AFV ClubItaleriTamiya
38cm Assault Mortar SturmTiger
1:35 Kit Comparison
AFV ClubKit #AF 35103ItaleriKit #299TamiyaKit #35177
Review by Terry Ashley

AFV Club
With the release of the new Strumtiger from AFV Club (kit #AF 35103) we now have three 1:35 kits available with the Italeri kit (#299) that came out in 1997 and the earlier Tamiya kit (#35177) from 1994 and the question is how does the new kit stack up against the others, so that is just what we’ll look at in this comparison review.

All three kits measure up well against available data with any discrepancies well within acceptable tolerances and all feature the all steel road wheels with later style drive sprocket as they should with all but the prototype Sturmtiger having the steel wheels.

The AFV Club kit has the later 600mm idler while the other two have the earlier 700mm idler wheels with the AFV Club having the earlier track without ice cleats while the other two have the later track with ice cleats and this means you will have to check references regarding this combination of features (idler/Track) for the model you are building.

All three also have the later style hull machine gun ball mounting and later style mortar mantlet and rear engine deck features although the AFV Club kit offers alternate early style machine gun mounting and engine deck central panel but again you should check references before using these with the other options in the kit.

The standard of moulding in the kits is generally good with clean crisp details in the AFV Club and Tamiya kits with just the usual minor mould seams to contend with and the odd bit of flash but the Italeri kit has notably “softer” details and some quite substantial mould seams to be removed which further compromises the detail on some parts.  There are some minor pin marks about the place on all kits but again these are more pronounced on the Italeri kit and the fit of parts is again generally good with some minor trimming needed here and there more so with the Italeri parts.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time describing the kits in detail but leave the images to do the talking as it is clear that the new AFV Club kit is a generational leap ahead of the other two with better defined and presented detail in nearly all areas especially the rear engine deck, suspension, superstructure with the engineering of the front plate and the mortar with etched rifling.

The Bosch head light is a barometer of the detail level in the kits.
AFV Club with finer detail definition, Italeri with basic soft details and Tamiya adequate but missing
the finer details such as the small bolts around the light cover and small clip on back of light.

AFV ClubItaleriTamiya

For a more detailed look at the AFV Club kit refer to the full review here.

The most notable difference first up is the new AFV Club kit does not include any interior while the other two have the main internal structures of floor, loading dolly and large side ammo racks as well as four 38cm rocket projectiles but if you are not concerned with interior detail this is of academic interest and the Italeri kit also includes moulded on zimmerit finish while the other two require you to add this yourself. While it saves a little time to have the zimmerit applied the finish is fairly uniform with the vertical lines being perfectly straight lacking the variety and texture of hand applied zimmerit.

Lower Hull:
SturmtigerThe AFV Club hull tub includes full torsion bars for the axles and excellent details on the hull including weld seams along the lower edge and has better definition that the other hulls such as the final drive housings and bolted panel on the inside of the final drives.

The Italeri hull has very basic details for the axle locations and separate hull sections front and back which are a little tricky to fit plus some pin marks on the extensions to be removed. The separate axle stub profile is also square where it should be more rounded at the edges as with the other two kit axles.

Detail on the Tamiya hull is similar to the AFV Club but only has the upper flange on the hull side and not on the sponson bottom and includes the axles are separates tubs only

The upper hull sides are separate parts on the AFV Club and Italeri kits while moulded with the hull tub on the Tamiya kit with the Italeri kit also having zimmerit applied with all including the conical bolt heads.

Running Gear:
SturmtigerAll kits have the late style drive sprockets and steel road wheels with well defined details on the AFV Club and Tamiya kits but the detail on the Italeri parts is soft and the wheel hub bolt heads undersized as well as the retaining strip between the wheel rim bolts is curved instead of straight as they should be.

All kits have the bolt heads on both sides of the drive sprockets but the teeth on the Italeri sprockets have a square profile and should be more rounded as with the other two.

The AFV Club kit has the 600mm idler wheel while the Italeri and Tamiya kits have the earlier 700mm idler and you should check which is applicable to the model you are building.

The AFV Club kit has full length vinyl track without ice cleats and has quite nice details for this medium while the Italeri kit has plastic link and length track with the later ice cleat track and the Tamiya kit has individual link ice cleat track.

AFV Club Flexible vinyl track without ice cleats
AFV Club
Italeri link and length plastic track with ice cleats
Tamiya individual link plastic track with ice cleats

Rear Hull and Glacis:
SturmtigerThe rear hull plate is separate on all kits with the Italeri panel including zimmerit coating with all other parts separate such as the fenders, late covered exhausts with open exhaust tops as they should be.

The lower armoured exhaust covers are nicely depicted in each with the Italeri covers including a rough cast effect as well as the sheet metal covers basically the same in each kit.

The jack in the AFV Club kit is in multi-parts with separate brackets and clips for a more refined look and generally the details are crisper on the AFV Club and Tamiya kits than on the Italeri kit.

The glacis plate is also a separate part on each kit with the large splash guard included as well as zimmerit on the Italeri part. The side fenders are also separate with the hinge detail being better defined on the AFV Club parts and the separate Bosch head light is also better detailed in the AFV Club kit and again is quite basic in the Italeri kit.

Engine Deck:
SturmtigerThis is one area where the AFV Club kit stands out as the engine deck has the separate inner frame with all the hatches and grills as separate parts along with separate water and fuel filler caps and etched grill screens included for good measure.

The Italeri and Tamiya kits have the engine deck as one part with separate engine access hatch and rear centre panel with the Italeri kit. This central panel is the later type on all kits with the AFV Club kit also including the earlier type for choice.

The fit of the Italeri panels is a little loose and some trial fitting will be needed and the Italeri kit also includes an inner tub with basic engine block but the details are very simplified and would been some work if you wanted to expose this.

One thing to note with the AFV Club parts is they do need care when removing from the sprues especially the internal deck frame but it is perfectly doable as the images show with the overall level of detail being more defined than on the other two kits.

SturmtigerAll three kits have the superstructure moulded in one piece with the AFV Club kit having a separate roof, the Italeri kit includes the roof but with a separate rear panel and the Tamiya kit has the lot in the one piece.

The rendering of the large welded panel joins is more refined on the AFV Club kit but still okay on the others with all showing the correct indented welds.

The side pistol port plug is a fully shaped part and the hole opened in the AFV Club kit while the Italeri and Tamiya kits simply have the outer face of the plug separate and given these kit include interiors this is a strange option.

The lower conical bolts are separate parts with the Italeri and Tamiya kits that will need care in fitting while they are included in the AFV Club kit moulding but still have good defintion.

The big different here is engineering of the front plate to give the correct thickness of the panel at the exposed lower edges with the Italeri and Tamiya kits simply moulding this as a thicker panel but is not thick enough in the final appearance.

AFV Club handle this by providing three panels that are sandwiched together to give a more correct scale appearance to the exposed sections of the panel as well as simulating the bullet splash ridges inside the bottom of the front sight aperture, but the ridges should also be on the inner sides of the aperture if you want to get picky.

A separate inside part is provided on the Italeri kit to represent the ridges but again only on the bottom but the Tamiya kit doesn’t include these aperture ridges at all.

Both the AFV Club and Italeri kits also include the welded “box” around the sight aperture which is again missing from the Tamiya kit.

The AFV Club kit includes both early and late style machine gun ball mounting with the full MG34 with later armoured barrel cover while the Italeri kit has the later style mounting with a full MG34 but this has the original perforated barrel which is not correct for the Sturmtiger. The Tamiya kit also has the later machine gun mounting with just the MG34 outer barrel fixed in place and all three have separate driver’s vision port and cover although none provide visor “glass” with the AFV Club and Tamiya kits having the late style visor while the Italeri kit has the early style with bracket between the two visor sections.

SturmtigerOn the roof are separate shell loading hatches on all three kits with weld seams included plus the bomb thrower on the smaller rear hatch which on the Italeri and Tamiya kits is just the inner section with closed outer cover while the AFV Club kit has the inner section in two parts with a choice of open or closed outer cover.

The Commander’s periscope housing and forward ventilator are moulded with the roof in the Italeri and Tamiya kits but are all separate parts with the AFV Club kit, the Commander’s periscope housing being made up of 7 parts for excellent definition and also allowing the periscope flaps to be shown open if you wanted to add scissor periscopes.

The rear escape hatch is a multi-part assembly on all kits with the inner section of the door a separate part but the hinges and lock are separate on the AFV Club door for better definition with all having separate lifting hooks on the four superstructure corners and also the equipment hooks along the sides are also separate on all three kits.

At the back is the shell lifting crane with the breakdown in parts very similar in the Italeri and Tamiya kits but again are far more detailed in the AFV Club kit with upper crane arm in two separate parts with the pulleys separate to allow them to move after assembly and the lower crane post attachment bracket is six parts on the AFV Club kit but just two simple parts in the other two kits. There is also an etched shell sling and twine for the crane cable in the AFV Club kit but no actual 38cm rockets while you get four rockets in both the Italeri and Tamiya kits although the gas holes on the base plate are wrong on the Italeri parts.

Overall the level of detail on AFV Club parts is notable better that the others but the multi-part assemblies will require a bit more effort and care during assembly.

38cm Mortar:
SturmtigerThe mortar is broken down in similar fashion in each kit with the inner barrel enclosed in an outer ball mounting allowing small movement of the assembly with the AFV Club kit having a more elaborate setup for the ball mounting which basically arrives at the same destination.

The outer barrel and mantlet is also a similar design on all kits with the AFV Club barrel having the counter weight brackets included while they are separate on the Italeri and Tamiya barrels although this does mean a sizable mould seam to be removed from the sides of the AFV Club barrel.

There is also cast texture included on the Italeri and Tamiya mantlet while the AFV Club mantlet is smooth and the gas holes are included around the muzzle with the AFV Club and Tamiya muzzles having the correct 31 gas holes while the Italeri kit has only 30 gas holes.
There is a minor issue with the AFV Club muzzle in that the gas holes are located a little to close to the inside and not located centrally but after the etched rifling is added is not as noticeable.

Added to the AFV Club barrel is the inner etched rifling that does give a good impression once fitted with the etched part extending right back to the inner breech.

All three kits have the inner breech as a multi-part assembly with the breech block on the AFV Club and Tamiya kit able to be shown open or closed but is fixed open on the Italeri kit.

Separate counter wrights are provided is each kit with the early and late styles in the AFV Club kit with the later type in the Italeri kit and early type in the Tamiya kit.

SturmtigerOnly the Italeri and Tamiya kits include an interior which are basically broken down the same with the large floor plate including the transmission cover and front seats and steering wheel and the raised rear floor with tread plate pattern included.

The large ammo storage racks are provided for both sides and the shell loading dolly as well as the rear compartment bulkhead and as mentioned four 38cm rocket rounds to add if you wish.

As mentioned overall the level of detail in the AFV Club kit is a generational leap over the other kits in terms of definition and finesse but you will need to use some modelling skills and due care with the finer parts such as the engine deck frame and some of the smallest wing nuts you will find in plastic.

All kits have some detail features that differ from vehicle to vehicle and referring to references will determine what goes with what if you want to be truly accurate.

The earlier Italeri and Tamiya kits will still build into respectable models of the Sturmtiger and do provide the interior and if you have either of these kits you can “borrow” this to add to the AFV Club kit if you wish.

There are already a number of aftermarket update sets available for the Italeri and Tamiya Sturmtiger kits which could be used with the AFV Club kit but no doubt there will be specific updates released for the kit.


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.

Page Created November 6, 2006

Click Browsers BACK button to return to list
Home / Reviews / Vehicle Reviews / Sturmtiger Comparison Review