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AFV Club 1/48 scale Tiger I "final version"

RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR | MILITARY
Kit: 48001
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: AFV Club, from Merit International, 626-912-2212, www.merit-intl.com
Price: $26.50
Comments: Injection-molded, 124 parts (2 vinyl, 5 photoetched), decals
Pros: Finely engraved Zimmerit, good fit, lots of separate detail parts
Cons: Defective decals, small diagrams in instructions
AFV Club's new late-production Tiger I makes a great addition to the new flood of 1/48 scale armor.
Molded in dark-green plastic, the kit has finely-engraved Zimmerit, one-piece flexible tracks, and a small fret of photoetched- brass engine-deck grilles and a gun sight.
Construction starts with the lower hull and running gear. Although tiny screws are provided to attach the running gear, I glued all the pieces in place. Take care and follow the instructions and part numbers when installing the layers of interleaved road wheels; there are lots of them, and they're tricky to keep straight once they're removed from the parts tree. Paint the interior of the rear hull flat black; it'll hide the fact that there's no engine under the rear-deck grilles.
The tracks are nicely molded; I joined the ends with gap-filling super glue. Music-wire pins inserted into the hull sides press the tracks down and give the upper run the proper "drape" between the drive sprockets and the road wheels.
The upper hull mated perfectly with the lower hull, but take care at the front edge to keep from marring the molded-in Zimmerit with glue. Lots of separate parts add detail to the upper hull. Separate side fenders and exhaust guards are provided, as are the two cables, grab handles, and pioneer tools. The photoetched grilles dropped in place exactly; I attached them with slow-setting super glue.
The turret went together perfectly, and the one-piece main gun is dead straight. Separate hatches are provided, and the spare turret-mounted tracks fit between their brackets perfectly.
I used Tamiya acrylics to give my Tiger I a three-color, Italian-front scheme. My only disappointment with the kit came when I tried to apply the decals. The kit markings shattered when they hit the water. I've applied a coat of Microscale Liquid Decal Film to the remaining markings (five sets are provided) and hopefully it will hold them together. (Markings on late-war Tigers were minimal, and to be honest, no one's noticed that they're missing.) I gave my Tiger a dark artist's oil wash, and it really deepened the Zimmerit and other molded-in details.
I spent a couple of weekends on my Tiger I, and I love the result. The delicate molding, separate detail parts, and fine photoetched details give it detail in a league with its 1/35 scale counterparts.
- Matthew Usher

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