German Tiger I Early Production
1:48 Scale - Kit No.32504
First Look by Terry Ashley

Tamiya have now released the first tracked vehicle in their new 1:48 series and on first glance you have to remind yourself this is 1:48 and not the larger 1:35 scale.

Kit Summary:
The kit represents an early 1943 production vehicle which featured two Bosch head lights on the upper front hull corners and also includes the mounting plates for the s-mine discharges although the discharges aren't included in the kit. The engine deck louvers have the correct pattern for this production variant and also include the Feifel air cleaner system.

The lower hull has the correct shaped front hull extension while the rear hull panel has the correct layout for the type with the rounded sheet metal exhaust guards.

Two drive sprockets are included; the early type with the spokes lined up between the teeth and raised central hub as well as the later 1944 type with flat hub and star shaped bracket to hold the bolts in place which would indicate we may well be seeing future Tiger kits in this series.

The idler wheel is the early 700mm diameter type and the outer road wheels have the correct six hub bolts while the inner wheels also have the correct series of six groups of three bolts around the outer rim.

The turret is asymmetrical and features the correct layout for the early turret with drum cupola, ventilator and loader's hatch and the eight central travel lock bolts and smoke grenade launcher brackets as well as the early escape hatch with bevelled edges and the reinforced mantlet with binocular sight holes and it is clear Tamiya have really done their homework on this model.

The turret has some later optional features such as the side mounted spare track links and the loader's fixed periscope but you have to open up the locating holes for these but these are not used on this kit apart from the spare track on one of the marking options.

The 1:48 hull top overlayed on its 1:35 cousin to show the size difference.

The Kit in detail:
The kit consists of 203 parts in dark grey plastic as well as the lower hull tub in die-cast metal that includes the sponsons and outer hull sides as well as the axles cast in place. Additional to this are poly caps for the drive sprockets and idler wheels and the decal sheet and of course the instruction sheet.

The quality of the moulding is everything we have come to expect from Tamiya in their 1:35 kits with cleanly moulded parts and delicate details although there are a few minor pin marks on the interior of the hatches but these are very shallow and shouldn't pose too much of a problem to remove.

Lower Hull/Suspension:
The lower hull tub as mentioned is in die-cast metal probably for a fully built metal kit in Tamiya's other die-cast range and is a compromise for this kit in that it has limited details, there is no flange detail between the hull sides and sponsons and no detail around the axle attachments or suspension stops for what is quite a bare hull compared to the early test shots from the Skybow Tiger I kits coming soon.

At the front are plastic parts for the bolt head detail on the insides of the final rive housings and the rear hull panel is a separate plastic part which makes it easier to fit the exhausts, rear fenders and tools.

The drive sprockets have excellent detail with the correctly aligned spokes and nice hub details and the two drive halves trap a poly cap for attaching the sprocket to the hull axle, there is also the later sprocket with flat hub included for one of the marking options and could also indicate future kits?

The road wheels have excellent details and each is marked on the back with a small number to indicate its position in the wheel setup and you also get replacement hub fittings so you can leave off the outer set of road wheels for transport mode, a nice touch.

TamiyaThe track is in the form of link and length solid plastic with the links having nice details and only very small pin marks on the inner side with part of the sprue tree on sprue A being a jig for assembling the track which should make the task a lot easier.

On the rear hull are the exhausts with separate top baffles although the support bars are a single piece with just indentations to show the bars and the separate armoured covers have no cast texture, but that is probably getting picky and there are separate towing shackles both front and back.

The sheet metal exhaust covers are moulded quite thin and the Feifel air cleaners have nicely done details with the latches included as well as a separate three part jack and separate rear fenders.

The side fenders are attached to the metal hull sides but there is no provision for leaving off the fenders but it wouldn't be too much trouble to add the small square mounting brackets if you wanted to have the fenders removed.

Upper Hull:
TamiyaThe upper hull is a single moulding and has nice crisp details with the correct engine louver layout for this variant and includes subtle cast texture on the panels between the louvers. The large ventilator on the engine bay door is a solid moulding with the central star fitting and the Feifel air cleaner plumbing includes very nice texture on the flexible pipes as well as flange details at the air cleaner end and looks very convincing.

As mentioned above it has all the features of the early hull with the two front mounted Bosch lights having separate front sections with open slit for good detail definition as well as separate hull hatches that include nice interior details if shown open, there are a couple of small pin marks on the inside but these shouldn't pose a problem?

The moulded steel cables for the hull top and sides have nice texture included as well as the correct three cleaning rod arrangement on the top ropes for this variant.

One strange thing is that the sledge hammer and front plate mounted shovel are separate items yet the shovel, axe and wire cutters are moulded as part of the top deck and have far less defined details as a result, if some tools can be separate why not all?

The front driver's panel is a separate part with nicely detailed driver's vision port and MG ball mounting with separate MG barrel and also has the two side clips moulded on for good detail.

The glacis also has nice side fender detail and the raised guard in front of the driver's visor and thankfully the fit of the plastic glacis, top hull and rear panel to the metal lower hull is precise as you can get and no filler or trimming will be needed which makes assembly of the major parts a breeze.

The Turret:
TamiyaAs mentioned the turret has the correct asymmetrical shape with all the correct features for the early turret such as the drum cupola, early ventilator, weld seam at the front of the roof and the eight flush travel lock bolts located centrally. The drum cupola is in two halves with vision slits included with a separate top ring and hatch with internal details and separate opening latch support and the loader's hatch also has internal details and the smoke grenade launchers have separate mounting brackets and grenade canisters for good detail but will look better with wiring added.

At the front of the roof is what appears to be the top guard behind the mantlet but has no bolt head or other details while the turret walls have subtle weld seam details at the lower join and around the side vision ports and front plate welds plus the separate pistol port and escape hatch for the rear quarters.

The separate storage bin is a single moulding and has basic latch details on the top with the mounting brackets included on the turret halves.

The mantlet has nice details and is the reinforced type with binocular sighing holes and nice details for the co-ax MG port and the six large bolts around the barrel collar are also nicely done. There is a two part mounting behind the mantlet that traps two poly caps which then hold the mantlet in place by the two support pins inserted through the turret sides as per the original and will allow the mantlet to be removed at any time. The 8.8cm barrel is split vertically and includes the muzzle brake with correct contours with the barrel halves which then fits into the gun collar which is part of the mantlet.

There is an issue where the barrel length is short by 2mm when compared to scaled down 1:35 plans in the Actung Panzer Tiger and Tank Power 13 Tiger Vol.1 but this can be recified easily by not slipping the barrel all the way into the gun collar leaving the exposed barrel length of 59.6mm in 1:48 scale (give or take a fraction of a mm).

One of the marking options has the later spare tracks mounted on the turret sides and if you are building this option you have to open up locating holes in the turret walls before assembly, so watch this if you choose this option.

The decals are typical Tamiya with nice colour register but thickish carrier film and have markings for four Tiger Is.

Decal sheet

The Sprues
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A very nice rendition of an early Tiger I in this smaller scale and the advances in moulding technology from previous 1:48 kits such as those from Bandai is evident in the detail and finer parts.

There are a few anomalies like the moulded on tools when some others tools are separate and that there are other parts smaller than the tools which would seem this is just a shortcut measure.

The attention to the finer details for this particular variant is noteworthy as well as the execution of the detail on the parts such as inside the hatches and the rear engine deck that should make for an attractive model for those into 1:48 or are attracted by the new state of the art kits coming from Tamiya and Skybow.

Highly recommended.

A full comparison between this and this Skybow Tiger I Early Production kit is available here.


Kit courtesy of my Credit Card and the excellent service from Rainbow Ten.

Page created 9 December 2004

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