Operation Citadel, the last major German offensive in the East, known as the Battle of Kursk, involved mass use of armor and led to the largest tank battle in history. The battles are well documented, as is the heavy involvement of the Tiger I tank, which played a prominent role in the fighting. Armed with an 88mm high velocity main gun and armor capable of defeating most armor piercing rounds, the Tiger tank was a formidable foe. Cyber-Hobby, alter ego of Dragon models, has now released the Tiger I, early variant, in their value priced Orange Box series, with markings for the German LAH division from operation Citadel. Having recently purchased the Zvezda version of this tank, I happened to be vising a hobby store (MRS Hobby in Sandy, UT) and saw it on the shelf at a great price and made an impulse purchase.
The model comes in the typical large box with line drawing artwork of one of the tanks in the box, 1314, in dark yellow base with dark green overspray. CAD images of the kit details are shown on the box sides and bottom. Opening the box shows it stuffed nigh to bursting. One particular detail is an addendum sheet with corrections to some of the instructions and a note that two of the featured items on the side box art, a dust cover for the bow machine gun and an etch frame holder for the tool box, are not actually included in the box.
The numerous sprues are packaged carefully in clear bags, two or three to each bag depending on size, to minimize parts movement and damage. DS 100 single length tracks are packaged in a long plastic tray to protect them from damage and a large card with small zip baggies containing pre-formed wire for the headlight conduit, etch grill covers for the engine deck, decals, individual track links for use as the spare track and a commanders cupola all taped securely in place to protect them as well.
The kit parts showed no damage, no sink marks as far as I could see, and good, crisp, high quality modling one associates with DML. I removed and photographed the sprues in order as they appear on the first page of the instruction sheet.
- A sprue is the multi part main gun. The gun comes as separate round pieces that attach to each other, slide molded with hollow ends. There is a mold seam line but it should be easier to deal with than a single length barrel molded in two halves. The only issue is getting the parts assembled so they are straight. The gun includes the breech and spent shell basket. There are ejector pin marks at the base of this. An early mantlet on this sprue is marked not for use.
- B sprue has the idlers, driver's armored visor and some small hull bits.
- C sprue has the track guards and drive sprocket, and small bits.
- CH and CI, driver's bow plate and hull fittings. The track cable is very thin and well molded.
- C, blue color, is the turret, molded in two halves with separate early roof, hatches and inner gun mount. Another early mantlet on this sprue is again not for use.
- F sprue has the front deck plate with mud guards molded in place.
- K sprue is the engine deck louvers.
- K blue color is the hell deck plate and some tools. the piece is flat and very well molded, again with sharp detail and casting number present by what I believe is the fuel cap (I am not a Tiger expert).
- CB, only the hatch and a couple of small attachments are used.
- P sprue has the hull sides, molded as separate parts for best detail, and the main tow cables, jack block with wood grain detail and more small bits.
- R sprue is the turret bin with separate lids.
- L and "S" sprues are the clear parts, well molded.
- W is the ducting for the air cleaners, with very sharp detail molded onto the surface.
- Y is cleaning rods and inserts for the fans. "y" is the rear hull plate.
- G is the mantlet, air cleaners and optional drive sprocket.
- V is the tubing connections for the air cleaners and ducting.
- J is the radiators, fans and bow MG, the only interior detail the kit has aside from the gun breech.
- H is the lower hull. I understand this comes from the pre-built die cast kits and features prominent lugs on the interior. The suspension is molded in place and immovable. Detail appears to be good.
- E comprising multiple parts, are the road wheels. Marked 1 through 6 on the inner surface, they have good bolt head detail but no embossing on the rubbery tire. There is a thin connecting tab that ties the road wheels together in groups of four. It can be easily removed. The road wheels appear to be the 18 bolt style.
- TF is a well detailed jack.
- Z and Z blue, are the individual track links for spares (10 total) and the DS material single length tracks. These latter have very good detail and are generally easy to use but can be difficult to manage for track sag.
- P is a slide molded, single piece commanders cupola.
- MC and MD are the metal parts, thin etch screens for the engine deck and the pre-formed conduit for the headlights.
Decals, by Cartograff, offer markings for two vehicles. First is the box art vehicle, Tiger 1314 of LAH, battle of Kursk, dark yellow base with green overspray, and second is Tiger 131 of Pz.abt 502, lake Ladoga, dark yellow overall.
Instructions are provided in fold-out pamphlet form, with a painting guide provided and colors called out by number for GSE Creos Aqueous Hobby color and Mr. color lines and Model Master enamel paints.
The instructions are line drawings with numerous small drop boxes showing small drop boxes. There are many options given during construction so careful attention is needed. In reading online forums, particularly at Missing-Lynx, there appear to be some errors in the instructions. There is at least one list of corrections needed at Missing-Lynx, and may be others on the internet. I have not yet started construction but as I do I will document what I encounter.
Overall, I am impressed by what has become a usual standard of excellent molding from Dragon. I am not impressed by the road wheels which lack detail or the single piece lower hull. I understand that as this is a value priced kit premium parts won't be offered, but many modelers have expressed a desire for a good quality early version of the Tiger. I imagine this was rushed to store shelves to compete with the Zvezda kit, and the price range is similar between the two (I paid $33 for mine). This kit is far more complex to assemble, and I don't know what I will encounter in the instructions. I do think this is a good value for what I paid as I build more for fun, but for those modelers who want or demand higher detail and accuracy, this kit probably won't provide what they were hoping for.