It's well-known by now how the Russian T-34 tank shocked the Wehrmacht during the early stages of the invasion of the Soviet Union, and that the Tiger I tank was Germany's response. Armed with the 88 mm KwK 36 L/56 cannon, this gun is often thought of as a variant of the famous 88mm FLAK. Actually the KwK 36 L/56 was developed specifically for tanks, and featured electric firing, a vertical "falling wedge" breech that expelled spent shell casings and remained open for the reload, and a "flat trajectory" that resulted in accurate hits even when the distance to the target was miscalculated.
The gun barrel is beautifully packaged in a clam shell case with spongy padding and is clearly intended for display in a bricks-and-mortar store (but will also ensure the product arrives safely even if poorly shipped). The package includes:
• 8-piece turned aluminum barrel, brass rings and muzzle brake parts including the locking ring, setting screw and setting mark opening cover. • Resin mantlet • 2-color instructions for assembly
This is a very accurate rendering of the KwK 36 L/56 that avoids the usual AM barrel shortcuts, including having the muzzle brake screw onto the barrel tip. The barrel itself has the internal requisite rifling, and comes more or less pre-assembled so that the instructions are almost beside the point. The accuracy will have little impact on most modeling applications, but presumably the gun could be shown partially disassembled for repair or service in the field? I compared the muzzle brake to a cross section cutaway from Spielberger's Tigers I and II and Their Variants and found no inaccuracies, but I'm neither an engineer nor a total expert on the Tiger I.
The resin mantlet is nicely-rendered and includes a coaxial MG barrel tip peeking out, though modellers may prefer to add their own AM brass coaxial MG barrel for even greater accuracy. Yet I don't know why Voyager has included the mantlet; comparing it to Tamiya's DAK Tiger I (initial production)-- hardly a state-of-the-art kit-- showed no discernable advantages or increased accuracy. Perhaps the goal was to ensure a true fit instead of requiring modellers to trim and fill?
No styrene or resin rendering can handle a complex muzzle brake like those used on most Wehrmacht tanks. For that a brass solution is required. This barrel is the "gold standard" for this type of detailing. The item is hard to get now, with many dealers like LuckyModel sold out. If you demand the most in accuracy and want convenience and ease of assembly, this is your choice and worth the effort.
Highs: A superb rendering of a highly-popular tank gun, accurate, elegantly packaged, easy to assemble and complete with its own resin mantlet.Lows: None really, other than the price. The same gun (minus the mantlet), is available from JBModels.eu for 1/3 the cost.Verdict: For those who want the finest in accuracy and ease of use, there is nothing to compare to this.