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Academy - 1/35 Tiger I Late Version

Kit Number:
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Retail Price:
Reviewed By:
Chuck Rothman


Tiger I Late Version

Click here for background information and the first look review for this kit.

Building the Tiger I

Assembly of the kit involves 16 steps. Given the relatively simple nature of the kit (compared to some that have over 1,000 parts), there are very few subassemblies. 

Before you begin, you should choose the finishing option you want, since certain parts are only applicable to certain vehicles. I wasn't able to check the accuracy, except for option 8, which is modelled on a picture at the top of page 85 in Tiger I on the Western Front, by Jean Restayn. I decided to go with this finishing, which is a tank from Pz. Abt508 at Toscana, Italy in July, 1944.

Step 1 involves adding the torsion bar ends to the hull and inserting a couple of bits to the bottom. For some reason, every Academy kit I've build has a hole in the bottom of the hull tub. They also include a part to seal the hole, so why the hole is there in the first place is a mystery to me. Before you say "it's so the model can be motorized", there are no motorization mounts inside the hull, and the drive sprockets are not designed to have shafts stuck in them.

The rear bottom of the hull has two round access plates installed. There are keys in the holes so that the bolts in the pieces line up properly. I found that the slots are too narrow (or the keys are too wide). I tried two different ways to fix this - one was to widen the slots, and the other was to remove the keys. Either way works, so take your pick.

The kit comes with two complete sets of torsion bar ends. One set is from the original Tiger kit of 1990's vintage. The other set, which is the one you should use, is newer, dating from about 8 years ago. The newer pieces, on sprue E, are better detailed. However, each torsion bar end has a noticeable depressed ejection pin mark. I filled the marks with Mr. Dissolved Putty (my favorite liquid putty) while still on the sprue.  The pieces also have a raised ejection pin mark. When I removed them from the sprue, a bit of filing cleaned up the excess putty and removed the raised pin.

The torsion bar ends are keyed with a pin, so getting them to line up once installed is easy.  At this point the instructions tell you to apply zimmerit to the front and upper hull sides. I deferred that for a bit, because I wanted to get the front hull extensions flush with the hull. That meant that the final drive reinforcement plates (parts B11 and B12) were not installed yet.

Speaking of the front hull extensions, parts Q12 and Q13  (unless you are building finishing options 4 or 6, in which case you use B22 and B23 instead) have four depressed ejection pin marks that have to be filled.

These pieces install into depressions in the hull side, but there are no keys or other protrusions to ensure they line up properly. Therefore, you should take care to get them aligned with the sides and top of the hull. There is a gap on the side where the part meets the hull tub. This needs to be filled in.

With the torsion bars installed, it was time to move onto the roadwheels, idlers and drive sprockets. Academy provides poly caps to make it easy to put the wheels on and off. I assembled the centre roadwheels, idlers and drive sprockets, but did not assemble the roadwheels that fit in the back and front. That way, I can remove the wheels for painting.

Some of the wheels had a bit of flash that needed cleaning, but for the most part, very little cleanup was required. 

The drive sprocket halves are keyed, presumably to ensure that the guide teeth line up. However, if you use the key, they don't line up. I enlarged the keyway slot, and lined up the teeth myself.

When you attach the drive sprocket halves and line up the teeth, you'll notice that the casting in the centre is off. This is very hard to see when the tracks are on, so I can live with it.

Note that two different front drive sprocket halves are provided, part b16 (which is what the instructions tell you to use) shown on the left in the following picture, and part L11, shown on the right.  b16 appears to have better detail, but I'm no Tiger expert, so there may be cases where L11 is more accurate. 

I completed all of the roadwheels, sprockets and idlers in about 90 minutes.

With the wheels and suspension complete, I decided to try the zimmerit tool provided in the box. This is a photo etch piece with blades. The blade pitch is 0.7 mm on two sides, and 0.5 mm on the other two sides. The instructions tell you to use the 0.5 mm for the hull and either 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm for the turret, depending on the tank you're modelling. This bears out in pictures, as many show a distinctly wider zimmerit rake pitch on the turret.

I used Tamiya White Putty for the zimmerit paste. Working in section about 1 inch wide, I applied the putty to the hull then used the 0.5mm wide edge to rake it, shifting the rake up or down every 1/8 inch or so. 

The Tamiya putty does not have a very long working time, and I found that, if the putty is too thin, the zimmerit ridges would blend into each other (as can be seen towards the lower rear of the side in the picture above - I didn't bother fixing this as it would be covered by the fender).

I zimerited the sides, front and rear. I discovered that, after the zimmerit dries, you can chip it off, just like the real thing. I did this on the lower front . 

Oh, I forgot to mention that I masked off areas that I didn't want to zimmerit, such as the machine gun kugelblende and the driver's visor. Overall, I found the tool worked, but I still prefer to use the Tamiya stick on zimmerit or get a kit that has zimmerit already molded on. I did find it difficult to use the tool in confined spaces, such as on the vertical front plate between the kugelblende and driver's visor.

Once the zimmerit on the hull was dry, I attached the front glacis plates, as I could tell there would be some filling required. I was right. Although there is a nicely molded weld seam at the front edge of the glacis, there is a gap just behind it. I filled this in and cleaned it up. I also thinned the fender edges at the sides.

With the hull zimmerit complete, I added the parts to the rear panel. This includes the exhaust stacks, rear fenders, and starter crank thingamjig. The exhaust stacks have vertical rods at the top that hold the upper exhaust plate above the stack. Academy provides plastic pieces for these rods, but I found that they were not round, hard to clean up, and hard to get to align properly. Instead, I drilled holes in the top of the exhaust stack and used 0.020" plastic rod instead. By drilling the holes right through, I could use longer rods than necessary, attached to the top plate, to get the top plate level.

I thinned the tops of the exhaust shields, since these were basically sheet metal. I did not attach the exhaust shields at this time, as it would be easier to paint the exhaust stacks and shields separately.

The jack supplied in the kit is adequate, but if you want to have greater detail, you may want to replace it with one from another manufacturer's kit.  It is made up of 3 parts, with the securing brackets molded in.

With all the parts attached to the rear plate, it was connected to the hull. The fit was perfect.

Academy provides the upper hull as 5 separate parts. I think they do this so that you can pose the engine hatches open. Unfortunately, this creates some rather large gaps in the engine deck.

When I attached the hull top to the hull tub, I found that, because there is no reinforcement beneath the front hull, it depressed in the centre. I forced it up and glued to in place.

With the hull top in place, I attached the tools. For the most part, the tools are fine. However, they do not include the clasp handles. If you want to add detail, you can add Aber, Voyager (my favorite) or another photo etch tool clasp or just the  handle. I was lazy, so I left the tools as is.

Note that the mounting pins on the tow shackle (part L19) are too short. I cut off the pins and used appropriately sized 0.020" plastic rod instead. I did this for the one mounted on the rear as well.

The hull hatches are provided with interior detail (which I didn't use, since I was planing on making them closed), separate telescope and hood. The telescope does not have any mounting point on the hatch, but you can glue the top of the telescope to the underside of the hood.  I numbered the hull hatches so that I would not mix them up.

Next up was the photo etch screens on the engine deck. These are etched very nicely, with a weave shown on one side (so don't install them upside down).

The smaller screens have an opening for the hold open bracket hinge. However, I found the opening was not large enough. To fix this, I cut off the metal part in front of the hinge - when the hold open bracket is installed, you can't see this piece anyway.

The next step involves adding the tow ropes. Academy provides molded tow ropes or just the ends (with slide molded holes) and thread. I used the thread. Unfortunately, the thread is too small diameter for the tow ropes (it would be better suited to the track rope mounted on the side). Nevertheless, I used it. A nice touch is including the wing nut brackets for the tow ropes on the engine deck.

Note that there is an error in the instructions - rope ends P21 and P22 are reversed.

The gun cleaning rods mounted between the tow ropes on either side of the turret have brackets wide enough for the tow ropes to pass underneath. However, they are missing the sides of the brackets.  To fix this, I added 0.010 x 0.040 plastic strip. Note that there is another error in the instructions here - cleaning rod parts P11 and P12 are reversed.

The track rope is mounted on the side. Only a molded version of this is provided. It required a lot of cleanup.

In case you're wondering, I was considering cutting the fenders and installing each one separately. In anticipation of this, I numbered the fender position on the hull. In the end, I decided it would not add any more detail, so I left the fenders as single pieces.

With the hull finished, I moved onto the turret. Since I had already played with the zimmerit tool on the hull, I decided to use Tamiya stick on zimmerit for the turret. Luckily, I had some left over from a Sturmtiger project I did last year. I glued the two turret halves together and filled in the rear joint. I then carefully applied the zimmerit sheets.

Applying the zimmerit sheets to the turret was easy. Applying it to the mantlet was another story, as it is made up of about 10 separate pieces. However, I still think using the stick on sheet was easier than trying to do zimmerit with the supplied tool.

I also applied the zimmerit sheet to the turret escape hatch. The hatch is curved, but the zimmerit laid down without a problem.

One trick I've discovered with the Tamiya zimmerit is to cut it out slightly larger than you need. You can then use a sharp No. 11 blade to run against the edge of the plastic and trim it (I did this for the top and bottom of the turret edges). Another thing to remember is that, although Tamiya prints locations for cutouts (such as the cut out for the pistol ports), it rarely lines up perfectly.  I suggest you test fit each piece before you peel it from the backing to make sure where to cut out the cutouts.

With the turret zimmerit finished, I moved onto the turret roof. Academy provides periscopes for the commander's cupola, but these are in solid plastic, not clear plastic. It doesn't really matter, since they are in complete shadow when the model is finished, and with careful painting, will look the same as clear plastic (I paint periscope glass flat black, then Tamiya clear green. If the periscope is not in complete shadow, I paint a wash of black along the top edge of the glass (because the top edge of the periscope bracket will cause a shadow on the top edge of the glass). I then coat the whole thing with future).

The periscope pieces fit snuggly enough, but the only gluing surfaces are on the sides.

With the underside of the turret roof finished, I flipped it over and added the hatches and other bits and bobs. You are given the option of two different loader's hatches, with no explanation as to which one to use (unlike other optional parts). Since I was working off of a picture that showed the hatch open, I knew which one to use. However, if you don't have a picture, part Q6 is the later version of the two (I used Q5).

The instructions tell you to add the spare track brackets before you attach the roof to the turret. If you do this, you will have problems attaching the roof, as the brackets extend slightly over the roof part. Therefore, I attached the roof first. The fit was almost perfect. I only needed to squeeze the front near the mantlet a bit to get rid of the gap (I used Tenax 7 to glue the roof on, as it melts the plastic and fills the seam better).

There are no placement locations given for the spare track brackets. Luckily, Tamiya has marks on the zimmerit sheet where the spare tracks fit. The order I used for adding the spare tracks was: 1. Install the upper brackets to the turret roof, spaced appropriately; 2. Glue the lower bracket to the track link; 3. Attach the track link to the upper bracket, and make sure it is aligned vertically; 4. Glue the lower track bracket to the turret side.

The only other optional part on the turret is the hinge for the escape hatch (parts Q15 and Q16). I didn't know which one is later, but I used Q15 because it was the same shape as the cut out in the zimmerit sheet.

Academy provides the gun barrel as 3 main parts, plus one intermediate coupling and 3 parts for the muzzle brake, all slide molded. You have two choices for the muzzle brake, depending on the vehicle you're modelling. The pieces are all keyed, but there is some play in the key of second largest piece where it fits into the largest piece, so take care to line it up properly.

With the turret finished, the only thing left was a bit of added detail. I decided to add the wire to the Bosch light on the front, as its absence was really noticeable. To do this, I drilled diagonally into the light socket on the hull top, right through the plastic. I also drilled a small hole into the socket on the light bracket. I then used 24 gauge wire to represent the light cable. By drilling right through the plastic on the hull roof, I didn't need to measure the length of the cable exactly - I could use a longer piece and just shove it through the hole until it was the correct length. A drop of CA glue at either end held everything in place.

This close up shot also shows the quality of the zimmerit. Becuase the kugelblende and driver's visor are molded onto the front plate, it is difficult to get the supplied zimmerit tool into all the nooks and crannies. If I did this model again, I would probably use the Tamiya stick on zimmerit for the hull as well.

One thing to note. When I did the first look review, I didn't like the tracks because they were twisted. However, when I put them on the model, the twist disappeared. Normally, I would use Fruil or other indy, workable tracks for a Tiger, but in this case, if you don't want to lay out additional money for tracks, the kit tracks would work. However, make sure you glue the tracks to the top of the roadwheels to show the proper sag (you need to use CA glue or, better yet, 5 minute apoxie, for this, as the tracks don't glue with plastic cement).

Here are pictures of the completed model before painting. Some parts are not glued on yet to make painting easier (exhaust covers, AA machine gun, roadwheels). The tracks are obviously not glued together yet.

Painting begins with an overall primer coat of Tamiya Flat Brown (XF-10). The paint is thinned with Tamiya Lacquer Thinner so that I can spray it with my airbrush. I find that the lacquer thinner allows the paint to adhere to the plastic and photo etch better than the X-20 Thinner (which I think is alcohol based), and because it doesn't evaporate as quickly as alcohol (which means it has a longer drying time), it doesn't cause the paint to clog in my airbrush.

The brown color gives me an overall uniform coat for the subsequent layers of paint, and provides emphasized dark shadow where necessary (such as on the hull bottom, underneath the hull overhang and on the bottom of the gun barrel).

I let the primer coat dry for 48 hours. I probably don't need to wait this long, since the paint is acrylic and the lacquer thinner dries very quickly. However, I'm in no rush, and this way, I am more confident that the paint is fully cured before moving onto the next step.

For the base color, I use Tamiya Dark Yellow (XF-60). I begin by mixing the dark yellow with brown in roughly a 2:1 ratio. This is thinned with lacquer thinner and sprayed in all the middle shadow areas (i.e. not on the bottom, beneath the hull overhang, or on the bottom of the gun barrel).

I then spray straight dark yellow in all the normally visible areas. This is followed by mixing dark yellow with white in a 2:1 ratio and spraying in the areas that are in direct sunlight. Depending on how my model looks at this point, I may do an additional coat of 1:1 dark yellow and white on the horizontal surfaces in direct sunlight. I am generally not too fussed over making the vehicle too light at this point, since when I apply Testor's Dullcoat near the end, the colors will darken somewhat.

Note that when I specify ratios, I don't actually measure the amounts. I add the base color, and then the modifying color a bit at time until the mixture looks right. If two of my models with the same dark yellow base color are put side by side, there will be differences, but they are minor, and there were differences in the real thing, since each batch of paint had to be mixed manually, and colors fade due to exposure to the elements (especially flat colors).

Once the base color, with highlights and shadows, was down, it was time for the camouflage. Using the kit instructions for option 8 (see below), I applied the red brown and dark green "tiger stripes" using an airbrush with a fine (0.2mm) tip. I used Tamiya Red Brown (XF-64) with a bit of white added, and Tamiya Nato Green (XF-67), also with a bit of white added. Once the base stripes were on, I lighted each color with some more white and added highlights where highlights should be (i.e. those areas in the sun). Camouflage was not applied to the roadwheels.

With the camouflage on, I added some detail painting. I drybrushed metallic grey (XF-56) onto the edges of the roadwheels, idler and drive sprocket teeth, I painted the metal parts of the tools, the machine guns, and the tow cables with metallic grey, and I painted the wood parts of the tools straight dark yellow. Later on, I'll apply washes to make the wood look like wood, and the machine guns look like blued metal. I also painted primer red (XF-9) to the areas where the zimmerit had chipped off. 

The model was then coated overall with future and decals were applied. Another coat of future, and it was time to bring out the oils. I applied several washes consisting of raw umber, burnt umber, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and yellow ochre. After this dried, I added more yellow ochre with a heavier (i.e. less thinner) wash to add some subtle dust streaks.  I used burnt sienna out of the tube on the wood parts of the tools, and Tamiya Metallic grey dry brushing on the metal parts. 

The model was then coated with Testors Dullcoat. I applied graphite to the metal parts and used various shades of brown pigment on the lower areas for dust effect.


Overall, the kit is fairly easy to build, and comes with enough detail to satisfy the average modeller. It would make a very enjoyable weekend project. It would also make a suitable base if you want to really detail it with one or more of the available photo etch sets and replacement tracks. Some examples of detail I would add to this model include handles for the tool clasps, thicker wire for the tow ropes (I would use braided copper wire), drill out the visible spare track link holes, and replace the jack. However, the level of detail you add, if any, is up to you.

Highly Recommended for Medium to Advanced builders (beginners may have difficulty with the zimmerit, but can always build it without, or use resin or Tamiya stick on zimmerit).

Thanks goes out to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review kit.

Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

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