Although it’s still my favorite German tank of World War Two (isn’t it everyone’s favorite?), aren’t our hobby shop shelves already brimming with 1/35 th scale Tiger I kits from every known manufacturer? Look again, and it may take careful examination before you realize that although this Tiger I has all the crisp detail of the separate on-board tools and photo-etched air intake screens we are used to seeing in 1/35th scale, this one is quarter scale! To this add the exquisitely-moulded zimmerit anti-magnetic coating, and you have a kit that rivals 1/35th scale Tigers.
Though not a new release, this kit and its early model variant (item # AF48002) have paved the way for a series of quarter-scale subjects to compete with Tamiya’s 1/48th scale collection. Continuing their strategy of offering value at an affordable price during these uncertain times, AFV Club’s new range of smaller kits are priced lower and offer better detail than their more-expensive Tamiya counter-parts. They also offer an affordable entry into the hobby for beginners. This quarter-scale collection will include, as well as the two Tiger I variants, a 38cm SturmTiger, as well as a range of 251 half-track variants –the first of which we’ve already seen:
Review: AFV Club’s 1/48th scale 251 Half-track, by Ted Hayward. (LINK)
Moulded in the now familiar AFV Club green, one is relieved to see this box contains far fewer sprues than the 1/35th scale Tiger I kit previously released from AFV Club. Assembly of the inter-leaving roadwheel suspension, always the tedious step of a Tiger build, is made easier and more enjoyable with the use of screws to attach the sprockets, wheels, and idler wheels. After which, the screw heads are concealed under the wheel hubs. The instructions, of the photo and locating arrow type, are definitely the weak point of this otherwise satisfying kit. Of course, anyone who has ever built a larger-scale Tiger shouldn’t need to refer to the instructions much, but beginners may find them unclear. A few features of the 1/35th scale AFV Club Tiger have been simplified in this smaller version: the turret/commander's cupola is moulded as a single piece, and the torsion bars are moulded as part of the lower hull tub. Happily, no detail is sacrificed as a result.
After finishing construction of the hull, I realized the fenders could stand to be sanded to a more realistic thickness. I also noticed only the well-detailed commander’s and loader’s hatches can be displayed open –the hull and turret escape hatches don’t have quite enough interior detail to do so. No aluminum barrel is included, as in some of the 1/35th scale kits, but I had no discernible seam after gluing the plastic barrel halves together. Weighty aluminum barrels always droop, anyways. I thought the anti-aircraft machine-gun with its PE ring sight and detailed mount is particularly nice in this kit.
The stand-out features of this kit, once one realizes the detail possible in this scale, are the well-defined weld beads and zimmerit finish. The zimmerit, in particular, is very well-done, looking realistic and human-applied. Nice additions to the two quarter-scale Tiger I kits are the separately-available ammunition (item #AF48005) and individual link sets (item #AF48003) from AVF Club.
Despite my aversion to vinyl tracks in general, the kit-supplied vinyl tracks are as good as from any manufacturer, being devoid of any flash. Soft and supple, they are designed to be joined with ordinary cement. They are in fact so soft, care must be taken not to melt the vinyl with excessive cement. For this reason, don’t be tempted to warm them with hot water, either! I used a couple of spring clips to hold the ends together while the cement dried. The tracks are easily cemented-down to the tops of the road wheels to attain realistic track-sag. They have exceptional detail and when weathered, are almost indistinguishable from individual track links.
Decals are included to portray one of five different vehicles: 2 for the Normandy front, 2 for the Russian front, and 1 for Italy. One has to be extremely careful positioning the decals and they will need multiple coats of Micro-Sol to get them to snug-down to the rough, zimmerit-coated surface.
The finished Tiger measures-up well to references and is relative in scale to its bigger brother from AFV Club. It very nicely complements my 1/48th scale Tamiya collection already on the shelf. True, it lacks the die-cast hull of the Tamiya kit, but I've never understood the point of that feature. The only ejector-pin marks I noticed are located on the inside of hatches, and other areas that won't show. Overall, there was virtually no flash to be removed. I spent about a total of 19 hours building and painting the Tiger –a very enjoyable weekend indeed. Sometimes one doesn’t feel inclined to spend months on a complex 1/35th scale kit. For the weekend warrior, this new range of quarter-scale gems from AFV Club I can recommend for beginners and experienced builders alike. This little Tiger growls!
Germany's Tiger Tanks D.W. to Tiger I: Design, Production & Modifications
by Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary L. Doyle .
Germany's Tiger Tanks: VK45.02 to TIGER II Design, Production & Modifications
(Schiffer Military History)
by Hilary L. Doyle and Thomas L. Jentz