38cm RW61 Sturmmorser Tiger Tank
For a First Look review on this kit, check out the following link: http://www.amps-armor.org/SiteReviews/ShowReview.aspx?id=14474
Instructions: Italeri's instructions don't appear to have changed much since the 1970s, and are the typical line drawing modelers are accustomed to working from. Since there are much fewer parts than some of the newer offerings from various manufactures, they are free from multiple and complicated sub-assemblies, with the build being completed in 16 steps. Italeri has added a very nice color profile for various paint schemes with color call outs for Italeri brand paints on the last panel of the instruction sheet.
Steps 1 - 3 --Lower hull, road wheel arms, road wheels
The modeler is directed to add the front nose portion of the lower hull where the modeler will eventually attach drive sprockets on either side. The fit was good, but I added some white putty on the small seam where they join just in case it's slightly visible at the priming/painting stage. Rear hull plate was a perfect fit with no filling required. Adding these two parts completes the basic lower hull tub.
Lower hull/Interior: Construction begins with the interior which, while lacking details like wiring, gearbox and similar items, does provide a very good basis to start from if one is looking to add aftermarket items or scratchbuild some missing details.
A little help from the "clamp brothers" to keep things lined up.
With the rear bulkhead, rearmost seat and ammo racks installed, the interior is now complete . Good fit overall, though the detail is a bit soft on the ammo rack arms. The floor has nice grid detail and the seats have some molded in slight creases.
Road wheels, well they are road wheels and cleaning them up is sort of boring for some, but at least they contain some nice surface detail. Some light sanding is necessary to remove a thin seam line going around the rubber tire surface, but that's to be expected in most kits.
Steps 4 - 6 -- Mounting tracks (One Piece or Link and Length)
Here the instructions call out for mounting the tracks, but for this build I did a few things out of sequence and added them near the end. Italeri does provide both a set of link and length tracks and a pair of single runs tracks as well. While the link and length tracks are nice, detailed and allow for more control over how they lay on the road wheels, I wanted to try the single length runs to see if and how they fit and try my hand at weathering them. Visions of kit tracks from the 70s came to mind where nothing would stick to the surface and it was even harder to join the ends, even with CA glue. Their molding of the one piece track runs however, were quite good despite having a few nasty knockout marks on the inside tracks. A close look at the track interior, one can see some of the knock out marks that had to be dealt with.
Steps 7 - 9 -- Interior floor, projectile racks, rear deck details, engine, rear deck engine hatch
This is pretty much the interior you get minus the extra shells Italeri provides to populate the racks. For the scratchbuilders, have faith; there a several very good references showing the Sturmtiger's interior if you planning on doing some 'interior decorating.' The few knock out marks were easily filled with the white putty and with a coat of primer and paint, are completely gone. All the parts in this review sample were cleanly molded and no flash anywhere.
Rear hull portion that holds the engine. This joined nicely against the rear most lower hull plate in this review sample.
Italeri provides a rather rudimentary engine that does have some nice detail. Scratchbuilders will always find a way to enhance this. Here I gave it a quick paint job since the engine hatch will probably remain closed., but Italeri has designed the parts to allow for the engine hatch to remain moveable.
Steps 10 - 11--Rear hull details, hull side mounted tools
Right rear portion showing the jack in storage mode. While the jack is not a multi-part build, it does have some nice detail and will look great painted and weathered. Here one can see the molded on zimmerit pattern. While it may not be up to the scrutiny of modelers knowledgeable of all thing zimmerit, I think beginner and intermediate modelers would give it a 'thumbs up.'
Here's a complete view of all the rear mounted tools in place and larger view of the molded on zimmerit. The molding on nearly all parts is sharp.
Right side just before adding the long crowbar(left) and side skirts.
Steps 12 - 13 -- Mortar assembly, machine gun placement
Italeri provides a nicely detailed mortar, even with a small parts count. The main gun breach is quite nice and if assembled per instructions, it can be made movable.
Steps 14 - 15 --Upper hull exterior details, projectile assembly
Italeri added molded in location points for a number of the external fittings (lifting hooks, track hangers, large bolts (6 each side)), and while nice, most needed to be removed before placing the item in place to to its larger size. But a few passes with a sanding stick and the parts were ready to be attached.
Exterior casemate details: Details are nicely molded, and the spare track hangers are not overly thick, but perhaps a brush or two with a sanding stick would improve its overall appearance and make it look a bit more in scale.
Italeri provides 4 shells, 2 with fuses and 2 without, but all needing assembly. The shells are all four part affairs, each with a base, projectile, and two part casing. The 2-part casing is split length-wise, like the old 2-part gun barrels, so some careful cleanup is necessary to make sure the modeler doesn't sand off too much creating a flat spot. I added a strip of styrene on the shell to the far left to replicate the collar used to hoist the shell to the casemate roof for loading.
Step 16 --Onboard crane for projectiles
Italeri provides a very nice, small parts count on-board crane that's mounted to the rear casemate wall.
Onboard crane and shells:
Italeri made it very easy to add solder to make the cable.
Shells went together well and it was much easier to get rid of the seams on the casings than I had thought. Each shell received 2 decals and went down well with a touch of Micro Sol and Micro Set.
Interior pic before closing it up. In this case, I did not glue the casemate to the lower hull as I'm contemplating scratchbulding some interior details.
Tracks: Final Verdict - The one piece vinyl track runs that Italeri provides turned out quite well, both in taking paint, pigment and weathering as well as a great fit over all road wheels and drive sprocket.
Fit challenges: The only three areas where I ran into fit issues were with the fitting of the lower edge of the casemate with the upper edge of the lower hull. In most war time pics, there appears to be slight overhang where the bottom edge of the casemate meets the upper edge of the lower hull on each side. With some maneuvering around, I was able to make it look presentable. Another had to do with the lower rear center of the casemate meeting with the front most part of the rear plate (where they meet). There is a slight gap where they meet, and pics of the real thing don't seem to show that. Regardless, a simple piece of strip styrene fixes this. Finally, the rear hatch of the casemate has a slight gap when it's in the closed position, so a little building up of putty would probably take care of that one, which is my third fit issue.
Changes/additions: While I try to keep Build Reviews as 'Out of the Box' matters, sometimes I'm forced to scratchbuild something or add a glaring missing detail. I replaced the top grab handles on the casemate with copper wire as the originals just didn't clean up as well as I would have liked. The kits supplied grab handles are certainly acceptable and in scale, though a bit tricky to clean up. The other item I added was the cable for the exterior mounted crane used to load the shells, which was a necessity. I thought the crane was rendered rather well in plastic with some sharp detail with the only obvious thing missing was the cable which I added using solder wire. See pics above.
In Conclusion: Italeri did a fantastic job with this kit. While other companies are producing this same kit, Italeri's offering certainly is very good value for the money. While the fit of the casemate with the upper edge of the lower hull gave me some fits and doesn't appear to show the slight overhang of the lower edge of the casemate when mated to the lower hull as per wartime pics, admittedly it's possible this was builder's error somewhere, but I'm thinking not. Regardless of this minor fit issue, for the modeler at the basic or beginner level or those just wanting to build it straight from the box, this will build into a very nice model of the Sturmtiger once it's painted and weathered. However, in order to display this nice kit in all its glory, the modeler should add a cable to the crane. For the intermediate and advanced modelers among us, it's less expensive than some of the other manufacturers' Sturmtigers out there, but it won't contain the added level of details one would expect from these newer offerings. But with a good variety of reference materials out there, and a good base kit to work with, adding the missing details and correcting any shortfalls on this kit, intermediate and advanced modelers will have a heyday when detailing this kit.
Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to MRC for this review kit.
Reviewed by Chuck Willis
P.S - For further reading and research, this Tank Power volume on the Sturmtiger is a very good resource. For those planning to do some scratchbuilding on this or other manufacturers' offerings, this is an excellent first stop with several great photos of the interior.
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