|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Tiger I was a German heavy tank used in World War II, produced from late 1942 as an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of Operation Barbarossa, particularly the T-34 and the KV-1. The Tiger I design gave the Wehrmacht its first tank mounting the 88 mm gun, which had previously demonstrated its effectiveness against both aircraft and tanks. During the course of the war, the Tiger I saw combat on all German battlefronts. It was usually deployed in independent tank battalions, which proved to be quite formidable.
While the Tiger I was feared by many of its opponents, it was over-engineered, expensive and time-consuming to produce. Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944. The Tiger was prone to mechanical breakdowns and in 1944, production was phased out in favour of the Tiger II. It is thought that more Tigers were abandon due to getting stuck than were knocked out in enemy action.
The tank was given its nickname Tiger by Ferdinand Porsche, and the Roman numeral was added after the later Tiger II entered production. The initial official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausführung H (‘Panzer VI version H’, abbreviated PzKpfw VI Ausf. H), but the tank was redesignated as PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in March 1943. It also had the ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 181.
Today only a handful of Tiger Is survive in museums and exhibitions worldwide. Perhaps the most notable specimen is the Bovington Tank Museum's Tiger 131, currently the only one restored to running order.
A majority of components in this special release, like turret, upper hull, engine deck, rear panel, road wheels, spare tracks and etc, are newly tooled according to Dragon's press release. Like their earlier Tigers, the kit comes with a full torsion bar suspension system and the mass of interleaved road wheels that are so typical of the Tiger. There is the nicely done engine cooling fan and radiator area which takes some of the photo etch parts for the engine fan assembly. In fact, most of the p.e. are used for this area and the intake screens. The wedges are used for the sides of the panels that fit above the forward intake screens.
The kit's gun is as nicely detailed as the rest of the kit, offering a complete breech. In fact, you even get a commander's seat for the inside of the turret. The various hatches also have internal detailing, though there is no fighting compartment or driver's station detailing. The Tiger's somewhat complex air filter and exhaust system is also very nicely done with all the detailing you expect from Dragon. A full suite of pioneer tools is part of the kit as well, so your Tiger will have a properly busy looking exterior. A nice addition to this kit as well as many newer Dragon offerings are their DS tracks. These glue well, accept paint without any issues and are easy to weather.
Instructions are well drawn and like many Dragon AFV kits, rather crowded so one will need to pay attention during construction. There are some nice detail drawings to assist with parts placement, which is nice. This kit is not for beginners and one will need to do some minor modifications to some parts in terms of filling holes or removing detail to duplicate the variant kitted. Markings are for five tanks, all in a base coat of panzer tan with a disruptive pattern of green sprayed on the upper surfaces. Four are from s.Pz.Abt 501 and one with Panzer Regiment 7. This latter tank has its turret number in both red and black as apparently it was difficult to tell the actual color from the reference. In some cases, you'll need to piece together the hull number, but all is there.
This is at least the third early Tiger Dragon has done in the last year or so with one being Tiger 131, and the other Witmann's tank. They must have sold well for Dragon to release another so soon, so if you missed the others, you now have a chance to pick one up.
Copyright ModelingMadness.comThanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. You can find this kit at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer.
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