Kit, DML 6317, Sd.Kfz.184 Ferdinand Premimum Edition
January 18 2007 at 4:49 PM
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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6317, Sd.Kfz.184 Ferdinand Premimum Edition. 1/35th-scale injection molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 271 styrene parts (including 12 clear), two bags of individual-link “Magic Tracks”, 10 metal parts, one turned aluminum gun tube, one length of brass chain, two photo-etched brass frets, one piece of braided metal wire, three decal marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 22 steps.
Following up on their “Premium Edition” release of the later Panzerjäger Elefant of mid-2006, DML has just released a re-worked version of the Elefant, the type that saw action at the Battle of Kursk. As is the purpose of this series of kits, his latest release includes re-worked styrene parts as well as a host of new details using various media, all of which were not included in the original Elefant.
The improved parts and assemblies provided in this kit include: new tow cables made from braided wire, styrene ends and etched-brass mounting brackets; new metal “U”-shaped tow clevises with turned metal pins; separate styrene MP-Stopfen (machine-gun pistol port plugs) with chains that can be depicted hanging in the open position; new clear styrene periscope heads for the driver’s hatch lid (which also gets etched-brass covers) as well as for the casemate roof; new turned aluminum 8.8cm L/71 gun tube with slide-molded multi-part styrene muzzle brake; new tools without brackets, new multi-part vehicle jack and an etched-brass tool box that can be shown opened; a complete set of etched-brass fenders (as well as the original styrene parts), brackets and mud flaps with working hinges and steel pins for the front end; new individual-link “Magic Tracks” of the correct pattern, new etched-brass jack block mount, new etched brass screens for the rear end, and new water-slide decals.
As I stated in the review of the Elefant kit, all of the improvements in these “Premium Edition” kits are “real”, not simply bells and whistles; therefore they are most welcome by this reviewer.
The Magic Tracks have four faint pin marks on each link, with an additional pip on the connector, or “bridge” link; my advice is to ignore them or get a set from Friulmodel. Masochists can clean them up, which since they are quite faint, should be easy; it’ll just take quite a bit of time to get ‘em all! The tracks also require glue as they will not stay together using friction, even to get them in place. Also remember that there are two bags and that the links in each are not the same. One has a guide tooth and the other is flat; they should be fitted together in an alternating pattern, somewhat like a Soviet T-34’s tracks.
The torsion bar arms are fully detailed and include separate end caps, while the wheel hubs properly represent both types, one of which protruded further than the other; be careful when you fix them in place. Also, these were all-steel, so don’t go and paint the rims in your favorite rubber color! The suspension will articulate to a certain degree after assembly and the idler sprocket can be adjusted, which will help when installing the individual-link tracks; this means that the modeler won’t come up with too many or too few links at the last moment.
The hull molding comes from a slide-mold and has complete details on the sides and belly plate. This includes weld beads, access plates, drain plugs, panels and various rivets. Aside from the suspension components, various mud scrapers are added. The lower glacis plate is also integrel with this part and includes interlocked armor plate joints with weld details. The rear plate is a separate part, to which separate exhaust shrouds are added. There are choices of etched brass or styrene deflector plates and screens, as well as styrene or metal “U”-shaped tow clevises. It should be noted that shortly after Kursk (or possibly during the battle), the superstructure side-mounted tool box was relocated to the hull rear, so check photos before you attach yours.
The modeler has the option of using the original single-piece styrene fender/mud-flap units, or an etched brass and metal wire multi-part unit; for this a dedicated etched brass bending tool will be needed. To the starboard side is added a styrene spare antenna storage cylinder. Spare track racks are also provided as styrene or etched brass parts.
Parts of the superstructure side plates are located on the hull molding; this will help in alignment. Separate front plates and separate rear quarter plates must all be carefully aligned so things don’t go amiss later on. The engine deck plate can then be added along with the various hatch lids (with separate clear periscope heads, detailed with etched brass parts), antenna mount, gun travel lock and vent covers. Up front, a pair of Bosch head-lamps, and a multi-part etched brass and styrene jack and jack block can be used; there is also a choice of styrene or metal “U”-shaped tow clevises. The starboard side gats either a closed styrene tool box or an opened etched brass version, complete with styrene tools and etched brass clamps. Styrene end loops, wound metal wire and etched brass brackets will allow the modeler to produce an excellent tow cable, while there is a station-keeping tail-lamp at the rear.
This is a single main part coming from a slide-mold. So, there is complete detail on all sides to include various plate interlocks, weld beads, attachment bolts, hatch lid openings, periscope lid openings, hinges and gun sight cover. The fume extractor vent cover, as well as the hatch lids are separate, with the latter detailed on all sides, while the periscopes are now provided as clear parts. The large round removable plate on the rear face of the casemate has a separate shell-ejection port lid and new MP-Stopfen (pistol ports) are now provided as separate parts; they can be depicted hanging in the opened position with provided chain.
The 8.8cm PaK43/2 L/71 gun tube is given in its original two-piece styrene form or as a turned brass composite item with a three-part, slide-molded muzzle brake. The mantlet will allow for some articulation and there is a choice of etched brass or styrene rain guards for the casemate face. There is a basic gun breech and mount for the interior, but that’s all.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
The fit of the main parts is quite good overall, just take care when aligning the left and right side superstructure extensions, parts B6 and B7, along with the rear plate, part B5. It is not as if there’s problem here, it’s simply that you will want these straight and true so that the casemate will fit properly. The same goes for the front end; there are parts that fit over one another (one will require trimming by the modeler as shown in the instructions), so be careful and go slow.
Molding is very crisp and there is virtually no flash; seams are minimal and will respond to a swipe with a hobby knife or fine sanding media. Knock-out pins are minimal; this is an older kit so they are present on the inner surfaces of all hatch lids. They are extremely faint and easily removed with a light sanding; no details will be harmed.
Accuracy and Details.
Hilary Doyle’s drawings in Panzer Tracts No.9 were the references I used to check the kits parts for accuracy. The casemate roof matches Doyle in most areas except the following: the shape of the sliding sight cover is too long on the side nearest the commander’s hatch lids; the commander’s split hatch lids are smaller, but have cut corners (according to photos), which Doyle’s drawings ignore (so, “Where did he get it wrong and where did he get it right?”, one is forced to ask). The fuel tank filler caps on the kits engine deck are hinged at the front, opposite to what is seen in Doyle’s drawing (in this instance his drawing is corroborated by photographic evidence). Other main components match within more than acceptable tolerances. For the sticklers among you, it must be remembered that these early, pre-CAD Panzer Tracts books had their plans drawn in 1/24th-scale and reduced 69% to approximately 1/35th-scale, as stated at the beginning of each book so produced. This should be kept in mind when using them as references.
The instructions are in the usually busy, drawn style associated with DML.
Decals and Markings Information.
The decals are crisply printed by Cartograf and are in perfect registration. The color schemes are keyed to Gunze and Testors paints and describe three different vehicles. They include:
• White 624, 2.Kp./s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.654, Russia 1943.
• Black outline 113, 1.Kp./s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653, Russia 1943.
• Black outline 124, 1.Kp./s.Pz.Jäg.Abt.653, Russia 1943.
All three of these Panzerjäger saw action at Kursk in 1943. The markings appear to be accurate, with the following caveat: the position of 113’s Tac numbers should be over the first pair of bolt heads on the casemate sides, not the second set as DML shows. 124 should probably have the white square without the extra small square at top left, positioned as per the item for 113; it’s included on the decal sheet but not mentioned in the instructions. DML’s instructions call these units “s.Pz.Abt.”, which they were not. Don’t be confused because 624 is a 1.Kompanie vehicle with Tac numbers for the 6.Kompanie; this is correct, probably because both ‘653 and ‘654 were part of the same parent unit (schwere Panzerjäger-Regiment 656) and therefore I conjecture that the Kompanien were numbered consecutively.
Although there are a few nagging issues, this is yet another intelligent upgrade of an already fine kit. To reiterate: if you missed this kit the first time around, now’s the time to act.
Frank V. “Curley Stooge” De Sisto
References consulted included, but were not limited to:
1. “Combat History of Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 653”, J.J. Fedorowicz, by K. Münch.
2. “Combat History of Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 654”, J.J. Fedorowicz, by K. Münch.
3. “Elefant and Maus (+E-100)”, AFV Weapons Profile 61, by W. Spielberger & J. Milsom.
4. “Ferdinand, Elefant Vol.1”, AJ Press Gun Power 22, by T. Melleman.
5. “Panzerkampfwagen Tiger”, Achtung Panzer No.6, by M. Bitoh, H. Kitamura & M. Udsuki.
6. “Jagdpanzer”, Panzer Tracts No.9, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
7. “Kursk 1943, the Tide Turns in the East”, Osprey Campaign 16, by M. Healy.
Reviewer’s note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DML. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reviews.
DML kits are available from retail and mail order shops. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsltd.com.