KIT: Skybow 1/48 Tiger I (early)
KIT #: TP 4833
PRICE: around $30.00
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:  

HISTORY

"The last and largest tank used by Germany during the war was the Pz. VI, or Tiger. Like the Panther, the Tiger was hurriedly developed in response to the Soviet T-34. It went into production in August 1942 and, like the Panther, first entered combat in large numbers at Kursk. The Tiger emphasized to an extreme the German preference for firepower and survivability at the expense of speed, agility, range, and reliability. Its long-barreled, high-velocity 88-mm gun, adapted from the Germans' formidable antiaircraft (Flak) and antitank (Pak) guns, could penetrate even the most heavily armored Soviet tanks at extremely long range.

The Tiger's own frontal armor, 100 mm thick, was proof against almost any antitank gun, and the side and rear armor was 6080 mm thick. The tank's big gun and heavy armor seriously compromised its mobility, however. The early Tigers weighed about 55 tons, and the Tiger II model introduced in 1944 weighed 70 tons, making it the heaviest tank of the war. The Tiger had a top road speed of 38 km (24 miles) per hour, but it could travel only about 20 km (12 miles) per hour cross-country. Whereas the Panther had a range of 100 to 200 km (60 to 120 miles), the Tiger needed refueling after only 70 to 110 km (45 to 70 miles) of travel, and it was prone to breakdowns and was difficult to maintain.

The Tiger tank was thus best used in a defensive role, where speed and agility were not decisive factors. Lightly armored Sherman tanks suffered terrible losses against Tigers in the Normandy campaign, but the Allies quickly learned to capitalize on their superior numbers and agility in successful attacks on Tigers from the side and rear. Because Tiger tanks were difficult to manufacture, only about 1,340 had been built when Germany ceased production of them in August 1944."

Thanks to the Encyclopedia Britannica for this historical background.
 

THE KIT

Unless you have been living in a vacuum for the last couple of years, you have realized that small scale armor has been doing quite well, thank you. In fact, 1/48 armor has been the darling of the kit makers with Tamiya going full bore producing kits. Trumpeter and others have also been joining in. So has Taiwan's Skybow company. 1/35 modelers have known them for producing some superb kits and now the 1/48 crowd is able to take advantage of their abilities with this early production Tiger I.

Molded in a dark green plastic, the Skybow kits are packaged in what seems to be the same boxes that are used for these large scale military dolls....err....action figures....uh....collectible military figurines. The kit is inside a vacformed plastic container with a form fitting cover. It has two compartments, one with the hull and turret bits, one for the smaller sprues and there is a lower section so the longer sprues can have room as well. A separate plastic container holds the vinyl tracks. A small bag of screws and the instructions complete the kit.

The detailing on the parts is top-notch. In my quest for molding glitches I did find one part with sink marks, no flash and few ejector pin marks. All of these are either easily fixed or will be invisible when the kit is done. The thing that makes this different from the Tamiya 1/48 Tiger I is that unlike the Tamiya kit, many of the various bits and pieces that fit on the hull are separate. Not as much is molded in so things like pry bars, shovels and the like will have some depth to them. The surface of the plastic, while feeling smooth, looks a bit rough, just like what you'd expect these vehicles to appear. Unless you dump on many coats of paint, this should remain visible when you are done.

Instructions are quite interesting. While there is a parts diagram, there is no color information provided. That is on the inside cover of the box, and provides Humbrol, Tamiya and Revell shades as well as generic references. The instructions are in color and are 3-D artwork on glossy paper. They are quite well done and easy to follow. A real difference is that the road wheels, sprockets and idlers are all screwed in place. The track is hyped as being a special type of soft plastic that can be cemented to a tight bond. This all leads me to believe that one is supposed to have moveable tracks. A full color painting diagram is provided for three tanks, all in base Panzer Yellow. One has green camo added, one has brown camo added and the other is left in overall yellow. The decals are different from what one would expect. They are printed in mirror image. One cuts out the decal according to the diagram on the back of the sheet, wets the decal and then presses it into place before removing the backing. It will be interesting to see how this works out.

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, this is a killer looking kit. It will definitely give the Tamiya kit a run for its money and it doesn't have a cast metal hull to worry with. Those wanting a bit more detail will be hard pressed to find a better looking kit.

December 2005

REFERENCES

www.britannica.com

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