Dragon 1/35 Tiger I Ausf E (Late) with Zimmerit

KIT #:



$65.00 MSRP


Six options


Blair Stewart


Numerous option parts; photo-etch; flex tracks




The Tiger I evolved from a heavy tank design started in 1937. It received a major priority bump when the Germans discovered that Soviet T-34s and KV-1s were more than tough armored opponents for their PzKpfw III and IV vehicles, which comprised the bulk of the German armor inventory. German arms manufacturers quickly received Armament Ministry requirements for a 45 ton tank armed with an 88mm main gun and sporting heavy armor.  Both Porsche and Henschel started working on a tank to meet these requirements, and in field tests, the Henschel design, spearheaded by Dr. Erwin Aders, won out primarily due to its better maneuverability.

Tiger I production began in August, 1942 and steadily built from a production rate of 25 to over 100 per month. A measure of the tank’s complexity is that it took twice as long to build one Tiger as it did the Panther, which was no simple machine. With its 88mm gun and heavy armor, the Tiger I was the most powerful tank in the world when it was first deployed.  Due to its high muzzle velocity (2,657 ft/sec), the 8.8cm KwK 36 L/56 gun allowed an extremely flat shell trajectory and a high strike impact on the target; thus, the gun was able to penetrate 112mm of armor at a range of 1400 meters.  

During initial combat encounters with the Tiger, many allied gunners were amazed to see their rounds bounce off the Tiger’s sides, and it quickly gained an almost legendary reputation for invincibility on the battlefield (of course, Tigers could be defeated, and it would take combat experience to learn how).

Early to mid production versions of the Tiger I sported large Feifel air cleaners at the rear of the tank with its distinctive V shaped intake ducts on the tank’s rear deck, and rubber-rimmed road wheels. There were also a number of turret differences on the early versions, including a vertically opening hatch as opposed to the “side swinging” hatch, introduced on mid-production models. The Tiger I featured overlapping and interleaved road wheels, which had the disadvantage under winter conditions of mud and snow easily packing the dished road wheels. If this mixture then froze, it could jam the wheels and immobilize the tank. 

The first 250 Tiger I tanks had the Maybach V-12 HL 210 P45 engine, but its 642 BHP proved inadequate for the tank’s 62 tons. The remaining 1100 Tigers were outfitted with the improved Maybach HL 230 P45, which produced 694 BHP.  An on-board fuel capacity of 141 gallons of gasoline gave the tank a cross country range of about 42 miles. Storage bins under the turret ring accommodated 92 rounds of 88mm ammunition.

In early August, 1943, the Germans decided to install ‘zimmerit”, a coating to defeat magnetically attached mines, on many of their armored fighting vehicles, and the Tiger I was no exception. Zimmerit had no anti-magnetic properties; rather, it worked by providing a non-conducting, irregular surface that reduced the contact area between the tank’s hull and a mine. This in turn would cause the mine to fall off the vehicle due to its own weight and vibration. Mid and late production Tiger Is produced up until September, 1944 probably received factory applications of zimmerit.

The most distinctive feature of late production Tigers was their steel road wheels. Additionally, the tanks hull-attached tools were moved to different locations, and the external travel lock for the main gun was discontinued.

Over the course of the war, the 18 main Tiger I units managed a kill/loss ratio of 5.74. One of its most famous commanders was Michel Wittmann. Many of his confirmed kills (138 tanks and assault guns and 132 anti-tank guns) came during the two years he was a Tiger I commander. Wittmann was the leading tank ace of World War II.



For a detailed look at what’s in the box, see the  Boss' review. Like all recent Dragon kits, this one is filled with optional parts, including the dreaded photo-etch (I am slowly beginning to not dread this stuff quite as much as I have in the past). Another great feature, at least to this old modeler, is the move back to one piece flexible tracks instead of the tedious individual link Magic Tracks. Individual links are provided for spare track links, and you can order a set of the magic tracks for this kit at cyber-hobby.com if you are so inclined.

The molding is petite and extremely detailed. In fact, I think Dragon’s molds are so good that one can essentially opt out of many of the PE parts provided in the kit and just go with the optional molded parts that are included (e.g., the tie-downs for the various tools that are fitted to the tank’s hull).

This is my first Dragon kit with molded zimmerit, and I can tell you that its rendering is “fantastic.” The detail is quite amazing, and if any of you have applied your own zimmerit coatings to German armor models in the past, you will fully appreciate the convenience of this added feature (for those who don’t care to model a zimmerit-coated Tiger, there are plenty of optional parts in the box to allow this choice).  For the PE nuts out there, a nice touch is the addition of PE “bending molds” on the TA sprue (you essentially wrap the specific PE parts around these molds to get the proper shape for the model, thereby eliminating the need for an aftermarket PE bending tool).



I basically followed the step-by-step assembly sequences in the Dragon instructions. Given the complexity of these kits, I have taken to keeping a pencil handy during construction and deliberately marking off each part in each step that I can complete. That way, if I skip ahead to, say, assembling the turret, I can go back over the instructions and see what specific assembly items I have not completed. I will assert that Dragon appears to be improving their assembly instruction process, because I did not find a single mistake on these (unlike several other Dragon kits I have built recently).

There is one caution: you have to be pretty focused on the “version” or options you are including in your particular model. Example: I of course wanted to construct the zimmerit-coated Tiger I, and proceeded down this path. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason (perhaps my age; or, I could argue that the instructions depict some of these parts without zimmerit, but that is a pretty lame excuse on my part) when I got to the gun mantlet, I grabbed the non-zimmerit coated part off the sprue and proceeded to construct the entire gun assembly. I didn’t discover this until I was ready to mate the fully assembled turret with the tank hull. Needless to say, I had to pry loose some well-glued parts to correct this boo-boo. Fortunately, I was able to do this without too much damage to parts I had to reuse. Even after this fiasco, I later discovered that I had also not glued the zimmerit coating to the front lower hull half.  This was much easier to fix than the mantlet problem, but, nevertheless, it was a rather maddening exercise.

By and large, the proven subassembly technique worked well on this kit. I finished the lower hull and all the running gear first. Because the late production Tiger had steel wheels, I was able to completely assemble all of the road wheels to the chassis without worrying about painting the rubber rims.

I then moved to the rear hull and engine deck. There are a myriad of pieces for both of these, and I just methodically stepped through all the parts until I completed each. The rear engine deck is the first encounter of the dreaded PE, with the intakes being covered by mesh PE screens. I must say, these are striking and give a great look to the model. I used superglue to secure them to the deck.

I prefer to assemble hull mounted tools and other items during the assembly process and then hand-paint items such as wooden shovel, axe and sledge hammer components. As I mentioned, you have the option of either forming numerous, very intricate (and small) PE clamps and hold downs for the tools, are just using the optional tools that already have the hold downs and clamps molded on them. I opted for a mixed bag: for some of the tools I used the PE parts, and for others, I did not.  Call me lazy or whatever, but there is limit to both the dexterity AND eye sight of a 62 year old! Other younger, more dexterous whippersnappers may opt for the “water torture” experience of using only PE where appropriate.

The turret is another area of great detail and many parts. While Dragon does not provide a complete interior on this kit, it does provide sufficient detail (e.g., gunner and loader’s seats, periscopes, complete gun assembly including shell basket, etc.) so that one can display the various hatches open and not be concerned about what will be showing if they are open.  The one noticeable absence is that of the turret mounted machine gun: the mount is there, but no gun is included in the vast box of parts. I opted to install a spare MG34 from the old spares box.

The kit includes wire to make tow cables, but I opted to use the plastic, pre-molded larger cables for the top of the hull and the smaller plastic cable for the side-mounted cable. I made up one of the metal cables and attached it to the front towing U clamp and then draped it over the hull  to the rear U clamp.

After mounting the turret, I then glued on all of the various tools and other items that cover the hull. I initially thought I would leave the side skirts off the tank, but after looking at numerous photos of Tiger Is from World War II, I did not run across any “operational” pictures of Tigers without the skirts – only pictures where the skirts were taken off to exchange the thinner, transport tracks with the wider battle tracks. As one would expect, these lighter gauge skirts took a terrific beating in war, so I did remove a section on each side, thinned out some of the sections, and then took pliers and bent single sections to simulate battle-damage. I thinned the skirts by scraping the plastic off the backsides with an Xacto knife.  I also cut apart the individual fenders, thinned them, and bent them to simulate typical battle damage.



Since the marking options are all for late war Tigers, I opted for the standard post-1942 camouflage color scheme of Dunkelgelb (a sort of mustard color) with stripes of Olivegrun (dark green) and Ratbraun (reddish brown).  I first covered the entire tank with Model Masters Sand Gelb (close enough for me to Dunkelgelb), and when this was dry, I began to create the striped camo pattern using light (15 psi) air pressure and a very low nozzle opening on my airbrush.  I used Model Masters Dark Green and Testors Dark Brown for the camo stripes. This is tricky and takes some practice, but after a while one gets the hang and feel of it; also, any mistakes (such as pausing too long in one location with the airbrush and causing a run) can be corrected by overspraying the basecoat of sand Gelb and starting over (I won’t disclose how many times I had to do that).    

I glued the tracks together, and then sprayed them with Model Masters Steel. Once they were dry, I gave them a coating of MM leather.

Once all was dry, I coated the entire model with Rustoleum Crystal Clear straight from a rattle can (be careful with this stuff: it will eat paint like crazy if you don’t mist it on at first, and then build up your coats). But this stuff glosses like nothing I’ve seen, so I think it’s worth using as opposed to trying to spray gloss finishes with an airbrush.

I set the tank aside to dry, and later covered the entire tank with a wash of acrylic black. After letting the wash dry for an hour or so, I used wet Q-tips to clean up the areas of excess wash on the tank. This process really makes the zimmerit and other details pop. I then covered the flex tracks with an oil wash mixture of burnt sienna and yellow ochre, mixed to a rust color.  I also applied this wash to selected spots on the tank to simulate rust. After this dried, I applied the acrylic black wash to the tracks, and then highlighted the high spots and other areas on the tracks with a silver paint pen. 

I used Solvaset to soften and lay down the decals, and once these were dry, I covered the tank with Testors Dullcote.  I then picked out various areas with a silver pencil to simulate bare metal in strategic spots, including the road wheels and drive sprockets.  I also dry brushed Polly S Goblin’s Flesh on various locations to simulate rust.

One of the drawbacks of flex tracks is simulating the sag in German tracks. I tried supergluing the tracks to the roadwheels, but finally opted for drilling a hole in the lower hull and inserting a straight piece of paper clip to hold the track down, particularly at the front of the tracks where the sag was so pronounced on Tigers.

The final step in painting the model was to brush paint the various tools and their wooden handles. Since I had already mounted them to the turret, I also opted to hand-paint the spare tracks on the turret sides.

The final touches were to cut a length of guitar string for a radio antenna and superglue it to the antenna mount on the hull, and then to glue a plastic bucket from the spares box on the back hitch.


In my opinion, the latest Dragon kits are the industry leaders when it comes to armor modeling, and this Tiger I is no exception. The molded-on zimmerit creates a certain “wow” factor that is hard to top. I think this model contains the most detail of any armor model I have assembled to date.  I recommend this kit to anyone with some experience in assembling models with numerous, small detail parts. I anxiously await future Dragon kit releases and look forward to building them!



1.      Hamby, Alan, “PanzerKampfwagen VI: The Legendary Tiger I,” Tiger I Information Center, 2009.

2.      “Zimmerit,” Wikipedia, 2009.

3.      Feist, Uwe, “Tiger I in Action,” Squadron/Signal Productions, 1973.

4.      Nightingale, Eddie, Campaign Battlefront Wargame Club, 2009.

5.      Ankerstjerne, Christian, “German Tank Colours,” Panzerworld, 2009.

Blair Stewart

February 2009

Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.

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