1/35 Dragon SdKfz 181 Panzerkampfwagen VI (P)

Gallery Article by Christian Curec - aka Chris Cat on Dec 7 2011

The History
In 1942 Germany was desperate to start the production of a new heavy tank able to fight the Russian KV’s.

Both Henschel and Porsche presented a heavy tank.

The Porsche design was revolutionary, exceeding everything what was before.

Two petrol engines were powering two generators which were powering two electric engines, system which allowed a greater flexibility as a normal gear box. But the design was plagued by an immature suspension (longitudinal torsion bars) and an unbelievable fuel consumption – 770 litre/ 100km.

When the tank were presented to Hitler at the first turn two torsion bars already snapped but we must say that Henshel’s prototype was no better. After a 200m run at max speed (Porsche Tiger was faster) when returning Henschel stopped his tank at 100m from Hitler saying that he didn’t wanted to disturb the conversation with noise. But the fact was that he was terribly afraid that the engine will be on fire if he is not stopping the tank.

Henshel won the contest due to the army representatives that were afraid by the complex maintenance that required the Porsche design and the immature suspension.

But Hitler ordered that 90 chassis to be build as back-up and those were transformed in the “Ferdinand” and “Elefant” tank hunters. An unbelievable tank hunter, armed with a 88mm canon, but badly used by the German army.

We know that only one single Tiger with Porsche chassis has seen action in “Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653” – the commander tank. Due to the fact that rest of vehicles were “Elefants” maintenance was not a big issue.

The Tiger had the code 003 and was used between April and July 1944 by Hauptmann Grillenberg. The tank was lost during a fight with Russian armour in eastern Poland.


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The kit
It’s an excellent kit, parts fits very well, with some minor inaccuracies, mostly due to the data available on the time when Dragon finished the mould for this kit.  The greatest issue is the missing Zimmerit.  It was added when the Tiger was sent to the Eastern front.
It has also several minor inaccuracies witch were corrected during the build.

The build
I made the Zimmerit with Modelling paste and a cutter. I didn’t bother to make it very straight because it was not made in factory conditions.  I made a new escape hatch on the right side of the turret as it seems that the tank didn’t arrived on the front with the original turret (early series) and was fitted with late series turret.  The right side of the turret protection ring had to be rebuilt completely.  A lot of working hours were spend in order to obtain the rough surfaces (specific for plates made in foundries) and to simulate the cuts made by flame.

I have used plastic glue and a hard brush to made the surface uneven. I have further enhanced this with a milling cutter.

Another issue was the frontal supplementary armor plates. In the area of the machinegun the plates are inaccurate. I had to cut the plate and glue a plastic sheet in over to obtain an accurate form.

I have also cut down the mud protections and made new ones from a beer can. In this way I could bend them as I wanted.

I also added the protective grid over the electric generators cooling system. This feature seems to be added by the crew on the front.

Several hits, including a AT shot were simulated in different parts of the model.  I have also simulated the broken Zimmerit according to hits and other damages.  Where the Zimmerit has fallen the original grey color of the tank is visible .

Antennas were made from steel wire and painted in dark grey (they were covered in rubber).  I have added electrical cables, three helmets, a packed cover and a bucket at it seems to be on almost all the original photos I have seen.

Decals went incredibly good and I used Solva Sol and Solva Set in order to make them apply over the rough Zimmerit. I cut out the decals in the areas were the Zimmerit has fallen down. 

This is also my first tank. I have worked from January to September in order to finished this model.

Christian Curec - aka Chris Cat

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Photos and text © by Christian Curec - aka Chris Cat