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Kit, DML 6416, Gefreiter Alfred Kurzmaul Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Late Production

August 25 2007 at 12:18 PM
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DRAGON MODELS LIMITED


6416, Gefreiter Alfred Kurzmaul Sd.Kfz.181 Tiger I Late Production. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit containing 609 styrene parts (including 20 clear), two etched brass frets, two DS-100 track lengths, five stamped/etched brass parts, one metal spring, one piece of pre-formed wire, two pieces of braided metal wire, one water-slide decal marking scheme and six pages of instructions in 20 steps.


Introduction.

Over the past few years, DML has been co-locating their Dragon Expo with the IPMS USA National Convention. At each show they release a number of special items, and in the case of an AFV kit, it is usually tied to a war veteran who will often appear as a guest at the venue. This latest iteration of the Tiger I is such a release. It combines some new parts and specific markings for Gefreiter Kurzmaul’s schwere Panzer, with the recently-released Tiger I Late Production kit.


So, aside from describing the markings and any new bits, this review is essentially the same one as recently posted, here on ToT.


Tracks.

The first things the modeler will note are the two lengths of tracks made from DS100 flexible styrene material. These are packed in a separate channel-shaped card, so the guide horns are not distorted. One advantage of this material is that it can be pulled from a multi-part (“slide”) mold with no loss of detail on any face of the part. In this case, that advantage has been used to mold guide horns with the proper openings and to have very fine detail on the edges of each link, particularly the connecting pins. Overall, the detail is very crisp, and the lengths can be joined together with standard styrene cement. This last attribute will also allow the modeler to glue the tracks down on top of the road-wheels so that sag can be easily introduced. Finally, with very little effort from the modeler, the finished tracks will rival many individual-link after-market tracks (as well as DML’s own “Magic Tracks”) in overall appearance.


Suspension System.

This variant mounted the so-called “Gummigefederten Stahllaufrollen” (rubber-cushioned steel-tired road-wheels); the kit has two versions of these wheels, so be careful about which set is used. Likewise, the larger-diameter idler wheel is for use, while the smaller one is also included; there are also two variations of drive sprocket. These are all nicely represented with crisp details. All torsion bars are separate; they are designed to allow for movement similar to the prototype, so the modeler can make the suspension system conform to irregular terrain on a diorama base. The idler wheel has a “cranked” axle, which can be adjusted so that the track tension can be easily manipulated for the proper finished appearance. I strongly recommend that it is not fixed in place until the modeler is satisfied with the look of the tracks. The last items related to the suspension system are the separate, well-detailed final drive housings.


Hull.

The hull pan is from a slide mold; its sides feature molded-on details for some torsion bar bump-stops, as well as the holes to mount the swing arms. The flange seen between the hull sides and the pannier bottoms is also well-represented, while the “step” seen in that area is also properly depicted. The belly plate has panel details molded in place as well; this is one of the areas that have been improved compared to earlier releases. In particular, some of the round access plates that originally sat “proud” of the belly plate’s surface are now flush, with recessed separation lines. The final items on the hull sides are the separate inner sections of the final drives. The new rear plate has a number of separate fittings such as multi-part exhaust stacks, mounts and heat shields, as well as starter crank cover plates.


Other separate parts include rear mud-flaps and multi-part vehicle jack with separate mounts; C-shaped tow hooks and U-shaped clevises, and a tail-lamp. Everything else is molded in place including the idler wheel adjustment port covers and other small detail items. The bow plate is integral with the hull molding; it receives a pair of U-shaped tow clevises as a final touch.


Superstructure.

Assembly of the superstructure begins with the placement of the side plates upon the hull molding. These are complete with weld bead detail where appropriate as well as mounting pads for the separate, one-piece side skirts. The latter can be damaged or cut apart by the modeler to depict a combat veteran. One side mounts a multi-part styrene, etched brass and metal wire track changing cable; it can also be replaced by a one-piece, all-styrene assembly. The glacis plate comes with nicely-rendered front mud-flaps attached; a second plate has no mud-flaps, so if the modeler wishes, after-market etched metal items can be easily adapted to the kit. The final detail for that item is a separate shell splash guard.


Working aft, the next item is the separate superstructure front plate; it mounts a multi-part Bosch head-lamp in the center, which is complimented by a pre-formed metal wire part to represent the electrical conduit. A multi-part, slide-molded, movable MG34 and ball mount is fitted on the starboard side; a Gen2 item, it includes a pre-bored muzzle. On the opposite side is the armored view-port flap; this comes in two versions, one of which is completely opened, while the other is a multi-part item that can have the flap in any position from fully opened to fully closed. There is also a clear part for the internal vision block.


All tools and fittings for the (separate) superstructure roof plate are separate parts. There are options as well. For example, the tow cables are presented as one-piece all-styrene moldings, or multi-part etched brass, styrene and metal wire assemblies. The tools are devoid of molded-on clamps and brackets; etched brass parts, with a bending guide on one of the sprues are provided. The separate driver’s and radio operator’s hatch lids have internal hinge detail, separate armored guards for the periscopes and clear styrene parts for the ‘scope heads themselves. Between them is a separate dome-shaped cover for the fighting compartment vent fan. The turret ring has the armored guard segments molded in place.


The engine deck has a separate main access hatch lid, with a host of separate detail parts to include dome-shaped vent cover, lift handles, hold-open latches, etc. The forward-most engine air grills are molded with the roof plate; those towards the rear are separate and are two parts each, so as to properly render the angles of the cooling slots. Above them all are pre-shaped etched brass screens, while below the grills are multi-part fuel tank/radiator assemblies, which include etched brass parts. Other items for that area include a fire extinguisher, flap for the deep-wading port and antenna mount; there is no rod antenna provided.


Turret.

This is based on a one-piece slide-molded shell to which a 25mm-thick roof plate can be attached. The slide-molded cast commander’s cupola includes a multi-piece hatch lid, separate clear styrene periscope heads and “Fliegerbeschußgerät” (anti-aircraft machine-gun mount) for the (not included) MG34. Variations on the loader’s hatch lid are given (with internal detail), while a separate cover and clear periscope head are provided for the loader. The roof vent has a standard armored cover; the “Nahverteidigungswaffe” (close defense weapon) and Pilzen were not mounted on this tank.


The usual “Gepäckkasten” (baggage bin) is provided for the rear face of the turret; it too uses slide mold technology for enhanced detail, while the lids for it are separate so it can be depicted opened or closed. Spare track links are provided for the turret’s side. Each link is slide-molded so it has crisp connecting pin details; there are separate guide horns with the proper openings for a completely authentic appearance. The escape hatch lid behind the loader is separate and can be depicted opened or closed. It has also been revised so it sits at the correct angle when opened.


The 8.8cm KwK L/56 is based around an all-styrene assembly (there is no turned aluminum gun tube) that includes a slide-molded multi-part muzzle brake; there is also a steel spring included so the recoil of the gun can be mimicked. Internal detail is given to include the gun’s breech and rudimentary seats. Three gun mantlets are provided; the one with binocular gun sight openings is to be used for this version.


Molding, Fit and Engineering.

DML has paid a great deal of attention to these kits so the fit is really very, very fine. There are no sink marks anywhere and ejector pins do not mar any visible or critical surfaces, except for the inner face of the engine deck access hatch lid.


Accuracy.

Scale drawings in references 1 and 6 show the kit to be extremely accurate, with no major issues at all.


Instructions.

These are of the line-drawing style and are typically complex, due to the sheer number of parts and relatively few steps. There are also sub-steps and many extra, unused parts spread throughout, so the modeler should study these things carefully, plan ahead, and test fit before the glue is used. As usual, colors are keyed to Gunze and Model Master paints.


Decals and Marking Information.

Water-slide decals by Italy’s Cartograf are included for one tank, that of Gefreiter Kurzmaul. They are well-printed, with thin carrier film. They depict schwere Panzer “123” and are described as belonging to 2.Kp./s.Pz.Abt.503 on the Ostfront in 1943-44. That said, something is amiss somewhere, since a 2.Kompanie Tiger should have a Tac number starting with a “2”, rather than a “1” as given.


Conclusion.

So, now we have yet another Tiger I molded to the most current standards, which in and of itself, may not be something to get too excited about. However, the inclusion of the 25mm turret roof plate opens up several possibilities if one was to kit-bash parts from other DML issues. For instance, the modeler is “almost there” if he wishes to replicate a so-called “mid-production” Tiger with cast cupola and rubber-tired road-wheels; this is NOT a bad thing!


Highly recommended.


Frank V. “Curly Stooge” De Sisto


References consulted for this review included, but were not limited to:

1. “Schwere Panzerkampfwagen”, Panzer Tracts No.6, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
2. “Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Revised Edition”, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.
3. “Tigers in Combat I”, Fedorowicz, by W. Schnieder.
4. “Tigers in Combat II”, Fedorowicz, by W. Schnieder.
5. “Tiger, The History of a Legendary Weapon 1942-45, Fedorowicz, by E. Kleine & V. Kühn.
6. “Germany’s Tiger Tanks, D.W. to Tiger I”, Schiffer, by T. Jentz
7. “Germany’s Tiger Tanks, Tiger I & II Combat Tactics”, Schiffer, by T. Jentz
8. “Tiger I”, Squadron Armor In Action No.8, by U. Feist & N. Harms.
9. “Tiger”, Squadron Armor In Action No.27, by B. Culver.
10. “The Tiger Tanks”, Osprey Vanguard No.20, by B. Perrett.
11. “Tiger I Heavy Tank 1942-1945”, Osprey New Vanguard No.5, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
12. “Panzerkampfwagen Tiger”, Achtung Panzer No.6, by M. Bitoh, H. Kitamura & M. Udsuki.
13. “Pz.Kpfw VI Tiger I and Tiger II (Kingtiger)”, AFV Profile No.48, by P. Chamberlain & C. Ellis.
14. “Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger, Vol.1”, Tankpower No.13, AJ Press, by T. Melleman & W. Molski.
15. “Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger, Vol.2”, Tankpower No.14, AJ Press, by T. Melleman & W. Molski.
16. “Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger, Vol.3”, Tankpower No.15, AJ Press, by T. Melleman & W. Molski.
17. “Tiger”, Sturm & Drang No.1.
18. “German Heavy Tanks”, Decimus, by P. Chamberlain & C. Ellis.
19. “Panzerkampfwagen VI, Tiger I and Königstiger”, Aero by W.Spielberger & U. Feist.
20. “The Tiger Tanks”, Aero-Armor No.1, by H. Nowarra, U. Feist & E. Maloney.
21. “Tiger I on the Eastern Front”, Histoire & Collections, by J. Restayn.
22. And, of course, David Byrden’s fine site, www.Tiger1.info.


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.


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