AFV Club
Tiger I
Panzerkampfwagen VI
Sd.Kfz.181 Ausf.E (Latest Model)

AFV Club Kit No. AF 35079
Review by Terry Ashley

AFV Club follows Dragon closely with the release of this new generation state of the art Tiger I with the Dragon kit being one of the first Tigers produced and this from AFV Club being one of the last so for that reason I won’t worry about any comparisons until Dragon release their own late model Tiger I later in the year and just examine the AFV Club kit contents.

The kit as with many these days is multi-media with 226 parts in olive green plastic, 5 etched parts, a metal gun barrel, two springs for the rear idlers, poly caps for the wheels and soft vinyl full length tracks as well as the decal and instructions sheets.

The quality of the plastic moulding is very good with crisp details and only very few pin parks, those that are present are fairly shallow and should be easy the deal with. There is also some minor flash on some of the larger parts but again this is easy to remove and all but a couple of parts were warp or blemish free.

Lower Hull/Suspension:
The lower hull tub includes the sides, front and bottoms of the sponsons with very good detail including the correct access panel details on the bottom hull and the distinctive flanges between the upper hull and sponsons but as with all Tiger I kits the round rivet heads are missing from the sponson flange due to the constraints of injected moulding process but are easy to add if you wish although after the wheels and side skirts are fitted this area is all but hidden.

The front towing shackles are the correct shape for the late Tiger and the tow eyes front and rear are the later round profile types.
There are some nice weld seams around the front panels and hull sides, while at the rear the track pin retaining plate is moulded integrally with the hull but again this is almost hidden when the wheels and track are in place.

The final drives have very good details and fit snugly into place but both are not the same with small differences for the offset torsion bars so watch the part numbers when fitting. There are also separate bolted panels for the insides of the final drive hull extensions while the suspension consists of separate torsion bars designed to operate as per the original. The first and last torsion bars rest against the hull bump stops to ensure the model sits at the right height while the others move quite freely and it will be easy to simulate going over rough ground.

The rear idler mounting has an internal fitting and spring designed the tension the idler with the spring pulling it towards the rear and the idler axle itself being held in place with a poly cap while the idler wheel is the correct later 600mm type.
I have my doubts about this system as the spring is stretched to twice its length and holds the idler tightly at an angle facing the rear and not the usual neutral down position. The strength of the spring is such that I simply can’t see any individual link track run staying together with the pressure needed to move the idler and with the full length vinyl track it will be stretched like a rubber band long before it moves the idler.
The poly cap on its own holds the idler quite firmly and I think this will be enough to alter the position of the idler if using an individual link track set or even the vinyl track as this won’t be stretched tight in any case to allow for the sag.

The drive sprockets have the later features of flat hub with small plates holding the bolts in place but the sprocket ribs have a concave profile instead of the slight convex profile of the actual ribs but do include the rim bolt head detail on both sides of the inner and outer sprocket with a poly cap being trapped between the two for easy fitting the front axle.

AFV ClubThe road wheels again have very good crisp details and feature the early bolt head arrangement around the hub with the later arrangement having evenly spaced bolts.
Each set of road wheels has a small vinyl ring trapped between them for fitting to the axles but these act differently from the “normal” poly cap with the round profile tending to grip the axle firmly and it’s difficult to get the wheels off once in place so it may be best not to fit these until ready for final placement.
The instructions show the sequence of lowering the axles to fit each road wheel assembly in turn and by following this there shouldn’t be any problems.

The rear hull panel is a separate part that fits very well to the main hull tub and has the correct layout of tools etc. for the late version and also has the correct exhaust arrangement with the top flap being replaced with top guard on pins and also has separate lower armoured covers and the soft metal guards in plastic. These guards actually sit on small hull spacers similar to the side skirts and not flush with the hull panel as per the kit but this is easy to remedy by adding small section of plastic card for the spacer which are about 1mm thick under each securing bolt on the guards.
The rear convoy light strangely is moulded with the rear hull panel and as such lacks a bit of detail

The jack is in five parts with separate mounting clips while the correct style rear fenders have good detail on the top but are a little on the thick side and could do with some thinning if not replaced with etched items.

Upper Hull:
AFV ClubThe main hull again has excellent surface details with nice weld seams and the correct tool layout for the late version and has separate front crew hatches, front ventilator cover and rear engine bay door. The hull includes the large circular turret splash plate fitted to the late Tigers but recent research has shown the bolt head arrangement is actually different from that on the kit part but as the AFV Club part matches the drawings in the MMIR Tiger Special they (AFV Club) weren’t the first to make this error and it should be easy to fill the bolt holes not required.

All the tools and other equipment are separate parts with the tool clips moulded with the tools and could do with being replaced with etched clips for better appearance as with most kit tools and the moulded tow cables for the upper and side hull panels have nice cable texture and also have the securing clips moulded in place.

The two crew hatches are nicely detailed with separate outer periscope cover and inside a separate periscope, hatch locking lever and hinge details but there are a couple of shallow pin marks that should be easy enough to deal with. There are also hinge attachments for the inside of the hull as the hatches are designed to be open or closed after assembly if you wish.

The rear engine deck is especially well done with correct pattern grills and texturing on the central rear section with the engine bay door as a separate part.
The door has separate central cap minus the star knob which is correct for this version and separate cover for the forward intake with the fit of the door to deck being spot on. Also included are basic etched engine grills which have a flat profile without the weaved effect but are passable if you don’t want to buy additional screens.

The hull side panels have the mountings for the side fenders and also include the small square weld seam on the rear lower corner which is hidden when the fenders are in place but it shows the attention to detail that this is included, while the weld seams at the front are also well represented. The fenders have good outer details but could do with being thinned down a little on the inside for a better appearance.

The front hull plate is a separate part that has the driver’s visor moulded integrally in the open position as well as the MG ball mounting with full MG fitted inside the hull and a separate centrally mounted BOSCH light which is in two parts with separate base and all that is needed is the wiring added.

The front glacis is a separate part that includes the side fender extensions fixed in place and again could do with thinning for a better appearance while the armoured fillet in front of the driver’s visor is also a separate part with the correct screw head detail on the top.

The fit of all the main hull components is very good without any gaps apparent during test fitting but much of the excellent weld seam details on the hull front and sides will be covered up when the Zimmerit coating is applied and all the hull surfaces are smooth without any texturing presuming they will be covered with Zimmerit which you have to add using the method you best prefer but AFV Club have also just released a Zimmerit application tool specifically for this job and the instructions show this tool being used to apply the Zimmerit which looks quite straightforward.

The Turret:
AFV ClubThe turret is made up of four parts, two side wall halves, the lower turret ring and roof and the turret sides have a subtle texturing effect not included of other surfaces but this will be covered by Zimmerit in any case as will the nice weld seams at the front of the side panels.

The roof has the correct layout for the late 40mm thick roof with the step up between the sidewalls and the roof but the turret sidewalls are a little thick and you will need to add weld seams around the top edges which will help reduce the thick appearance.
Details on the turret roof include the later Tiger II type Loader’s hatch, rain slits in the top of the cupola which also has open periscopes as well as the top MG ring with MG support and a nicely detail MG plus the additional periscope in front of the Loader’s hatch which has a separate periscope for the inside and the armoured cover for the outside. Also included are the three mounting points for the 2 ton crane jib fitted to later Tigers.

The Loader’s hatch has nice details on the inside with the two grab handles and central locking wheel but there are also a couple of shallow pin marks to be removed while the outer grab handle is correctly offset for hatches on the 40mm roof. The ventilator has a separate cover as well as a separate close in weapons position on the rear corner and the Commander’s hatch has a separate grab handle and can be fixed open or closed as it is the later swinging type.

The turret roof doesn’t have the weld seam across the centre which is correct for the later 40m roof but also the eight flush screw heads for the internal travel lock are not present.

Fitting the turret parts together provided a freight as the two side walls didn’t fit to the lower turret ring initially as the contours were off, but they did pull back into alignment when glued in place, it’s probably best to glue the front of the turret walls first and let dry before gluing the rear sections so they pull into place easier but remember to trap the mantlet between the two side walls as you can’t fit this later if you want the gun to elevate and the turret roof fitted okay once the sidewalls were glued in place.

The main gun is in turned aluminium with plastic muzzle brake and here you get the choice of a traditional two part brake split diagonally or two new multi-part muzzle brakes using slide mould technology to produce parts with only a minor mould seams to be removed and very good detail. They include the inner ring which it seems any self respecting German muzzle brake has these days and assemble easily into a nice looking early or later muzzle brake.
On the inside there is a fairly complete gun assembly with separate breech block and guard rails and the metal barrel slips into a cut-out slot in the rear mantlet part A11 and you then slip the barrel through the main mantlet. Just remember not to fit the muzzle brake before assembling the gun/mantlet as the gun won’t fit in place with the muzzle brake fitted.

AFV ClubThe 88mm gun itself when compared to available plans measured out exactly right lengthwise and in thickness and about the only thing missing is the two small screw heads on the sides of the gun collar while the mantlet has the late features of single telescope sight opening and a full co-ax MG that fits next to the gun but of course you will need to drill out the MG barrel for a better appearance. Update 13 March 2005: I have checked the barrel length against another set of plans from the AJ Press Tiger books and these show the AFV Club barrel length from the collar midway down the barrel to the muzzle brake to be 3mm short. This highlights another issue when comparing kits to plans, there is no guarantee the plans themselves are correct and about the only ones you can trust are actual blueprints or measurements from the real thing. The recent ABER metal barrels for the Tigers also have this extra length as do the Dragon kit barrels (Tiger (P) and Tiger I Initial Production) and it would appear these are the correct length while the AFV Club and Tamiya barrels are short.

The rear escape hatch is the correct shape for the later type with only two securing screws at the bottom and no bevelling of the door edges but the fit to the turret wasn’t good with sizable gaps around the edges that will require a bit or work for the hatch to fit properly.

A two part rear storage box which has nice top door and latch details is fitted to the rear of the turret and there are additional spare track links and mounting brackets for the turret sides to complete the assembly.

The tracks included are continuous length in glueable soft vinyl but while the details are quite good for the medium they are lacking by today’s standards with very little gap between the links and no holes in the guide teeth.
You will also need to glue the tracks to the road wheels to achieve a natural sag but due to the softer material they will sag to some extent. Overall the tracks are passable but many will want to replace these individual link tracks for a better appearance.

The sheet is well printed and has markings for five Tigers all in the three colour Dark Yellow, Red Brown and Green scheme finished in different patterns;

Decal Sheet
Yes, there is white markings on the sheet
AFV Club
Flexible vinyl track
AFV Club

Another excellent kit from AFV Club which captures the features of the later production Tigers very well with the late type Loader’s hatch which if I’m not mistaken is the first “late” Tiger I kit to include this and also the rear engine deck and tool placement layout and the 40mm turret roof with step up from the turret sides which are all correct for the later type.
There are a couple of areas that require attention as with any kit and probably the biggest letdown is with the tracks but the option of moving suspension and the new muzzle brakes are nice additions.

Overall this will build into an excellent model of a Late Tiger I but it remains to be seen what Dragon offer when they release their Late Tiger and as mentioned when that kit is available a full comparison review will be done to highlight the features of both.

Highly recommended.

The Sprues:

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References: Tristar ShopThanks to C.K.Pat from Tristar Shop or the review kit.

Page Created 23 February 2005
Updated 13 March 2005

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