AFV Club
38cm RW61 auf Sturmmörser Tiger
AFV Club Kit #AF 35103
Review by Terry Ashley

AFV Club
When this kit was first announced some asked was it necessary given the Tamiya kit which came out in 1994 but is still considered quite respectable and there is also the Italeri kit for further choice but when looking at the advances in model making technology in the intervening 12 years the answer is obvious.

I have to make a confession before proceeding in that the Sturmtiger is one of my favourite vehicles and certainly so out of all the Tiger versions produced and I have dedicated many a long hour attempting to get a result from the big Verlinden 1:15 kit, but that is another ongoing story.

The Sturmtiger has always had a certain mystique about it with many stories emerging about its capabilities when first encountered and thankfully out of the 18 produced there are two examples surviving today, an early production model at Kubinka in Russia and a later production model now housed at Munster in Germany.

The kit best represents the later model at Munster with the 600mm idler wheel, later barrel with 31 gas holes (take note that some publications say there are 32 or 30 gas holes in the muzzle but there are actually 31 in the later barrel) as well as the later driver’s visor and revised glacis machine gun housing with the tracks without ice cleats. Some of the early features found on the Kubinka vehicle are included in the kit such as the front hull bolted armour panel, the early glacis machine gun housing and revised barrel counter weight but some other early vehicles had the 700mm idler and different shape mantlet which are not included while others had the later tracks with ice cleats which are also not included in the kit.

The Kit:
The kit consists of 379 parts in olive drab plastic with 11 etched parts, a couple of springs for the idlers, 20 small vinyl poly caps and a set full length of vinyl tracks plus the instruction sheet, there is no decal sheet as no markings were seen on serving Sturmtigers that I am aware of but captured and preserved vehicles have balkenkreuz added in various places.

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Parts of the kit as expected is from the previous late model Tiger Is (kits #AF35075 and AF35S27) including the lower hull and entire suspension with steel road wheels and later 600mm idler wheel with new parts for the superstructure, mortar and engine deck.

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 there are many very small and delicate parts that will require extreme care when removing from the sprues and during assembly. This is especially true of the engine deck parts and some of the smaller parts which we will get to shortly.

Surface detail and texturing is excellent with well defined weld seams on the hull and especially on the new superstructure plate joins as well as very subtle cast surface texturing on the superstructure sides that will come up nicely when weathered.

The kit does not come with any moulded on zimmerit and you will have to add this yourself with the instructions showing to use the AFV Club Zimmerit Applicator tool (set #AC35003) for the job.

Dimensionally it conforms very well to the 1:35 plans in the references listed below and any discrepancies are well within acceptable tolerances.

Lower Hull/Suspension:
As mentioned this is from the previous Tiger I kits and 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.

On the lower front plate is the additional bolted armour panel fitted to early Sturmtigers but given the main features of the kit adding zimmerit for later vehicles would be more appropriate.

The front towing shackles have the curved shape from the late Tigers but numerous photos of Sturmtigers including those at Kubinka and Munster have the earlier straight tow shackle mountings and you should check the vehicle you are building for the appropriate shaped towing shackles. The tow eyes front and rear are the later round profile types and there are additional small tow eyes on the front mountings sometimes seen on later Sturmtigers.
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 later 600mm type.
I have my doubts about this system as the spring is stretched to twice its length and holds the idler 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 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.

The 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.

The outer side panels have detail on both sides, on the outside are the fender attachments and the steel cable locating points while along the top edge are the six large conical bolts that hold the superstructure on place. New full length side fenders are provided with a cut-out at the front for the bolted flange at the front overlapping lower hull/superstructure join.

On the inside of the side panels are moulded on flanges for the 38cm rocket racks should you want to add an interior and at the front is a new glacis with the full width large bullet splash guards plus the Bosch headlight and new fender extensions for the sides applicable to the Sturmtiger as well as the inner bulkhead across the front of the fighting compartment.

These are in the form of full length vinyl tracks without ice cleats as fitted to the Munster Sturmtiger and have very good details for this medium track, of course you may wish to replace these with individual link track and you should check references as some Sturmtigers used this earlier track while others used the later type with ice cleats.

Flexible vinyl track
AFV Club

Engine Deck:
This is completely new for this kit and is very detailed and quite complex with the main engine deck frame a separate part with the intake grills and central engine bay hatch also separate parts with the side grills designed with the rear one hinged with additional inner grills for good detail if shown open.

Other detail such as the fuel and water filler caps, air intake cover and grab handles are also separate parts with a choice of early or late rear centre section with very nice cast texture and a separate snorkel cover and other smaller deck fittings along with some of the smallest wing nuts in plastic you will see that will test your eyesight and dexterity when removing from the sprues and fitting.

Another area that may cause some issues is removing the large engine deck frame from the sprues as there are parts moulded inside the frames and some quite huge sprue attachments to be removed with extreme care.

The most troublesome will be the rear edge of the frame which is only about 1mm thick but the sprue attachment runs nearly the full length of this to ensure it remains undamaged on the sprue. Removing this will be an exercise in itself without damaging the part and working slowly with a very sharp blade would be advised, just don’t try and cut too much plastic away at one time or put any pressure on the frame or it will break.

Cleaning up this frame took me nearly half an hour with just one break in the frame (easily repaired) but this and some other of the smaller parts will test your skills even before starting on the kit proper but I guess this is trade off for the excellent finesse and detail on the parts.

Fitting the engine deck frame to the hull will require the removal of the locating ridge inside the rear plate designed to sit the intake grills on, as this is from the original Tiger I kit this ridge is positioned to accept the upper deck with the grills included with that kit. When you fit the engine deck frame with this kit it means the rear of the intake grills sit too high by the thickness of the frame but removing the locating ridges will remedy this. I also added back a small piece of plastic strip to support the frame at the correct height.

The fit of the frame, grills and engine bay door was very good from then on without any trimming required and the bay is just waiting for an aftermarket engine and also included is a set of etched brass grill mesh to add that final touch.

The main superstructure is moulded in one piece with just a separate roof panel, real escape hatch and cut-outs in the front plate for the mortar, hull machine gun and vision ports and as is quite an impressive part with excellent weld seams and surface texture included.

The front wall of the superstructure is quite ingenious as it is made up of three plates, the outer plate with the superstructure and two inner plates, the middle one with the cut-outs as per the front plate and then the inner most plate with the mortar mounting bracket and other details. The result of this plate sandwiching is the thickness of the plate is represented well at the bottom front where it overlaps the front plate and also forms the bullet splash ridges inside the left side vision port, which is quite impressive.

You will have to smooth out and eliminate the join lines at the lower edge but other than that the superstructure fits very well to the lower hull again without the need for any trimming.

You are provided with alternate machine gun ball mountings for the early and late type and the full hull MG34 is held in place with an inner ball which allows the MG to move in its mounting and the driver’s vision port has the inner visor and separate top cover but there is no actual visor “glass” but ample room behind the visor to add it from plastic card if you whish. There is a small mould seam around the opening of the later MG coaming which is easy to remove and you should cut the top sight from the MG34 to allow this to sit at the neutral angle in the mount and a small amount had to be trimmed from the inside the mounting for the ball to fit neatly and test fitting will determine what is needed if any? I also replaced the kit MG34 barrel with the metal barrel from Adlers Nest for a better look but just drilling out the kit barrel would suffice.

Along the sides are the corner mounted lifting hooks which include weld seams and separate pistol ports as well as the three upper brackets while on the rear plate is a two part escape hatch with separate hinge that allows the hatch to open or close after assembly with the hatch having a separate grab handle and small lock fitting.
The shell crane base made up of six parts as well as the aerial mount and smaller brackets are also located on the rear wall.

The separate roof has weld seams around the edges and around the Commander’s periscope and ventilator cone with cut-outs for the shell loading hatches and the ventilators and Commander’s periscope. On the inside of the roof are indentations for the

The two part shell loading hatches have separate grab handles and smaller fittings including the grenade launcher on the rear hatch which has the inner launcher hollowed out plus alternate outer cover, one closed and one open for a nice choice.

The large ventilator dome at the front right corner has a separate inner cover for a nice open look with all the parts fitting nicely to the roof but the roof itself will need some minor trimming at the edges to fit inside the superstructure opening and test fitting will determine what is needed which is only minor.  

The rear mounted shell crane is made up of 11 plastic and one etched part for the shell sling with the thin twine provided for the cable for a very detailed yet delicate assembly.

38cm Mortar:
The main mortar is a whole assembly unto itself with the inner barrel and large ball mounting made up of five parts which allows it to traverse a little like the real thing with a nicely detailed inner breech made up of another 16 parts which allows the breech block to open or close.

The outer barrel and mantlet is in one piece and represents to mantlet type seen on the Munster Sturmtiger but the one at Kubinka has the earlier mantlet without the lower contours. The barrel has the correct 31 gas holes around the muzzle and not the 30 or 32 as mentioned in a couple of references. The only minor issue is the gas holes are located a little to close to the centre around the muzzle but this is less noticable after the etched rifling is added.

The contour at the bottom of the mantlet is not quite correct and it should be slightly sharper and bevelled at an angle from the lowest point, but this would be easy add with light shaving and flame cut texture could also be added around the edges of the mantlet for a better look.

Also included a sheet of etched rifling to add the inside which has the correct 9 rifling bands and this really adds a nice touch to this very noticeable area of the kit.

It is best to anneal this through a candle flame before bending as you have to bend on an angle to the engrave rifling bands and there is a tendency to follow these as you bend making this a little more tricky than first thought.

Included at the muzzle is the two large brackets top and bottom and the two smaller side brackets but there is also a large moulding seam down each side that will need a bit of work to eliminate and there are also two types of counter weights included with the circular version as on the Munster Sturmtiger and larger shaped counter weight as per the Kubinka Sturmtiger and you should check your references on which to use if any?”

The assembled mortar ball mounting and breech is slipped through the superstructure opening and held in place by the nicely contoured retaining collar and the gun/mantlet is then added to the end of the barrel which will elevate in the mounting after assembly. There were no issues fitting the mortar assembly to the front plate with everything fitting snugly and you can see right down the barrel through the breech if open which really shows off the etched rifling.

There are no 38cm rockets included in the kit and you will have to source these elsewhere to arm the vehicle.

These are the usual exploded view drawings and are easy to follow but as with any instructions you show study the sequences before gluing.
As mentioned there are no markings included but there are two four view illustrations showing variations of the ambush scheme applied to most Sturmtigers.

Main superstructure and mortar parts assembled.
AFV Club

This is a superb rendition of later Sturmtiger and is clearly a generational leap above the other kits available with very well defined details such as the weld seams and surface texture on the superstructure to the extremely detailed engine deck and mortar.

The fit of the parts is very good overall with only minor trimming needed here and there but a consequence of the fine and intricate details is the care needed when removing some of the parts from the sprues and handling the finer parts as it is easy to damage some such as the engine deck frame.

This kit is certainly not a shake and bake and I would also suggest it may be for experienced modeller only due to the many finer parts and you do have to add your own zimmerit but personally I prefer this to get away from the “every kit looks the same” syndrome with moulded on zimmerit.

Highly recommended.

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
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Detail Images
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Tiger I and Sturmtiger in Detail
Culver & Feist
Ryton Publications

Detailed photo coverage of the Sturmtiger

book Panzerkampfwagen Tiger
Actung Panzer No.6
book Sturmtiger
Kagero Photosniper 10

Krzysztof Mucha, George Parada. Kagero Press
ISBN 83-914824-4-8
AJ Press

Tank Power 16
Tiger I (Vol.4) and Sturmtiger.

AJ Press
ISBN: 83-7237-127-X

Extensive coverage of the Sturmtiger with history, photos and 1:35 plans

Available from AirConnection Canada.


Elefant - Jagdtiger - Sturmtiger
Schiffer Military History Vol.18
ISBN: 0-88740-239-9

Good general reference for the Sturmtiger.
Most photos also in the Ryton book.


Modeler's Guide to the Tiger Tank
A complete and comprehensive guide to modelling the Tiger I and Tiger II in 1:35th scale

Military Miniatures in Review.
Ampersand Publishing.

Usefull for hull and suspension details as used on the Sturmtiger.

Thanks to my credit card and the excellent service fromRainbow Tenfor the review kit.

Page created October 24, 2006