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Tamiya 1/35 scale improved Tiger I

Kit: No. 35146
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922, www.tamiyausa.com
Price: $124
Comments: Multimedia, 688 parts (441 injection-molded, 247 cast-metal), decals
Pros: Corrected turret, turned-aluminum gun barrel and individual-link tracks
Cons: No Zimmerit coating
Tamiya's Tiger I kit has been given a facelift with the addition of metal individual-link tracks and a turned-metal barrel. These items are provided in one package by Tamiya.

This release is basically the same as the kit issued in 1989 except for a revision to the turret. More on that later. The kit is cleanly molded in dark-yellow plastic. One figure is provided. The original plastic single-link tracks are also included.

Construction is straightforward, starting with the suspension arms, wheels and hull back plate. The suspension arms lock neatly into the lower hull. Tamiya has also provided a clever tool (part No. A16) that has slots matching the proper location of the arms. Surprisingly the instructions don't explain this and only show its use in aligning the tracks.

I spent the majority of my construction time on the metal tracks. They are much like those produced by Friulmodel, and are extremely well cast. The assembly process consisted of fitting the tracks together, cleaning out the pin holes with a drill, inserting a piece of wire (included) for the link rod, trimming the wire, and applying a dab of super glue to lock the wire in place. Whew! The real Tiger I used 96 links per side. I used 94 on mine.

The hull top and bottom went together perfectly. A complete set of tools and tow cables are provided.

Turret construction starts with the limited interior detail, a gun breech, and two crew seats. I was somewhat put off by the large holes in the turret sides. These are to assist in the placement of the spare track links. Tamiya does not provide the bottom supports for the track links, only the top ones.

The one-piece barrel is beautifully machined. It went in the gun mounting without a problem. While constructing the turret, I verified a rumor that Tamiya had revised the turret shape.

Most previous Tiger kits, including Tamiya's, had symmetrical turret profiles when viewed from the top. Recent research has shown that the Tiger turret is asymmetrical. The left side is more straight, most likely to give more room to the gunner. When I compared the kit's turret to the one in my original-issue Tiger I, it was clear that Tamiya had indeed corrected the kit.

I used an old Show Modelling Tiger I Zimmerit sheet to simulate the antimagnetic coating on my model. I painted my Tiger with a combination of Tamiya and Polly Scale military colors.

Decals are provided for four vehicles. I chose to model Tiger ace Michael Wittman' s last vehicle. The decals went on perfectly.

My primary reference was Tiger I on the Western Front by Jean Restayn. The completed model looks right when compared to the pictures and drawings.

I built my Tiger I in 30 hours, and most of that went into the tracks.

If you are looking for a top-quality Tiger I kit and want the convenience of having high-quality detail parts included, this Tamiya issue will fit the bill.

- Jim Zeske

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