by: David Foster [ ]
The lead elements of the Schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 101 reached the front in Normandy on 12 June 1944, six days after the Allied landings. By the end of June, the 1.Kompanie had lost 15 of its 45 Tigers and was pulled out in July to refit with the Tiger II. The 101st still had 25 Tigers of which 21 were operational on 7 August 1944 but these were all lost during the retreat in August, the remnants of the 101st being ordered back to the training grounds to rest and refit with the Tiger II on 9 September 1944.
Academy has recently released a 70th Anniversary edition of the Tiger I Mid Production in honour of the D-Day Landings. The box art depicts tank 131 from the SS sPz.Abt.101, 1st Company in Normandy France July 1944.
Initial review indicates that this kit contains many of the sprues and parts from earlier Academy Tiger I releases. There are some updated parts which I will discuss in the contents portion of the review. The box also includes a short history of the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, both in English and Korean. The parts are well packaged as the box is packed with bags containing the individual sprues. The box top however is a little tight and I had some difficulty opening the box without tearing the cardboard.
Upon opening the box I was faced with a eight sealed plastic bags containing parts molded in sand colored plastic. On initial inspection I viewed no flash and the detail looks good. I will review the contents as I removed them from the box as opposed to alphabetical order.
The first bag contains two sprues (S and P), I am assume these are the newly tooled asymmetric turret, mantel, 88mm canon, engine deck and accessories.
Sprue S includes the new turret with improved detail over previous versions issued by Academy. The commanders cupola is still molded to the top of the turret but this time there are molded weld lines which were absent in previous versions. There is an old version of the turret included in the box. An additional change to the sprue is that the outside conforms to the shape of the turret sides, providing a level of protection while in the box.
Sprue P includes the 88mm barrel and engine deck. The 88mm barrel is a broken down into 7 pieces as opposed to previous issues which were only three. Previous issues has the main gun barrel split in half while this new version is broken down along the length of the main gun barrel starting with the muzzle break all the way down to the mantel. This will definitely prevent lopsided sanding that occurred when trying to even up a split gun barrel. This sprue also includes new tow cable ends and tools
The second bag contains Sprue K and the poly caps for the road wheels, idler wheels, and the sprocket wheels.
Sprue K is in some aspects redundant as it includes the old turret, 88mm main gun, and mantlet. In addition to the redundant parts it includes the turret rear storage box, hatches, and other parts required to complete the model.
The third bag contains two copies of Sprue E.
Sprue E includes the side skirts which provide a nice level of detail. There are rivets included but due to my lack of Tiger expertise I am unsure if the rivets are placed correctly. This sprue also includes the idler arms for the road wheels and the parts required for the exhaust. Here again is an example of Academy developing their sprues to protect the contents as there is a large plastic guard surrounding the main exhaust pipe.
The fourth bag contains sprue D and L.
Sprue D is in many ways a continuation to Sprue E in that it includes parts for the exhaust system. The detail of these parts appear clean and crisp. Also included on this sprue are hatch covers for the driver and machine gunner. They both include interior detail so that the modeller can keep them open. The remaining parts include more tools. Here is the first occasion where the detail is a little soft and the connections to the sprues are a little questionable. On two of the parts there are long connection points which the modeller will have to be careful so as to not break the part when removing.
Sprue L includes the outside part of the sprocket wheels, the figure, vision blocks, and spare tracks. The spare tracks are consistent with the kit provided tracks. The outside portion of the sprocket wheels are well detailed. The vision blocks on the other hand are a little soft on detail. Now the figure which does leave something to be desired. This is the first kit part that has evidence of flash and while the figures head provides a great level of detail a great facial expression the sprue connection points present a problem. The head is connected in two locations with an additional ejection point attached just over the left ear. The modeller will need to be careful when removing nubs for these areas in order not to destroy detail. The other aspect of the figure is that they all have extra ejection points and is pretty much completely disassembled to include one of the hands. This sprue contains some additional tools and the MG 34 for the turret.
The fifth bag contains two copies of sprue A.
Sprue A includes all of the road wheels, idler wheels, additional sprocket wheels, the torsion bars, and main gun ammunition. This sprue is another inclusion from an earlier version of this kit. The sprocket wheels are from the Early version. The road wheels and idler wheels provide nice detail but the rivets are not as crisp as other parts of this kit. The ammunition is also faced with the same dilemma; they are a nice inclusion but are a little soft on the crispness of the detail.
The sixth bag contains sprue B, some PE and the zimmerit Tool..
Sprue B includes the parts needed to create the upper portion of the tank, the fenders, tow cables, and exhaust covers. There are some redundant parts as this sprue is from the Early version of the Tiger I. The detail on these parts is clean and crisp but according to the instructions there are some molded details that must be removed during assembly. The tow cables have some flash on them. The weld lines on the main deck are lacking and begs for some attention. The rear grill dividers look bulky and may not be to scale.
The Photo Etched sheet is limited to four grill covers and three machine gun sights. They appear to be made well and will add a little bit to the overall appearance of the finished model. The Zimmerit Tool is a nice addition and provides two different spacing sizes. Each size, 0.5mm and 0.7mm, have a long and a narrow space on the tool.
The seventh and final bag contains the hull and the tracks.
The hull is clean and has some nice detail. It has an open hole in the bottom for the escape hatch. There are some details on the bottom of the hull but it is ruined by the part information being molded into the plastic.
The rubber band Tracks contain nice detail but are a little stiff. They also contain some rubber nubs which will need to be removed. This version of track also have the connection nubs facing upwards through the track detail. Melting the nubs to secure the connection will damage some detail so placement will be key.
The decal sheet, made by Cartograf, is extremely nice and is contained on stiff paper that includes markings for 11 different vehicles located throughout Europe and the Eastern Front. The over flash of the decals is limited and will require little trimming.
The painting and decal instructions are clear and as with the decal sheet provide instructions for 11 different vehicles located throughout Europe and the Eastern Front. Another nice addition to these instructions is a paint chart on the back that gives the paint numbers for six different companies, including Model Master, Humbrol, and Vallejo paints.
The instructions are contained in a fold out sheet with 15 steps. Each step clearly defines what is required and where the parts are required to be mounted. The instructions also include a little tutorial for applying zimmerit using the zimmerit tool and applying PE parts, nice guide for beginners.
Initial inspection of this kit indicates that it is well made with nice clean detail. It is a combination of newly tooled parts and parts issued in earlier versions of this kit. Matter of fact you can flip over each sprue and on the back of the sprue label it indicates early or mid version. The build instructions are clear and simple in design. The decal and painting instructions are a nice touch that provide the modeller with a wide variety of painting options depicting vehicles throughout Europe and the Eastern Front. The decals are well designed and provide the required markings for numerous vehicles. I highly recommend this kit for all levels of experience.