DML DRAGON'S 1/35 Sd.Kfz. 184 "ELEFANT"
Kit no. 6126
"Elefant" was the German code name for the Panzerjager Tiger (P) Sd.Kfz. 184, a limited-traverse self-propelled gun adopted in small numbers by the German army in 1943. The vehicle had originated from a German army demand for a new tank armed with the 88mm (3.5 in.) gun and capable of holding its own on the Russian Front.
Porsche and Henschel were given development contracts, and the Henschel design eventually became the Tiger tank. The Porsche designed VK4501 used air-cooled gasoline engines driving electric generators which in turn drove electric motors to drive the tracks. This system had some theoretical advantages, but was extremely complicated and difficult to manufacture, and provision of the air-cooled engines delayed production of the prototypes. Although 90 pre-production vehicles had been ordered, only a few were completed as tanks.
In 1942, the Henschel tank design was accepted for service and the balance of the Porsche production, some 85 vehicles, was shipped to the Alkett factory in Berlin-Spandau to be converted into tank destroyers. New hulls were built, with additional amour, and the 88mm (3.5 in.) Pak 43/21./71 antitank gun installed in the front face of the upper hull. Instead of the air-cooled engines, standard Maybach tank engines were fitted, driving the gasoline-electric transmission. Acceptance trials were performed in March 1943 and the Elefants were then shipped to Russia. They were originally called "Ferdinand", after Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, but the troops prefered to call them "Elefants" because of their size and this was later adopted as the official name.
All Elefants were assigned to Army Group Model and were sent into their first action in Operation Zitadelle, the Kursk offensive. They were mechanically unreliable, carried insufficient ammunition, and due to the limited traverse of the gun were unable to protect themselves. There was no smaller machine gun mounted either. As a result many of them were lost: several were recovered to be used in other actions, but their rate of breakdown was faster than the rate of supply of spare parts and they soon went out of service. A few were sent to Italy in 1944, but the conditions there were no better and they were all lost or abandoned by their crews.
Although the Elefant had remarkable technical achievements, they were an impractical combat weapon which well illustrates the dangers of designing armoured vehicles solely with an eye to theoretical advantages and without considering basic tactical demands.
Length: 8.12 m (26 ft. 8 in.)
Width: 3.37 m (11 ft. 1 in.)
Height: 2.99 m (9 ft. 10 in.)
Weight: 65 tonnes
Armour: 200 mm (7.87 in.) hull front. 80 mm (3.15 in.) hull sides
Armament: 8.8 cm (3.5 in.) PAK 43/2L/71 gun & one MG.34 machine gun carried inside the vehicle.
Speed: 20 km/h (12.4 mph)
Range: 88 km (55 miles)
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?:
True to its nickname, this new DML kit has to be the largest box that they have ever packed a 1/35th scale kit into.
The box art is done by our old friend Volstad again. It shows an Elefant, with a commander in the top hatch, conversing with one of a eight man squad of German infantrymen next to the vehicle. I wonder at the thatched roofed buildings in the background. They look like Russian buildings. To my knowledge, the Elefant received its bow mounted machine gun and the commander's hatch on top after all Elefants were sent to Italy, after the Kursk debacle. Am I wrong?
Upon opening the large box, one is greeted with a chock-full tray of parts. There are eight cello bags of parts trees. Unique trees have individual bags and duplicate trees share bags. All parts are molded in DML's prefered light gray styrene.
Medium sized tree "A" holds the forward upper hull roof, various hatch doors, the circular rear compartment door, lift hooks etc. (26 parts here)
Large sized tree "B" holds the fenders, sledge hammer, final transfer covers, rear side panel extensions, rear ventilator box parts, front hull plate, jack etc. (30 parts here) The sledge hammer is blued-out on the instruction sheet as being excess/not used.
Medium sized tree "C" holds the two main gun barrel halves, the gun mantle parts, gun breech parts etc. (29 total parts)
There are four identical, medium sized letter "D" trees. These hold the individual track links. There are 60 links per tree, for a grand total of 240 links.
Two small identical, letter "E" trees hold the drive sprockets, sprocket axle housings, tow hooks, various small fittings. (35 parts on each tree) Seven parts on each tree are blued-out on the instructions as being excess/not used.
There are three identical, small letter "F" trees. These hold the boggies and road wheels. (18 parts per tree)
Part letter "G" is the lower hull piece. It is in a cello bag all by itself.
Part letter "H" is the upper fighting compartment roof. It is also individually cello bagged. Unfortunately, DML did not mold any zimmerit to the lower half of this part. Zimmerit is prominently shown in that area in all wartime photos I have seen of Elefants. Eduard makes a P.E. set of zimmerit, designed to go on Elefant kits. It is set no. ED 35379 and available from Greatmodels. I intend to get a set and hope it will look good on the kit.
Next is a small tree, letter "Y". This holds slatted vent covers, their frame, commander's hatch, bow machine gun, the bow armour plate etc. (29 parts here)
Three marking options, on the decal sheet, are for the same Panzerjager Abt. 353 unit. Two are for Galacia/Russia 1944, and the third one is for Italy 1944.
Finishing out the kit is the large instruction sheet. It bi-folds out into eight pages.
Page one repeats the box art, in black and white at the top. This is followed by parts tree drawings at the bottom. There is no vehicle history provided (my pet peeve with DML kits).
Page two begins with international assembly symbol explanations, followed by a paint number guide. The bottom of the page gives the first assembly drawing.
Pages three through the top of page seven give us the balance of 22 total assembly steps.
The bottom of page seven and all of page eight give us the 3 painting and marking option drawings.
From what can be seen, this kit should make up into one big and beautiful model. It most likely puts the aging Italeri mold of the Elefant to shame.
I intend to get the "Ferdinand" version of this vehicle (that DML also produces) later. I am going to add some of Armor Research Co. brand 88mm ammunition and wood ammunition cases to this kit when I build it.