Sd.Kfz. 184 "Elefant"
Reviewed by Cookie Sewell
For those who remembered the first DML Sherman variants which borrowed heavily from the Italeri M4A1 kit, this model consists of totally new molds.
The kit is quite different from the old Italeri mold. The engine deck is very involved and detailed, providing the covered gratings via separate external grilles and an inner former with grillework cut into it. This compares well with the photos of the APG Elefant during its assessment for restoration, which appeared in Museum Ordnance Special Number 4: Elefant Panzerjaeger Tiger (P) by Tom Jentz and Jeff McKaughan. The screening on the cooling vent over the rear electric motors (parts B9, B10, B19 and B20) is solid, however, but as it is joined to the hull at a reverse angle below the rear of the fighting compartment, it shouldn't be a major complaint.
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the images full-sized.
The hull comes in a number of pieces – nine, to be exact: hull with sponsons, rear sides, rear plate and bottom rear of hull, bow plate and glacis, rear backing plate to glacis, glacis with ball mount, engine and forward compartment deck, and casemate. All are nicely detailed but smooth (i.e. no zimmerit paste is applied, or simulated by being molded into the plastic.) Parts placement is by small raised lines, which some modelers find annoying.
The suspension is totally new, and each one of the six bogies consists of nine parts, which do not move as the Italeri ones did. Installing the tracks once the wheels are in place is cagey though, as the hull comes with the sponsons molded in place which makes access to the top run difficult. DML recommends installing the tracks before the fenders (parts B1 and B2) but most modelers will probably want to try and avoid this for painting and finishing reasons. If you have problems with this sort of thing, perhaps a set of Fruilmodel tracks would be advisable, as they can be "snaked" through in this situation.
The kit also includes parts for the 8.8 cm L/71 gun to include a basic mount, recoil cylinders, and guards at the rear of the breech. The gun mount (parts C14 and C15) appears to cement in place, which limits traverse of the weapon once installed, but it would seem from the entirety of the gun mount and its components that it could be left loose to also provide the minimal traverse this big gun had in real life. The mantelet alone comprises five parts, so that the massive bolt heads on the joining plates can be accurately reproduced.
As noted, the model does not come with zimmerit detail embellished on its parts. Some modelers have complained about this, saying that "if it's on the box it should be on the kit", but most German modelers have preferred to do it themselves and "get it right" rather than some of the methods which kit manufacturers have to use. (The Italeri Panthers and Tigers are a case in point; while they do replicate zimmerit paste in plastic, it is hard to get all of the bits lined up right, and then still looks manufactured rather than installed by hand, as on the actual vehicle.) But with products like the Cavalier ultra-thin resin applique zimmerit or R&J's excellent Zimmerit-it-Right product (which includes the paste and applicators) it is not as much of a problem as they would think.
No tow cables are provided for this kit, albeit one is shown on the box art. .
Decals are provided for two machines from Panzerjaeger Abteilung 653 in Galacia, 1944.
I suspect it will not be long before the after-market boys have a resin interior and etched brass for this kit, and with those additions this one can sure become a show-stopper. It is as least as nice a kit as the Jagdtiger kits were and is a great improvement over the 25-year-old Italeri kit.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell AMPS
Review Copyright © 2000 by Cookie