Academy Tiger I Early with Interior

by John Prigent


Academy/Minicraft's early Tiger I is am absolutely  splendid kit which builds into an extremely detailed model.  The whole hull and turret tops are detachable to show off that luscious interior, but the Korean designers did take a few short cuts so this article shows how to add the missing interior parts and correct some mistakes.  I won't describe the basic building process - the instruction sheet is perfectly adequate for that.

Starting with the hull floor , there should be longitudinal stiffeners along it.  The real torsion bars go through slots in them, but the thickness of the plastic floor means that the bars touch it,  This means that the lower parts of the stiffeners aren't needed, simplifying things considerably!  They run along the whole hull bottom, but since the engine conceals everything under it you need not go beyond the firewall.  You need two strips of plastic card 4mm high, the port one 100mm long and the starboard 110mm.  Slot the firewall in place and draw a pencil line on the hull floor in line with the back of the recess in it; this is your rear end point for both stiffeners.  Lay a strip on one side of the floor with its end against the line and mark where the centre of each torsion bar mounting point comes against it, then move it to the other side and mark it for those mounts.

As you can see in my photographs, all that's needed is to cut the strips at the marked points to fit over the torsion bars.  Make sure you keep track of where you need simple holes to fit over the bars and where the "slots" are, but the job is easy.  Shape the front of the strips so that the port one stops short of the first bar and the starboard one goes over it to the lower hull front - also shown in my photos.

My next step was to modify the torsion bars, by filing down the tapered end, and add bearings from 2mm wide sections of 5mm Plastruct tube.  The lower parts of these needed to be cut away to match the shape of the bearings moulded onto the other ends of the bars, and then they were simply slipped onto the bars which were cemented into place and the stiffeners added.  However, everyone makes  mistakes and this was mine.  After finishing this work I looked at it beside my reference photographs and was struck by a horrible thought: I believe Academy shows the bars the wrong way round in its instructions.  The bearings moulded on the bars to go right against the hull side seem on second thoughts to be much too large for that position, and I think the tapered ends should go there.  If you fit the bars the other way round, the large bearings are in the correct place and all you'll need to do is make larger holes in the stiffeners to fit over them, without the work of making new bearings.  Learn from my mistake!

There should really be transverse stiffeners as well, and additional short ones from the hull front to the driver's and radio operator's seats as well as transverse round bars for the controls at the front of the hull, but none of these are very visible so I left them out.  See the  photographs in the references quoted below if you want to add them to your model.

I did some work to the engine next.  As you may have seen in reviews of the kit, the air filters are too shallow.  This seems to be because the kit designers misinterpreted the depth of the actual engine block and had to raise its mounts to clear the torsion bars, leaving insufficient room on top for accurate air cleaners.  Since all you can see of the engine is its top, it's worth correcting this fault.  Start by cutting 2mm from the bottom of each engine side and removing the mounts for the generator from it.  Build the engine block without the filters, moving the separate generator and ancillaries up so they squash together as on the real engine.   I emphasise that this is a "quick fix", not an accurised engine - if you want to build a diorama with the Tiger's engine removed you'll need to do more than I describe here and add a lot of extra detail inside the engine bay.

Now add 2mm slices of 10mm Plastruct rod  between the filter base and the top plates.  I used a small pipe cutter to make shallow grooves round my tube, as a sawing guide - much easier than trying to cut squarely through a round tube!  However, don't use a pipe cutter to cut right through the tube because its cutting wheel will leave a bevel on tube walls this thick.  Add these sections between the filter base and the top plates.  The engine's too tall now, so the engine deck won't fit unless you trim the bases of the engine mounts.  Dry fit it in the hull to see how much to remove.

The radiator bays need a little attention as well.  Cut away the locating ribs where the firewall and enginebay sides join so that the fuel tanks can fit flat against the firewall - there should be a small gap between them and the radiators.   Make up both radiators and try the fan units against them - you'll see that the fans don't fit flush as they should because the radiator rears are fully detailed.  This is super if you're building a model with fans stripped out for servicing, but if you aren't just file the rear faces of the radiators flat so the fans fit properly against them.  Add a strip of plastic card under the inboard side of each radiator front, to level the sponson floor here where the bay sides have been moulded a little too deep.  When you fit the radiators remember that they're vertical, not perpendicular to the sloping sponson floor.

The radiator pipework is supplied as far as the side af the bay, but the parts which lead down beside the engine are missing.  They're simple to add with bent rod or tube, and do improve the appearance of the engine bay.  All these pipes were metal with rubber flexible connecting hoses.

Moving back to the fighting compartment, the lower side ammunition lockers need correction.  The aft ones should actually be the same length as the forward ones - you'd never get an 88mm round in those short lockers!  It's a simple scratch-building job to make duplicates of the forward lockers with 0.5mm plastic card; take careful measurements, use internal formers to set the shape and put a skin over it

The moulded location lines will need to be removed to allow for their greater length, of course, but the real lockers were mounted lower than in the kit so that the doors of the sponson bins could open over them.  Cut the lower backs of all four lockers so they can fit over the kit locating points but lower down - they fit parallel to the hull floor with the aft top corner of the rear locker at the edge of the sponson itself.  While you're at it, cut the end lip off the floor locations on the forward lockers so you can slide the floor section into place later.

You can now finish off the hull floor by adding the kit parts.  A few minor points need to be altered, though.  First, note that the battery boxes are a bit under-sized; move them forward a bit to compensate for this, the port one a little more  than the starboard one so they'e staggered, and fix them with their outer sides against the longitudinal stiffeners.  You'll need to trim their bases to allow this move.  The alternative is to simply build new ones, about 17mm by 10mm, but it sems a pity to lose all the detail of the moulded batteries under their detachable lids so I accepted the size discrepancy.

Next you'll need to alter the starboard shock absorber.  Academy has moulded this to fit in the same way as the port one, raked to the rear.  The real thing is connected to the first torsion bar and fits close to the internal brake housing, sloping slightly forward.  Cut off its base connection and fix this to the torsion bar, then add the shock absorber as shown in my photograph.  There will be a gap, but this is hidden by the guard which was fitted to protect the radio operator's feet.  Make this from .5mm plastic card; its rear is cut away to clear the adjacent torsion bar and its front top corner is cut at a diagonal.

Now come the bins under the turret floor.  The starboard one held 88mm rounds and the port one was for general stowage.  To make each one start with a rectangle of .5mm plastic card 37mm by 13.5mm.  The bins must fit between the side bins you built and the batteries on the hull floor, so adjust the width if necessary.  Cut from one corner a section 8mm along the long side and 4.5mm along the short side.  From the opposite corner cut a section 8mm along the long side and 8mm along the short side.  Now cut a strip 7.5mm wide and use sections of it to build the sides of the bin; note that there is no central divider and the second bin is a mirror image of the first.  As far as I can establish, neither bin had a lid, so the shells will be visible inside the starboard one and you'll need to stow some tools or crew kit in the other.  I made the lower layer of three shells by shortening some from the useful Verlinden Super Value set 1101 (intended for Tiger IIs which used a longer shell).  Fit retaining straps over both layers of shells. These new bins go against the side lockers, their rear edges over the third torsion bar from the firewall.

 Now for the last job on the hull floor.  The Tiger had centralised lubrication, with the pipes leading to four plates which were painted bright red.  They fitted on pillars each end of the bins under the turret floor and, being bright red, are noticeable when you remove the turret so it's worth adding them from 7mm by 3mm scraps of plastic card.  The real detail enthusiast can add the lubrication nipples to them as well - I didn't bother. You can now slide the false floor sections into place, but first drill out the round dimples in them which represent the real Tiger's finger holes to allow the plates to be lifted for access.

You may have seen comments in reviews of this kit that only three shells fit in each sponson bin though there should be four.  The reason is simple - the rack walls should be much closer to the edges of the sponsons.  The kit designers have also left out the central hull brace which should appear in the middle of each sponson, so some simple changes and additions will make quite a difference to the model.  Start by cutting a strip of plastic card 14mm wide (mine are 15mm which turned out a little too wide) which will make the missing ends of the bins and also put the walls in the correct place.  Cut pieces from this strip to match the height of the bin wall at each end, plus two pieces for the centre of each bin.  Cut eight 2.5mm pieces from the strip as well to make the actual racks, which can be fitted at the kit locating points.

Cement the four end pieces to the walls, and then the walls into the hull, centrally between the firewal and the locations for the roof support arch.  Now trim the centre "ends" to fit over the locating points for the kit shell racks and cement them in place, with a strip of plastic card between each pair to represent the tops of the central hull braces.  Add the 2.5mm pieces in place of the kit shell racks, then shape  strips to fill the gaps at each end of the bins - the real Tiger had dust covers here.  To complete the work, make the sections of the central braces which show in the fighting compartment by cutting plastic card to the shape seen in my photographs.  They are T-sectioned, so add a strip of thin plastic card along each for the top of the T.  Don't make them too deep, the turret floor must go past them when you fit the turret!

OK, back to the driving compartment.  The upper front plate needs modification, as the braces moulded onto it are in the wrong places.  The real ones were extensions of the lower hull sides, so cut  the moulded braces away from the plate and fix them right on the edges of the sponson.  Assemble the two parts of the front plate and dry-fit it to the hull to check the fit of the braces - I had to trim their bottoms to get the fronts at the correct angle to meet the front plate.  When they're dry, and you've smoothed their joints, add a grab handle to each one.  To finish off, fix a plastic card plate over the starboard opening of the roof support arch - this was a backplate for the machine gun ammo bags.

Next month I'll show you what needs to be done to the turret.  Meanwhile, a note about painting.  There's a lot of controversy about German tank interior colours, and my notes are based on examination of paint which had had 50 years' worth of potential chemical changes even though not exposed to light so aren't the last word on the subject.  However, I find that Humbrol 108, 87 and 70 are reasonable out-of-the-tin matches for the likely original colours of the interior cream, lower hull grey and red primer which I've seen.  The grey is a particularly hard colour to pin down, some surviving samples being bluish and others greenish, so other shades are usable.  Contemporary photographs show that most Tiger engines were painted a satin black all over - the photos of multi-coloured ones seem to show engines specially painted for exhibition.  The air filters were also black, not cream as on other tanks.  Shell cases were brass, with black heads for armour-piercing shells and green for high explosive.

This month I'll show you some upgrades for the turret interior, but  I'll kick off with the remaining work on the hull interior.  There isn't much to scratchbuild now, just a couple of  "Atemschlauch" breathing tubes and some small bins.  I made the bins from thick plastic card and fixed them as shown in my photos: one at the rear of the starboard sponson ammo bin, one on the port aft side of the roof support arch and one on its forward starboard side.  A fourth one, actually a removable box, goes in the starboard sponson beside the hull gunner with three MG ammo boxes from my spares box.  Note how the ammo bags fit behind these; you can't fit in as many bags as were actually carried because those in the kit are a bit large.  A piece of aluminium tube beside the radio operator's seat  represents the spare MG barrel carrier, with a gasmask above it and a spare vision block (thick plastic card again) block beside that.

On the forward centre of the roof support arch are two "Atemschlauch" breathing tubes, made from 2mm aluminium tube 15.5mm long, and in the starboard corner is a single MG ammo bag.   On its back , on the starboard side, goes an MG barrel tube like the one I fitted to the hull beside the radio operator.  Behind the driver there's a gasmask on the hull wall and a waterbottle on the roof arch.  To allow access to the ammo bin there was no stowage in his sponson, and in fact you need to move the gyrocompass a bit further forward than given in the kit:  You should be able to see in my photo where I scraped away its location and how far I moved it.  The front plate gets the radio operator's waterbottle and two more ammo bags, and a bit of work on his machine gun.  This is a nice piece of moulding, though the head pad on it support needs to be cut off and reattached with the pad to port.  The work comes in because the Korean designers have confused the gun support with its telescope sight, which needs to be added.  This is a simple job, just an 11.5mm length of aluminium tube with a brow-rest carved from thick plastic card.  The final bits are two circles of thin plastic card on the fuel fillers to represent the caps which the designers forgot.  All this work should be visible in my photographs, so refer to them for guidance.

Now we can get on with the turret - fit in the work above while you wait for cement to dry on turret parts!  Start by assembling the two turret halves and the mantlet interior, and when they're thoroughly set, cut its ring down to the level of the locating lugs.  The clearance needed for the lugs was the reason for the sponson ammo bin sides being too far outboard as provided in the kit, and the turret ring shouldn't protrude below the hull top when in place anyway.  Clean up and fit the turret floor and its port and rear supports - the front one will need surgery in a little while but you can dry fit it to help get the floor level - and make sure the turret turns freely when you drop it into place.

Now build and fit the turret traverse motor and the commander's hand traverse gear.  Wait to fit the connecting column J50 until the hand gear is in place - it must be vertical in its location on the motor, so get this right and then cement its top offset from the hand gear housing.  This unit is semi-gloss black.  Leave the gunner's seat and support out for now,  as correction is needed but can't be done at this stage.

Turn next to the gun breech assembly.  This has one real blooper - the elevation arc has its supports on the wrong side!  Cut them off and refix them on its port side, then fix the arc under the port recoil cylinder.  Remove the location on the turret ring for the loader's seat, and then prepare yourself for some old-fashioned scratchbuilding fun!  The kit designers have managed to omit the actual elevation gearbox and its mount, which you need to create for yourself.  I haven't got  measurements for these parts and no plans or photographs show them completely, so a bit of cut-and-try is needed.  Cut a piece of plastic card about 10mm by  13mm and shape like a kind of "triangular L" to fit over the turret ring in line with the rear of the location for the starboard vision port  On top of this goes a plate about 8mm by 10mm, with a plate 13mm by 10mm covering the open inboard side.  The lower aft corner of this should be cut away to match the angle of the "triangular L", then a narrow strip inside it from the bottom of the "L" completes the mount assembly.

For the gearbox you'll need to telescope together several sizes of tube, as close as you can get to 6mm, 2mm and 5mm.  Cut the 2mm tube to run from the mount to just behind the elevation arc - dryfit the breech assembly to measure this.  On the outboard end goes 4mm of the wide tube, with 3mm of the middle-size at the arc's end.  Cut one side off the 3mm length and pose this at an angle to fit close to the arc.  Now you need a second length of the middle-size tube with a recess filed into it to fit against the widest part of the gearbox, long enough to fit sloping down from the front of the mount to just short of the turret ring.  Blank off its ends and fix a 2mm block to the lower one before fitting it in place.

Now cut apart the gunner's seat support J31 and extend its arm by 5mm with a plastic card insert filed to shape.  Drill the end of the arm to accept some brass rod, which you'll shape in a minute.  Glue the other end to the 2mmblock on the gearbox, keeping it horizontal, and fix the third floor support under it after cutting it to the new length.   Bend and cut brass rod to fit from the drilled hole to the turret ring in front of the port floor support, and the job's done.  This is a lot easier to do than it is to describe, and my photos should show you what you're aiming at.  Don't be afraid to chuck out any failures if you don't get the new parts right first time, I threw out several tries!  Note, by the way, that I had to fudge a bit to get everything to fit with the turret still able to fit onto the hull.  The shortened floor support should bend outward, not back, but  my sloping tube was a bit short and there wasn't time to rebuild it before press date.  The whole assembly is grey.

With the elevation mechanism complete you can add the seats to it.  Cut the locating tab off part J32 and add J25 and J6 to it to build the loader's seat, which fits on the back of the elevation gearbox mount, facing aft.  The gunner's seat  which you removed from J31 can now go back on its arm, but first fix the commander's footrest under it.  This is a simple flattened oval of brass rod, fixed to a scrap of plastic card under the rear of the seat cushion.

The next job is to build the barrel balance mechanism, which is missing from the kit apart from its conspicuous balance cylinder.  This is another area where dimensions and exact layout aren't available, so I had to aim for a close approximation of its appearance - you'll have to judge all sizes by eye, and check my photos to see how it fits together..  Start by cementing the cylinder in place and work from that  Start with a 3mm piece of 1mm plastic rod as a pivot, attaching a plastic card pivot point at each end and a mount at the top (the real thing pivoted from the turret roof, but since that's detachable in this model you need something else to hang the mechanism from).  Trim the mount to fit up against the turret side just under the locating rib for the roof, but don't fix it in place yet.  A plastic card arm 7mm long hangs vertically to rest against the end of the counterbalance cylinder part J49, and a second one 6mm long inboard of it points aft at about 80 degrees to the first.  At the end of this two curved pieces 4mm long hang straight down, with a small spacer between them, and an arm 12mm long runs forward to the inside of the mantlet - this has two bends in it as my photo should show.  Finally add what seems to be a relieving spring housing, vertically under the inboard arm, from tube and rod cut to fit the space.  Paint the whole thing semi-gloss black and fix it in place, but don't cement the 12mm arm to the mantlet.

A warning here - do not fix the outer mantlet parts before the gun is installed.  I did, and it was fiendishly hard to get the completed gun breech and its guard into place afterwards because the outer mantlet parts stop you tilting the mantlet far enough to make insertion easy!  The MG and its mount can be made up too.  The headpad and its arm, which weren't fitted to the turret MG, need to be cut off the mount as do the trigger and handgrip, then the MG can be fixed to it.  The instructions have you fixing this assembly to the misplaced ribs on the elevation quadrant, but the real mount seems to have only been fixed to the mantlet so you can just plug the MG in place after painting it.  The gunsight is a plug fit too.

The turret stowage can be fitted next.  Note that it will not fit unless you start from the electrical junction box beside the escape hatch and work round from there, and check my photos for the correct positions of the various boxes.  You'll also see in my photo that the MG ammo bags and water bottle stowed beside the loader need to be cut down a bit to fit over the balance cylinder. Build two  bins on the turret ring beside the commander and gunner, from plastic card cut to fit the space.  The gun handwheels all need handles, simply made with plastic rod and painted as dark wood.  The traverse indicator, J18, should fit at a sharp angle on top of the gunner's manual traverse mechanism and don't forget to fit the two connecting rods between these and the Main traverse gear housing J43/44.

The next modification is to the commander's seat.  Cut its locating arm away and make a new bracket from plastic card as shown in my photograph.  Under it goes a stowage bin with a solid back and bottom and square mesh front - I used Airwaves etched brass mesh.  The back is 15mm high and 10mm wide at the top, tapering to 7mm at the bottom.  Add a semi-circular solid bottom, then cut a piece of mesh to bend round it.  I found it best to anneal my mesh -  just hold an over-size piece with pliers and heat it over a candle flame till it glow red hot, then let it cool naturally.  This softens the metal and makes it easier to get the required even curve.  Superglue it in place and trim with scissors, then add the edging from thin plastic strip.  Two plastic strip bearers run up its back, projecting above and below to fix it to the turret ring and the edge of the turret floor.

Now you can build and fit the gun - it would have been very much in the way until the fittings round the turret had been dealt with.  Academy has left out the gun covering plate; this is simply duplicated with a piece of 1/5mm plastic card cut to fit across the ribs moulded on top of the barrel, but you'll need to cut the forward one down a bit first or the finished assembly won't fit into the mantlet.  The inside of the breech is, as usual with kits, unrealistically hollow.  Pack the barrel end with filler putty and smooth it off to clear the breechblock, then do the same with the open end - use the end of a paintbrush handle to keep the opening clear for the shells!  The breech is green, for which I used Humbrol 149, with polished steel interior and block.  Cut the two locating ribs off the breech guard parts, then replace them with four squares of plastic card spaced to fit the raised areas each side of the rim of the empty case bag.  Paint the guard and fix it to the gun, then add the bag under it, painted khaki with a black leather rim all round.

The gunner had a footguard which Academy hasn't provided.  Since it's both curved and tapered this gave me pause for thought, until I noticed that the disposable plastic cup from a hot drink vending machine had exactly the right curvature and taper.  Find one of these and cut a section from near its bottom, 12mm high, 22mm round the curve of the top and 20mm round the curve of the bottom.  Fix curved lengths of plastic strip 1.5mm high to its top and 3mm high to its bottom, then add the exterior ribs 1.5mm wide - the inside was flat.  The guard simply fixes under the turret ring, with its port end in line with the power traverse pedal J48.  It doesn't connect to the floor, so use superglue for a firm joint to the ring.

The only essential addition to the turret roof is the internal gun travel lock.  This is a 4mm piece of 1mm plastic rod with 7.5mm long "hooks" cut from plastic card and added to its ends.  Pivot points from plastic card go outboard of the hooks.  It fits between the roof's ribs, the hooks pointing forward with their rears in line with the ends of the breathing tubes F9.  Before fixing the F9 in front of the loader's hatch, drill out the end of the inboard one to take a length of plastic rod - this one was actually not a breathing tube but the housing for the spring which helped open the hatch.  Fix a scrap of plastic card to the other end of the rod as the bearing surface for an arm, which goes on the hatch as part of the exterior detailing which I'll show you next month.

I've been able so far to avoid talking about expensive accessory sets because there aren't any - yet - which you can use to upgrade the interior of the Academy Tiger.  That's not to say that there aren't interior sets available, but it really isn't worth buying a full interior to take just a few parts from it.  The work I've discussed has therefore relied on the rods, tubes and plastic card which most serious modellers will have to hand anyway.  However, after all that scratchbuilt interior work  there are a number of good sets you can use for exterior superdetailing if you choose.  I must admit that I lashed out a bit in buying these to show you how they work, but you can select for yourself the level of detail you want to add.

I'll start by looking at the tracks.  This is always a good starting point for a kit with separate links, because you can clean up a few at a time while you build the rest of the exterior, and avoid the exasperation of needing to deal with lots of them all at once.  The Academy links are rather good, with the correct spud pattern, but do suffer from ejection pin marks - two on each link's inner face - and don't have the real thing's hole through each guide horn.  Providing the hole would have meant separate horns, with twice as many parts to pay for and assemble, so Academy's compromise is sensible.  However, I wanted fully detailed tracks so I turned to the aftermarket.  Here both Model Kasten and Friulmodel make early Tiger I tracks, at similar prices.   On this occasion I opted for the Friulmodel fully articulated white metal ones, mainly because their weight produces an absolutely authentic sag to the completed track.

Friulmodel links come with cast-in track pins one side and open jaws the other.  A former is provided, and you just  place the links on this with each one's pin inside the jaws of its neighbour before pressing the jaws closed with a small screwdriver or something similar - I use the tang of an old file.  The links need minimal cleanup, just the removal of tiny casting lugs and a quick run round the holes of the guide horns to remove any flash, and the metal is so soft that this is an easy job.  I paint dark earth on the inside and outside of the completed tracks before making the final joint, then wipe it off; this leaves dirt where it belongs and fairly clean metal on the areas which contact the ground.

A point to remember is that the tracks won't stretch to fit a completed suspension - leave some wheels (usually the idlers or sprockets) to be fitted with the tracks.  For the Tiger it's best to make this the idlers, and  you'll also need to leave off the outer roadwheels until the tracks are in place.  Friuli gives you plenty of spare links, for stowage and also so there's no need to worry if you break a few.  Tanks with torsion bar suspension use differing number s of links for each track, so don't build two identical tracks but check-fit them round their respective sets of wheels when you think they're nearly long enough.   Remember also that the cast-in connecting pins are quite thin - they won't take too much movement and may break at the bottom under the tracks' weight if you hold the model in the air too long while you're working on it.  To avoid this superglue the links to the bottoms of the roadwheels when you're satisfied with the sag of their top run, but if it happens anyway don't despair, just superglue the links together either side of the break.

With the wheels and tracks completed you can move on to the hull details.  those given by Academy are quite adequate, but I decided to use part of the super new Aber etched brass set 35014 kindly supplied for review by Historex Agents.  This is beautifully etched and very comprehensive, but since it was designed for the Italeri Tiger I kit some parts won't fit the Academy one and others aren't needed as the Academy parts are accurate.  For instance, the engine deck grills given by Academy fit perfectly well so there's no need to use those bits of the Aber set.  Time didn't allow me to use all the bits which would have made a difference, but I hope I used enough for you to see in my photos how good they are.  The "working" tool clamps are particularly nice, but note that they're delicate and easy to knock apart while painting - I added a tiny dab of superglue to each after experiencing this problem.  I also bought Aber's sets 35A10, Tiger I front and back fenders (mudguards), and 35A12, Tiger I side fenders (which also includes the standard exhaust shields).  These worked very well, as you can see.  The only problem I had with any of the Aber parts, apart from the small size of some which made them tricky to handle, was that some of the "working" hinges need very thin wire which I couldn't get.  My simple solution was to cut away the areas which were supposed to warp round the thin wire and simply add the hinge pins from brass rod after assembly.

I also substituted a Tank Workshop glacis plate without mudguards, which seemed easier than trying to cut away the moulded mudguards on the Academy part.  This needed slight modification as the inner corners of the armour have been cast square but the real Tiger had rounded corners here.  Just add a little filler and file to shape when it's dry.  It also had the headlamp mounts cast in, and my chosen subject had the hull-top ones given by Academy - yes, I did forget to remove them until after taking some of the photos with this article!   The Tank Workshop plate is available from LSA Models.

While fitting the plate I realised that the transmission assembly in the hull was sticking up above the hull edge, so it wouldn't fit.  I had to cut the top of the transmission down to let the plate go in place, but if you haven't stuck everything in place it would be easier to cut off the pins of the external final drive housings, which fit through the hull into the transmission assembly, and simply push the transmission lower in the hull.

There are only a few points I need mention about the Academy hull.  First, dry-fit the hull top sections and trim if necessary for a good fit before adding any other parts.  If you want to show you engine deck hinged up, note that the Tiger had thin sheet metal guards under its front grilles.  These would be easy to make  - just two triangular sides, cut to fit over the fuel tanks, with a bottom.  The Feifel hoses, if fixed properly with the securing clamps given in the Aber set, will make it impossible to remover the deck to display the engine bay.  I left the clamps off to keep the hoses flexible.  There should be two extra bomb throwers at the rear corners of the hull.  Academy  gives the needed parts but they're listed in the instructions as unused.  Fit one E2 to each rear corner and one of the spare E28s, with its mount cut off, to each.  Finally, don't forget to fill the slot in the turret ring intended for the turret s locating lugs which you cut off last month.

Now there's only the turret to complete.  You'll need to fit its stowage bin slightly off-centre to clear the escape hatch - I'm not quite sure whether this is accurate or if the hatch is slightly misplaced.  The hatch itself, if you want it open, should be positioned to rest on the engine deck-  the real one just hung open like that.  Academy shows its locking bar secured to the inside of the turret, which is wrong.  Cut the ends of the bar to the diameter of the hatch and fix two scraps of plastic card for the parts which stick out from each end of its housing, then cement it vertically to the hatch.

On the turret roof, only the loader's hatch needs anything added.  Just a simple arc of plastic card for the arm which slid against the spring stop inside the roof will do - this is in the Aber set too.   You'll need to pare away part of the roof's location inside the turret top, which foul the interior part of the ventilator: dry-fit the roof and check how much to cut away.

That's it!  Now all you have to do is decide which of the 5 choices of decal markings to apply.  All seem accurate, except for Tiger 712 of S Pz Abt 504 which seems to be intended as the tank captured by the Americans and shipped to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.  This tank was actually from the very early production batch with two turret pistol ports and no escape hatch.  If you want to model it, use plastic card and putty to fill the hatchway and replace it with the spare pistol port included in the kit.

If you'd like to consider alternative markings Panzer Colours 3 by Bruce Culver, recently republished by Squadron Signal, has a very useful section on Tiger markings.  New Vanguard 5, Tiger I by Tom Jentz and Hilary Doyle and published by Osprey, will also give you plenty of inspiration.  For more on the interior detailing I recommend Panzerkampfwagen Tiger and Tiger I and Sturmtiger in Detail, both by Uwe Feist and Bruce Culver and published by Ryton Publications, or Tiger! he Tiger Tank: A British View by David Fletcher, published by HMSO.  All of these should be available through the public library system.  Note, however, that the internal stowage diagrams in these books were prepared by British analysts and, although seeming to be scale drawings, are really schematics with several detail errors of shape and size.  The details I've given in this short series are based on the Tiger at Bovington, which I was privileged to examine and photograph inside several years ago, and careful study of wartime German photographs.

The Academy early Tiger I is a splendid kit, capable of being made even better by simple methods as I hope I've shown.  The things which I've dealt with are minor errors by the kit designers and omissions forced on them by simple economics - to add any more to such a complete model would have pushed the price to an unacceptable level.  More advanced modellers can take things even further than I've done by adding internal pipework and wiring, and some small fittings left out of this series due to time and space constraints.  Happy modelling!

Article published by Scale Models International Vol 28 Issues 334,335,336.  Reproduced with permission from the Editor.

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