Academy 1/35 Tiger 1 (Early)

KIT #: ?
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Mark Hiott
NOTES: Full interior, includes small p/e fret. Modified as a cutaway. Eduard exterior p/e, Rubio turned aluminum barrel used.


 The Tiger 1 was a German Heavy Tank used in WW2, produced from late 1942 as an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Russisn armour encountered in the initial months of Operation Barbarossa, particularly the T-34 and the KV-1. The Tiger I design gave the German Army its first tank mounting the 88mm gun, which had previously demonstrated its effectiveness against both aircraft and tanks. During the course of the war, the Tiger I saw combat on all German battlefronts. It was usually deployed in independent tank battalions, which proved to be quite formidable.

While the Tiger I was feared by many of its opponents, it was over-engineered, expensive and time-consuming to produce. Only 1,347 were built between August 1942 and August 1944. The Tiger was prone to mechanical breakdowns and in 1944, production was phased out in favour of the Tiger II.

The tank was given its nickname Tiger  and the Roman numeral was added after the later Tiger II entered production. The initial official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausführung H (‘Panzer VI version H’, abbreviated PzKpfw VI Ausf. H), but the tank was redesignated as PzKpfw VI Ausf. E in March 1943. It also had the ordnance inventory designation Sd.Kfz 181.

The Tiger I had frontal hull armour 100 mm (3.9 in) thick and frontal turret armour of 120 mm (4.7 in), as opposed to the 80 mm (3.1 in) frontal hull and 50 mm (2 in) frontal turret armour of contemporary models of the Panzer IV. It also had 60 mm (2.4 in) thick hull side plates and 80 mm armour on the side superstructure and rear, turret sides and rear was 80 mm. The top and bottom armour was 25 mm (1 in) thick; from March 1944 the turret roof was thickened to 40 mm (1.6 in). Armour plates were mostly flat, with interlocking construction. The armour joints were of high quality, being stepped and welded rather than riveted.

The gun's breech and firing mechanism were derived from the famous German "88" dual purpose flak gun. The 88mm Kwk 36 L/56 gun was the variant chosen for the Tiger and was one of the most effective and feared tank guns of World War II. The Tiger's gun had a very flat trajectory and extremely accurate Zeiss Turmzielfernrohr TZF 9b sights (later replaced by the monocular TZF 9c). In British wartime firing trials, five successive hits were scored on a 16 by 18 in (410 by 460 mm) target at a range of 1,200 yards (1,100 m). Tigers were reported to have knocked out enemy tanks at ranges greater than 2.5 miles (4,000 m), although most World War II engagements were fought at much shorter ranges. Triangulation (Range Finding) equipment was not yet available so tank crews had a vested interest to approach the enemy as much as possible.

1,347 Tiger 1 were produced. When the improved Tiger II began production in January 1944, the Tiger I was soon phased out.

Today only a handful of Tiger Is survive in museums and exhibitions worldwide. Perhaps the most notable specimen is the Bovington Tank Museum's Tiger 131, currently the only one restored to running order.


The kit is Academy's standard Tiger 1 but with the parts needed to add the interior. The basic tank kit is molded in tan, the new interior parts in gray and the tracks are molded in a dark gray. The parts are nicely molded with no flash or ejector marks found. There are a lot of parts in the box, and unusually, you will use most of them. A small p/e fret contains grills for the engine cover. The intake tubes running from the filters to the engine are a rubber like material.

Decals are included for 5 versions in 4 camo schemes. Included is the famous Wittmann Tiger 1.


I picked this kit up at a swap meet and in the box was a Rubio barrel and 1 complete Eduard p/e exterior set and another partial set. The Eduard p/e sets are mostly brackets, tie-downs and such. Most of it was used on the rear plate and mufflers.

I wanted to display the model to show the interior but I also wanted it to be whole. Instead of an "exploded" display, I chose to do a cutaway display. First I had to figure out how. I taped the Tiger together and with a black Sharpie, laid out the sections I wanted to remove. I went around the turret ring to maintain the upper hull decks integrity. I then used a pair of snips to remove the majority of the plastic and then used a Dremel and sandpaper to smooth the edges. Once that was done, I looked through the instructions to see if any parts needed to be trimmed. The front crossbeam needed trimmed, but the rear crossbeam provides the mounting for other parts, so I left it alone.

The hull of the model was build pretty much OOB. The torsion bars fit into the lower hull perfectly. Most of this detail will be unseen after completion. The front transmission assembly is a tight fit and required a bit of modification to get into place. There are also a couple parts in the engine bay that are a bit of a pain to get into place. I left out the right side fuel tank and radiator, as with my cutaway, you can't see them. Also as a result of the cutaway, I had to leave the left side shell storage off and after attaching the hull top, you can't see the right side stowage either!

The transmission needed a little trimming done to the top in order to clear the glacis plate.

The turret the made up of 2 side halves and the top. Doing it as a cutaway posed a particular problem when it came to painting. I had to trim the cross members on the turret roof to clear the cutaway section.

I left the road wheels complete, but cut the track short on the left side to show off the overlapping wheels.


 As I'm no armor expert, I followed most of the color callouts in the instructions. I wanted to highlight the cutaway so I used a light gray for the interior. The cutaway idea made for a difficult paint job which was something I didn't think through when I started this!

The hull was assembled and then painted gray. I then masked off the outside and sprayed the interior light gray. The turret posed an especially difficult problem. I ended up painting the interior parts and assembling the turret completely. I then taped off the lower section and stuffed the cutaway section with cotton balls. The outside was then painted gray. Once everything was together, I painted the edges of the cutaway sections with red paint. The last parts installed where the road wheels and tracks.

I chose one of the gray Russian front tanks, and since it was a cutaway, I just picked one at random.


I have been told that Academy makes the best Tiger 1 kit on the market, and after building one, I agree. Doing this kit OOB will give you a beautiful early Tiger 1. That said, my idea of a cutaway was not quite as well executed as it could have been. I had to leave off a lot of the kits detail, as some of the parts had nowhere to go. I think it looks nice, but I should have given more thought to which sections were removed.

What can I say? This was a fun kit to build, I think even a beginner will have little trouble with this kit. It has a few fit problems, but nothing major. I have also been told that the interior is not quite accurate, but if you like the Tiger 1, this kit is a must have!


Wikipedia for the history

Mark Hiott

September 2010

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