Dragon 1/35 VK.45.02(P)H
The VK4502(P)H was the second design from the Porsche firm’s ill-fated entry into the competition to produce what eventually emerged as the Tiger II.
After the failure of the VK4501(P), Ferdinand Porsche began work on an updated version of its design. However, it became clear that an up-armored version of the Porsche Tiger would not meet future requirements. To this end, Dr. Porsche proposed designs with no fewer than four different engines, two different drives (hydraulic and electric), and two different hull configurations: one with the turret forward, the VK4502(P)V, the other with the turret aft, the VK4502(P)H.
position the turret aft? Well, one
of the problems with very long tank guns is that they tend to cause problems
when crossing rough terrain or moving in cities. Studies by all armor producing
nations show that too often a long gun barrel digs into the ground with
unpleasant results for the crew and the tank.
The solutions are either use a shorter gun - which obviously limits the
firepower capabilities of the tank - or move the turret farther back on the
chassis. This solves the problem of overhang but also causes problems with
balance and visibility and creates larger "dead ground" spots in front of the
tank that the crew cannot protect with turret armament.
An overly ambitious design, the VK4502(P)H used the same drive train as the Tiger P, that is, two engines driving two electric generators to power electric motors driving the tracks. It was overly complicated and was a heavy user of copper, which was needed elsewhere in wartime
Just to make more sense of it all:
VK: “Vollketten” or fully tracked
45: the ton class of the design
02: the design number
V: “Vorrne” or forward
H: “Hintern” or rear
This kit depicts the
Porsche design with the turret mounted at the rear and is the first 1/35 kit of
The upper hull is new tooling which captures the repositioning the engine to the middle of the hull and the turret aft. Small detail on the hull is sharp and includes countersunk screws, and the weld marks on the interlocking plates. The graceful Porsche turret and the two different commanders’ copulas are cool examples of slide-mold technology. Each of these is a single piece of styrene and one has to wonder how they do it.
A sizeable PE fret is included, the key parts of which are the three large mesh screens on the engine deck and brackets for tools and tow cables. Three barrels are included, one style in both styrene and turned aluminum, and a second style in styrene only. Two sizes of twisted metal wire are available for the tow cables. One clear sprue is included, but it is a mystery as the instructions do not mention it.
The instructions are a large fold-out affair with clear line drawings and run to 11 steps. Two 3 view drawings are included, one showing an overall yellow machine and the other a yellow/green camouflage. The only decals are German crosses for the sides and rear. Color call-outs, all four of them, are in Gunze Sangyo and Model Master. Unfortunately, the instructions were the one disappointing part of this build. They are incomplete and inaccurate. Incomplete in that there are parts (and one whole assembly) not even shown, and inaccurate in that some parts that will be needed are labeled “not for use” in the sprue layout diagram on the front page. The builder is seemingly left to figure things out on his/her own. I feel this is an unacceptable omission for a company usually as thorough as Dragon. More on this later.
Construction started with the assembly of the torsion bars and road wheels. This was all very familiar to me as they are exactly the same as the Porsche Tiger kit I recently completed. I pushed the road wheels onto the torsion bars (it’s a nice tight fit) when I glued the torsion bars to the hull so I could level things out, i.e.: make sure all the wheels touch the ground. When dry I removed the wheels to makes things a bit easier to paint.
Next I turned my attention to the upper hull. It is an impressive single piece of plastic to which quite a bit of detail is added. This however, is where my first run-in with the poor instructions came in. Handles for the engine compartments are magically shown installed, though there are no part number call-outs for it at all. I looked through all the steps to see if it was shown somewhere else to no avail. I searched through the sprues to find the handles that matched the holes, but really? One shouldn’t have to do this. Vague instructions from a short run or garage kit maybe, but not from Dragon. Many of the PE parts are installed here; these being the hold-downs for the tow cables and tools, and the grilles for the engine intakes. The intakes screens are nice, but I would have rather not dealt with the tool holders.
The turret assembly was rather frustrating as it contains one of the biggest omissions of the instructions. You get a choice of two different commanders copulas…..I wasn’t sure of the difference, so I picked one and moved on. The turret lifting lugs aren’t ever shown in the instructions, though the mounting holes are there and the lugs are shown in the 3-view and box top illustrations. I found and added these. Now one gets the choice of three main gun barrels …. I picked the aluminum one and attached the flash hider and mantlet to it. But then the instructions show it attaching to the turret front with nothing to mount it on. I found what looked to be main gun pivots (marked “not for use” in the sprue layout) and inspected the interior of the turret top for a way to mount them but saw none. I finally fabricated a mount on the inside to which I could attach the gun on the outside. It worked, but will forever be at one elevation. It was only later that I realized the mounts for the pivots are on the turret bottom piece ….. I never looked at that until I was about to glue it to the top. I should have, obviously, and it would have saved me a lot of grief, but again, why is it not shown at all in the instructions??
Ah, but we’re not done with the turret yet. No Sir. On the sides of it are positioning marks for something. Again, nothing is shown in the instructions about them. Not being a true tread-head, yet, it took me a few minutes to realize these are for hanger brackets that spare tracks are hung on, providing extra protection. I could have sanded them off since no extra tracks are provided, but I like the look of them and I had some spare tracks (from a Hobby Boss VK4502P (V) kit that was next on the workbench) so I located and glued the brackets on. However, I screwed up here too as I found out later that the spacing isn’t quite right to hang the tracks properly, so my tracks are sitting on instead of hanging from them. I should have glued one bracket on, positioned the track, and then set and glued the second bracket on. Oh well………..
At this point I had a fairly complete tank. Minus the tracks, wheels, and tools, I was ready for the paint shop.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
An overall coat of Panzer Yellow was applied to pretty much everything. I then attacked the hull and turret with some Panzer Green, sprayed in irregular tightly spaced splotches. This took a while as I stopped several times to get a good overall look at the size and spacing. I’ve made the mistake before of painting circles or splotches in one session only to discover later that they decrease (or increase) in size or spacing from one side to the other. If that’s the effect you want, great …. But otherwise it looks odd. I wanted more of a brown hue to the third color, so I mixed some Italian Brown with Panzer Red (all my paints are Model Master, btw) and sprayed that inside the green splotches, covering most of the green except a small outside border. I sprayed the wheels with these three colors randomly and then brush painted some Metalizer Magnesium on the outside rims. Decals were added next ….. these consisting of just two German crosses on the turret sides. A thin black oil wash was added to everything after it all dried to pop out the details. I left the weather to a bare minimum as I wanted to depict a fairly factory fresh example.
The tracks I painted a rust color overall. To this I added a thicker black wash to again pop out detail. I then tried something new; something I read in a review here a few weeks back. I took one of my Tamiya weather sets and scraped some of the light brown colors into a small jar of water. It dissolved quickly and made a great water wash. I added a tiny drop of dish washing liquid to break up the surface tension and applied this to the tracks. I was satisfied with the results and will be doing this again. I then took a #2 pencil and rubbed across the tracks to show some wear. I didn’t go overboard with the tracks to stay in the “factory fresh” motif. I attached the tracks to the tank and noticed they seemed too short and too tight, not much sag at all. It was my fault. The drive wheels are mounted on an eccentric and I must have glued them on too far “out”. After realizing this I would recommend gluing a piece of flat stock to the wheel on the inside of the hull, allowing the wheel to pivot. Then after attaching the tracks you could pivot this wheel until you get the proper sag on your tracks and then super glue the wheel in this position. May seem obvious to some, but it took this screw up for me to figure it out.
The final details were finally added. Tools and tow cables and any PE hold-down brackets needed were attached. I stretched some sprue and painted it black and attached two pieces as radio antennas.
Yes, the instructions caused some grief. Yes, I made more than my fair share of mistakes. In spite of it all, I really liked this kit. The plastic is superbly molded and detailed. It makes into a fine replica of a very interesting design branch of German heavy tanks.
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