DML 1/35 Tiger I Early Production 'Michael Wittmann' Kit First Look
Images by Stephen Sutton
|Date of Review||November 2006||Manufacturer||DML (cyber-hobby.com)|
|Subject||Tiger I Early Production 'Michael Wittmann'||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||6350||Primary Media||1,053 parts (625 parts in grey stryene, 188 etched brass, 216 "Magic Track" links, 1 turned aluminum barrel insert, 1 spring, 2 pre-bent wire, 8 white metal castings, 8 aluminum pins, 1 turned brass, 1straight wire, 2 twisted steel wire)|
|Pros||Targeted "boutique" kit of one specific vehicle of popular subject||Cons||Another selective low-distribution kit tends to confuse some modelers and also enters a very crowded marketplace for this vehicle|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$45.00|
There is a joke going around among non-German WWII armored vehicle modelers that there will eventually be something like 5,500 kits of the Tiger I on the market in 1/35 scale – one each of every single one built by Trumpeter, Dragon, AFV Club, and Tamiya. (I could include another 1,385 from Italeri but their Tiger kit hasn't been seen in a few years, and I suppose I should wait for it to come out with new markings as well!) While it's more of a grouse about a lack of other worthy subjects, it does seem to have some basis in fact as there seems to be four or five out from each one (less Trumpeter, but give them time) right now.
This kit has once again been the subject of intensive speculation and pre-orders on the Internet due to the excellence of the DML Tiger I kits as well as the choice of subject. Michael Wittmann is a cult figure amongst many WWII German armor fans, and as such there are a rabid few who really follow every tiny detail of his life with an intensity that is hard to fathom, given his rather extreme political views. (Tom Jentz has seen some of the personnel records on him that are stored in the US National Archives and what is there shows him to be more of what US troops call a "hot dog" than an "ace." He appears to only have survived and received promotion and awards due to his NDSP membership and mythos, as any other officer would have been relieved and court-martialed for constant violations of standing orders. But that is another story.)
The kit is typical of current DML/cyber-hobby.com "boutique" kits or an absolute boxful of parts! Compared to the last DML version of the Tiger I to be released (No. 6253, a 3-in-1 Tiger I Late Production from July 2005 with 1,134 parts in the box) this kit changes out a number of sprues, adds others from the earlier Tiger I Early Production kit, as well as a bunch of new ones. Comparison with the Tiger I Late Production 3-in-1 shows that 166 parts have been changed or modified by new or reworked molds and another 235 swapped in from either the Early Production or Tiger (P) kits.
What the modeler winds up with is a Tiger I with the rear turret basket and the complete "Feifel" air cleaner installation, early production wheels, early production details, the turret with a one-piece roof and the right rear hatch; the directions show no "zimmerit" paste was applied so therefore no "ding" on the kit for not providing it. As I personally have little interest in Mr. Wittmann and have never followed much about his career, I cannot testify as to either the accuracy of the selection of parts chosen or if they are correct for this specific vehicle.
There are some new tweaks that I have not seen in past Tiger I kits, such as TWO sets of forming guides for the tracks. While the tracks are apparently the early model, they are still "Magic Tracks" which have proven relatively popular as they only need to be snapped together and then cemented. As such, the directions call for 96 links on the left side and 95 on the right, and therefore due to the difference in the torsion bars and placement of the wheels the two sets of guides (D-23/24 and G-32/33) provide for an accurate set on each side.
The kit comes with a handful of the original track links with separate guide teeth but these are the spares for the hangers on the turret; therefore, since they came on the same sprue as the Tiger I Late's torsion bars, a new sprue with 16 torsion bars is provided (Blue P). Incidentally, since DML/cyber-hobby.com used "mix and match" sprues, where there are duplicates one is listed as "Black Letter" and one is "Blue Letter." And just when you thought DML directions couldn't get any more confusing!!!
As noted the kit comes with full, semi-operating (once you cement the tracks in place, I doubt you'll want to test it!) suspension and a full set of torsion bars, as well as the now familiar partial interior for the engine bay with fans, fuel tanks and radiators. Note that when assembling this kit there are a large number of holes that need to be drilled out from the inside, especially in the engine bay area, so plan accordingly.
The kit does come with some expected features and some odd ones. A nicely detailed MG34 is provided for the bow gunner/radio operator and can be left free, but DML also added an operating driver's viewer. The gun "recoils" via a spring, not what I personally consider one of the better "working" features on a kit, with an aluminum core and styrene bits at both ends. A regular styrene barrel is also included. Note that no AA MG is provided, and right or wrong is something more and more common with other kits of late; why DML does not do this is beyond me, even if the modeler does not choose to use it or does want to make a similar vehicle that carried one.
All of the hatches on the model can be opened or closed, including the two on the turret basket. To avoid "midnight requisition" operations by the unscrupulous, the kit also includes padlocks for the latter with each one consisting of SEVEN parts with hasp. I give, my eyes aren't that good anymore even WITH an Optivisor!
One set of markings and finishing instructions are included for Wittmann's tank with turret number "1331" as marked for Operation "Zitadelle" (Kursk) with the 1st SS Panzer Division "Liebstandart Adolf Hitler" which, in order to dodge EU and other laws about glorifying the Nazis, is simply listed as "LSSAH" in the directions. Decals are again by Cartograf from Italy.
Production credits for those who, um, wish to comment are Hirohisa Takada and Minoru Igarashi, David Burden, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson. All have struck me as competent and serious about their research in past projects.
Overall this is a good choice of kit, especially based on its subject matter, and is already closing on sell-outs in some markets from info posted on the Internet (take that with a grain of salt, as many sites are prone to exaggeration in both directions.) But in all seriousness, it enters a crowded and increasingly confusing variety of 1/35 Tiger I kits, and comments from the same Internet sites do indicate a level of frustration of having bought the "wrong" version of the kit in a past release.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.
Sprue breakdown (* = new sprues compared to previous release):
- A 26 (Tiger I generic)
- B 40 (Tiger I generic)
- C 46 (Tiger (P)) Turret parts
- C 39 (Tiger I Late)
- D 30 (Tiger I Late) (turret)*
- E 44x2 (Tiger I) wheel sets*
- F 8 (Tiger I Late)
- F 21 (Tiger I) Turret and hull details
- G 42 (Tiger I) hull details
- G 44 (Tiger I) hull details
- H 54 (Tiger I Late)
- H 1 (Tiger I) Hull base
- K 28 (Tiger I) hull
- L 12 (Tiger I generic) clear styrene
- P 40 (Tiger I Late)*
- P 25 (Tiger I) torsion bars
- R 15 (Tiger I Late)
- S 9 (Tiger I Late) clear styrene
- V 31 Tiger I Turret Details
- W 4 (Feifel hoses)
- Y 12 (cleaning rod sections, details)
- Z 180 (Magic Track)
- TA 8 (German OVM)*
- TC 4 (German OVM)
- TD 4 (German OVM)
- TE 4 (German OVM)
- TF 7 (German OVM ) jack
- TG 4 (German OVM) tow cable heads
- MA 147 Etched brass
- MB 36 Etched brass
- MC 4 grilles
- MD 1 barrel insert
- MD 1 spring
- MD 2 pre-bent wire
- MD 8 white metal casting
- MD 8 aluminum pins
- MD 1 turned brass
- MD 1 straight wire
- ME 2 twisted steel wire