Airfix PzKw Tiger 1 Tank 1/76 th scale.
Aircraft seems to have taken a back-seat at the moment as I seem to be on an Armour kick at present. After making several armour model and figure set namely the Roden Opel Blitz’s in various guises and Zvezda gaming figure sets and some old ESCI tanks, which I’m prohibited in discussing on this forum I saw the Airfix Tiger at our LMS, and thought why not could make a nice comparison with the ESCI tanks I’d just started, and I can post it on the forum.
Not much to say about this kit as it’s typical early 1960’s Airfix fare. I,d somehow missed this kit when it was first released, probably as I was into slot racing so it must have been about 1965, if so the moulds must now be over 50 years old. For such an old kit the parts in this release were remarkably flash free and moulded in a desert sand colour simular to the original Panther, and the parts break-down is also simular to the Panther. The only thing that’s changed is the larger instruction manual and a nice new red bordered box. The parts still come on an assortment of odd sprues together with the vinyl type tracks with on my example were bent and twisted and utterly useless in their present form, all sealed in a polythene bag. The decals were hidden in the instruction sheet which was loose in the box. Two versions being offered, one for North Africa in 1943 and one for Normandy in 1944. Both in sandy yellow but the Normandy one having green camouflage added over the yellow. One thing that was nice is the colour profiles that Airfix has started using, much better than some of the far eastern offerings.
Parts & Supplied sprues.
The first thing was to staple the tracks onto some strong flat card and leave them in the sun to try and straighten them. The hull is assembled basically as a box, Airfix would have you assemble the top, bottom and ends then add the side pieces, which I’ve always found is fraught with alignment problems, I’ve always found it better to assemble the box starting with a common corner then build up the other sides leaving the hull top until last but using it as a jig to ensure everything fit square. Also I find it eases painting. With he lower hull assembled the wheels were added. I’ve yet to find a kit with interleaved wheels that fitted correctly, and the tiger was no exception although I will say it’s better than most with the inner and middle wheels needing some slight fitting but in the end I all went together and all the wheels were aligned.
When I was making the Tiger I was building the ESCI Jagdpanzer IV and the Jagdtiger and compared to the 1/72 Jagdtiger the Tiger 1 looked much to small, (Yes I know the Jagdtiger was a bigger beast and I was comparing 1/76 to 1/72 but the Tiger still looked way to small.) After the lower hull was done the turret was next, again basically a box type construction again making the sides adding the gun mantel the roof and finally the base. The fit was not the best but with some judicious sanding it all fitted. The only thing that needed to be done was to drill the gun barrel end, a 1 mm drill should have been about right but I somehow drilled slightly skew and ended up removing one side of the barrel brake. That was sort of fixed with some stretched sprue and careful filling and drilling with a smaller drill.
Various views of Airfix’s Tiger 1 tank under construction with the ESCI Jagdtiger in he back-ground.
I opted for the Normandy scheme although I was tempted to do a winter scheme. The tank’s lower hull was brush painted first with Vallejo green ochre but that I thought was too green so I finally settled on yellow ochre and the whole tank was painted, which under normal electric light looked about right but in the cold light of day now looked too yellow. For the green camouflage I used Vallejo medium olive. Maybe the colours are too bright but I can live with that. Maybe if I’d primed the model first some of the brightness would have been lessened. I’ve done several models with a yellow base coat and have tried several combinations finally settling on a mix of green and yellow ochre with some khaki added, that was what I finally used on the Jagdpanzer, Jagdtiger and Dragon,s Jagdpanther.
The tracks finally straightened out and assembled without any hassles, they were joined first by first super glue after roughening the surfaces and then melting the little pins. They were a bit tight over the wheels and the drive sprocket teeth didn’t fit the tracks so the teeth were removed. One thing with the tracks they are too wide and could do with half or one millimetre being trimmed off on the outside. With the upper hull and turret assembled the model was virtually finished all that was needed was some decals, these were applied in the usual way with out any hassles. I didn’t bother with any weathering except for some dirtying of the tracks.
Was it worth it; basically not really, it looks like a Tiger but if you want a decent model of a Tiger in the “braille” scale there’s far better offerings from Trumpeter, Dragon or even the old re-issues of ESCI from Revell and Italeri. As mentioned earlier I was also building some old ESCI models from about the same era, and it really high-lights just how good those old moulds were compared to the Airfix offerings of about the same time. Personally I feel it’s about time some of these old tank moulds were finally retired or even better retooled up to modern standards, hopefully in a true 1/72 scale. If Airfix are serious about their new game offering I’m sure some retooling would be most welcome, and they could do far worse than copy Zvezda in their little figure dioramas game pieces, as these are really superb even if they are push fit. They say that emulation is the greatest form of flattery. The only other Airfix armour model I’ve made was the Pak 40 with the Opel Blitz and that was a superb little kit, hopefully the re-issue will arrive in Cape Town soon as I’d like to try another one, but I’ll leave the old tanks alone thank-you with the possible exception of the Stug.
I’ve included some photos of the finished model along side a 1/72 die-cast model of the Tiger 1 to show just how small the Airfix Tiger is. It also high-lights quite a few differences mainly in the turret shell storage, air cleaners and the lack of tools and towing cables on the Airfix model. I’m not sure who made the die-cast model, it came with a magazine on tanks.
Some views of the finished Airfix Tiger 1 tank in the Normandy 1944 scheme.
The other tank is a die-cast model of the same tank in 1/72 scale which shows how small the Airfix model is also how wide the tracks are compared to the die-cast model. Also just how plain the Airfix Tiger is with no tools or towing cables or even open hatches.
Well that’s it for now, hope you enjoyed my little trip into the Airfix armour world, as usual all comments welcome.
Remember we do this for fun John the Pom