Dragon 1/72 Sturmtiger
Model, Text and Photos by: Jerry Hawhee
The Sturmmörsertiger (assault-mortar
Tiger) or Tigermorser (Tiger-mortar) was a direct manifestation of Hitler's
obsession with radically designed offensive weapons even in the face of an increasingly
defensive war. In a conversation with Generaloberst Heinz Guderian on 9 August,
1943, Hitler suggested mounting the newly developed RW61 38 cm naval missile
launcher on the Tiger I chassis and the concept of the Sturmtiger was born.
After successful testing of a prototype in October 1943, it was decided to use
only repaired or reconditioned chassis units from veteran Tiger I's and an initial
order for a dozen units per month was placed with Alkett; but in all, only 18
were produced between August 1944 and February 1945.
Ironically, the Sturmtiger saw service only in a defensive capacity, the few available units being parceled out to three Sturmmörser companies (1001,
1002 and 1003) for use in homeland defense.
There have been a number of very good plastic kits and resin conversions for the Sturmtiger in 1/35th scale. Unfortunately, in 1/72nd there are as yet no all-plastic kits available. Yet even though the Dragon kit with a combination of plastic and die-cast parts is pretty much the "only game in town" in this scale, small-scale armor enthusiasts can take heart at the pros; good overall dimensions, excellent fit, some nice molded-in detail, ease of construction, and a good basic platform for scratch-building and kit-bashing, all at an unbeatable price.
On opening the box, you will find three well-laid-out sprues in gray plastic, separately packaged plastic lower hull, die-cast metal upper hull (with a factory-applied coat of light gray primer), bare-metal exhaust-stack shrouds, and a set of one-piece vinyl tracks that reasonably approximate the tread-pattern on the real thing.
It should be noted right away, that the Dragon Sturmtiger does not include any zimmeritt on the lower hull where it ought to be (zimmeritt on the real Sturmtiger was visible only on part of the reconditioned chassis units below the new super-structure). There are a few details (mostly tools) cast in place on the metal hull that would need to be ground off with a motor-tool to make way for the zimmeritt appliqué. Since this was one of my first armor models in this scale, I chose to leave things as they were and do this kit mostly out of the box. Perhaps, down the road, it might be possible to do a kit-bash with the Dragon Tiger I with Zimmeritt (DML 7203).
I began construction with the wheels and suspension. Dragon provides a glossy, full-color instruction sheet that is easy to follow, although, occasionally, one is left to puzzle out the exact placement of some smaller parts. The inter-locking wheels have good molded-in detail and go together quite well. The only difficulty I encountered at this stage of construction were the short axles for the drive sprockets at the rear; care must be taken to position these pieces in the right orientation-the instructions aren't all that clear--and, when cemented, must be thoroughly and solidly set up before the tracks are put in place, or they will be bent out of alignment.
I painted the assembled wheel units with a base coat of Polly Scale Middlestone, later adding some Polly Scale Panzer Olive Green to the recessed areas for contrast. A little dry-brushing with Tamiya Metallic Gray helps to bring out the fine rivet details. The tracks were glued together at their ends with CA and allowed to dry overnight. I then painted them with Tamiya Metallic Gray and dry-bushed with some Gunze-Sangyo Gloss Steel Metallic. Unfortunately, these tracks lack the familiar "sag" of the 1:1 vehicle. Some judicious pre-stretching might solve this problem; but I always worry about the CA joints holding on vinyl pieces like these.
I assembled the mortar and attached it
inside the lower hull.
The fit here, as throughout the entire kit, was nigh on to perfect. I'd recommend using some sort of material to block the see-through areas in the mortar, which reveal the complete lack of detail inside the superstructure.
The exposed portion of the mortar would be painted along with the rest of the upper hull when construction was nearly complete.
Since the upper hull on this kit is die-cast metal, the plastic parts that attach to it have to be cemented in place with CA. A few of the add-on details are too big or thick scale-wise and need to be modified or replaced; this is especially true of the utility hooks on the upper hull near the roof; I tried cutting the vertical ones down to size, but they were still way too large even after I was done; for my next crack at this kit, I may scratch-build new hooks or see if I can find appropriate parts from another 1/72nd Panzer kit. The same goes for the hinges on the aft hatch on the superstructure. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the plastic side skirts are properly aligned on both sides of the hull. I found it helpful to simply sand off the locator pins, and eyeball the assembly.
The back-plate on the lower hull is a beautifully molded plastic piece; it fits flawlessly, and so snugly into place that no cement is necessary. A couple of crisply-molded plastic detail parts attach to locator holes, and these responded well to detail painting and dry-brushing. The instructions call for attaching the plastic exhaust stacks directly into the metal shrouds before attaching them to the back-plate. I opted to paint the stacks (Gunze Steel) then attach them to the back-plate with liquid plastic cement before adding the shrouds (which I cemented in place with CA).
Before assembling and attaching the ordinance winch, I went ahead and painted the mostly-complete Sturmtiger. Using the color instructions as a guide, I applied Polly Scale Middlestone as the base color on all visible surfaces, and then painted a free-hand camouflage pattern with Polly Scale Panzer Olive Green. I touched up the edges of the camo pattern with a Microbrush moving with gentle random-orbital motions; this gave me a relatively authentic looking faded and feathered look at the contrasting edges. I used the kit-supplied decals for the crosses on the sides and rear, then applied a coat or two of Polly Scale Clear Flat overall to even things out and remove any tell-tale shine. The water-based Polly Scale colors went on over the primed metal parts with no difficulty, and covered the bare-metal exhaust stacks in one or two thin coats as well. I decided not to do any heavy weathering on this build, but it would not be difficult to add some nice subtle effects to the tracks with textured acrylics, appropriately scaled static grass, mud and gravel.
three-piece assembly for the ordinance winch is somewhat thick and out of proportion
to the rest of the model. When I do this kit again, I may scratch-build a new
one with Evergreen strip and rod. For this build, however, I decided to try
and dress up the existing kit-parts as best I could. I drilled a couple holes
near the pulley-wheels, and attached some
.012 brass wire to simulate a pulley. I then painted the crank and pulley-assembly Gunze Steel, and the supporting structure Tamiya Flat Aluminum. The rest of the winch was painted Polly Scale Middlestone and dry-brushed with Gunze Steel for a more used and worn appearance. When all was dry, I attached the winch assembly to the aft superstructure with CA.
A nice extra in this kit is a well-done 38 cm shell with a decal to simulate the warning labels that appeared on the real thing. I painted the shell Polly Scale RAF Dark Green, applied the decal, coated it with Polly Scale Clear Flat, and attached it to the rear deck of the Sturmtiger where it looks right at home!
Dragon's 1/72nd scale Sturmtiger builds up into a nice well-proportioned model with some good basic detail that will appeal to armor-newbies and war-gamers right out of the box. It can be enhanced and made into an even better model with a few thoughtful modifications and a bit of careful scratch-building.
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