I'm glad to soon be owning all the DA Elefants, I'm enjoying writing the continuing thread on all the DA Flak Panzers and I'll be able to do the same thing for the Elefant/Ferdinand tank line. This thread will feature all the applicable Sd. Kfz. 184 models Dragon Armor has released, and to date that's ten models.
We'll have all newly-shot photos, a fresh perspective on the models, no other tanks /manufacturers included in the shots, and a chance for you to look at the complete line all at once.
For instance we'll see that 4 out of the 10 are metal, and the metal Elefants have the soft grey rubber tracks of the early DA period and no zimmerit. Information like that.
The benefit is that you'll see the tanks all shot at once, for a fair analysis. I'll be your one-stop-shopping for all questions relating to Dragon Armor Elefants.
For most of us, it's rare to own all the offerings of a Dragon Armor tank line. Even if we do own every Panther, Sherman, Tiger, or 251, it is tedious to bring them all out for a comprehensive photo shoot and detailed discussion. I am happy to take care of my end, as my collection of selected lines becomes complete.
My promises to you:
The pictures will be fun to look at.
There will be at least one master shot with all the tanks in it.
All the photos will be new.
I'll provide the stock numbers and dates of release for each tank.
I will never feature another manufacturer.
I will show the tanks stock, (as much as possible), and also, you'll see my modifications as time goes on and the thread matures.
I use the hollowed book storage method for certain tank assortments. I have ten of these boxes, two of which are this luxurious extra-large size. My other boxes are a size down. These boxes are great to keep everything clean, together, and easily pulled out for a fun session of model appreciation. Plus, they stack. Horizontally, of course!
First let's talk about what makes a Sd.Kfz. 184 either a Ferdinand or an Elefant. Ferdinands came first; after battle experience, several changes were made to improve the vehicle. For simplicity, we associate the name change to Elefant with the structural modifications.
This was not an assembly-line change; the improvement plan was a re-work of the existing Ferdinand vehicles as they were pulled from the fall 1943 Russian battlefields and brought back to the factory for refit.
Some external modifications were:
Adding a commander's cupola. Moving the tool rack from the front right side of the tank to the rear backplate. Reinforcing the mantlet baffle. Adding a bow machine gun. Also, zimmerit was introduced about this time as well.
As you can see, the quickest way to identify an Elefant is the round cupola hatch at the top of the superstructure. This replaced a split hatch. Another quick way to identify "real" Elefants is zimmerit.
Let's get started with a look at each model, one at a time. We'll look at them in release order, which is different than stock number order.
Stock # 60024 sPzJgAbt 654, Kursk 1943. "White 501" ANNOUNCED ON: 11/12/2003 ARRIVED ON: 5/4/2004 METAL
Ara's comments: The first of ten to hit the store shelves! Soft gray rubber tracks from the early period of DA models. This Ferdinand as shown is a special version that was offered with a travel lock. Rear number decals are rare for this line of models. Extraordinary paint, in all respects: color; weathering; pattern; and muteness. Lack of zimmerit is correct for Ferdinands. This is one of five Ferds that DA offered and of those five, two unfortunately have zimmerit. WINNER: For the aforementioned reasons, and despite the unpainted tracks, this is the best Ferdinand in the DA line. This first issue was an out of the park homerun, and the start to a fantastic line of ten Elefant/Ferdinand releases. Read on.
Stock # 60023 3.Kompanie, sPzJgAbt 653, Russia 1944. "Black 322" ANNOUNCED ON: 11/13/2003 ARRIVED ON: 6/5/2004 METAL
Ara's comments: Soft gray rubber tracks from the early period of DA models. Oops--no zimmerit on an Elefant is a no-no. This lack of zimmerit is due to the metal mold. This is the only metal Elefant ever issued, and the only Elefant with a mounted hull mallet. And, as mineral has pointed out, this is the only Sd.Kfz. 184 with the gun lock in the correct righthand orientation. Also, take a look at the mantlet shield on this model. It comes correctly modified with reinforcements that were installed to these shields at the time of Elefant conversion in January 1944. A check to the previous Ferdinand in this thread shows a simpler shield.
Stock # 60093 3.Kompanie, sPzJgAbt 654, Kursk 1943. "White 723" Cyber Hobby special, with metal tin box and numbered collector's card. ANNOUNCED ON: unknown. ARRIVED ON: 7/10/2004. Limited to 1,943-piece edition size. METAL
Ara's comments: Soft gray rubber tracks from the early period of DA models. This Ferdinand correctly has no zimmerit. This is one of five Ferds that DA offered and of those five, two unfortunately have zimmerit. This model has the gun lock in the incorrect leftthand orientation, a problem which affects 90% of the Dragon Armor Sd.Kfz. 184 open travel lock releases. Complex paint scheme is a welcome variation to what is commonly seen in DA models. Numbered card and limited edition size adds to appeal.
Stock # 60094 sPzJgAbt 653, Kursk 1943 "No number" Cyber Hobby special, with tin box and numbered collector's card. ANNOUNCED ON: unknown. ARRIVED ON: 7/10/2004 METAL
Ara's comments: Unpainted gray rubber tracks. Metal chassis is painted dark yellow with panzer gray splotches. Faint drybrushing. This is a proper Ferdinand with no zimmerit. Like its stablemate 60093, this model came in a nice tin box with the laminated collector card. She is very satisfying to own, and even though every DA Sd.Kfz. 184 provides much satisfaction, this example is extra-special with its presentation box, metal hull, and panzer gray coloring.
Stock # 60124 sPzJgAbt 653, 1.Kompanie, sPzJgAbt.653, Orel Eastern Front, July 1943. "Black Outline 122" ANNOUNCED ON: 4/14/2005 ARRIVED ON: 5/27/2005 PLASTIC, WEIGHTED
Ara's comments: Painted rubber tracks. Zimmerit on a Ferdinand is not correct, as zimmerit was released sometime near September 1943 for German armor and not implemented to Ferdinands until January 1944. This model's zimmerit was advertised as being the first in 1/72, and was DA's move away from metal hulls. This is a shame as an opportunity was lost here: This Ferdinand would have looked killer with the metal hull of its predecessors--it might even have been the best of the issue with its realistic green overspray. As mineral has pointed out, this model has the gun lock in the incorrect lefthand orientation.
Stock # 60054 sPzJgAbt 654, Eastern Front 1943 "White II 01" ANNOUNCED ON: 4/4/2005 ARRIVED ON: 5/27/2005 PLASTIC, WEIGHTED
Ara's comments: Painted rubber tracks. The striking feature of this model is its bold paint finish. Despite its look, the base color is dark yellow and not green. The green is a heavy overspray, leaving a base-yellow trail with red-brown filling. Drybrushed to perfection, a stunning model. This example is a special version with the travel lock in place. According to the COMBAT HISTORY OF SCHWERE PANZERJAGER ABTEILUNG 653 by Karlheinz Munch, Ferdinands were converted to Elefants in January 1944. At this time the tank destroyers were upgraded with the cupola, zimmerit and other changes. For that reason, I cannot award any zimmerited DA Ferdinand the top model of its type. Zimmerit paste= Elefants and bare hull= Ferdinands.
Stock # 60053 sPzJgAbt 653, Russia/Poland 1944. "Black 232" ANNOUNCED ON: 8/16/2005 ARRIVED ON: 9/13/2005 PLASTIC, WEIGHTED
Ara's comments: Painted rubber tracks. Zimmerit on an Elefant is correct. This zimmerit was advertised as being the first in 1/72, and was DA's move away from metal hulls. As mineral has pointed out, this model has the gun lock in the incorrect leftthand orientation. Very nice three-tone weathered finish. Correct, modified gun shield. This model is very close to being the top Elefant in the DA series.
Stock # 60123 sPzJgAbt 653, Poland 1944. "Black 332" ANNOUNCED ON: 8/16/2005 ARRIVED ON: 9/27/2005 PLASTIC, WEIGHTED
Ara's comments: Painted rubber tracks. As mineral has pointed out, this model has the gun lock in the incorrect lefthand orientation. The paint finish is a complex three-tone scheme of red brown and green over dark yellow, drybrushed and beautifully weathered. DA's fine zimmerit is perfectly rendered and gives a realistic look to this 1944 machine. WINNER: Here she is, and just in the nick of time too. With its deep camouflage, painted tracks, heavy weight, accurate weathering and perfect shade of dunkelgelb base color, this is the finest Elefant DA has offered to date. This model was the last of the initial run of the first eight Sd.Kfz. 184s; it would be five years before Dragon Armor would issue any new versions. With those new models, changes would include much lighter overall weight and a less-accurate rendition of base color. Stock #60123 marked the end of an era with Dragon Armor Sd.Kfz. 184s, but boy was she worth it, showing DA's growth in track-painting and being built in the sweet spot of the company's Golden Age of model production.
Stock # 62013 sPzJgAbt 653, Galicia 1944. "Red 224" ANNOUNCED ON: 1/6/2010 ARRIVED ON: 3/19/2010 PLASTIC, UNWEIGHTED
Ara's comments: Five years after the last release comes Red 224. Painted plastic tracks. Zimmerit on an Elefant is correct. This model was a "orange series value plus" release, packaged without the hard, clear acrylic case and built of lightweight plastic with no internal weight. This model is light as a feather. Many model collectors have left the pre-built diecast market with Dragon Armor moving away from metal and heavily-weighted models. As mineral has pointed out, this model has the gun lock in the incorrect lefthand orientation. No drybrushing, some very faint weathering. The beautiful camouflage effect is slightly diminished with DA's change of their dunkelgelb to a greener-tinged version of dark yellow.
Stock # 62014 sPzJgAbt 653, Eastern Front 1944. "unnumbered" ANNOUNCED ON: 3/4/2010 ARRIVED ON: 4/14/2010 PLASTIC, UNWEIGHTED
Ara's comments: Painted plastic tracks. Zimmerit on an Elefant is correct. This model was a "orange series value plus" release, packaged without the hard, clear acrylic case and built of lightweight plastic with no internal weight. As mineral has pointed out, this model has the gun lock in the incorrect lefthand orientation. No drybrushing, some very faint weathering. This model is light as a feather, and that reduces the appeal considerably. The complex camouflage effect is slightly diminished with DA's change of their dunkelgelb to a greener-tinged version of dark yellow. This model is an attractive example of what may be the last Sd.Kfz. 184 DA ever produces.
With all ten models reviewed, let's take a look at the top two examples, Ferdinand White 501 stock # 60024 and Elefant Black 332 stock # 60123.
What makes these winners?
Weight. One's metal, one's heavily-weighted plastic. Camouflage. Intricacy, accuracy, realism. Zimmerit. Zimmerit is a historical marker that must be reconciled with the Ferdinand's short life of the full year 1943. After the fall, the Ferds were recalled, reworked to what we shall call "Elefant standards", and zimmerit was applied.
Here are the metal examples. Early editions, very nice to own.
Some observations. Metal was a natural for Ferdinands. The question for Dragon Armor remains, why weren't all Ferdies made of metal?
Metal was the wrong choice for the sole Elefant, on the left. DA developed fine plastic molding technology right after this model was released, and we'd not see a metal Elefant again.
This shot shows how DA got the revised gun mantlet shield right on all Ferds and Eles. The sprocket bolt count is also correct for all ten models, i.e., less bolts on the front sprocket and more bolts on the rear. This orientation was goofed on DA's two Tiger (P) models.
Some thoughts as I wrap up the initial analysis. This was a lot of fun to organize and post.
It is very difficult to own every example of a given type from a manufacturer. Time, money, availability, and attractiveness of each model is a factor. A collector also needs to research the Dragon archives to understand the release history. There is no single archive that holds all the information, I was toggling between three sources to get the stories straight.
We need to understand all the examples that were produced--that's harder than it sounds. We need to want one of each. We'll need to find models that have been on the market for over a decade. And, we need to have a good photography set up and the opportunity to research and write.
I'm convinced this single-thread method is a useful resource for objectively looking at the collection. We need to see all the models together, so we can best decide which appeals to us in a single sight.
It's sad for me to think this will be my only major analysis. I've been trying to ascertain which other models I could tackle. I have over 200 so it should be easy to collect another large grouping, right?
It's not easy at all. There are ExPo models, ugly models, and $100+ models. One miss wipes out a whole bunch and their associated opportunity. The only way this type of thread works is to include every model. There needs to be a few complete group photos or we miss the point of evaluation and single-sight processing.
Looks like I can cover the StuG IVs, Ersatz Panthers, and E-100s. So plan for seeing those threads in the upcoming months.
The paint schemes for early releases seem particularly well done, but the quality seems to fall off later. If factories can (could?) do that, it seems a decent mottle on an airplane shouldn't be impossible.
... Impressive, extensive work as usual... My personnal "regret" with this serie is that DA didn t include an Elefant from the 1944 Italian combats or one of the few remaining ones used in defense of Berlin in '45... .... 10 models "only" but™ with lots of releases if one adds the several diorami sets they made also.
Speaking of those sets, another regret would be tht having made this: