1/35 Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I
(Sd.Kfz.181) Ausfuhrunge E Late Version
Kit Number: 89566
Reviewed by  James Moody, IPMS# 40010

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MSRP: $61.00
Website: www.tamiyausa.com

The Tiger I was a German heavy tank used in World War II which started production in the waning months of 1942 as an answer to the formidable Russian armor encountered in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa in June of 1941, especially the T-34 and KV-1. The Tiger I design gave the Wehrmacht its first tank that mounted the 88 mm gun, which had demonstrated its effectiveness previously against both aircraft and tanks. During the course of the war, the Tiger I saw combat on all German battlefronts. It was usually deployed in independent tank battalions that proved to be quite formidable against the enemy.

While the Tiger I was feared by many of its opponents, it was over-engineered, expensive and time-consuming to produce. Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944. The Tiger was prone to mechanical breakdowns and in 1944; production was phased out in favor of the Tiger II (King Tiger).

The tank was given its nickname Tiger by Ferdinand Porsche, and the initial "official" German designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausführung H (PanzerVI 'version H' abbreviated PzKpfw VI Ausf. H), but the tank was redesignated as PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in March 1943. It also had the ordnance inventory designation SdKfz 181.

Now, upon receiving this model I was curious as to what I might find when I opened the box. I knew this kit had the added crew members which supposedly included a fairly good facsimile of Michael Wittman and his crew in resting positions which intrigued me but I wondered if maybe Tamiya had upgraded the kit itself to compete with the latest releases from some of the other manufactures. Once I had the shrink wrap off and started digging through the kit I found this to be the same kit that was released back in good 'ol 1989.

The "copyright 1989" relief in the bottom of the chassis did not hurt in helping me deduce this fact either. That is not a bad thing though as this kit is an excellent rendition as far as shape and the minor details found on the "late model" Tiger I and it was quite a joy to put together. This kit is also an excellent model for the first time or novice builder due to the above average fit qualities this model provides.

In the hands of an advanced modeler this model is the perfect platform for a super detailing project involving the Tiger I.

This particular sample is a "Limited Edition" release and I suspect the figures in this kit are the main reason for this model being classified as such. The figures, a total of Eight, (the one commander figure that originally came with the kit, an individually wrapped set of four which consisted of Wittman and his crew "at rest" plus a second individually wrapped set of three which include a generic commander figure and two crewman, one of which is kneeling on the turret, the other standing on the engine deck and the commander standing in the cupola and all are looking at a map in the commanders hands) were very well molded and the detailing of these figures were crisp and very nicely done. As I mentioned earlier the Michael Wittman figure did indeed have an impressive likeness (especially being done in plastic and in 1/35 scale) of the man based on the photos I have seen.

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I chose to use the second set of figures that consisted of the commander and two crew members because I like the poses and the final composition of these figures standing on and around the turret.

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The model and figures go together with absolutely no problems or putty required but you will need to have some experience with creating zimmerit as it is called out in the instructions to do so and all of the markings provided (for a total of TWELVE different tanks including Wittman's last mount of 007!!) are of Tigers with the Zimmerit paste applied. So, get out the modeling tools and be ready to apply zimmerit me hardy's

This was my first attempt at zimmerit so having studied all of the various ways to apply and recreate zimmerit paste I decided to do it the most difficult way it can be done, the use of a hot knife. When doing zimmerit this way there is absolutely no margin for error as you are melting the actual plastic of the model itself and any mistakes or hiccups would require you to go back and do some major reconstructive work on any areas that you happen to mess up. The zimmerit pattern for the Tiger is not complicated but regardless of that I took the time to research what the pattern would normally look like on the actual tank and how my fellow modelers had approached this task and what they did using various techniques to create the "zimmerit" effect on the model tank. After that, I took a new Xacto blade, snapped off the end of the blade with some flat nosed pliers to the width that the zimmerit would be, plugged in the hot knife and started melting plastic. The key here folks is to TAKE YOUR TIME and be patient!

In the end all of those efforts paid off as I was very pleased with the final look/effect of the zimmerit on my tank as you can see in the photos. Surprisingly, I did not have to fix any mistakes or "flubs" because I did not happen to make any. I guess there is a first time for everything and the fact I took my time with this endeavor also helped.

Overall, I was very pleased with this kit and how easy it was to build, as well as the quality of the figures included with this model but I did have one gripe (and it is a VERY BIG gripe indeed) and that was the individual track links that were supplied with this kit. In a word they were….. "Horrible". Each track link had a total of SIX ejector pin marks!! Admittedly, two of those would be hidden once the links were assembled but that still left FOUR of those buggers to clean up on each link and quite frankly I think that is too much. I hope Tamiya does not start making individual track links a norm in their kits until they can get the manufacturing process on those little items refined. I would prefer the vinyl tracks to those individual links any day of the week!! I chose to finish my tank in the markings of sPzAbt 505 deployed to the central sector of the Russian Front because it consisted of the one color yellow and after my last review sample of a Panzer IV with an ambush scheme I was ready for a little less technical paint job. Besides, I wanted to experiment with some washes and weathering on a single color finish. It seems like every model I have built lately has had way yonder to many colors on them!

Well, there you have it, besides the track links and the fact that this kit was a little pricey considering you are getting a re-pop with some added figures I can very highly recommend this kit for the ease of building and the unlimited potential of this model being a show stopper with added interior/exterior detailing sets and aftermarket track links that are currently available!

I wish to thank Tamiya, who have some of the best kits on the market today, for this review sample and look forward to building many more of their kits in the future!

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