Jagdtiger w/12.8cm PaK 80 (L/66)
Dragon Kit # 6827
For the first look review, click here.
The Jagdtiger mounted the largest ant-tank gun of any production German armored vehicle. The standard Jagdtiger mounted a 12.8 cm L/55 (55 calibre, which means the length of the gun was 55 times the bore diameter of the gun - 704 cm, or 277 inches long).
In November 1944, Krupp proposed to re-arm several in-production vehicles with larger guns. The army greeted these proposals with skepticism, particularly because what Krupp was essentially proposing was giving up armour protection in order to put a heavier gun on the same chassis. By 1944, Germany was fighting a defensive war, and they needed armor much more than more powerful guns.
One proposal was to install a longer 12.8cm gun on the Jagdtiger. Krupp already had a PaK 80 gun designed, which was 66 calibres in length. If mounted in the same superstructure, this would have made the gun 140 cm (about 55 inches) longer than the original gun. To compensate for the long overhang, Krupp suggested that the gun could be pulled out through the back doors of the casement when in travel mode, and pushed forward again into firing position when it need to shoot. Armored plate would be welded to the rear to provide some protection to the gun when it was in travel mode.
The army said this defeated the whole purpose of a self propelled gun, because it would take too long to get the gun ready. While the army said this would convert the Jagdtiger into a heavy armored artillery piece instead of a tank destroyer, they of course were not considering the fact that this lumbering 70+ tonne behemoth could hardly move around on its own and was frequently used in static prepared positions anyway.
As far as I can tell, no Jagdtiger was ever modified with the L/66 gun. However, if one had been, I think my model is what it would have looked like.
As with most models, the first two steps in the instructions involve the roadwheels and suspension. The Henschel Jagdtiger used torsion bar suspension. Dragon provides each torsion bar arm as a separate piece. There are locating slots to help align the arms, but you should still take care that they are all lined up, as there is a bit of play in the slots. I did not assemble the two halves of each roadwheel yet, as I wanted to paint the insides first. Of course, when the model is finished, no one can see the insides, but I will know that they are painted and will be able to sleep at night.
The idler had some flash that needed to be cleaned up. A mold seam along the edge of the drive sprocket also needed cleaning. Otherwise, this step was pretty easy, if not tedious given that there are 18 suspension arms and 36 roadwheels to deal with.
In addition to the suspension arms, step 2 has the front hull extension added to both sides. When installed, there is a gap of about 0.020" between this piece and the hull. I filled in the gp with strip plastic, before I realised it will be mostly covered by the final drive, and once all the roadwheels, track and track guards are installed, it is virtually impossible to see.
However, there is also a gap on the other side of these pieces that is noticeable. I added strip plastic to fill in these gaps as well.
Steps 3 and 4 has the roadwheels and final drive installed onto the hull. Since I planned to paint everything once assembly was finished, I skipped these steps, except for the final drive. However, I did skip ahead to step 17 at this time to clean up and install the tracks (I temporarily installed the roadwheels while I fitted the tracks).
There are two types of links, once large one with guide teeth holes, and a smaller interconnecting piece. Altogether, you need about 95 links per side (depending on the placement of the idler and how much sag you add).
The tracks clean up pretty easily. There are ejector pin marks that should be removed (at least from the links along the bottom). The tracks can be assembled around the suspension, and then, once dry, everything can be carefully removed for painting and reinstalled afterwards.
Following the suspension and tracks, the fun begins. Steps 5, 6 and 7 involve the rear panel, with the exhausts, tow rope cleats, jack support brackets and jack block. However, by November, 1944 (according to both Jentz and Stansel), the jack and jack block had been deleted from these vehicles, since the vehicle was so heavy a jack couldn't lift the suspension anyway. I filled in the locating holes and slots for these with strip plastic, and then painted some Mr. Dissolved Putty over it. Once dried, I lightly sanded, and was done.
The rear part of the superstructure, with the large access doors, is assembled in step 8. By November, 1944, a handle had been added above the doors. I added this using wire.
The rear part of the superstructure is attached to the rest of the superstructure (which is a single piece) in step 9. Although the edges are bevelled, a bit of filler is needed on the sides.
At this time, I added blanking plates to the underside of the engine deck, since I wasn't planning on installing an engine or fans, and without these plates, there would be a whole lot of nothing to see through these openings. Instead of painting these black, I used a wide black sharpie pen to color the plastic - with the screens on, it's nearly impossible to see anything, but black would be better than white in this area.
The engine deck screens and the center access hatch are added in step 10. The photoetch in the kit is nickel plated, which makes it stiffer than standard brass photoetch. I annealed the pieces before adding them so that they would be easier to work with. This involved heating the entire photoetch fret with a lighter, and then letting it cool on its own. It doesn't really matter for the screens, since they don't need to be bent, but it still makes working with them easier.
If you are going to install the anti-aircraft machine gun on the rear, make sure you install the photoetch plate on the access hatch before adding the armored exhaust fan cover (part B11). The instructions don't tell you this, and the machine gun is installed in step 11.
Step 11 also involves adding the periscopes. These are provided in clear plastic. I masked them with masking tape before I installed them. There is an inset drawing in this step showing the placement of the photoetch tiedowns along the top of the superstructure. The photoetch tiedowns didn't look very good, so I replaced them with resin tiedowns from TMD.
Step 12 is somewhat busy. The first thing you should do in this step is attach the front of the superstructure. As with the back, there are some small gaps around the interlocking weld joints that need to be filled. You will also need to clean up the bevelled edge.
The spare track supports in the kit suffer from mold problems - one edge is very thin and the other edge is very thick, whereas they should be the same thickness on both sides, and the overall quality is rather soft. I tried to file a couple of these to make them more uniform, but gave up and replaced them with spares from the Tamiya King Tiger track set (the Dragon part is light grey and the Tamiya part is black).
Tools on the right side are attached in step 12. The tools have molded on clasps. Dragon does not provide the tool clasps handles. Fortunately, I have tons from various photoetch sets I've purchased, so I added them.
The gun traveling lock is assembled in step 13. It's a bit involved, but if you don't try and make it workable, it's fairly easy to build.
Step 15 added some more tools, and the gun cleaning rods on the right side. The brackets for these are molded to the rods. The problem with this is that the tow cables are supposed to pass through these brackets. Although these parts are supposed to be added in this step, the instructions don't tell you until step 21 to make an opening for the tow cables.
I modified the parts by opening up the brackets so that the tow ropes could have somewhere to fit. I also drilled out the ends of the rods.
Although the instructions don't have the tow ropes being installed until step 21 (the last step), I installed them now. I cut the cables supplied in the kit to the 200 mm length indicated in step 21, placed them in the openings in the cleaning rod bracket that I made, and added the cleaning rod bracket to the hull. Once the bracket was dry, I was able to carefully adjust the tow ropes to provide the correct curve at the rear. I discovered that 200 mm is too long. Luckily, I didn't add the tow cable ends yet, so I could adjust the length.
I didn't use the kit parts (B26) for the tow rope brackets, opting instead to make them from plastic strip -the kit parts were very thick and would have needed a lot of cleanup. I added the photoetch wingnuts provided in the kit to the tow rope and cleaning rod brackets. These are not referenced in the instructions, but they are provided.
Another production change introduced before November 1944 was that two handles were added to the driver and co-driver hatches. Dragon provides the locating holes for these, but not the extra handles. I stole mine off of another Jagdtiger kit.
With the superstructure finished, the instructions turn to the gun mounting. Before assembling this, I glued the two halves of the L/66 gun together. The regular L/55 gun is provided in the kit as a single piece, but unfortunately, the L/66 gun is provided as two halves. Nevertheless, it was relatively easy to glue it together and sand the seam.
The kit includes a full gun breach and mounting, as well as part of the casement floor. Since I was not planning on opening any of the hatches, I only added the minimum parts here. I discovered that the gun pivot was somewhat loose, and so I decided on a good elevation for the gun and glued it in place. The upper hull superstructure was then attached to the lower hull.
Step 20 adds the gun mantlet and track guards. Since I wasn't going to install the tracks and roadwheels until after painting, I left the track guards off for now. However, I did thin the rear edges and add the three brackets that attach the front track guard to the front fender. The instructions don't really mention these brackets, but they do show them in step 20 if you look closely. The brackets are on the photoetch fret.
The side view drawing of this vehicle in Jentz's Paper Panzers book shows armor plate added to the rear (see the first look review). I decided that if Krupp was going to do a prototype, they would have taken a newly completed Jagdtiger from the factory and added armor plate. The armor plate would have been primed, but probably would not have been painted.
I assumed these plates would be similar to the plates added to the rear of the Jagdpanzer IV, but unlike the Jagdpanzer IV, there would be nothing behind the plates to support them, so they would need some support.
Given all this, I cut some 0.030" plastic sheet to the appropriate size and added two square 0.040x0.040 plastic strips for support.
Since this vehicle would have been taken off the line at the factory, I made the following assumptions:
- It would have no markings
- It would have no camouflage
- It would have all its tools and tow cables.
- It would only have a slight amount of weathering a dirt consistent with being driven out of the factory and around the testing field a few times to make sure it was acceptable.
My standard method for finishing is to paint the model with modulation, then coat it with future. Once dry, I add various oil washes and filters, and then add a layer of Testors dullcoat. These coats cause the original color to darken. As such, I start out painting with a lighter color than I intend to end with. It may seem like a lot of work, but I've been doing it this way for years, and it works for me.
I painted the model overall with Tamiya Dark Yellow. I then added white to the dark yellow and highlighted areas. I repeated this process several times, concentrating on the upper areas of the model. I painted the tow cables, tracks and spare links Tamiya Red Brown. I painted the metal of the tools Tamiya Metallic Grey, and the rear distance keeping reflector blue. The armor plate on the rear was painted in Tamiya Hull Red.
Once dry, I sprayed future floor wax on the model and let that dry. I then added various oil washes, starting with the darker burnt umber and burnt sienna colors, and working my way through lighter shades. I added black pin washes to the screw heads and seams. The primed surfaces of the armor plate were washed with very light colors (yellow and white). A heavy black wash was used on the tracks and tow ropes.
The wood parts of the tools were painted with raw sienna oil paint so that some of the dark yellow undercoat would show through.
Everything was coated with dull coat. The tracks were drybrushed with metallic grey. I mixed some metallc grey and Mr. Dissolved Putty together and added the weld seams for the rear armor plate. I then used a 6HB pencil to add graphite highlighting to the tow cables, weld seams and leading edges of the tracks. I used graphite powder on the metallic parts of the tools and the machine guns.
A mixture of Vallejo rust, graphite and pigments were used to add rust to the exhaust pipes.
As a final step, I painted future onto the periscopes and the distance keeping reflector on the rear.
This was a very enjoyable build. Unlike some Dragon kits, this model did not have a million fiddly little parts. Some of the modifications necessary to fit the tow ropes would put this kit beyond the ability of beginners, but intermediate modellers should have little difficulty. As with all Dragon kits, make sure you read the instructions ahead of time, and review each step as you go so that you don't miss installing something that is referenced several steps later.
Highly Recommended for Intermediate to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Dragon USA for this review kit.
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
AMPS 2nd V.P., Canada
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