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Zvezda 1/35 scale Tiger I Ausf E

Kit:3646 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$46.95
Zvezda, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322
Detailed turret interior; clear parts provided for headlights, periscopes, and vision blocks; molded Feifel hoses
Vinyl tracks difficult to join; gun breech molded hollow
Injection-molded, 341 parts (4 vinyl), decals

Zvezda has expanded its range of military vehicles with a brand-new kit of the Tiger I Ausf E (early production). Early-production Tigers are distinguished by the “dustbin” commander’s cupola, s-mine launchers on the hull, headlights mounted on the hull top, and Feifel air cleaners on the rear. Zvezda even caught the asymmetrical shape of the turret, often missed by other companies.

Molded in tan plastic, the parts feature good detail. The turret has all of the basic interior items above the hull line, so no worries about leaving your hatches open. The hull also has rear fuel tanks and cooling fans, although it is difficult to see them through the engine grates. The tracks are molded in very soft, flexible vinyl in two pieces per side. Markings for two vehicles of unnamed units are provided on a small decal sheet. No photoetched metal or figures are included.

The instructions start with the assembly of the turret, but I skipped ahead and started with the hull. The hull top fit poorly at first, but, once I installed the rear plate and bulkhead and clamped them, the top fit perfectly. Later, I realized that Zvezda has you adding the turret to the hull top before you glue the top in place; fortunately, the turret is a snug fit in its opening. I added most of the details to the hull, leaving off the running gear, tools, and exhaust covers until the main painting was done.

I took time to drill out the s-mine launchers and the inlets for the air cleaners, which really improved the look of the model. A little Mr. Surfacer 500 helped eliminate seams atop the air cleaners.

Working on the turret next, I added all the details to the side walls and painted the interior an ivory color (not white, as the instructions suggest). Then I picked out details with various Vallejo paints and applied a wash of burnt umber artist’s oils.

Zvezda molded the breech for the main gun hollow. While this would not be noticeable through the hatches, I planned on leaving my turret roof loose so the interior could be displayed; I filled the breech with epoxy putty, molding it to the correct shape. The two-piece main gun barrel was straight and true, and only a small amount of Mr. Surfacer was needed to make the seams disappear.

Deciding on the overall panzer yellow vehicle of s.Pz Abt 503, I painted my Tiger with Vallejo German yellow ochre and post-shaded it with a lightened version of the base color. The decals, applied over a coat of Tamiya clear gloss, responded well to a light application of Micro Sol. The decals will wrinkle a bit, but don’t touch them — they will lie down perfectly once they dry. I applied some Tamiya earth and pigments to the lower chassis, followed by a wash of burnt umber oils. I even made my first attempt at “chipping” (more practice is needed).

Instructions are to melt four pins together to join the tracks. This has never really worked for me, so I added some Loctite vinyl adhesive from an air mattress repair kit to strengthen the joints (neither regular model cement nor super glue worked). Installing the tracks was a bit difficult, mainly because I didn’t follow the instructions; do it Zvezda’s way and it will go easier. To get sag in the top run of tracks, I put small dabs of pressure-sensitive adhesive on the tops of the road wheels and pressed the tracks into place once it was dry. I added a few dabs of super glue for extra security.

I spent about 22 hours on my Tiger I. The finished model perfectly matches the dimensions in the Standard Catalog of German Military Vehicles, by David Doyle (Krause, ISBN 978-0-87349-783-1).

Do we really need another Tiger I? Well, I think every manufacturer needs at least one in its catalog, and Zvezda’s should appeal to modelers who want a nice model without all the high-tech goodies found in many modern kits. What you get in the box is an easy-to-assemble, good-looking early Tiger tank.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2013 FineScale Modeler.


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