Tiger I (Early Production)

Skybow Kit #TP4833
1:48th Scale
First Look review
By Terry Ashley

This is the second of the Tiger I kits and following on from the previous sample parts kindly provided by Skybow comes this full preview kit which includes all the parts and decal sheet to be included in the final kit with the only things not included are the instruction sheet and final boxing.

The standard of moulding is superb with crisp clean details that include open engine deck louvers and engine hatch intake as well as very well done weld seams on the hull and turret and I didn’t notice any mould seams that needed attention and the detail is in fact are as good as you will see on many of the 1:35th Tiger kits.

Lower Hull:
The lower hull tub has fixed axles with the road wheels attaching via small screws and include the flanges at the hull/sponson join as well as the correctly depicted access and drain plugs on the hull bottom and details such as the track pin retaining fittings on the rear hull sides.

The tow shackles and hull extensions on the hull front are also the correct shape for the early version and there are small parts with bolt head details for the inside on the final drive housings.

The drive sprocket has the correct domed shaped hub with excellent definition on the hub bolts as well as the correct alignment of the spokes and drive teeth. There are also the outer rim bolts on both sides of the inner and outer sprocket for excellent early style drive sprockets. The idler wheels are the correct early 700mm type with separate hub cap for good detail definition.
The road wheels are equally well detailed with fine weld seams around the centre rim with again excellent rendering of the six hub bolts on the outside wheels while the inner wheels feature the rim bolts correctly spaced in groups of three bolts.

As mentioned the wheels are attached to the fixed axles by small screws which are designed so you screw the inner wheels to the axle and then glue with outer wheels in place thereby hiding the screw heads but ensuring a solid attachment to the axles.
Just make sure you don’t tighten the screws too much as you can easily strip the tread as after all it is only soft plastic you are screwing into.

The rear hull panel is a separate part with the rear fenders attached with separate parts for the exhausts which in turn have separate armoured covers and the large sheet metal outer covers plus the two part jack and rear hull mounted air cleaners as part of the Feifer air cleaner system fitted to these early Tigers.

Upper Hull:
The upper hull details are also superb with subtle weld seams, cast texture on the engine deck panels and the hull sides plus the mountings and wiring for the two head lights on the upper hull corners and the mountings for the five s-mine launchers located around the hull top with the engine deck having all the correct features for the early production vehicles.

At the front is a separate driver’s plate with subtle surface casting texture with the driver’s armoured visor being partly opened. The co-ax machine gun ball mounting has excellent definition and includes two very fine wing nuts for the attachment of the cover when fitted.

The hull crew hatches are separate and feature excellent internal details with only a few shallow pin marks to be removed and have open periscope positions but you will have to add the periscopes yourself to finish off the hatches.

All the tools are moulded separately with fine tool clips included which do look better then moulded on tools and the steel ropes on the hull top and side are extremely finely moulded and look very good and in scale but of course you will have to handle these with care when removing from the sprues and when fitting to the model while the engine deck mounted Feifer air cleaner system piping has good definition on the pipes with separate pipes to attach to the rear hull air cleaners.

The full length side skirts are in one piece for each side with fine bolt head details along the hull join.

The Turret:
The single piece turret is asymmetrical as it should be with excellent weld beads around the roof edges join as well as around the loader’s hatch surround and at the front armour join and very subtle casting texture on the side walls. The eight flush screws on the turret roof are included as well as the armoured strip at the front of the turret above the mantlet which does show the attention to detail included on this kit.

The loader’s hatch has the correct raised section on the turret roof as well as excellent interior hatch details which include the grab handles and central hand wheel while the detail on the one piece Commander’s cupola is also very good for this scale. The separate cupola hatch is also very good with interior details and a separate outer support arm which is quite small and will need careful handling.

The side mounted smoke grenade launcher brackets are also moulded very fine for good definition in this scale with the separate smoke grenades having ends slightly hollowed out.

The detail on the mantlet is again very well done with the correct binocular sight and mantlet contours for the early version while the barrel is moulded in one single piece to eliminate the join seam but still manages to represent the large muzzle brake very well.

At the back of the turret is a separate pistol port and escape hatch with the correct style lower hinge with three retaining bolts as well as the large rear storage bin.

The Tracks:
These are provided as ‘rubber band’ type vinyl tracks with okay details but no holes in the guide teeth and really don’t match the level of detail found everywhere in the kit but thankfully there are already three aftermarket workable track sets from LionMarc Model Designs, Atelier infinite and WWII Productions to add the extra detail here. All three track sets fit perfectly around the Skybow drive sprockets without any modifications required while the WWII Productions are the best detailed and easiest to assemble.

You may have noticed from the decal sheet image that the markings are reversed; this is due to the application method being different from normal water slide decals.
With these decals you wet them as normal to loosen from the backing sheet but then press them onto the model face down and then carefully remove the backing sheet leaving the marking behind and while I haven’t actually applied these decal othes of this type completely eliminate any carrier film once applied.

Markings are included for three Tigers, one from SPzAbt.501, 502 and 505 with the basic vehicle numbers, unit insignia and balkenkreuz.

This is a superbly detailed model with all the correct features for the early production Tiger I and it is clear Skybow have researched this vehicle very well and as mentioned some of the detail is as good if not better than some 1:35 scale Tigers produced in the past.

Considering the large gap in the kit numbers between these two kits the intervening kits will be worth seeing given the level of details in these initial kits.

Highly recommended.

Also see the review of the Tiger I Late Production here.
A full comparison between the Tamiya Tiger I Early (kit #32504) And this Skybow kit is available here.

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Thanks to Skybow for the review kit and check the Skybow Website for additional images of the built up models

Page Updated 12 May 2005

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