Tiger I Early Production Pz.Kpfw. Aufs. E
Wittmann’s Command Tiger
Kit Number: 6730
Kit provided by: Dragon USA
The German Tiger I tank has been covered in such great detail in books, magazines and video that any discussion of its history here would be redundant. This kit is specific to tank ace Michael Wittmann. His history is as well documented as the Tiger tank and just as controversial in its nature. For those that wish to know more about the vehicle or the man there is enough information in print to fill a tall book case and is readily available on the web.
Dragon and it subsidiary Cyber Hobby has released 18 versions of the Tiger I over the years. This early variant is the latest in that line. This kit also features figures representing Michael Wittmann and his crew during the late 1943-early 1944 period. As is the custom of Dragon the box is crammed with sprues from the various releases. Some will provide numerous parts for this build while others will go right to the spares bins. You will find 24 sprues in standard Dragon grey styrene.
Since the sprues come from different kits you will find sprues with the same letter designation. In this case there are 2 C, D, G, H, P, V and Y sprues. This can cause some confusion and cost time so I suggest you label the sprues in some fashion to ease finding them in the pile. The one piece lower hull
3 sprues of clear parts, S, Q and L,
2 frets of photo etch brass,
And the DS track round out the vehicle parts.
The instructions are typical Dragon in layout and with issues (more on that later).
Included in the first run of this Tiger release were the crew figures. These are state of the art injection molded plastic figures. The detail is exceptional and a very nice addition to the kit.
Construction begins with the rear plate. Build up the left and right engine exhaust assemblies as shown. The lifting bolts that attach to the armor covers, B1x2, will need a bit of putty to fill in the area around the bolt. Photos show no seam or gap around these bolts.
Steps 2 through 6
These steps focus on the suspension and rear plate. First up I installed the torsion bars into the inner hull. These are completely for show and can be bypassed if you so choose.
Next up you are directed to add the forward mount plate for the drive sprockets and the drive sprocket housing. The plates need a bit of putty to fill seams that are not there on the actual vehicle.
The suspension arms go on next. They have excellent mounting points that create a very nice level fit.
I next built up the drive sprockets and set them aside.
The instructions call for the attachment of the first 3 layers of road wheels as well as the drive sprockets. I know a few folks that attach all the road wheels on interleave suspensions and then paint everything at the end. I am not one of those people. I left all the road wheels on their sprues for ease of painting and will add them after most of the painting has been completed. The last bit of business in step 2 is to fill some holes on the underside of the hull.
You are now directed to add the rear plate to the hull. Make sure you achieve a tight, accurate fit as any discrepancy will throw off the alignment of the engine deck. With the rear plate in place add the exhaust shrouds and rear shackle mounts.
Before moving on to the next steps add the idler mounts to the hull. You are also directed to add the last layer of road wheels and the idlers but these are also held off for painting.
Steps 4 and 5 concentrate on finishing the detaling of the rear plate. The highly detailed jack is just one of the excellently rendered parts added here. Other items like the track tool storage box and the engine starter attachment drop right into place. Take care when mounting the jack. If it is off just a bit it will interfere with the mounting of the air filters later in the build.
Part P16, the engine starter crank handle, is not properly placed in step 4. Look at the drawing under the jack assemble drawing to see proper placement. This is not the last time the instructions will cause some issues. A good reference, I used Achtung Panzer #6, will save you a great deal of grief as you proceed.
Step 6 will finish most of the work on the lower hull. Add the forward tow shackles and the side plates to the hull.
I had to fill gaps between the rear and side plates on both sides. Nothing major and you can blend this with the nicely rendered weld seams to make the filled areas completely unseen. Then build up the left and right engine cooling systems and install them into the hull.
I deviated a bit here by adding parts for the cooling system that are called for in step 9. I felt adding them here the way I did instead of mounting them to the underside of the engine deck gave me a better chance to achieve proper fit with less headaches.
Steps 7 through 11
These steps cover the build up and detailing of the engine and fighting compartment decks of the Tiger I. In addition the “fiefel” air cleaning system is assembled and attached in these steps. These five steps are very busy with numerous mini steps in each one. I chose to complete each mini step before moving to the main area of step 7. I first built up the driver and co-driver hatches, removed some un-needed location markers and build up the access plate that covers the carburetor. This involves adding the air intake cover and forked conductor for the air filters as well as a few other details. With these satellite requirements out of the way I move to the main event in step 7 by adding the previously built up hatches and numerous pioneer tools to the forward part of the fighting compartment deck.
The kit provides tools with molded claps and “naked” tools that allow for pe clamps. This kit does not provide the pe clamps. As you can see in the photo the detail on the molded clamps is very good and speeds up the build so not a big issue. I then added the large crow bar.
The engine deck gets some work done to close out this step. The previously worked up carburetor access cover and screens over the air cooling grills finish things up.
Step 8’s focus is on the vertical bow plate. Build up and attach the armor vision port on the driver’s side and the MG 34 on the co-drivers side. This sub assembly is attached to the hull in step 9.
As mentioned, I begin step 9 by adding the bow plate to the upper hull. The fit is very good, no need for any sanding or filling. I then move to the engine deck. First off I build up the rear cooling air grills. I attach the upper and lower halves and then add the PE screen.
The instructions indicate that you should attach the grills to the engine deck. I chose to hold off until the upper and lower hull halves were attached to insure a good placement and fit. I went about adding the tow cables and tools. I chose to add all the detail to each cable as I went. This required you to complete aspects of both steps 9 and 10. The cables have excellent detail particularly the tie down clamps. You need to take some extra care in placement but the end result is very nice.
The rosettes and wiring detail for the headlights were installed forward.
The command antenna mount, P5, located rear right needed some attention. This mount needs to be inserted into a hole at rear right forward of the air intakes. The instructions give no indication that you should bore this hole out but is obvious when looking at the underside of the upper hull.
The other antenna issue is on the left side. The instructions call for the filling of the antenna mounting point during step 7. Do this and you will have to re-drill the hole before adding the antenna mount to the left side. The last bit of work called for in step 9 is to begin adding the air filter trunks for the “feifel” air filter system. After looking at this and the following steps again I decided that the best move would be to install the entire system at the same time. This meant that I needed to wait until the upper and lower halves of the hulls were mated. I am glad I did as alignment and fit issues would have reared their ugly heads had I followed the instructions.
Moving to step 10, the first item I dealt with was attaching the fire extinguisher to the rear deck. I had to remove the mounting points and reposition the extinguisher a bit due to placement interference with the tow cable on that side.
The head lights were added and then I went to work on the forward S mine launchers. Here you will deal with another discrepancy in the instructions. The part labeled G26, the mine canister, is actually K1. With that sorted out I got the mine launchers set in place with no problem.
Next I added the barrel cleaning rods to the mounts on the left and right side.
You are directed to add the tie downs for the cable in step ten but as I mentioned I completed this when I added the cables in a previous step. I now went about mating the upper and lower hull sections. The mounting points on the bow plate needed a bit of sanding to allow a good fit of the upper and lower hull sections. Once this was done I attached to hull sections using Tamiya ultra thin cement and CA. The forward areas had very good fit but areas around the engine deck needed some filling. Photos of Tigers show some seams/gaps around the cooling intake hatches but not along the left and right rear edges or the corners where the rear plate meets the side plates. Tamiya putty was deployed to fill these areas with very little problem. I added the rear cooling grills and was ready to tackle the air filter system.
I began this process by building up the filters and trunks. I felt the best way to get accurate placement and fit was to attach the filters to the rear of the tank and then add the trunks with their respective attachment points to the filters. I was hindered in this by the fact that there was nothing in the instructions regarding the lower mounting points for the filters. I went to my references and sure enough the filters have two lower mounting brackets, plain as day. The air filters appear to have mounting points for theses parts but I found no corresponding parts on any of the sprues. In the end I broke out some spare photo etch and added them based on my reference pictures.
With this issue resolved I went about adding the trunks and brackets. It was a bit fiddly but I got things lined up with greater ease than if I had followed the instructions.
The S mine launchers mounted on the rear corners went in next.
It is much easier to attach the mounting brackets to the hull and then build up the launcher than it is to build the launcher and then attach the entire assembly.
The horizontal bow plate and side skirts finish off work on the hull. I needed to clean up the seam in front but was able to blend it nicely with the weld seam detail.
Steps 12 through 18
The remaining steps concentrate on the turret of the Tiger I. A scissor periscope is the focus of step 12. I built it but did not install it since it would not be visible with the hatches closed. The assembly has nice detail and I will put it to better use on another kit.
The commanders’ copula is next up. Numerous clear parts are assembled and added to the copula along with the hatch.
You can detail the hatch interior if you like although the detail will not be seen with the hatch closed.
Step 14 concentrates on the construction of the main gun. First up deal with the mini steps for the barrel and muzzle break but hold off on the recoil assembly. There are several instruction issues you should be aware of. First off part A-9, inside the recoil assembly, is shown upside down. This will become apparent with test fitting. In addition, although no mention is made, you will need to assemble the entire gun and mantlet, front to back, before assembling the recoil system, parts A4/A23/A9. The tab at the end of the gun assembly fits into the slot on part A9, allowing the barrel to rotate to help get an accurate alignment of the barrel. Once done add the breach block, basket for expended rounds and the muzzle break.
This completes the main gun assembly. I set it aside and began work on the turret. Just ignore the step numbers on this page. It is very difficult to determine what actions fall under what step. I just completed each mini step and then added that item or sub-assembly to the turret. I began by assembling and adding the 2 seats provided.
Next I added 2 small detail parts to the turret ring.
This was followed up by the escape hatch and pistol port. Both of these items have excellent detail inside and out.
The loaders hatch is next. You can detail the interior of the hatch or not depending on position. If open there are some internal parts that will need to be included.
Step 17 involves attaching the main gun to the turret. Use care with parts V7 and V9 if you want the gun to elevate. Attach the top of the turret to the rest of the body and you are done with this step.
These are the last formal steps in construction of this Tiger I. The commanders’ cupola is installed along with the “Rommel Box”, turret ventilator, smoke grenades and spare track.
The last bit of detail involves the antenna and the smaller tow cable mounted on the left side of the hull. The side cable has some great detail including the tie down butterfly clamps but a few broke off and were replaced with brass ones.
I replaced the kit antenna with some nice items from my spares bin.
At is point it was time to move to the painting and weathering stage.
As mentioned previously I left the road wheels, drive sprockets and idlers off to ease the painting process.
I primer all the parts and then laid down a base coat of German yellow with green and red cammo. The primer was Vallejo and the base coat was Tamiya.
The next step was to paint all the detail around the tank. I did this with a mix of Vallejo and AK acrylics. The markings were applied and then I added the outer sets of wheels.
After sealing everything with a clear coat the dry brushing of the cammo came next. This was done with Model Master Enamels. I went back and repaired parts knocked off during painting, added and weathered the tracks and finished up with a bit of dusting on the lower hull. I did up a simple base and was done with the project.
I have built several of Dragon’s Tiger I kits over the years and, for the most part, the outcome is excellent. This version is no exception. The only concern is in the instructions. Dragon has done excellent work correcting kit errors on the many models they have released but their directions can be a bit of an issue. A novice modeler or someone who has not done a Tiger model before could have serious problems due to the instructions in this kit. Now that you are forewarned I would suggest you pick one up. It builds up into a really nice looking example of this famous German AFV and you get the figures if you buy a first run edition of this kit.
Highly recommended and a must for German armor fans.
A GREAT BIG TANK YOU goes out to
for the review sample.
Reviewed by: Henry Milton
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