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Airfix 1/76 Tiger I (A01308V) Build Review

As with the Airfix Sherman I finished recently, I’m going for a fairly quick build here, but there are a couple of things I want to address. These are the lack of mudguards and a turret stowage bin and I intend to fabricate both out of plastic card.

I start by drilling out the main gun. It has been said that the gun on this Airfix Tiger is too thin, and that may be so, but it doesn’t look as silly as the gun on the Sherman, so I’ll use it as is.

Then I assemble the hull – this is in seven parts and it takes some care to get everything approximately lined up. There are still some minor gaps when I finished and these are filled with Tamiya putty. Hatches are added, being careful to get the orientation correct – this is shown accurately on the colour scheme views, but it’s wrong in the instructions.

Next, the turret, and again, fit isn’t great. Again, I use putty to cover the gaps, though I’m able to ignore the large valley at the rear because this will be covered by the stowage bin. I also add the cupola and hatches at this stage.

Then I make the front mudguards – these are very simple, with each comprising just two flat plates that follow the line of the front of the hull and extend almost to the edge of the skirts.

Then, rear mudguards and the stowage bin. These are a little more tricky, but not especially challenging even for my rusty-plastic card building skills.

The it’s the turn of the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets. The idlers and sprockets fit without a problem, but some care is needed with the roadwheels. Part of the problem is that the roadwheels themselves are a loose fit on the spindles on which they are located. Care is needed to ensure that they are straight and aligned. You also need to get the layout right – this is shown correctly in the instructions but wrongly on the side views in the colour schemes.

Spacing also needs some care. On each side there is an inner row of four single wheels, then a row of four doubles then another outer row of four singles. The outer wheels have a collar that faces inwards and that seems to suggest that these wheels should be fitted hard against the row of double wheels, but this is wrong. The outer row of single wheels should be as far from the double wheels as they are from the inner row of single wheels. Getting satisfactory alignment takes a bit of fiddling around to avoid wonky wheels.

Then it’s time to start painting. Everything gets a base coat of dunklegelb (dark yellow) with some highlights added in a few places.

Then a camouflage scheme of irregular stripes of olivegrün is added as per the Airfix instructions. Decals are added when this is finished.

The tracks are painted with an overall dark gunmetal with lighter gunmetal highlights for the treads. Then, they get a wash of brown to indicate rust and dirt. The same wash is used to dirty-up the roadwheels, sprockets and idlers.

Then, everything gets a coat of matt varnish and it’s time to add an oil wash using Abteilung Shadow Brown. I also add the tracks, and these are a little loose. That’s probably better than being too tight, but it does mean that some superglue is need to make the top run sit even close to flat. You can see the before and after below.

Finally, I add the spare track-links on the front hull and it’s done.

After Action Report

As noted in the In-Box review of this kit, there are several things missing here. The lack of mudguards and the turret stowage bin look odd, and I have tried to address these here. However, this kit also lacks things like tools or a stowage box on the front hull, towing cables and exhaust heat shields. These do detract from its overall appearance. That said, the quality of mouldings here is notably better than, for example, the 1/76 Airfix Sherman released just a few years earlier which I reviewed recently.

Despite what it may say on the instructions, this isn’t a Tunisian Tiger; it’s a later model so one of the paint schemes (which isn’t accurate anyway) and one set of decals just don’t apply. Both paint schemes and the box art show rubber tyres, but that is wrong with this type of late Tiger roadwheel. The fit of some parts, notably the roadwheels, really isn’t great and it takes some care to get something that is close to accurate.  The tracks really don’t look very convincing at all.

However, it’s very cheap at well under half the price of some other small-scale Tiger kits, and if there was a “classic” category for kits, this would very definitely fit in it, being more than fifty years old. I built one of these as a kid (and I remember struggling with the roadwheels back then!) so for me, it’s a piece of nostalgia as much as anything else. However, judged purely on its merits as a kit, there probably isn’t a great deal to commend this compared to lots of other, more recent and better small-scale Tiger kits. Unless it brings back memories of childhood, you’re on a really tight budget or you have a particular attachment to 1/76 scale, it’s probably worth paying a little extra to buy something rather more accurate and complete.    

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Airfix 1/76 Tiger I (A01308V) In-Box Review and History

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Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. H Tiger (03262) Build Review – Part 1

Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. H Tiger (03262) Build Review – Part 2

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.

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Airfix 1/76 Tiger I (A01308V) In-Box Review

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).

Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. H Tiger (03262) Build Review – Part 1

Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. H Tiger (03262) In-Box Review and History

Confession of a born-again kit builder Why I find some modern kits a little intimidating

Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. H Tiger (03262) Build Review – Part 1

Before construction starts, I drill out the bore and muzzle brake on the main gun.

Then I do a dry fit to check fit on the hull and turret parts. Hull fit is generally good, though there are some minor gaps at the rear, and the fit of the turret-top to the sides is good, but not perfect.

With the help of some tape while the glue is setting, the turret gaps disappear and it doesn’t look as though filler will be needed.   

Fitting the gun barrel into the mantlet and recoil reducer is a little tricky. Fit is very loose and I can’t find a way to prop the parts while the glue dries that will keep the barrel straight, so instead I carefully balance everything vertically until the glue is dry.

Next, the mantlet and gun are joined to the turret and the commander’s cupola is added with the addition of a disk of 1mm thick plastic card to raise the periscope slots.

Then the smoke dischargers, ventilator, stowage bin and pistol ports are added and filler is used on the holes for track mounting on the left side and that’s the turret done.

I assemble the hull and I notice that the material of which this kit is constructed seems to be a slightly softer plastic than I am used to. Now, maybe it’s just me but I found that, in some particular cases, it seemed to actually absorb the liquid polystyrene cement I used. Gluing the hull sides to the base, for example, took a couple of tries. The first time, I painted a thin film of glue on the base and took my time lining things up, just as I have done on other model tanks. When I finally pressed the parts together, the glue had vanished and the parts wouldn’t stick. I had to try a second time, with a lot more glue and working faster to get the parts to stick. This made construction a little more difficult and because of this I used superglue for some small parts including the track links.

With the hull lower parts assembled I do a dry assembly of roadwheels, idler and sprocket on one side and use that as a template to join the three upper and three lower track runs on each side with the correct angle between parts.

The result is complete upper and lower tracks runs which I hope are correctly angled to fit over the roadwheels, idlers and sprockets. All that remains are the single links that fit over the idler and sprocket at front and rear but I’ll do those as part of final construction, once painting of the roadwheels and sprockets is done.

Hull construction is straightforward, though a little filler is need to conceal a couple of gaps at the rear. I’m leaving off the front and rear mudguards until later to make construction of the separate track links easier.

Then it’s on to painting. I want to paint the roadwheels before fitting, simply because I find it much easier to paint these while mounting the wheel on a cocktail stick and revolving that while keeping the brush still. Because I won’t be fitting the wheels until after painting, I’ll also be adding the tracks after they have been painted.

First step is a couple of coats of Tamiya XF-49 Khaki, which seems a good match for gelbraun. I also paint the tools and other bits and pieces on the front upper hull.

Then parts that would catch the light are highlighted using a lightened mix of the same colour.

These are then blended with a final, thinned coat of XF-49.

Then camouflage is added using Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth. The result isn’t too bad – the contrast between these colours is low, which is what I wanted to achieve and when I give the whole thing a coat of matt varnish, that should tone this down even more.

Finally, the decals are added, using Vallejo Decal Fix and Decal Softener. I do notice that the red turret number decals are outlined in white when on the colour scheme they are shown as plain red. I can’t say I’m especially perturbed by this; it just seems odd.

That’s it for this part. Next, I’ll be finishing this model which involves doing a couple of things I’m really not looking forward to; painting tyres on forty-eight roadwheels and attempting to build those tracks…

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Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. H Tiger (03262) Build Review – Part 2

Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf. H Tiger (03262) In-Box Review and History

Revell 1/72 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.H Tiger (03262) In-Box Review and History


It’s always nice when you open a box and get a pleasant surprise. That’s what happened to me recently when the postman dropped off this Revell 1/72 Tiger I Ausf. H kit.

The kit was released more than twenty years ago, in 1997, and, given my recent disappointment over the Airfix Tiger I, I wondered just how good this was going to be? In the event, it’s really pretty good and, with one tweak, looks as if it should build into a decent representation of this iconic tank.

Not long ago, the future of Revell, the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic model kits, seemed to be in doubt when its parent company, HOBBICO, which also owned other brands including Monogram, filed for bankruptcy. However, Revell-Germany, which continued to operate, was bought by German investment group Quantum Capital Partners. It seems that Revell is continuing to release new kits despite these upheavals and that, if this tidy little kit is anything to go by, is good news for scale modellers.

Tigers in Tunisia

This kit depicts the first production model of the Pz.Kpfw.VI Tiger, the Ausf. H. Most of these early Tigers were sent to the eastern front but a number appeared in North Africa where they opposed American and British forces who landed in Algeria and Morocco as part of Operation Torch in November 1942. The fighting in Tunisia was the first time that American and German land forces had met in combat and the first time that the allies encountered the Tiger tank.

A Tiger tank of sPz Abt. 501 in Tunisia, 1943

Image: Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons

The subject of this kit is a Tiger of schwere Panzer-Abteilung (Heavy Tank Battalion – sPz Abt.) 501 in Tunisia in early 1943. These tanks were assigned to the hastily assembled 5th Panzer Army and were shipped from Sicily to Bizerte in in Tunisia in November 1942. They encountered American tanks for the first time in early December with six Tigers taking part in the Battle of Tebourba. The allied force under the command of British Lt. Gen. Kenneth Anderson lost fifty-five tanks during this battle, most of them to the Tigers of sPz Abt. 501. These tanks took part in several other engagements in Tunisia including the bitter and bloody battle at Sidi bou Zid in February 1943 where the 1st US Armored Division lost forty-six tanks.

This battalion also took part in Operation Ochsenkopf (Ox Head), a large-scale German counter-attack in Tunisia which started on 27th February and continued into early March. Almost all the Tigers of sPz Abt. 501 were destroyed in this operation, most being immobilised by mines. In mid-March, the few surviving Tigers of sPz Abt. 501 were integrated into the newly arrived sPz Abt. 504. All Axis troops in Tunisia had surrendered by 12th May.

A Tiger tank of sPzAbt. 504 in Tunisia, 1943

Image: Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons

One common misconception about these tanks and the fighting in North Africa was that the German force in Tunisia was part of the Afrika Korps, but this is not true. The German expeditionery force that arrived in North Africa in early 1941 was indeed the Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK) under the command of General (later Field Marshall) Erwin Rommel. However, the DAK was short-lived as a separate entity and in January 1942 it was combined with other German and Italian units to become Panzerarmee Afrika. In early 1943 these units were combined with Italian forces to become the Italian 1st Army. This army, with the 5th Panzer Army under the command of Colonel-General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim, were combined to create Heeresgruppe Afrika (Army Group Africa) under the overall command of Rommel. So, despite what the instructions for this kit might say, there never were any Tiger tanks belonging to the DAK.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains four sprues of slightly soft-feeling grey plastic. It’s notably different to, for example, the fairly brittle plastic found in the early Airfix kits I have been reviewing recently, but I don’t suppose it will make a great deal of difference to the build.

Detail is good and all mouldings are crisp and completely free of flash or obvious sink-marks. I particularly like the fact that the gratings on the upper hull are moulded completely open – that’s a nice touch and quite different to most small-scale Tiger kits.

Details include exhaust shields, separate towing cables, tools moulded into the upper hull and the distinctive Feifel air cleaners and ducts on upper rear hull and rear bulkhead. The main gun is a solid moulding so you may want to drill this out.

The tracks are the “track and link” sections found in some other Revell 1/72 tanks. On each side there are six moulded sections of track and eleven individual links. The larger sections are joined to form the top and bottom runs and the individual links go round the sprocket and idler. This looks as though it has the potential to create a very detailed representation of the Tiger tracks, but it also looks very fiddly to complete.

Several spare individual track links are provided and these are shown on the box-art as being on the side of the turret. Looking at photographs of wartime Tigers in Tunisia, I haven’t found a single one with track links on the turret so I will probably relocate these to the hull front. However, that means that the holes on the left side of the turret will have to be filled.

The full-colour, twelve-page instructions look very clear and decals and colour schemes are provided for two different tanks of sPz Abt. 501. The decals look fine, but I’m not entirely convinced about the colour schemes. The first, shows a Tiger in March 1943 with a two-colour camouflage scheme with a base created by mixing sand, khakibraun and erde dunkel and camouflage stripes in khakibraun.

This seems pretty close to what is now generally agreed to have been the “tropen” scheme used in Tunisia with a base of gelbraun with grau stripes. These two colours are very low contrast and often aren’t visible in wartime black-and-white photographs which is why photos of Tunisian Tigers seem to show a single colour finish.

The other colour scheme shows a Tiger in an overall lighter afrikabraun finish. I haven’t found any evidence of Tunisian Tigers finished in a single, lighter colour, so I’ll be using the two-colour camouflage finish.

Overall, this seems to be a good representation of an early Tiger. However, I did find one very small issue. The commander’s cupola is not as tall as it should be. Specifically, the periscope ports on the kit are flush with the turret top, However, in real life, these were around five centimetres higher (the cupola is shown correctly on the box art). If you compare the arrangement of how the Revell parts fit with a detail of a picture of Tiger 131, a Tiger of sPz Abt. 504 captured in Tunisia in April 1943 and currently on display at The Tank Museum, England, you will see what I mean. 

It looks as though the bottom portion of the cupola is missing here, but hopefully the addition of a disc of 1mm plastic card should put things right. Other than that, I don’t see any major issues with accuracy. You could dispute things like the placement of tools on the upper hull and perhaps the pistol-port on the right side of the turret, but in general, this seems to me to be pretty reasonable.

Would You Want One?

I think so, yes. I haven’t yet tried a 1/72 Tiger kit by, for example, Dragon or Trumpeter, but this isn’t bad at all. The attention to detail is good, it is a fairly accurate representation of a Tiger of sPz Abt. 501 in Tunisia in early 1943 and all the detail is crisply moulded. The instructions are clear, the decals look adequate and I think this has the potential to build into a nice model.

I don’t know if the apparent softness of the plastic will affect construction and I’m a little concerned about the ability of my large man-fingers to be able to deal with the tiny, separate track links, but I’ll give it a try and I think this approach the potential to make something better than the usual rubber-bands. Overall, I’m really looking forward to building this one.


If you want a cheap and cheerful 1/76 Tunisian Tiger, you could try the Airfix version. But there are several reasons you probably shouldn’t – see the in-box review on this site, link below.

Alternatively, if you want something a little more recent, Dragon launched a new 1/72 Tiger I “Early Production ‘131’ s.Pz.Abt.504 Tunisia 1943” in April 2020. This kit features decals for Tiger 131, the tank displayed by The Tank Museum. I haven’t seen any reviews of this kit, but if it’s up the same quality as other 1/72 Dragon Tigers, it ought to be very good indeed. 

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