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Built Review
172
VK.45.02(P)H
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by: Jan Etal [ TREAD_GEEK ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The first production contracts for a follow on vehicle to replace the Tiger I were awarded in February 1942. The subject vehicle (VK.45.02(P)H) for this review never made it to full production. Several turrets and hulls were completed, but because of significant problems with the Porsche designed and built engines and suspension the contracts for the production series were terminated in November 1942. The fifty turrets manufactured for this vehicle and its corresponding prototype, the VK.45.02(P)V, were eventually used on the first 50 Tiger II tanks, and were known as the “Porsche“ turrets.
It can only speculated on how well this tank may have fared in combat had it made it to full production. It was a complicated machine, no doubt, and if the history of the mechanical problems for the Elefant/Ferdinand and Tiger II are any clues, most of the VK 45.02’s would have been disabled or lost by mechanical failures than by combat.

Contents

When you open the box you will find four separately bagged styrene sprues in the standard Dragon light grey colour. Two larger sprues, two smaller ones plus a separately bagged pair of DS tracks. A small sheet of Cartograph water-slide decals with generic German markings is also present.

A four sided instruction card is provided and displays a parts diagram; two pages with four assembly steps in the form of exploded view CAD images with arrows for parts placement and one page showing painting and markings. The painting and marking pictures are for two tanks, one in overall sand and the second in a three colour camouflage. The colour references provided are for the GSI Creos Corp Aqueous Hobby Color, the same company’s Mr. Color and Model Master enamels.

Sprue contents and breakdown are as follows.

A - 10 -VK.52.02(P)H specific parts.
B1 - 42 -Mostly turret and turret specific pieces.
B2 - 6 -Suspension bogies.
E - 32 -Running gear wheels and sprockets
Z - 2 -DS tracks

The total kit parts content is 79 with 9 marked as unused.

Review

With this kit we see Dragon continuing with what appears to be its new direction in subject and more importantly, kit design. As of late we have seen them producing several vehicles that had very limited production runs and now vehicles that are often referred to as “Paper Panzers” that, with the exception of some prototype subassemblies, never made it to full production.

Upon opening the box the first thing that was noticeable was that the ‘A’ sprue barely fit (the two hull halves had been twisted at their sprue connection points) and the ‘B’ sprue was placed in such a way as to slightly bow out the box’s sides. In general, the moulding overall is fair to good but not up to the standard of some previous “Armor Pro” offerings that I’ve reviewed. It becomes evident that Dragon has reused parts from two of their previous releases as part of this one. All the suspension components are from the earlier Elefant kit (#7201) and the turret sprue is from the their King Tiger with Porsche turret (#7231).

Sprue connection points (gates) are all over the place as far as size and location is concerned. Many are downright huge and will require careful clean-up. Ejector pin marks are mostly on surfaces that will not be visible after construction. Flash is not absent on the kit parts and especially on the hull rear plate. All six suspension arms have one or more sink holes but will most likely not be visible once the wheels are in place.

The ‘A’ sprue represents the only truly “new” parts of this kit and comprises the upper and lower hull pieces as well as the hull rear plate, two final drive housings and some smaller hull detail pieces. Unlike the majority of previous Dragon kits, the hull halves are not separately bagged but attached to the sprue. Their sprue gates were amongst the largest this reviewer has seen to date. Removing these parts will become quite a chore due to the positioning and thickness of these attachment points (and to not damage the parts proper).

Another feature that many will find disappointing is that all tools and the tow cables (excluding a shovel), are moulded onto the upper hull. Similarly, the two headlights at the front are also integrated with the hull moulding and poorly formed because of this. While there are nicely formed overlapping armour joints to the upper hull, there are no corresponding ones for the lower hull.

The hull rear plate also suffers from having all details integrally moulded on. Both the vehicle jack and its corresponding jack block are moulded on where in the past these were almost always separate parts. Another contradictory feature is that while the rear plate’s towing shackles are moulded on, the front ones are provided as separate finely moulded pieces.

Sprue ‘B2’ contained the six suspension arms while sprue ‘E’ holds the road wheels and sprockets. As mentioned earlier, the suspension arms each had a pair of sink holes that varied in depth from quite prominent to noticeable; along with noticeable areas of flash. The drive wheels and sprockets appear finely moulded but care will need to be exercised in construction as the road wheels require placement in a specific order. This is not represented particularly clearly in the instructions. In fact, the instructions for the suspension arms and road wheels and their placement order will for many border on confusing due to the lack of clarity. It will be up to the builder to study the instructions carefully before going on with construction.

The turret parts are the subject of sprue ‘B1’ and by far it is the most populated sprue. This is the same sprue that will be found in the earlier King Tiger kit #7231. As such you can expect to see some extremely sharp and delicate moulding including the full interior detailing of the main gun from breech to mantlet. All three hatches can be positioned open or closed and they even possess some extremely fine internal detail(s).

Sprue ‘E’ is the final major sprue and contains the road wheels and drive sprockets. These as mentioned earlier are also from the older Elefant kit and show superb moulding and detailing although being an older mould some pieces were showing signs of age in having more light flash than most newer kits.

The final pieces of the kit are the DS tracks and a small sheet of Cartograph decals containing two different sizes of Balkenkreuz as the only markings. The tracks have extremely fine detail, although oddly, there was one guide horn missing from each run.

Build Observations

During Steps #1 and #2 the builder’s efforts will be concentrated on assembling the suspension. The most logical step for this reviewer was to first attach the suspension arms to the new lower hull. These arms occupy their own sprue that this reviewer has referred to as B2. It should be noted that there are two ‘B’ sprues but the instructions fail to distinguish between them. Further, the suspension arm sprue distinguishes three being B1 and the other three as parts B2. After some study of the images in the instructions and the parts it seems that two of the B1 parts are meant for the right side and two of the B2 parts are meant for the left. In both cases these pairs will mount on the first two lugs from the front on the lower hull. The last or rearmost lug is meant to mount one of the two remaining suspension arms but in an opposite position. By this I mean that the last suspension position on the right will mount a B2 arm while the left mounts a B1.

After deciphering the above (and that is in no way clearly referenced in the instructions) I ran into a MAJOR dilemma. It was quickly evident that at least on my sample the mounting lugs on the lower hull and the corresponding holes in the suspension arms were incompatibly sized. The lugs are .0748 inches (1.9mm) in diameter while the holes in the arms were .0708 (1.8 mm). This may not sound like a monumental amount but it is significant. This reviewer tried sanding down the lugs and scraping out the holes, all to no avail. After a bit of research I determined that the best solution would be to bore out the holes with a suitably sized drill. After studying a drill chart I determined that a #48 drill bit (.076 inch/1.9304 mm) was the best option. After drilling out the holes I found that I also had to extend the alignment slot in the arms to allow the arm to mount properly.

The front and rear sprockets are two piece affairs and specific to front and back. An alignment tab between the two pieces of each aids to get the teeth of each in proper position. The only issue with mounting the sprockets is that the clearance between the front sprocket and the fender is very limited. In a test fit I found that the track must be mounted around the front sprocket before it is positioned on is mounting lug.

Steps #3 and #4 involve the building of the turret. Except for normal clean-up the turret should assemble quite well. It should be noted that the kit provides spare tracks and the mounting of them is listed as optional. These tracks are wider than the suspension tracks and also present different detailing. If they are not used then the instructions indicate that the mounting lugs on the turret should be removed. A somewhat negative point about the turret is the commanders hatch machine gun mounting ring is moulded onto the cupola. While the turret has lugs protruding from its lower ring and there are slots in the upper body ring to prevent the turret from falling off, they will not mate as the hull top thickness prevents proper mating. An addendum to the instructions has the builder cut of the lugs off as a solution. As this reviewer desired the turret to be moveable, the lugs were filed down so that they would mate with the upper hull.

The last step is attaching the bow machine gun to the hull, joining the hull pieces, placing on the tracks and the hull rear plate. General parts fit was good but we see a further inconsistency in Dragon’s standards. While four towing shackles are provided in the kit only two are used at the front of the vehicle. The two that would appear on the hull rear plate are present as a moulded on detail. At least with the extra pieces (that are marked as unused in the instructions) the builder will have the option of scraping off the moulded on ones and replacing them with the individual versions.

Conclusions

It should be noted that the kit’s subject is rather intriguing in shape and look and may thereby entice some modellers. For those with an avid interest in these “Paper Panzers” or “Panzer ’46” vehicles this one might be “a must have.” However, the kit is a proverbial “mixed bag” as far as consistency of design is concerned. It is neither a quick build nor up to the usual standards that Dragon has set for itself with previous Armor Pro kits.

For the modelling purist there will be many points that will need addressing. While the turret for the most part is quite good and the suspension adequate (except for the suspension arm attachment issue), the main tank hull is more than a little disappointing. The moulded on details such as tools, exhaust, headlights, hatches, jack and rear towing shackles will definitely turn a number of modellers off of the kit. However, I am sure that a few may find it a worthy challenge to spent all the time necessary to rectify all that is lacking.
SUMMARY
Highs: Interesting subject, internal turret gun and turret hatch details.
Lows: Too many moulded on details that would be better as separate parts. Instruction anomalies and general lack of consistency in production standards.
Verdict: While an interesting vehicle, the inconsistency of moulding standards is disappointing.
Percentage Rating
70%
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 7493
  Suggested Retail: $20.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jul 07, 2013
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.51%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.19%

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jan Etal (tread_geek)
FROM: ONTARIO, CANADA

I've been building models since about age 10 with the occasional hiatus due to real life events. First armour model was a 1/76 Airfix Tiger I and was followed by a 1/72 Revell F4U Corsair. I've built primarily 1/76 and 1/72 armour and aircraft but occasionally have tinkered in other larger scales....

Copyright ©2017 text by Jan Etal [ TREAD_GEEK ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

But 1/72 is too small, it's hard to see the1/35 scale
JUL 07, 2013 - 02:18 PM
@chumpo - Edmund, Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment but we must agree to disagree on the scale issue. The 1/72 is still twice as large as 1/144, it also uses less paint and glue, takes up far less space and costs less than larger scales. However, one does require more refined skill and hand control, some specialized tools and an Optivisor won't hurt either! Cheers, Jan
JUL 07, 2013 - 02:40 PM
Jan, My thanks to you and Armorama for posting this review. I personally appreciate some honesty in a review that tells it like it is. That turret interior looks great for this scale but what's with the tape on the lower bow? Is that something to do with the armor overlap? Regards, AJ
JUL 07, 2013 - 06:06 PM
@weathering_one - AJ, Glad you liked the review and I just report what I see and it's still quite subjective based on my experiences. Basically, the tape marks a point .060" from the edge that corresponds to the thickness of the overlaps in other areas of the model. I "hope" to scribe that area to make it look like an area on the lower hull matches that on the upper hull. Cheers, Jan
JUL 07, 2013 - 09:46 PM
Jan, well, it seems I suppose that the trundle downhill has not been averted by this release. The layout of the hulls on the sprues is another example of the tendency to have parts on the outside of the sprues, unprotected by an outer rail. I think I recently compared another recent Dragon offering to a 1960s Airfix kit, and the shot of that hull sprue reminded me of this from the review of Airfix's Female Mk I: I suppose with one attachment point on a big component, it needs to be a big one! Moulded on tools, jack, cable and lamp details (photo 87...) two sprue Bs, chaotic instructions, ill-fitting turret connection, wrongly sized hull mating pins... frankly it sounds a bit poor for £20... but then this kit doesn't seem very appealing, as this rear mounted turret version was never a really serious tank design at all, and somehow it just doesn't look right. I suppose at least the turret hatches are separate parts, and I guess that's why there's some detail on the gun breech? Thanks for the higly detailed review as usual Jan - I will, I suppose, look forward to perhaps seeing it completed, though don't let me put any pressure on you to do it!
JUL 08, 2013 - 05:38 PM
@tread_geek – Jan, Very good build review on this somewhat obscure vehicle. I happen to take a deep interest in these vehicles simply because they are a part of the Tiger I and II history of German heavy tanks and their variants. So I’m happy to see that Dragon has produced this and the other mentioned VK45.02 (V) vehicle in this scale, however I am disappointed in seeing a huge step back in the manufacturing effort shown here on these later released kits verses their earlier ‘Pro Modeler’ releases. Seems Dragon is gravitating towards the fast build war gaming type of kit with these more recent releases but with a high dollar value attached to them, I just don’t know? Then there’s the issue of poor fitting parts coupled with unclear assembly instructions. And the obvious ‘60’s molding example of parts that ‘firstcircle’ posted, LOL! Jan, I built a 35th scale resin conversion kit of this vehicle, a while ago now, and remembered doing quite a bit of research on these vehicles. I think that I mentioned to you about the missing guide horns being correct on this kit but now looking back on my build I realize that I am wrong and the tracks should have a pair of links with guide horns sitting together on each track run verses the two links paired together without the guide horns as on the supplied DS tracks. This is due to the odd number of links specified to be used (109) on these vehicles using the same running gear, suspension system and chassis. This feature is found on photographs on both the existing Ferdinand and Elefant museum examples. As for the clearance between the front fenders and idler wheel that should not be as close as pictured on your example of the assembled kit. The high torque of these electrical drive motors would have the tracks bang up against the fenders under normal running power conditions. On these vehicles there was a pair of banana shaped track protectors (not included in the kit) installed at each end where the fenders come to an angle to keep the tracks from damaging the fenders. This photograph of the kit I built shows about how much clearance there should be between the front fenders and idler wheels, this photograph will have to do as my reference photographs for these vehicles are still packed away in disks from the move. But anyone with photographs of either the Ferdinand or Elefant depicting this area of the vehicle are much welcome to post here for discussion. Also note the two guide horns sitting together on the tracks between the first bogie road wheels set. Placing two links together on these tracks without the guide horns coupled with the smaller diameter of those steel road wheels would make any tank crew a sure shot track throwing contest winner without a doubt. . . Thanks for your always honest review input, I do hope you will finish this build sometime as I have both of these kits (H $ V) in the stash and look forward to any more assemble issues you encounter along the way. Yes, she’s an ugly beast at that but surely you could clearly see the famous Porsche sports vehicle resemblance, NOT! ~ Eddy
JUL 09, 2013 - 02:51 AM
Thank you firstcircle and Braille for sharing your thoughts and commenting. ************************************************************************************** @firstcircle - Matthew, I am sorry to have to agree with your assessment about Dragon's technology and design definitely taking a downward slide while purchase price increases. As to you're comment about of parts being protected, here's some pictures of the sprue from last years review of the Dragon Panther D. I don't think that one can ask for more protection than is provided for the hull pieces and at the same time, no need for the massive sprue gate as on the VK kits. And it is true that for this large a part one would need a large sprue attachment point or alternately, several smaller ones and at locations that would not interfere with assembly or require an inordinate amount of cleanup time. Actually, I hate to admit that I find the layout of the tank "interesting" although it suggests more of a Tank Destroyer than anything else but with the versatility of having a rotating turret. From my research it appears that Porsche and the German Army put a fair amount of thought into the design. Supposedly their logic was that in urban or confined terrain the long gun of these tanks made it difficult to near impossible to manoeuvre in these tighter spaces. Having the turret at the rear meant less overall length as the gun didn't protrude forward as in the case with a conventional tank layout. As I implied in the review, what we see with the turret now seems to be a nostalgic resurrection of where Dragon was headed at the time and have sadly abandoned. While I didn't note it in the review, if one wanted to have the turret rear hatch open then some minor surgery would be involved as the hatch is integrally moulded with its hinge. In a way this is a bit odd as the interior side of this hatch has some extremely fine detailing. ************************************************************************************** @Braille - Eddy, Firstly, let me acknowledge and thank you for your help with the gathering of information about these "Paper Panzers." It was extremely enlightening and helpful in preparing this review. IMHO, these latest kits hardly even qualify as "fast build" especially when they provide things like the entire turret from their excellent King Tiger kit (that takes some care due to the complexity of small parts that make up the interior gun pieces)! I've built both Italeri and Pegasus fast build kits with two in a box for almost half the cost and there is so far little comparison between the Dragon offerings (other than 'some' finer detailing with Dragon's) and them. This can also be seen when comparing the Dragon Panther D to it's Zvezda rival that Matthew has been doing a Blog about. Those three kits have acceptable detail that can be enhanced and OOTB should build in very little time. This kit on the other hand was time intensive both due to instruction issues and some serious fit and design ones. With the missing guide horn on my tracks I think that the best possible answer will be to hide it by having it go around one of the sprockets. Speaking of the tracks, I tried to position (dry fit) the tracks and it is turning out to be a royal nightmare. It's turned out that the rear sprocket, while not a close to the fender as the front one, is still an extremely tight fit. At this point I have had to separate the outer half of what sprocket from the inner to hopefully get the track started on the inside. This is going to take some thought and after measuring the track length it matches what the instructions indicate (203 mm) but is still going to be too tight and not sit as in your picture. Obviously the track will need to be stretched to get some proper sag. I'll see about posting any solution I find here or perhaps in a separate Blog. ************************************************************************************** My thanks again to both of you for your interest and comments about this kit. As for a Blog, I can't be sure of the timing especially since this track issue has raised it's ugly head. I also have a couple of other "points to ponder" relating to finish colouring and what I am going to do with this kit. As I attend and compete in a number of model shows in my area I have to make some decisions if I want to enter this kit. According to show rules this "tank" cannot compete in World War Two Fully Tracked as it was never fully built or in service. Therefore, I have two possible categories, OOTB and What If. In most shows those two categories are usually "All Scale" and I must follow certain rules for each. Lastly, I had intended to just do an In-Box review but felt that a "quick build" might not be so time consuming. Boy, was I wrong! Hopefully those that read the review will now have fair warning about this kit. Cheers, Jan
JUL 09, 2013 - 12:59 PM
To all interested parties, please find a Blog continuing the discussion about building this kit HERE. Thanks, Jan
JUL 10, 2013 - 02:17 PM
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