|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
On the 21st May 1942, Henschel and Porsche at a meeting in Germany were asked to submit designs for a 45 ton heavy tank capable of mounting the high velocity 88 mm KwK L/56 gun which was derived from the German 88 mm flak gun. Both the Henschel and Porsche tanks were to be fitted with the same turret supplied by Krupp. The Porsche company worked on updating the VK3001P medium tank, Porsche's medium tank prototype, and adapted parts used on it for the new tank.
The new Porsche tank, designated the VK4501(P) was to be powered by twin air cooled gasoline Porsche Type 101/1 engines which were mounted to the rear of the tank. The twin engines would then drive two generators, one either side of the tank, which would then power two motors which would drive the tracks. But the engine along with its drive system were very prone to break down and needed almost constant maintenance to keep the tank running. This, and the tank being less maneuverable than its competitor, was the reason why Henschel's prototype, the Tiger I, was adopted for production instead.
The VK4501(P) chassis was later chosen to be the basis of a new heavy tank destroyer which would eventually be called the Ferdinand and mount the new 88 mm Pak 43/2.
Only one tank went into service at the Battle of Kursk as a command tank over the Ferdinand (Elefant) unit, and served in Panzerjäger Abteilung 653.
Judging from the sprues shot, quite a few bits of this kit comes from other kits, which is pretty much the standard operating procedure for the industry. It also may be just a coincidence, but this kit does not seem to have as many teeny parts in it as I'm used to seeing in German armor kits. For sure, the DS tracks help to significantly reduce the parts count down to a mere (for Dragon) 250 parts, so those who may be less than thrilled about a zillion bits in a kit can take heart.
There is a full lower hull with nicely done suspension bits and the usual bevy of road wheels, though nothing as complex as the interleafed wheels on a Panther, for instance. One also needs to remove a few details and open up a few holes in the process.
Perhaps it is the Zimmerit, but there does not seem to be a ton of additional bits on the hull. A full set of pioneer tools are included and the building of the engine vents will take a bit of time. Speaking of vents, much of the photo etch set is dedicated to these items. In fact, you also get a preformed frame over which the rear vents are to be wrapped.
Though there is no interior, you get a nicely done bow machine gun and the main gun is also quite complete with full breech detailing. There is also detailing on the inside of each of the hatches. More photo etch is used on the brace for the bustle at the back of the turret and you'll note that the front of the gun mantlet has a sheet of etched Zimmerit to place on there.
There are markings for the lone tank used operationally as shown on the box art. The camo for this is panzer yellow with squiggles of green and brown. The small decal sheet includes markings for this vehicle.
In all, it makes for a very nice kit and if you are one who needs to have a full collection of German armor or just want something a tad different, then this one is for you.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com
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