Well that is one hell of a title! What does all that crap mean? Time for some back story.
As of a few weeks ago I was commissioned by a close friend to build him a Tiger I tank. If you don’t know what a Tiger tank is, I shall explain its history in a bit. Basically, I have been given carte blanche on this build (artistically and financially) so we are going to go wild (by my standards).
What’s a Tiger I? (a rather imperfect executive summary)
The Tiger I tank was introduce in 1942 and easily outclassed all other armored vehicles on the battlefield at that time. It was a true heavy tank and defied the usual German armor paradigm of lightweight fast tanks. It was heavily armored and boasted the impressive 8.8 cm KwK 36 cannon which could easily penetrate and destroy enemy tanks with ease. Although it was a monumental design, it was plagued with the typical German over-engineering of design, high cost to field, and extreme expense/labor intensity to produce. It’s size also made it more difficult to transport and its road wheel system was prone to issues with the elements of the battlefield (mud and ice jamming up the workings). Regardless of its short comings, it was truly a beast in combat. Notable Panzer Aces Michael Wittman (135 tanks destroyed) and Otto Carius (150+ tanks destroyed) achieved their high tank kill tallies with Tiger I tanks. The Tiger I would prompt the Allies and Soviets to aggressively increase their anti-tank capabilities. Sadly, only a handful of these magnificent machines still exist and are truly priceless.
Many consider the Tiger best all-around tank of the war. I can say that is probably my favorite tank of all time. For more information regarding the Tiger I please see this link. For a very in-depth look at the operational performance of the Tiger I read Otto Carius’ book Tigers in the Mud.
A quick disclaimer to the audience: I am not a real historian, nor do I pretend to be. Nor am I the world’s greatest modeler. I don’t count rivets, but I do like to get fairly close to what I am trying to portray. If you have an objection or think I’m full of doggie doodoo, don’t nail me to that proverbial cross. I AIN’T GOT TIME TO BLEED! I’m just trying to have some fun with my hobby. Suggestions of a constructive nature are always encouraged.
Now onto the kit:
After some bad experiences in the past, I did quite a bit of model review reading this time around. Thus began a rather pedantic and exhausting search which lead to a kick ass model kit being selected.
I am going to be tackling an initial early build of a German Tiger I tank cira 1942/1943 operating on the Eastern Front, specifically in the Leningrad region. The kit is made by a company called Dragon Models who are well known for their very accurate, but rather user unfriendly models (instruction errors and over-engineered kits!) I made the mistake of starting one of their kits when I was just a “beginner” and I was not quite ready for the shear level of building and planning required (in fact, I’m still working on the god damn thing).
Anyway, the kit is magnificent at first glance. Lots of details and a ton of features. I’m really happy with the quality of the parts. Very good surface details and plenty of photo-etch to go around. My buddy wants a metal barrel and metal tracks, so those will be aftermarket purchases. But everything supplied with the kit is more than satisfactory.
It was expressed that a winter white-wash camo scheme was desired for this build, which would suggest something along the lines of this:
Dragon’s kit had a paint option that fit the bill nicely.
With a cinematic vision and plan of attack formulated, I began my work in earnest.
So far I am rather delighted at how the parts are cleaning up. This is a bit of a shocker because the suspension and road wheels are usually the areas I hate the most.
Dragon’s instructions are very busy and it is easy to get lost if you don’t pay close attention.
I began with the drive sprockets, their attachments to the hull and the idler wheels. Overall, pretty easy and the parts cleaned up nicely. There was a fair amount of flash on the idler wheels though. Oh well!
Then it was onto the road wheels, which always fill me full of dread.
However, things went a lot easier than I thought, due in no small part to having proper tools. Armed with Tamiya Sharp Side Cutters and nail files of various grit, I was able to power through the first 16 wheels with some ease. In total there are 46 roads wheels to be cleaned up and assembled. Each road wheel has 4 attachment points to the plastic sprue. I first cut them off the larger part of the sprue with some cheaper side cutters and then go in with the Tamiya cutters. If you do your math, that’s 368 cuts for these damn wheels. To save myself from tedium, I am going to break this process up. This weekend I am only doing 16 wheels. I’ll probably attack the others throughout the week. Here’s how the first 16 went:
I did take a look at the lower hull and how the suspension is all going to work out. Seems like it wont be too bad. Detailing of the hull is great.
Well, that is all I have done this weekend. Just a nudge in the right direction. There will be MUCH MUCH more building to come. I hope to have a more substantive posting in terms of progress next time.
Now to get my buddy to stop spending his money on cars and firearms and order me up those metal tracks and barrel.
Stick around! More to come!