Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Late Production
DML 1:35 Scale Smart Kit #6253
Review b
y Terry Ashley
The kit:
Dragon have followed their Initial Tiger I (kit #6252) with this new Late or more appropriately named “Steel Wheeled” Tiger as some later vehicles still used the rubber wheels. The kit again offers the 3 in 1 options, which are; Late, Late Command Tank and Final version which have minor variations in detail between the types but the alternate parts in the kit allow you to make virtually any tank produced after mid 1944. The only real omission is that there is no zimmerit on the hull and turret parts which will have to be added yourself, either using putty and tools such as that from AFV Club or the inevitable resin zimmerit set from ATAK.
While the finished kit has to have zimmerit there were different patterns used and not including moulded on zimmerit at least means every kit won’t look the same and you can add damage when applying the coating.

The kit box has the following contents;
624 parts in light grey plastic
11 parts in clear plastic
15 figure parts
3 frets of etched metal parts
1 metal barrel and recoil spring
12 turned brass 88mm rounds and shell cases
33 assorted metal parts
Individual link “Magic Track”
Decal Sheet
Instruction sheet

The standard of the plastic moulding is superb with virtually no pin ejector marks on the 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 with any that are present being very shallow and easy to deal with.

There are many alternate parts with all the clear parts having grey plastic equivalents to use if you wish which is a good thing if you are not a fan of the clear periscopes and other parts which are generally harder to work with due to the brittle clear plastic which is hard to see the details and also periscopes aren’t clear anyway so the plastic alternative is good to see.

Many of the metal parts also have plastic equivalents such as the barrel, 88 ammo, and towing shackles which again gives you a choice of medium depending on your preference but the finesse of the metal parts makes them irresistible and 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, a very nice inclusion.

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 side fenders, engine deck screens and exhaust covers and the metal drool bucket is again included.

To summarise the multiple parts in the kit;
Parts that offer alternate plastic parts for choice of detail;
2 x Turret roofs
3 x Mantlets
2 x Commander’s cupola
3 x Loader’s hatches
2 x Types of road wheel
2 x Types of drive sprocket
2 x Engine bay door caps
2 x Rear hull plates
2 x Glacis plate (with and without fenders attached)
2 x Ventilator covers
2 x muzzle brakes
2 x Grenade launcher covers
Periscopes (clear and grey plastic)

Parts where alternate metal and plastic parts are provided;
Fenders (side and front)
Exhaust covers
Tow shackles
88mm rounds and shell cases
Turret reinforcing strip (above mantlet)
Tool clips
Tow cables
Figure badges
Star antenna

There are also some parts from the Initial Tiger I kit still included but not used although the instructions offer them as alternate parts in some cases;
Initial drive sprocket
Large idler wheel
Early hull hatches
Early engine bay door cap
Early Mantlet
Turret pistol ports

Three sprues A, B, J and the clear parts are from the initial Tiger I kit with some parts reworked while the remainder are completely new for this kit and the unused from the previous sprues are obviously not used with this new kit.

Etched parts
Shackles and pre-formed bucket
Metal barrel and recoil spring
Brass 88mm rounds and sheel cases
Clear parts

Lower Hull:
This is again a large tub with a number of separate parts such as the side panels that include the fender mounting brackets and weld seams with the small square weld mark on the lower rear corner which is hidden when the fenders are in place but shows the level of detail in the kit.

This is slightly modified from the initial hull tub with the inclusion of the rear shackle attachments and new separate front hull sections with the correctly contoured hull extensions for the tow shackles.

On the inside are separate redesigned torsion bars which allow the suspension to work if you are sparing with the glue during assembly but you have a choice of gluing the axles in the normal manner in the neutral position if you don’t 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 repositioning plates.

The details on the drive sprockets, road wheels and idlers are again superb with excellent bolt head details on the sprockets and road wheels. There are alternate drive sprockets provided with one have the central ribs with a convex profile while the ribs on the other have a concave profile and the rim bolts are on both sides of the inner and outer sprocket for good detail.
The new steel road wheels have excellent contours and the alternate outer and inner wheels have differently spaced hub retaining bolts which you have to look really carefully to even notice and this again really shown the research and detail gone into the kit.

The idlers give you both the 700mm and later 600mm types with the instructions offering a choice but you should only use the smaller 600mm type for these later Tigers and also remember to fit the track pin repositioning plates (parts B20) in the slightly downward position as they were with the smaller idler, this is shown in step 3 of the instructions also.

The final drive housings are separate parts with nice detail with all wheels being designed to be glued in place while on the front plate are mountings brackets for the spare track carried here.

There are alternate separate rear hull panels has most details separate to again allow for the later versions with nicely detailed exhausts and the armoured covers with subtle cast texture included and it’s a shame to hide these with the outer thin metal covers. There are 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 separate plastic fenders and the seven part jack has separate plastic or etched clips (and a movable base) with the alternate hull panels allowing this to be mounted on the left or right side depending on the period and vehicle being modelled and you should check references to determine the appropriate hull panel to use?

The thin metal exhaust covers are provided in plastic and also in pre-formed etched metal with the raised rib at top and bottom which really are excellent but remember the covers don’t fit flush on the real hull panel but sit on small square bolt attachment ‘spacers’ similar to the side fenders and these can be added with small sections of plastic card.

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. The fans have been modified from the initial Tiger kit in that they now have separate etched surrounds that add that extra bit of detail. Also added in this kit are the filters that fit under the intake grills that actually hide the forward fuel tanks when looking through the grills with these having nice surface texture included. These are mounted to the underside of the hull top with additional etched mounting plates and this is the first time this detail has been included in any Tiger kit or update set that I am aware of.

Included in this kit are the etched grill mesh screens that have the slight downward bend at the sides already pre-formed to fit over the engine grills but you will need care when handling these screens. One thing to mention here is that the screens are held in place in the packaging with sticky tape making it very difficult to remove without seriously damaging the screens, especially the smaller ones. To remove the tape I soaked the screens and tape in paint thinner to destroy the “sticky” part of the tape which can then be removed easily although the screens still needed to be straightened slightly and Dragon may want to rethink the packaging of these delicate parts?

Test fitting of all the major parts showed there were no areas of concern with the fit being very good but of course you should test fit any part before gluing as a matter of routine.

The tracks included are the “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 and include the later ice cleats on the track shoes.
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 include the lightening holes. 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.

Assembling the tracks proved easier than with the initial kit with the links fitting together firmly to form track runs but a final application of liquid cement like Tenax-7R will hold them in place. Once assembled using the jig and the glue has dried completely the track snapped perfectly around the drive sprocket 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.

As a bonus there are spare track links included that have separate guide teeth with the cut-outs but not enough are provided for the full kit but only to use for the spare track on the hull front and turret sides and again are not designed to be workable.
Dragon do offer the facility to buy additional sprues with these track links if you want to use them for the full track runs but if you have to buy additional links it’s probably better to get sets from ModelKasten or Armour Workshop which are fully workable and include the hollow guide teeth.

Upper Hull:
This a single large moulding with separate engine access door, rear intake grates panels and front crew hatches and features the correct layout for the initial hull with nice subtle weld seams and cast texture on the panels between the engine grates.
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 that have details on the middle of the mountings if you don’t fit the lights and the electrical junctions on the hull top already has a small cut out holes to add the light wiring provided 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 another good reason the have 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 central engine door includes the cover plate for the Feifer gear and as mentioned also included alternate closed cover if the snorkel is fitted.
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 the glacis is a separate part with the armoured fillet in front of the driver’s visor is also a separate part and the early style fenders have the three different tread plate patterns included on the etched fret and also have the front securing latch included on the hull side extension parts for added detail definition.
For added detail the moulded on latch 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 ‘naked’ tools with the etched clips which do look much better when fitted and the inclusion of the bending template a very nice touch from Dragon.
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 has the asymmetrical shell with opening for the separate escape hatch and also nice subtle weld seams around the lower join, the front plate join and around the vision ports which are correctly offset on either side of the turret. There are a couple of minor casting seams either side of the escape hatch to be sanded smooth but this will be a quick job.

Two alternate roof panels are provided, one without the central weld seam and the other with the seam and the three small supports for the 2 ton crane jib fitted to later Tigers and by carefully cutting off these mounts a third variation is possible with both including the eight central flush screw heads.

The roof panels are the later 40mm type with the small step from the turret side to the roof with nice weld seams around the outside, the cupola and front join and the only moulded on detail is the lower section of the centre ventilator with all other details separate. Two ventilator covers are provided; the “normal” flat disc and the ventilator cover but this would not normally be used on an operational tank.

The loader’s hatch has the inside framing separate with a choice of two types of hinge detail as well as internal hatch supports while there are three types of hatches provided, the more common cast type, a welded type with elongated hinges and later Tiger II style cast hatch although I’ve not seen photo evidence this was actually used on the Tiger I.
All hatches have the offset outer grab handle which is correct for the 40mm roof as opposed to the central handle on 25mm roof hatch handles.
The hatches have excellent moulded on internal details plus separate grab handles and central latch wheel for excellent detail definition.

The close-in grenade launcher has the complete internal launcher hollowed out with slide moulds plus alternate open and closed roof cap to use as required while the Loader’s periscope is in clear plastic with additional outer cover.

The rear escape hatch has a three part internal locking mechanism that can be made movable and you have a choice of two styles of outer hatch hinges, one with two bolts and the other with three bolts and again you should check references to see which is more applicable?

Moving to the Commander’s cupola you have a choice of cupolas with or without the rain channels and includes separate clear periscopes and inner ring plus the swivel hatch with separate arm with inside support and top grab handle.
The MG ring has the MG mount in three parts although you don’t get the actual MG34 for the mounting.

At the front is a choice of three mantlets, one with binocular sight openings and two with monocular gun sight openings with separate one piece gun collar which again features the two recessed screw heads at the front of the collar in three positions plus the small drain hole on the underside which is an addition from the collar in the Initial kit. Also included is the upper splash guard with both plastic and etched strips and the 88mm barrel offers a choice of two setups, a three part plastic barrel moulded without join seams or the full metal barrel with the alternate single piece muzzle brakes with separate end cap and internal muzzle grommet. The barrels still have the gimmicky recoil spring but I don’t really think anyone will sit there pushing the barrel in and out, unless you are amused by small shinny things?
The early large muzzle brake from the initial kit is supplemented with the late small muzzle brake to use as required and it’s best to check references to see which is most suitable for your model.

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, note the loaders seat actually faces the rear and this is correctly portrayed in the final kit.

The rear turret storage bin is a single moulding with separate upper hatch lids and bottom panel with four separate latches made up of four etched parts each plus a small padlock with two etched parts and you will need good eyes or magnifiers to deal with these minute items.

The spare track mountings on the turret side are separate parts that trap the spare track links between them and as mentioned the track links have the separate hollow guide teeth for good detail.

For the Command version option there is additional whip aerials for the turret and hull as well as the large star antenna which is provided in thin plastic or etched metal depending on your choice.

As an added bonus you get two wooden 88mm shell cases and six plastic 88mm rounds and shell cases with etched base plates plus the six turned brass rounds and shell cases to add as you wish. And of course you get the pre-formed brass ‘drool bucket’ from the initial kit.

A new Commander figure is included moulded in “normal” plastic with the figure posed sitting cross legged on the mantlet, a pose often associated with Michael Wittmann whom the figure seems to represent. Details on the figure is excellent with separate tunic lapels for good detail definition as well as separate arms, hands, legs and boots with hobnail details as well as separate shoulder epilates. Also included is a small etched fret with uniform rank badges and insignia that will require you to cut off the moulded on details before hand but will provide added definition.
The fit of the parts is excellent and the final figure looks very nice and can be used in any setting or posed on the turret as designed.

Instructions & Decals:
These are traditional exploded view line drawings which due to the number of parts and complexity of some assemblies, not to mention the many alternate parts makes for some crammed instruction sequences that look a little confusing at first glance. But I found these fairly clear and easy to follow but you will have to study the instructions carefully and to avoid mistakes but overall there shouldn’t be any problems. The differences for the three options are also indicated so watch out for these as you go as well as the many alternate parts.

The decal sheet is well printed and has a large selection of vehicle numbers in white, red, black and pale green, some with white outlines as well as clear white outline to make any combination of vehicles in aPzAbt.101 - 1.Kompanie and 2.Kompanie including the three Wittmann Tigers 205, 212 and 231.

Four view drawings show cam schemes and marking placement for two tanks, 212 and 212 from aPzAbt.101 plus a command tank of aPzAbt.101, 009 again with four view drawings. The final scheme is a late tank from sPzAbt.508 with the four view drawings as well as markings to make other tanks from this unit.

Dragon have crammed more detail into this kit than the Initial Tiger for a very well researched model with excellent attention to detail and the many alternative parts in different mediums catering for most skill levels and preferences while still maintaining the detail.

It is possible to make more variations than the three indicated in the instructions with only small alterations with about the only negatives being the lack of zimmerit but as mentioned this will allow you to add your own pattern and finish and no hollowed out track guide teeth.

Overall though this is a superb kit and will build into an very impressive model straight from the box using the many alternative and well detailed parts provided with a nicely detailed figure as a bonus.

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 Dragon Model Ltd for the review kit.

Page created July 20, 2005

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