Tiger I. (late version)
Updated: Dec 28, 2021
Tiger is probably the best known tank of WWII. The fact that I have built all main versions of the Tiger except the most iconic member of the family has just not felt right. It did not just keep annoying me more and more but also gave me that itchy feeling every time when I thought of this page. I was hesitating to go for a late version with zimmerit and steel wheels or an early one, probably DAK (Deutsches Afrika Korps). My choice was finally the late version as I found out about this Trumpeter kit: it offers a lot for a decent price.
The one weakness of the kit is the old-fashioned two-piece barrel, but as this was going to be the 'classic Tiger tank' on this site I decided to buy a metal barrel from Aber. But everything else should be there in the box: nicely detailed kit with mandatory PE grills, individual track links and optional zimmerit sheet. However, finally I have also invested in metal tracks, which seemd to be a nice addition. I have ordered a set of Friul Tracks on ebay, which I am a great fan of although they are quite pricy. Although the seller messaged me that he ran out of it after I had placed my order, he offered a Masterclub set instead. I haven't worked with them in the past and wanted to test it, so accepted the offer. Which did not prove to be a good decision after all, but lets start with the kit first.
I have to admit, that Trumpeter exceeded my expectations, although they weren't low after my preliminary investigations. The box is sizeable, hard and when you open it, the sprues are individually packed. Furthermore, even within the bags those areas where the tiniest parts are molded are wrapped up in protective polyester soft-wrap. Separate section for the larger sprues and another one for the hull, PE's and decals.
When you have a closer look at it you can see what I am talking about: the surfaces are really nicely done.
It is a pitty, that most of it will be covered by zimmerit (anti-magnetic layer that was developed by the German army against magnetic mines) which comes with the kit. And, this is quite a promising option, especially that it is not made if resin, but plastic so you can use the usual cement you are using for the assambly (e.g. Tamiya extra thin cement) when applying it.
The build starts with the lower hull, suspensions, wheels and the back plate. I always suggest to get familiar with the instructions carefully before starting the building process for two reasons:
- you can plan your tasks and workflow better
- you can avoid unwanted surprises
An example: the zimmerit for the back plate is well-designed with a hole everywhere necessary - except one. I don't know why it is done this way, but you have to cut that one out. As the zimmerit layer was often damaged on the real tanks and it is in a rather hidden spot, the cut does not need to be particularily accurate.
In case of a few parts the amount of excess materials is surprising, but only in a few cases and nothing that you can't get rid of easily.
Minor fitting issues with the front plate, but again, something that should not cause any serious headache. A bit of filing here and there and it gets how it should be. Zimmerit should cover it anyway, unless you want to get some chipping here in which case it would get exposed though.
The next steps of the build were pretty straight-forward. I am not a big fan of the unreasonably tiny parts. Nevertheless, this kit has some wingnuts, that should be placed individually.
On the other hand these are easy to handle and there is quite a few spare ones provided which I actually needed as I have broken some of them at a later stage. But these are neat to have as it was the exact solution on the real tank, too.
(I found this photo on the internet and downloaded it in a rush, so I can't help you with the source, unfortunately.)
The rest of the build is smooth like a dream. I made some chipping of the zimmerit as I wanted to build a tank that has seen some hard times.
Also worthy to mention, that zimmerit was applied on the real tanks as a paste and not in sheets, so you may want to treat the edges on the model to get closer to the real thing: just cut small pieces from the excess zimmerit and apply them to the edges with a decent amount of extra thin cement. The first two pics below show the 'before' stage and the third one is the 'after' one.
When I got to this stage I started the paint work. Tamiya light grey primer as the first layer.
I forgot to mention that I wanted to make some shell marks from a smaller caliber weapon, for which I used a soldering iron.
Once the primer dried properly I have applied the base colour: dark yellow (Tamiya xf60).
Up until this point I wanted to do a more traditional three-tone camo that was suggested to be used in the Polish front.
However, when I realized that the front view does not match the upper view, I decided to go with my own camo pattern.
I have to admit, that I was rather disappointed with this attempt. I gave it a second thought and even a third one...
The next morning I took a deep breath and decided: change of plans. Let's go with the East-Prussian camo, that I had seen done by other modellers and I started to like it more and more. It is used on the offcial photos of the kit, too.
However, when I was looking at the archive photos of the original vehicles I found that the contrast of the camo looks much milder/softer than this.
I liked this much more.
At this stage I started to assemble the tracks. I have checked a few videos on youtube and all of them were demoing how easy it is: just put together the tracks and insert the resin pins from both sides. Some of them emphasized that you don't need to apply any glue. All looked like a dream...
Although officially 96 links goes on each side 94 seemd to be enough on this model. So, plenty to do, but everything went according to the plans so far.
Before the kit got a layer of gloss coat so I could apply the decals, the red-oxide primer was painted in the areas where the zimmerit was chipped off. Once the decals were in place some enamel wash was applied on the wheels. I have also lost a wingnut, that was replaced.
It was followed by the painting of the tools and other details. Later on when doing the weathering, I would get back to finetune them, so on these photos they look a bit vivid, e.g. the C-hook got dry-brushed dark yellow and some dark iron chipping at a later stage as they were pained with the main colour of the vehicle.
Next layer was a matt coat to seal the paint work done so far. I started apply some pigments gently to the hull side. This was the moment when I realized a mistake I have made: there should not be camo painted on the area that would be covered by mudguards. Luckily it is easy to fix as it is basically a straight line: just put some masking tape and paint it back with dark yellow. Then, it is easy to add washes/pigments.
Also important to mention to weather the area behind the wheels: most of the time it is hard to see, but from certain angle it may get exposed. To create some texture Mig's thick mud was used and pigment was added both while wet and when it got dried.
It was time now to bring everything together. Starting with the wheels: using with a soft graphite I have made the surfaces shiny that are always in use, such as the teeth of the sprocket, the edges of the idler and running wheels.
Then, the nightmare started when I wanted to paint the tracks. The resin pins were flying out of the tracks as I started to airbrush them. Seriously, they just did not stay in their holes. I hoped for them being tight enough, but plenty of them just weren't. I didn't want to completely disassemble the tracks and start it from scratch. I was also afraid of getting them too stiff if I fixed them with CA glue. So, I though I would put them on and finish off the painting on the tank.
The good thing is that there are many more pins than you'd need for one Tiger and yet I was afraid of running out of them. Then, I had an idea: I have a can of Humbrol matt varnish. I know it is quite sticky and creates a thicker layer than Tamiya's flat clear. I gave both sides a good 3-4 layers hoping it would finally fix the pins. It did improve the situation, but didn't fix it completely. At later stages, no matter how carefully I worked on the kit one pin was simply sliding out here and there. I had to fix them with super glue each time. Next time if there will be such a thing I will probably go ahead with the CA glue from the beginning. Recently I have read about a tool called a CA glue applicator which may help to keep a tight control of the glue used for each pin.
After this misery, I airbrushed the rest of the tracks with Tamiya's dark Iron. Then, suddenly Christmas just arrived :)
I mixed a relatively thick wash from Mig's Track rust pigments and went through the whole of the tracks with a flat brush. Once it dried I have applied some dry pigments gently.
The side of the hull and the turret was also treated with pigments and washes. The same is equally true for the engine deck and the top of the turret.
Once I was satisfied with the whole tank I finished it off with flat clear. I can't tell you how happy I finally was: a decent Tiger came out of this project, although it may not be my best work ever.
So, how is the kit in short?
- lovely details without any major issues
- the zimmerit is a superb solution and gives you a lot of opportunity to play around with
- great quality PE grills which are definitely needed nowadays
- affordable price (£35-£40 in the UK)
- the only downside is the old design, two-piece solution for the barrel.
And last but not least: I now have a set of Tiger tracks left from this kit, so you may see another Tiger I. on the site in the near future...
Here we go with some photos of the final build, more can be found in the Gallery.