by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to the tanks of World War Two nothing grabs the attention more than the Tiger and Panther family of tanks fielded by the German Forces. Dragon Models recently released a new KingTiger model of the Porsche turreted version and this is provided with the moulded on zimmerit. I have been told that this is a re-release of a previous offering of the KingTiger, I however am not completely sure of that as the sprues do not match. Yes there are some duplicated sprues but there are also a number of completely new sprues. So letís take a look and see whatís what.
The model is packaged in the typical style from Dragon Models, A thin cardboard tray and card lid. The lid has a pleasing artwork present, but this is a replication of a previous rendition. The contents break down as follows:
24 grey sprues
2 clear sprues
2 bags of track links
1 photo etched fret
A decal sheet
2 lengths of cable
An instruction sheet
A check over the contents of this offering reveals a couple of minor issues. The moulding is typically good for Dragon Models with no obvious issues, but where it has been packed in a small number of plastic bags there is some bending on a few of the sprues that may cause an issue. The photo etched fret despite having been packed in the bottom of the box has suffered a little bending damage, but this damage is minor and so I believe easily correctable.
The suspension on this offering is not functional and locates into the hull via a round peg with a locater lug to secure it in a set orientation. This approach should result in a model that sits well on a level surface, but if you require the suspension articulated in a certain way then removal of the lug will allow this. The wheels are the steel wheels and appear to be accurate when compared to the example at Bovington Tank Museum, but the ring of bolts around the inner ring are incorrectly spaced. The bolts around the axle securing plugs are correctly portrayed. The wheels themselves retain the ability to rotate should that be important to you. The drive wheel offered is the nine toothed offering; this is the drive wheel on the Henschel turreted KingTiger at Bovington, but not the Porsche turreted option there. As such the drive wheel is correct for the vehicle, but I believe it related to a certain period.
The rear of the hull is an accurate representation of the real vehicle, or at least as it would have looked when leaving the factory. You of course know you can add and subtract depending on what you want to represent. One thing that will need to be scratched is the retaining bracket for the vehicles jack, but there are several photo etched sets available from after market companies that will be suitable for this model. The exhausts have a reasonable level of detail, but the opening could do with being drilled a little deeper and the rail scratched.
Dragon has gone back to supplying magic track links for this model and I can hear some joyous voices out there along with some less happy modellers. I know that not everyone can get along with individual track links and so I can see why they prefer rubber band style tracks, but I feel this is a high end offering from Dragon Models and individual track links are the best way of depicting the track hang short of workable metal track links.
The upper hull is rather nice having a good if somewhat uniform zimmerit pattern, I know that some will not like this and would rather add it themselves, if that is the case this kit is not for you, but if you struggle with this aspect you will love it. The model is provided with the usual high end hull MG that we became so used to, but the inside is otherwise void of any detail. The periscopes have been provided with clear lenses, I for one am very pleased to see their return. The hatches can be shown open or closed, but if open you will need to hide the empty inner hull. The headlight is nicely replicated and does have a clear lens inside. On the downside the modeller will need to scratch build the cable to power it.
The track guards provided are single piece offerings and which I find a little disappointing; my reason for this is you rarely see a period photograph where all of the side skirts are present, but again this is not the end of the world as other options are available, even scratch worked skirts. A very big plus with this model is that the tools are supplied without clamps moulded on and photo etched clamps are supplied; those that like their detail will love this.
Moving onto the engine deck and I am again pleased with what I find. The engine hatch is supplied as a separate part and so could be shown open if required. Photo etched grills are supplied where required and really hails back to the days when Dragon Models ruled the roost for what was in the box. The tow and track cables are supplied as metal cable of different thicknesses with separate eyes. The mounting bracketry for the cables are also supplied in photo etch. On the downside there are no alternative cables in plastic for those who are not comfortable with the use of photo etch.
Moving onto the turret and I am pleased to see that dragon has left a zimmerit free area for the addition of the rear hatch plate. The shape and form of the turret looks good to me, and again the zimmerit is nice if a little uniform. The commandersí cupola is good and is supplied with individual clear periscope blocks. Hatch detail for both the commander and loader are good in this offering, but if used open the holes will need to be filled due to the empty innards.
The breach of the gun is minimal, but due to how little will be seen even with the hatch open it will do. The gun barrel is something that disappoints me and that is that it is a plastic barrel split lengthways; this disappoints because it is old hat and I know Dragon can do better, so I strongly suggest the barrel is swapped out for a metal offering. On the high side the muzzle of the gun is a multi piece offering as supplied when metal barrels were included. Dragon Models has supplied a quite nice roof mounted jib crane with the model, I believe this was used for lifting portions of the engine deck, but knowing soldiers donít do what can be done easier it could be used for other purposes.
The instructions for this offering are not in my favourite format, Dragon has used the photographic approach and this is not the best way of providing clear instruction. We are provided with four finishing options for the model which are:
s.Pz Abt 503 Normandy 1944
s.Pz.Abt 503 Feldherrnhalle, Szarkerestes Sektor Hungary
3. s.Pz.Abt 503, Eastern France, Early August 1944
s.Pz.Kp (FKl) 316, Normandy, June 1944
I have to say that it is good to see Dragon Models lift their game again and include the items that made them the leader in the field for a while. The barrel split lengthways is the biggest let down in this offering as far as I am concerned. As stated in the review there are a lot of positives in area such as the photo etched parts and clear parts where required. So I am pleased to say that this kit from Dragon Models is well worth seeking out.