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The variants of the Tiger are generally split into three production cycles, early, middle and late. Even these have variations as tanks returned for repair were upgraded with the latest production items.
I doubt if any one tank was photographed from all angles, so at some point, the modeller must make a guess as to what is or is not fitted.
One off oddities abound so there's something for every armour modeller.
As for kits, in 1/35 scale, there are plenty, with more coming out. At the time of writing, a 1/16 model is due from Hobbyboss and a 1/35 'Ultimate' Tiger I kit os promised from Japan, though at over £300 a pop, I'd hope for some gold plating.
So, where to start. I have, over the years, managed to accumulate a few references on the Tiger and I've picked out one to have a go at.
In 1945, any tank that could run, was pressed into service. Fallingbostel, the Tiger training centre, had a fair collection of various Tiger Is. Cannibalised hulls and turrets were combined to make complete tanks. The original paint scheme was oversprayed with what has been described as a light slate grey, presumably to give some conformity to the unit.
The unit, entitled Tiger Gruppe Ferhmann, saw action between Fallingbostel and Minden. What was left of their tanks were blown up in April 1945 and the crews fled west to surrender to the Americans rather than the Soviets.
What I'm aiming for is a tank with an early model turret, an early middle production hull and later all steel road wheels. A real mish-mash of of a Tiger. I'll have to use a couple of kits but here goes.
1. Butchering the kits.
For the early turret, I have an early Tamiya Tiger. I know the turrets not completely accurate, being symetric but I can live with that. Also from that kit, I will use the top deck which has all the early features, some of which will have to be removed and the rear hull plate. These will be added to a middle production hull from the Otto Carius issue of Tamiya's kit. The road wheels, being the all steel type will come from a Tamiya late version Tiger.
A trial fit of the upper decking shows where Tamiya have re-modelled their Tiger kits as it's not just a drop fit. The hull has to be sanded down to allow the top deck to slot in and lie so that the front plate butts up against the hull. The top deck needs the two slots at front opening to enable it to accomodate the pieces on the hull. Width wise, the top deck fit perfectly. The rear hull plate, with the correct detailing for the early type, has to have the lower 8mm removed and slots craeted inside the hull to accomadate the plate. Both front mudflaps were also removed at this point. There are many holes that ned to be filled and some of the moulded on detail to be removed. This particular Tiger, did not have the gun cleaning rods on either side of the top deck and there are three sets of two small brackets on the top which I suspect are for the S mine dischargers. This feature was deleted from Tigers from about October 1943.
Removal of these features will damage the cast effect, but this will be attended to later. On the hull sides, the mounting holes for the track cable were also filled in.
2. Building the hull.
The basic hull shape can now be assembled. First the rear plate was fitted, any small gaps at the base were treated to filler. When the top plate is added, there are two major areas that need work. Firstly, the top / rear palte join. There is a gap which needs filler. Where the top joins at the front there is another gap, this time treated with stretched sprue which was sanded down when dry. this leads to a loss of the weld seam and this was replaced by gently going over the area with a burr tool in my Dremel. A straight edge was taped to the rear of the seam line as a guide and to prevent slippage. A few passes with the burr and the seam was restored.
Gaps wher the front vertical plate doesnt quite meet the hull, were filled with card and finally filler. After all these imperfections have been attended to, reconstruction of the hull top can commence. It's handy to have some spares left over from previous builds, especially if these are from Dragon kits. Expensive they may be, difficult to construct with confusing instructions, but they do supply a wealth of spare parts for other models. Light grey pieces from the dragon kits, show up well in the photos. So, from the front, these are the modifications required.
- 1. Fill holes for shovel.
- 2. Two small slivers of card to represent the broken handrail.
- 3. Five holes drilled in visor anti-splash plate.
- 4. Drivers visor replaced by superior Dragon item.
Moving to the sides, we need to:
- 1. Fill the track cable mounting holes.
- 2. Stipple valejo filler on to represent cast metal.
On the top we need to:
- 1. Add headlight mounts and cableing.
- 2. Fill mounting holesfor tools.
- 3. Add tools in revised positions.
- 3. Remove moulded on details.
- 4. Add brackets for gun rods.
- 5. Fit etched grills over engine vents.
- 6. Fit cover to Feifel intake from Dragon kit.
- 7. Fit Feifel support brackets.
- 8. Fill tow cable mounting holes.
On the rear plate:
- 1.Fill Feifel air cleaner mounting holes.
- 2.Construct new tow bracket.
- 3. Use later Tamiya kit exhausts and covers.
- 4. Make pop caps for top of exhausts.
- 5. Make bracket for tools on left side.
- 6. Fit etched or Dragon mudflaps to rear.
- 7. Stipple valejo filler to replicate cast effect.
The road wheels and sprockets are now assembled and added to the hull. Do not cement the sprockets as these aid the fitting of the tracks when loose. Tracks are a matter of taste, either the Tamiya one piece tracks or the individual links can be used. I prefer the individual link tracks as a realistic sag can be acheived without resorting to glue and / or pins. I cannot say for certain if the actual vehicle had early or late tracks but I'm fitting late ones anyway.
3. Turning to the Turret.
One of the main reasons for using the early Tamiya Tiger kit, is the provision of the early turret. The problem comes with the business end, namely the gun and mantlet. the kit items are pretty poor by any standard and once again, Dragon come to the rescue. The two Dragon Tigers in my collection, both came with turned aluminium barrels, meaning I was left with the plastic items as spares.
Dragon also supply a collection of mantlets, one of these was the one needed for this model. The correct mantlet to use has the binocular gunsight and extra armour support. To this, is added the initial tube taken from another mantlet and finally, the barrel with the large muzzle brake. From the Tamiya mantlet, carefully saw off the pivot mounts to use on the new item. Extend the front of these with some card to meet the mantlet. The drum cupola on the Tamiya kit is devoid of detail and was replaced by a spare from the Dragon collection as was the turret hatch. The weld bead at the base was built up with sprue and filler. The recesses where the bolts for the internal gun travel lock are fitted need to be drilled. Just recesses mind, not holes. The turret halves are now cemented together. As you can see, some heavy duty clamping is needed. The square bulge on the rear face needs to be removed. Fill the seam at the rear and the roof can then be added. The seams around the edge need filling, but be careful not to fill the weld beads. From the newer Tamiya kit, come the spare track mounts, four for the left side and three for the right. Once again, a surfiet of extra track links, far superior to the Tamiya ones are raided for these extra links. They even have the correct guide horns ad separarte items. The lower supports had to be made from card as Tamiya do not supply these. The mounting slots for the smoke dischargers also needed filling. So to recap, the changes for the turret are:
- 1.New mantlet with strengthening piece and binocular sight apeture.
- 2.New, detailed drum cupola.
- 3.New KwK 36 8.8cm gun barrel.
- 4. Fill in smoke discharger slots.
- 5. Remove bulge from turret rear.
- 6. New bottom brackets for spare track links.
4. Finishing Touches.
The hull was given a stippled coat of valejo filler to replicate the cast effect. When primed, any excess can be sanded down to reduce the effect if needed. the tools, handles and the like can be added at this point. When I paint AFV models, I begin with a black undercoat. This has the effect of toning down the topcaot, especially effective for the German dark yellow. In this particular case, the overall grey/green was a fairly light coat, the original three colour scheme was showing through in places. The model was given an overall coat of Tamiya's dark yellow, though used lightly so as to not obscure the detailand to leave certain areas, such as the running gear and lower hull, darker than the sides and top. The standard mottle of red brown and dark green was then applied, again in a thin coat. To top it all off, I used a home-made grey green mix for the top coat, allowing some of the undercoats to show through.
The detail parts were then painted, tools and the like, before beginning the weathering. In a couple of previous AFV builds, I used MIG weathering powders, but found them to be fussy in their method of application. The need for specialist thinners and the like, all at great expense, put me off expanding my collection of these. I was pleased to discover the new Humbrol weathering powders after finding a series of videos on their application on You Tube. By using common modelling equipoment such as thinners and matt cote, a variety of finishes can be obtained. I availed myself of their range, along with some decal fix and matt cote and proceeded to experiment on this Tiger. By mixing the various shades of powder and method of application, I ended up with a well used and neglected Tiger, just the effect I wanted. I can heartily recommend these new Humbrol products, being far easier to use than the MIG powders and a heck of a lot cheaper.
This model turned out to be a labour of love, I used parts from three other kits to finish it and a lot of spares from the ubiquitous spares box. It is an unusual variant and stands out in a crowd of Tigers. It tokk a lot of modelling knowhow to get the various parts together, but the end result was well worth it.
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