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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED
6495, Sd.Kfz.184 Ferdinand Kursk 1943 Premium Edition. 1/35th-scale injection molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 277 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, three photo-etched brass frets, one piece of braided metal wire, multiple decal marking schemes and eight pages of instructions in 22 steps.
This re-boot of the DML Ferdinand kit is nearly precisely the same as the previous Premium Edition kit, which introduced a number of up-grades to yet another previous release. Therefore, it includes a number of metal parts, including a turned aluminum gun tube, three etched brass frets and early pattern individual-link Magic Tracks. The largest of the etched brass frets has additional brand-new parts to construct a pair of standard Ferdinand stowage lockers as well as a rack to hold a third (included) stowage locker. Also new for this particular kit is a comprehensive water-slide decal sheet, which will allow the modeler to mark virtually any specific Ferdinand that served at Kursk, belonging to s.Pz.Jg.Abt.653 or s.Pz.Jg.Abt.653. This last feature is the one I find most attractive.
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. 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 Soviet T-34 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 dont 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 wont 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 integral 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 (with retainer pins).
As a new alternative, two etched brass tool lockers can be fitted to the starboard side of the hull. One can be left open since it includes all of the tools and maintenance items (in styrene), as well as their brackets (in etched brass), that were seen inside of it; leaving it open will create a nice point of interest. It should be noted that shortly after Kursk or possibly during the battle, the tool box was relocated to the hull rear, so check photos before you attach yours. Note that the instructions show the placement of only one tool locker; check your references if you intend on using both.
The modeler has the option of using the original single-piece styrene track-guard/mud-flap units, or an etched brass and metal wire multi-part unit; for this a dedicated etched brass bending tool will be needed. However, the etched track-guards will be a bit of a challenge to properly bend, since there are no etched folding lines anywhere to be seen. Good luck getting the folded-down track-guard edges uniform! The front mud-flaps are separate and include formed metal wire hinge pins for a proper appearance. 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 dont 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 Tarnscheinwerfer-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. 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 provided as clear parts. The large round removable plate on the rear face of the casemate has a separate shell-ejection port lid and all MP-Stopfen (pistol ports) can be depicted hanging in the opened position with the provided chain.
The 8.8cm PaK43/2 L/71 gun tube is given in its original two-piece styrene form, a single-piece styrene version (including the muzzle brake) or as a turned aluminum part. A three-part, slide-molded muzzle brake is fitted to the latter two options. 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.
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 theres problem here, its 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. The biggest problem is the etched brass track-guards and their lack of etched lines to ensire the proper folding of their edges.
Accuracy and Details.
Hilary Doyles 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 commanders hatch lids; the commanders split hatch lids are smaller than depicted by Doyle, but have cut corners (according to photos), which Doyles drawings ignore. It also appears that photos match the sliding gun-sight cover as DML has depicted it. Finally, photos (and the rear-view drawing) indicate that Doyle got the bolt pattern on the rear plate wrong (as seen in his plan view). This begs the question: Where did he get it wrong and where did he get it right? The fuel tank filler caps on the kits engine deck are hinged at the front, opposite to what is seen in Doyles 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. They are also of an older, non-CAD-generated style.
Decals and Markings Information.
The decals are crisply printed by Cartograf and are in perfect registration. Carrier film is thin, matte and cut close to the edges of each individual design. Probably the best reason for getting this kit is the fact that one can, with what is in the box, mark nearly every Ferdinand that was employed by s.Pz.Jg.Abt.653 or s.Pz.Jg.Abt.653 at Kursk during July of 1943.
This kit is essentially quite accurate, although there are still some questions regarding certain areas. It will go together relatively easily, especially if the poorly-designed etched brass track-guards are not used. Finally, the decals are simply fantastic and certain to please fans of the Kursk era.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted included:
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.
Reviewers 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 sources. For more information, see their web-site at: www.dragon-models.com.