Thursday, 9 March 2017

Zvezda Elefant Ferdinand Tank destroyer 1/100 scale 15mm review

Zvezdas range is growing again, and this time they are bringing some BIG Armour into the mix.  The Ferdinand, though not widely used is an iconic tank to me anyway (one of my first airfix tank kits as a kid) and i have always had a soft spot for it.  To see it with Zvezdas incredibly low pricing i was certainly intrigued, would it be like the rest of Zvezdas newer kits, which are ever improving? or a bit of a slip backwards?

The Elefant (German for "elephant") was a heavy tank destroyer used by German Wehrmacht Panzerjägers during World War II. It was built in small numbers in 1943 under the name Ferdinand after its designer Ferdinand Porsche, using tank hulls that had been produced for the Tiger I tank requirement which was rejected in favour of a Henschel design.
In 1944, after modification of the existing vehicles, they were renamed Elefant. The official German designation was Panzerjäger Tiger (P)  and the ordnance inventory designation was Sd. Kfz. 184.

Ferdinands first saw combat in the Battle of Kursk, where eighty-nine were committed, the most concentrated use of the vehicle.
The Ferdinand was optimized for destroying Soviet T-34 tanks and 76.2 mm anti-tank guns from behind the front lines with its 88mm Pak43/2 L/71 at a range of over 3 kilometres, a role which it performed well. However, after advancing through the initial line of Soviet resistance, it was hampered by a variety of flaws, such as the lack of peripheral vision blocks, a rotating turret or even a single machine gun as secondary armament; Soviet infantry, quickly recognizing this flaw, could easily hide in their trenches until the Ferdinand advanced through their lines, then swarm the vehicle with grenades and Molotov cocktails from the sides.

While this proved a significant disadvantage (later partially rectified by the improved Elefant version of the vehicle), a more significant problem at Kursk was mine damage and mechanical failure. Any damage to the tracks or suspension negated the protection of the armor, as crews were forced to dismount and attempt repairs. The extremely heavy weight of the Ferdinand made towing difficult: the standard armored recovery vehicle in German service at the time was the Bergepanzer IV, a variant of the Panzer IV which could tow a single Panzer IV without assistance. It was insufficient for larger vehicles, with a Tiger I heavy tank requiring three Bergepanzer IVs to be towed, and the Ferdinand requiring five linked in tandem to pull the vehicle off the field.

In the initial stages of the Kursk battle, when the Germans were on the offensive, heavy vehicles could be recovered and repaired with relative peace at night; this at first allowed the majority of knocked-out Ferdinands to be rescued, repaired and returned to duty. However, once the tides had turned against the Germans and they fell back on the defensive, with fewer vehicles to spare, functional Ferdinands with minor damage to their tracks or suspensions had little hope of recovery, and crews were usually forced to destroy the vehicle to prevent a mostly intact tank destroyer from falling into the hands of the Soviets.

Although the Elefant modifications improved the vehicles, some problems could never be fully fixed. In 1944 the Elefants served on the Italian front, but were rather ineffective as their weight of nearly 70 tonnes did not allow them to use most Italian roads and bridges. As at Kursk, most Elefant losses were not as a direct result from combat, but resulted when mechanical breakdowns and lack of spare parts compelled their crews to destroy and abandon them. One company of Elefants saw action during the Soviets' January 1945 Vistula-Oder offensive in Poland, and the very last surviving vehicles were in combat at Zossen during the Battle of Berlin.

The Ferdinand may have been the most successful tank destroyer employed during the war in kills per loss, reaching an average ratio of approximately 10:1. During the Battle of Kursk the 653rd Heavy Tank Destroyer Battalion (German: schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung, sPzJägAbt) claimed to have knocked out 320 enemy tanks, for the loss of 13 Ferdinands. This impressive average ratio was due to its extreme firepower and protection, which gave it an enormous advantage when used in head-on combat or a static defensive role. However, poor mobility and mechanical unreliability greatly diminished its operational capability.

The Elefant and Nashorn were both superseded by the Jagdpanther. All three of those tanks mounted the same gun, with only some minor differences between them. The Jagdpanther was a successor to both tanks before it, combining acceptable mobility and good armour while retaining the great gun, mostly solving the reliability and protection problems the earlier tanks had.

 Lets pop this mini beast open and take a look!!

 There are no instructions for the kit, well apart from the ones on the back of the box, so do a bit of dry fitting first to make sure you are happy with which bits go together first.
 There is detail on the tank, though a lot of it is flat, but then so was the real steel version, it was a big slab sided box with a massive gun in it.
 When shes built i was very happy with the results, the detail comes together in the right places.
 She looks the part, and painted up will be a great model. Zvezdas latest vehicles are really upping their game.
Just popped a 28mm figure there for some scale comparison, its a BIG kit!  Overall really really impressed, a cool model for good value, and if you are playing games like flames of war, this is a real affordable way to get the big tanks to the table.

If you want to pick one up you can head into your local model shop, or  browse on over to my favourite online model store Arcane Scenery and models