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Sd.Kfz.181 Panzerkampfwagen VI (P)

DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz.181 Panzerkampfwagen VI (P) Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review November 2004 Manufacturer DML
Subject Sd.Kfz.181 Panzerkampfwagen VI (P) Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6210 Primary Media 325 parts (302 in grey styrene, 16 etched nickel, 4 etched brass, 2 in tan cementable vinyl, 1 section of steel cable)
Pros Clean, new kit of this subject with apparent detailed research behind the kit; many models will welcome vinyl tracks Cons Only one set of options available for the only member of this group to see combat; tracks must be fitted carefully and measured (see text)
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $32-38

First Look

It would seem in many quarters all you have to do to sell a kit is put "German" and "Tiger" on the box and you have an instant winner. In real life, such was not the case, but Tigers did garner good press for their day.

What most fervent Tiger fans also know is that the original tank came from a competition of two competing VK4501 designs, one from Henschel and one from Porsche. Both were designed to use a standard turret built for them by Krupp. While Henschel chose a conventional engine-rear/transmission-front German layout, Porsche opted for a design with two V-10 engines powering generators and electric motors for the transmission. While on paper this was a superior system, in reality the technology of the time was not quite up to the task and the tank was not accepted. 10 chassis were built and at least 5 did receive turrets, but only one ever saw combat as a tank.

This kit builds that vehicle, the commander's tank of sPzJgAbt 653 on the Eastern Front in early 1944. It appears to have received some quick alterations, such as a Pzkw. IV turret stowage bin an dother minor tweaks to make it combat ready. Since it shared components with the "Elefant" tank destroyers of the unit, maintaining it was probably not much of a problem.

DML has taken components of its very well done "Ferdinand" and "Elefant" kits and used them along with several new sprues to create a model of this unique member of the Tiger family. Sprues B, E and F are from the earlier kits (mostly suspension bits and the lower hull and sprues A, C, H and L are new to this model. Also new are a set of single piece tracks in tan cementable vinyl, etched nickel details and etched brass engine grilles, and a section of blackened steel cable for modelers who want "real" cables on the sides of the hull. (Separate plastic tow cable ends and the aforementioned nickel brackets replace the one-piece styrene cables for those parts.)

Note that the tracks - which do cement together well with good liquid cements like Testors - are, like those on the M4A2 before it, very "stretchy" and flexible and while I did not have a chance to assemble the kit and test them are probably a loose fit. This is normal as many companies want to ensure that you can install the tracks so leave them longer than they should (as with Italeri, even while they are too stiff) or stretchier (Zvezda needs to pay attention to this!) You may have to clip off one or two of the connection links in order to get a good fit. There are four overlapping links here, so it may be easier to do than it sounds. Remember these are "dead" tracks and run along nearly the entire top half of the road wheels.

While the box art shows zimmerit in place on the tank in action, the kit is smooth, so you will have to install your own zimmerit.

One nice touch is that the inside armored deflector blades are provided for the radiator intakes on the sides of the engine bay. Ergo, no "hollow tank" there, but the large rear grille is not so fortunate and modelers need to ensure something is there as a view block or simply paint the interior black.

Overall this is a superior kit to the older Italeri one as far as I can see, and should make most fans happy.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.

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