Academy 1/35 Tiger I (Version Late)
By Chris Cowx
Of all tanks of WWII that generally don't need an introduction, this is certainly THE one! The Tiger I is probably the best known both by name and by sight, with only the T-34 and the Sherman as possible rivals in the "brand recognition" wars.
Tiger I heavy tanks were deployed from 1942 in Africa and Europe, usually in independent heavy tank battalions. It was the first tank the Wehrmacht with the 88mm cannon. It also had extremely heavy armor for the day, making it a very formidable opponent. 1,347 were built between August of 1942 and August 1944, after which it was replaced on the assembly lines with the Tiger II.
The Tiger I was a very good tank, but it was over engineered, like much German equipment. It was generally quite reliable, but expensive to manufacture and maintain. The Tiger's wide tracks were very effective at traveling over soft and rough terrain, but they tended to jam up with ice, snow and mud. This could be a serious issue during certain times of year on the Russian front!
It's large size made transportation and recovery difficult. However, the Tiger I was hell on wheels (OK, tracks!) when pressed into action. They were more than a match for just about any early and mid war Allied tank, and the Tigers were never really surpassed, at least in the defensive battles being fought at the time.
The kit represents a late production Tiger, the version that fought in the Normandy actions and subsequent Western front fighting. Late production Tigers were also used in many of the defensive battles in the East, from Kursk to Berlin. It consists of styrene, rubber tracks, poly retainers, photo etch and decals.
The plastic looks very nice overall. Ejector pin marks have been intelligently placed so they are hidden on the finished model. The molding is crisp, with well defined, decent detail. Things like latches and hinges are well detailed, and with careful painting and washes will look good.
There are options such as open or closed hatches, plastic or string for cables, etc. The surface detail is quite smooth-probably a bit too smooth-to represent the tank's cast finish. However, this does not matter: the kit includes a photo etch tool and instructions for applying Zimmerit (anti-magnetic mine paste), using the putty of your choice. The kit is basically designed with the Zimmerit as part of the plan. While I look forward to seeing the results, I have to admit to being a bit intimidated!
There is a comprehensive set of tools and equipment for the vehicle's exterior. Shovels, storage, tools, spare tracks, cables, etc. are well represented. Interior detail consists of a minimal amount of structural fittings. There is also a single tank commander figure provided. The edges on some of the grates and louvers seem a bit thick to my eye, but that could just be me. Overall, the plastic is very nice and with the Zimmerit to give that realistic finish, it will look very much the fighting vehicle that the Tiger I was.
This is a true multimedia kit, with p/e, brass, cable and rubber all utilized in construction. The photo etch included with the kit is very sparse, but what is there looks good. It is confined to the screens over the engine bay, some gun sights and the previously mentioned Zimmerit tool. The screens are well framed and look very good. The gun sights are quite detailed as well. The photo etch, despite its minimal use, will considerably enhance the overall look of the vehicle. You have a choice between flexible nylon string and molded ends for the stowed towing cable or a fully molded one.
Finally, there are also the rubber tracks. I am usually not a fan of these, but this set could change my mind. They are not the usual one tracks with detail confine to one side. The tread detail looks good and the back side, which is visible when installed, has equal detail to the front. They should look great with a bit of painting and dry brushing to give a more metallic look to them. This would be a good kit for introducing someone to either armor kits, or multimedia modeling.
The decals and marking options with this kit are excellent! The decals look thin and in register. Unless they react oddly to decal setting solution, they should look great on the finished model. The colors are bright and dense. You get decals for the vehicle itself and there are also numerous, smaller decals for the crewman. The sheet offers ten marking options, covering just about everywhere that Tigers served. There are markings for Italy, France, the Baltics, Russia and Poland. Two of legendary Tiger commander Michael Wittmann's Normandy tanks are included, some have "nose art", some have flashes of color There is also a variety of camouflage styles, so really there is pretty much something for everyone.
The kit instructions are generally very good. Construction is 16 steps and is on a long fold out double sided sheet, giving 8 standard letter sized pages of exploded drawings. They are clear and more than adequate for assembly. The only (very) minor gripe I have is that the molded cable is not shown, though the string version is. There is also another separate, equally large sheet that gives a comprehensive camo and markings guide. This is well illustrated, and it includes color matches for Gunze Hobby Color acrylics and Mr. Color lacquers, Model Master enamels, Vallejo, Humbrol and the Lifecolor lines of paint.
I have to say, this kit is a nice compromise between the "Über" kits with 500 parts and the simpler, toy like kits. If you build it out of the box it will look the part, it will have enough interesting details to keep you eye moving, and it won't be a "magnum opus" suited only for the Gods of modeling All that being said, it looks good and it's an excellent representation of the type. This is a good looking kit for the everyday modeler that wants something really nice on the shelf. The intrepid modeler can upgrade the kit with commercially available photo etch, and other generic sets such as turned metal gun barrels would really add to Academy's late Tiger I kit. I recommend this kit and I would like to thank Model Rectifier Corporation for the review sample.