by: Vinnie Branigan [ ]
introductionThe Panzerkampfwagen VI(P), although a true Tiger variant, is often overlooked in favour of it's more famous siblings. The major reason for this of course, is that there was possibly only ever one example fielded, although hulls were used later to make the Ferdinand and Elephant. Dragon have provided this one option in the kit as the one supplied to sPzJgAbt 653, on the Eastern Front in 1944. Dragon released the original kit as 6210 in 2004, with the same marking option, and now presents the updated Premium Edition as kit number 6352.
the kitIt's another of those ones that you can't get back in the box once you've unpacked everything. Dragon card on top, showing the busy looking photo etched fret, the black vac-formed tray with the aluminium barrel and other machined 'goodies'. I was going to get all my Tiger books out and start pouring through the references..............then I noticed that David Byrden gave Dragon Technical assistance. Along with Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson, so if I did find any mistakes, it would probably be my books that were at fault! I'll confine myself to the model!
The model comes as 10 large sprues, and 10 small sprues of light grey styrene, a transparent sprue, hull, mantlet and cupola. There's a decent sized PE fret, from the Lionroar stables as we all know now, a length of metal tow rope, and two bags of 'Magic Tracks'.
premium improvementsI have to say, in a direct comparison, the sprues in this kit are much sharper than the original release, even when the parts haven't been re-tooled. So new tools must have been produced for these kits, even where there is no change on the sprue. Having said that, there are a lot of changes. Sprue A which holds the main hull deck has some minor re-tooling, firstly, part 33 the cupola hatch, has been retooled with a circular cut out for the Rabbit's Ears scope that's supplied. Also the large insert that formed the rear of the turret in the original release has now gone, and in it's place we have a new cupola. There is also another sprue 'A', which is the smaller one from the Tiger I kit holding the gun breech and associated parts, these not being part of the original release. Sprues E (drive sprockets) and F (road wheels) are the same as in the original release, as is the main hull moulding. Sprue B is also the same, although most of this sprue is not actually used, so there's plenty for the spares box!
Sprues H (fenders), K (front hull), H (mud flaps) and L (turret bin) are the same as the original release, but sprue C has had some major retooling. Some parts have disappeared, for example the opaque periscope ring for the cupola, and in it's place we now have a brand new escape hatch for the turret, along with new parts to form the cupola. The 2 piece barrel is no longer an option, and in it's place on the sprue we now have a new right side for the turret, which will take the large escape hatch. In fact, there's also another right side for the turret, without the escape hatch, which I presume is for the prototype. All 3 supplied sides have been retooled.
In addition to the changes outlined above, this is of course, a Premium Edition kit, and therefore there are lot's of extras included. An aluminium barrel is supplied, along with a lot of extra smaller sprues, that originated in more recent Dragon releases. Sprue TB has a new highly detailed jack, sprue L is a transparent one holding periscopes, and a highly detailed machine gun for the co-driver is supplied on J. TE holds those tiny Little padlocks that first made their appearance in the Panzer IV series, and TA holds a set of on vehicle tools without any moulded on clamps. Sprue E has all the parts for a rabbit's ears scope, and TC has the slide-moulded towing eyelets. Lastly TH has a new hinge assembly for the loader's hatch.
The vac-formed tray holds pre-bent pins for detailing the front and rear mud flaps, although to use these you will need to remove some moulded on detail. Also in the tray are two brackets for the smoke discharger's, which were fitted, although the actual smoke discharger's themselves weren't. There's also a spring, which is used if you wish the gun to be able to recoil.........seriously. Lastly, from the tray, there are two frames for making the grills over the exhaust fan grating on the engine deck. More on these later.
The PE fret supplied, is of course from the Lionroar stable, and in fact, although the parts have been re-arranged, most of them are identical to the parts on the Lionroar upgrade set #35044. There are replacements for the fender supporting brackets, new tool clamps, mud flap hinges, although to use these, as mentioned earlier, you'll have to remove the moulded on ones, new grills for the intake fans, latches for the turret bin, and of course, those grills for the exhaust fan grating. Now these are constructed in exactly the same way as the Lionroar set, i.e. the thin copper wire frame is used first, and the PE frameless grill is fitted to this.............carefully. It is the best way to achieve the correct look, but it won't be easy to construct, especially if you don't have soldering skills. Lastly, also on the PE fret is a basket-like structure, that I can only presume is an antennae protector, since the Tiger P supplied to Abt 653 was a command vehicle. This is fitted to the turret roof, just behind the cupola.
Lastly, the tracks. These are the corrected Magic Tracks as supplied in the Premium Edition Elephant, i.e. they have the chevrons the correct way around. The original vinyl tracks in this kit also had them the correct way, as did the box art illustration. The box art for this kit has them on the wrong way around though, so take care that you don't use it for reference when you're fitting yours!
marking optionsThere aren't any. One scheme is shown, the same as that in the original kit, since this is the only one presumed to have been fielded, a tri-colour scheme, number 003 of sPzJgAbt 653, Eastern front, late summer 1944.
conclusionI can't help it, I love these premium edition kits! As shown with this example, new research means the kit can be updated to reflect this new knowledge, and lot's of photo etch, metal barrels and other goodies, all for a very reasonable price indeed! Very highly recommended!