plate pattern included as well as the fender hinge details; note that the old Elefant/Ferdinand fenders are still included so make sure you use the right ones for this kit.

On the upper hull deck there are three separate driver’s periscopes over his position at the front and the central engine deck grill is included with the full deck and has open grills which may require blanking off from the inside to avoid the hollow look.
The two separate side grill panels have separate inner louvers and etched metal covers for a very good scale appearance while the large rearmost grill panel has very open gaps and will definitely need blanking off from the inside before gluing in place.

The side hull mounted tow cable is provided in plastic or the twisted metal cable with etched retaining clips which does really look the part.

The Turret:
This is an all new for this kit and is a very good representation of an early Tiger turret with the correct asymmetrical layout. The turret roof has nice weld seams around the outside and along the front section with the eight flush screw heads in the centre. The drum cupola has internal periscopes and a separate top circular section with the commander’s hatch with the hole in the centre for the binocular sight, a hatch with the opening closed is also provided for a choice of arrangement. The loader’s hatch has internal details of grab handles and central locking wheel as well as two part rear ventilator while at the front is the separate top sealing guard bar just behind the mantlet and if I’m not mistaken this is the first time this has been included in a plastic Tiger kit?

Photos of 003 also show the side vision ports are actually slightly lower on the turret wall than on the kit, almost level with the gun mantlet attachments, but as these are moulded with the turret walls it may be a minor difference many will live with as it would mean cutting these off and repositioning which would be a difficult task without damaging the ports.

The mantlet looks good for the early (P) turret with twin binocular sight openings and small cut-out on the lower left corner but most of the detail will be covered with the Zimmerit coating.
The 8.8cm barrel is split in two halves and includes the muzzle brake in the traditional manner but does include the small flange on the inside of the mantlet for added details.

At the rear is the Panzer IV style storage bin and spare track links between the turret and bin. Either side of the bin are two pistol port fairings but recent photos have shown it in fact had the escape hatch fitted so this will have to be added to the kit.
But given that contemporary thinking up till now, including in the Thomas Jentz book “The History of the Porsche Typ 100 and 101 and the Tiger (P)” and the MMIR Tiger Special plus other authoritative volumes had the turret with two pistol ports Dragon can be forgiven for this discrepancy.

Only markings for the one vehicle are included obviously and consist of the three crosses and the “003” for turret sides and the rear plate as well as the 653 crests on front glacis and rear plate and the paint scheme on the instruction sheet can best be described as a basic guide only and the build article in the MMIR Modeler’s Guide to the Tiger Tank will be quite helpful in adding details as well to the paint finish.


Overall this is a good representation of the only Tiger (P) to see service with most details represented on what is a fairly plain vehicle as far as fine details go but the final appearance is let down by the lack of Zimmerit which has to be added for an accurate model. The turret is very well done except for omission of the rear turret escape hatch and may give an indication of the attention to detail to expect in the forthcoming Tiger I kits from Dragon.

Recommended for Tiger fans and those wanting something a little different than the normal German Vehicle.

The Sprues:

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Detail images
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Thanks to my credit card and Hobby Easy for the review kit.
and thanks to Zheng Tang for some info updates on 003.

Page created 22 November 2004
Updated 23 November 2004

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