Zvezda 1/72 Tiger I (early)

KIT #: 5002
PRICE: $16.99 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Snap kit


The Tiger I was a German heavy tank used in World War II, produced from late 1942 as an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of Operation Barbarossa, particularly the T-34 and the KV-1. The Tiger I design gave the Wehrmacht its first tank mounting the 88 mm 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. It is thought that more Tigers were abandon due to getting stuck than were knocked out in enemy action.

The tank was given its nickname Tiger by Ferdinand Porsche, 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 SdKfz 181.

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.


I can think of very few makers of 1/72 armor kits that does not include a Tiger I. It is just one of those 'must have' subjects in any catalogue. Zvezda has chosen the Tiger as a subject for the second of their snap kit line of small scale armor. Now I know that most think 'snap kit = crude', but that is not the case at all. Though the detail is simplified the quality of the detailing is not.

There are three sprues; two with the majority of the parts and the other with the one-piece tracks. The hull is a separate bit not on a sprue. As you'd expect of this type of kit, the attachment points are larger than normal, but not huge. Most of the road wheels are gang molded with the exception of the outer batch. Of course there is no open hatch option with this though the turret can turn and the gun elevate. One will want to drill out the end of the barrel. Zvezda has been nice enough to open up the sides of the muzzle brake. What is particularly intriguing are the one piece tracks. These appear to be styrene, but are more flexible than standard, yet not as flexible as the deformable styrene Dragon uses. There are attachment points on the inside of the track that are snapped into the road wheel assemblies. It really looks quite well thought out and the join will be on the bottom of the tank.

Instructions are very nicely drawn with 10 construction steps. Markings are for two early Tigers in panzer yellow with camouflage striping. Both are from Kursk in 1943. The box art version has a soft brown striping while the other has rather tight green stripes and was the tank of Michael Wittmann. A small decal sheet completes the kit.


Snap kit or not, the detailing and engineering on this one is first rate. I can see this line gaining converts from those who are looking for a relatively simple kit after spending weeks doing track links.



April 2011

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