I started by painting the tyres on the roadwheels, not a job I enjoy. I mean, it isn’t technically difficult and, in my experience, it is something best done fairly quickly and in a Zen like state of calm. Though it does help if you have the eyes of a hawk, the dexterity of a neurosurgeon and the speed and accuracy of a striking cobra. Having none of these things, I find it quite challenging and any calm tends to have disappeared by about the time I get to the second wheel. I finally get all forty-eight wheels done and, as ever, the result is sort of OK. Does anyone know of a better and stress-free way to do this on 1/72 tanks?
Then it’s time to assemble the wheels and tracks. The instructions are delightfully vague about this stage of construction. For the roadwheels, it’s important to note that some inner wheels have a longer shaft on one side. The difference is small, less that 1mm, and they can be fitted with the longer end facing either in or out.
The arrowed row of roadwheels can be fitted either way round – this matters!
The instructions give no clue which is the right way round and I only noticed this when I did a dry assembly of the roadwheels and discovered that I couldn’t get them to sit properly on the lower track runs – one of the inner roadwheels was fitted the wrong way round compared to the other three, causing misalignment with the raised flanges on the inner side of the tracks. It’s best to take some time to be certain you understand how the roadwheels go together before final assembly – because these tracks are hard plastic there is no give and you have to get the alignment of the roadwheels, sprockets and idlers exactly right.
Next, the tracks. I know that some modellers won’t attempt these Revell track-and link kits precisely because of the tracks, so I’ll talk in a little detail about what I found. For assembly, the illustration in the instructions simply shows the parts on one side coming together, but there is no clue as to the best order in which to do this and the illustration shows six single links being used at the front and five at the rear, but you will actually be using more than this – a total of forty-eight single track links are included.
I started by painting the main sections of track with a base of dark gunmetal, highlights of a lighter gunmetal on the treads and a wash of brown to show dust/rust between the treads. I also painted the single links at the same time, while they were still attached to the sprue. I’ll touch up the ends once they are removed from the sprue, fixed in place and the ends sanded down.
After a great deal of thought, I decided that the best way to make progress would be to fix the single links on to the sprocket and idler before fitting these to the hull. I used superglue and it takes a bit of care to get the links straight and some experimentation to get the right number of links on each – I found that I needed ten links on the sprockets and six on the idlers.
I also found a fundamental problem with the sprocket on the first side I attempted. The inner and outer halves of the sprockets are keyed so that they join precisely. However, on mine, the teeth on the inner and outer sprockets didn’t quite align. That’s a major headache when you come to attach the single track links. In retrospect (always a wonderful thing) I should have checked this alignment before I joined the sprocket halves. I could then have cut off the key and joined the two halves so that the teeth aligned precisely. But I didn’t so I had to work round this issue. On the second side, the sprocket teeth aligned perfectly, which made fitting the links much easier.
Gluing the track links to the rear idlers was easier, mainly because there are no sprocket teeth to match and horizontal alignment is fixed by the fact that the flanges on the inside of the tracks fit precisely to the idler.
When all the single track links were attached, I glued the sprocket to the hull, then the upper track run to the sprocket and roadwheels, then the idler to the hull and finally the lower track run to the roadwheels. This the result. It’s a long, fiddly job, but I think the outcome is reasonable.
I finished off by adding the front and rear mudguards and giving the hull and turret a coat of varnish then an oil pin-wash to highlight details. I left off the Fiefel filter trunking and tow cables while I was doing this. They will be added last. I also painted the inside rear of the hull black – I realised that the grey plastic was visible through the open grilles on the rear deck.
The final step is adding the tow cables, filter trunking, spare track links and the hull MG 34 barrel and giving everything a final coat of matte varnish. And it’s done!
After Action Report
This is a level 4 kit; “for the more experienced modeller.” No kidding, this certainly isn’t a kit for a beginner! No locating holes or guides are provided for many small parts including the smoke dischargers, Fiefel air filters, the small ventilator on top of the turret or the headlights. The colour scheme drawings and the photograph of the completed kit on the front of the instructions do show where these things are supposed to go, but getting them attached in just the right place isn’t always easy.
The roadwheels and particularly the tracks are fiendishly difficult to assemble and to get proper alignment and the instructions could give a great deal more useful information. I learned from this as I went and by the time I had finished, I just about knew what I was doing. I’m already looking forward to attempting my next kit of this type.
However, set against these apparent negatives, there are some very positive things about this kit. It has very good detail and is generally accurate for a Tunisian Tiger. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, it builds into a really nice model. The tracks provide a good example. Building and painting these takes substantially more time and effort than using rubber-band type tracks. However, in my opinion, the end result is notably better. These do look like metal tracks made of individual links that have weight and substance and not, well, like rubber bands. This challenged my slowly re-emerging kit-building skills, and I know the end result could have been better. But I also felt that I learned and improved during the build, and that’s always satisfying.
I guess the most important point when considering whether I can recommend this kit is the question; would I choose another Revell kit of the same type? And the answer is an emphatic yes! I enjoyed the challenge of building something a little more difficult and I’m looking forward to applying what I learned to another kit. Despite being more than twenty years old, this really is a very good quality kit and, if you have the time and skills, it can be built into a 1/72 Tunisian Tiger that’s as good as anything else out there.
If you want something that’s challenging for a whole lot of different reasons, you might want to consider the Airfix 1/76 Tiger 1, which also claims to be a Tunisian Tiger (spoiler; it isn’t).
Confession of a born-again kit builder Why I find some modern kits a little intimidating