German Tiger I Initial Production
Afrika Korps

1:48 Scale - Kit No.32529
First Look Review by Terry Ashley

The second Tiger I kit from Tamiya represents a February 1943 production vehicle as indicated in the instruction sheet and includes the numerous features of a sPzAbt 501 Tiger I of that time period such as the early front fenders, the early “Feifel” air filter system and tropical exhaust covers as well as the early mantlet without the armoured TZF9b binocular sight apertures but there are few minor detail issues to be mindful of.

The kit consists of 224 parts in a dark brownish plastic as well as the lower hull tub in die-cast metal that includes the sponsons and outer hull sides plus the axles cast in place. Additional to this are poly caps for the drive sprockets and idler wheels and the decal sheet and of course the instruction sheet.

The quality of the moulding is again excellent with cleanly moulded parts and delicate details although there are a few minor pin marks on the interior of the hatches but these are very shallow and shouldn't pose too much of a problem to remove.

The kit has all of the parts from the Tiger I early (kit #32504) plus a new sprue G with the sPzAbt 501 parts with quite a few of the original parts not used for this kit and can be consigned to the spars box such as the right half of the turret, original mantlet, side fenders, later air cleaners and driver’s plate.

Lower Hull/Suspension:
The lower hull tub as mentioned is the now standard die-cast metal but without the distinctive flange detail between the hull sides and sponsons and no detail around the axle attachments or suspension stops for what is quite a bare hull compared to some of the more recent Tamiya kits.

At the front are plastic parts for the bolt head detail on the insides of the final rive housings and the rear hull panel is a separate plastic part which makes it easier to fit the exhausts, rear fenders and tools.

Two nicely detailed drive sprockets are included; the early type with the spokes lined up between the teeth and raised central hub as well as the later 1944 type with flat hub and star shaped bracket to hold the bolts in place and obviously this is not used with this kit. The drive sprocket halves trap a poly cap between them for attaching to the hull axle.

The road wheels again have excellent details with the correct six hub bolts while the inner wheels also have the correct series of six groups of three bolts around the outer rim and each is marked on the back with a small number to indicate its position in the wheel setup and you also get replacement hub fittings so you can leave off the outer set of road wheels for transport mode and the idler wheels are the early 700mm diameter type applicable for this version.

TamiyaThe track is in the form of link and length solid plastic with the links having nice details and only very small pin marks on the inner side with part of the sprue tree on sprue A being a jig for assembling the track which should make the task a lot easier.

On the rear hull are new exhausts with early hinged flap on top and the distinctive exhaust covers with cooling slits included but the separate lower armoured covers have no cast texture as before and there are separate towing shackles both front and back.

The early style “Feifel” air cleaners have nice details with the latches included and the engine deck pipes as well as a separate three part jack and the separate rear mud flaps have the correct rounded outer section and the side fenders have the double edge along the inner edge and show Tamiya has done their homework.

Upper Hull:
TamiyaThe upper hull is a single moulding and has nice crisp details with the design of the rear engine grills applicable from around March 1943 with a slightly different design on earlier Tigers but includes subtle cast texture on the panels between the louvers. The large ventilator on the engine bay door is a solid moulding with the central star fitting and the “Feifel” air cleaner pipes includes very nice texture on the pipes as well as flange details at the air cleaner end and looks very convincing.

There is an issue with the two front mounted Bosch headlights which are mounted on the hull top corners and sPzAbt 501 Tigers had these relocated onto mountings on either side of the glacis and you will have to relocate these as well as add the light wiring. Also another small point is the hull exit point cover for the light wiring is the early rounded type and should be the later faceted shaped covers but as these are very small this may not be that noticeable on the finished kit.

The separate hull hatches include nice interior details if shown open but there are a couple of small pin marks on the inside which shouldn't pose any problems in removing?

The moulded steel cables for the hull top and sides have nice texture included as well as the correct three cleaning rod arrangement on the top ropes and these are correct for the time period indicated for the model with earlier vehicles having a different cable layout.

As with the first kit the sledge hammer and front plate mounted shovel are separate items yet the smaller shovel, axe and wire cutters are moulded as part of the top deck and have far less defined details as a result and the water tight cover for the air intake (small raised rectangle behind left front crew hatch) is also moulded in place but this was only fitted from Feb. 1942 and so corresponds with the later engine grills but not for very early 1943 vehicles.

The front driver's panel is a new separate part with nicely detailed driver's vision port and MG ball mounting with separate MG barrel and also has the two side clips moulded on for good detail.

Included above the driver’s visor are the two apertures for the KFF2 periscopes but these were not used from Feb. 1942 onwards being firstly welded over and completely eliminated from later vehicles and in keeping with the details mentioned above you should fill these to represent the welded over apertures.

The glacis also has nice side fender detail for the sPzAbt 501 Tigers and the raised guard in front of the driver's visor and thankfully the fit of the plastic glacis, top hull and rear panel to the metal lower hull is precise as you can get and no filler or trimming will be needed which makes assembly of the major parts a breeze.

The Turret:
TamiyaThe turret has the correct asymmetrical shape with all the correct features for the early turret such as the drum cupola, early ventilator, weld seam at the front of the roof and the eight flush travel lock bolts located centrally.

The kit includes a new right hand turret half without the rear escape hatch as applicable to the early 1943 Tigers with the bolted pistol port added in its place.

The drum cupola is in two halves with vision slits included with a separate top ring and hatch with internal details and separate opening latch support and the loader's hatch also has internal details and the smoke grenade launchers have separate mounting brackets and grenade canisters for good detail but will look better with wiring added.

At the front of the roof is what appears to be the top guard behind the mantlet but has no bolt head or other details while the turret walls have subtle weld seam details at the lower join and around the side vision ports and front plate welds.

The separate rear storage bin is the early type made up of four parts with the side mounting brackets included.

The new early mantlet has nice details with the un-reinforced binocular sighing holes and nice details for the co-ax MG port and the six large bolts around the barrel collar are also nicely done. There is a two part mounting behind the mantlet that traps two poly caps which then hold the mantlet in place by the two support pins inserted through the turret sides as per the original and will allow the mantlet to be removed at any time. The 8.8cm barrel is split vertically and includes the muzzle brake with correct contours with the barrel halves which then fits into the gun collar which is part of the mantlet.

There is an issue where the barrel length is short by 2mm when compared to scaled down 1:35 plans in the Actung Panzer Tiger and Tank Power 13 Tiger Vol.1 but this can be rectified easily by not slipping the barrel all the way into the gun collar leaving the exposed barrel length of 59.6mm in 1:48 scale (give or take a fraction of a millimeter).

Included is a full bonus Commander figure in typical Afrika Korps uniform designed to stand in the cupola with arm resting on the open hatch.

The decals are typical Tamiya with nice colour register but thickish carrier film and have markings for two Tiger Is.

Decal sheet

The Sprues
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Another nice rendition of an early Tiger I in with the peculiar features of the early Feb.1943 sPzAbt 501 Tigers captured well with the exception of the head light location but you have to watch the time period with some of the details. 

There are a few anomalies like the moulded on tools when some others tools are separate with most of the later Tamiya 1:48 kits having all the tools separate.

The kit will build nicely out of the box and as the original Tiger I has been around for a while there a quite a few details sets already available applicable to this kit such as the metal barrel from armorscale and etched sets from ABER, Hauler, Lion Roar and Voyager plus workable track sets from Lionmarc and WWII Productions to add more details.


Kit courtesy of my Credit Card and the excellent service from Rainbow Ten.

Page created May 31, 2006

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