A Tale of Two Tigers, Part 1: Revell of Germany’s Tiger I “Tunisian Tiger”
Here is my humble, “in the box” review of a pair of 1/72nd scale Tiger I models provided for your information and amusement. This is presented entirely as “my own humble opinion” of the kits.
In Part 1 we have a Revell of Germany PzKpfw VI “Ausf H” Early Tiger I, RoG kit #3108. You realize that this kit has been out for years, but it’s new to me! (One of the best things with Amorama is finding reviews of the kits that you haven’t snagged up yet!)
Part 2 will cover Dragon’s newly released PzKpfw VI “Ausf E” Late Production steel-wheel Tiger I with molded on zimmerit, kit #7203.
If you pay any attention to 1/72nd scale armor, then you are already aware of Revell of Germany’s fine offerings to us 1/72nd armor fans. RoG stepped up to the plate to fill a void left by the end of ESCI, which in turn had set a standard well beyond the other 1/72nd injected armor we had in quantity – Hasegawa’s apparently neglected line up. RoG initially re-boxed the few 1/72nd tanks Matchbox produced, and then they began to produce their own, along with an occasional rebox of a Hase kit. A side bonus from RoG’s success with 1/72nd armor has been the entry of Dragon, Italeri’s re-release of ESCI kits, and lately Trumpeter, into 1/72nd armor competition. The golden age of 1/72nd armor is now!
The RoG Tiger I “Ausf H” kit
RoG offers two Tiger I kits, this “Ausf H” Early with the twin pistol ports, and an “Ausf E” Late - with the steel-wheel suspension and turret escape hatch. This review covers their Early Tiger kit; as boxed - a “Tunisian Tiger” used by sPzAbt 501, the second recipients of Tiger I tanks.
The kit contains a single bag of 4 nicely molded flash-free sprues in OD green, a color ostensibly for the young Glue ‘n Go modeler. The parts have no readily-visible sinkholes or knock-out blems. But many of the parts do have heavy - or at least awkward - sprue-attachment points to deal with, something we usually equate with many ESCI and most Dragon kits.
Three of the 4 un-lettered sprues are apparently shared in common with the RoG Late Tiger kit, while a 4th sprue is unique to this Early Tiger. This “unique” sprue has the narrow, rounded fenders seen on the earliest Tigers, along with the squarish exhaust shields seen on 501st Tigers, cylindrical commander’s cupola, turret smoke grenade launchers, Feifels and hoses, the left turret side, and, a “Feifel-ready” engine deck hatch. (IIRC, the Late Tiger kit has instead the unique sprues with the Late steel-wheels, a late cupola and hatch, rear turret escape hatch, straight front fenders, late engine deck hatch, and the roundish exhaust shields.)
The common parts sprues shared between the two RoG Tigers include link/length tracks, hull parts and side track guards, Early road wheels, 88mm barrel, and such things as the mantlet and mantlet cast reinforcement part – a part that one glues on to the “straight” mantlet as provided on Early Tigers. Tiger fans can therefore buy armloads of the two RoG versions and cross-kit them into any iteration of Early, Mid, and Late Tigers they want.
With concessions to the scale, the level of detail seen is a big improvement over what we ever had before in a 1/72nd Tiger. For instance, on a common sprue with the hull and suspension bits; the upper hull piece has the engine deck grates molded completely through for visual depth, along with crisp hinge and bolt detail. The two hull side parts have the correct “scallop” detail underneath the sponsons, which would likely go unnoticed. This sprue also has the 4 U-hooks and the 2 tow cables that attach to the hull deck. The cable detail looks acceptable - but the sprue attachments are heavy, so some detail will be lost at cleanup.
Aside from the separate tow (and track) cables, ALL other hull “OVE” are surface molded, a la Hasegawa. These would be a pain to remove and replace with separate OVE bits. Plus some of the expected OVE is missing – or at least the fire extinguisher that should appear on the hull deck. Note also that both driver/co-driver hull hatches are molded shut, and hatch area detail is a little soft. No “weld” detail is visible at all.
Of another common sprue; one contains the Early road and drive wheels, the 2 side track guards, the 88mm barrel, mantlet and mantlet cast reinforcement part, the right turret side, the turret roof, the roof ventilator, the loaders periscope hood, the 2 turret MG portals used on the Early, the track cable for the right hull side, and, a typical Tiger turret storage bin.
An item of note on this sprue is that the drive sprockets are detailed with molded-thru spokes for 3-D depth. The Early roadwheels have good bolt detail and well-defined tire/rims, but have heavy sprue attachment points. Note also that the right turret side has rows of holes to attach spare track links to.
The last sprue has nicely detailed link and length tracks(with hidden knock-out marks), the jack, the hull MG barrel, the 2 rear fenders, the 2 exhaust stacks, 2 headlights, the rear vertical hull plate (with nice bolt detail and surface-molded tow hook), and finally, the upper front hull plate with driver’s visor and MG mount. As this hull plate is a “shared” part, the mount point for the centrally located headlight on a Late Tiger is visible between the visor and MG port.
Kit decals provide for two 501st Tigers; the often- photographed Tiger 142, and Tiger 813 attached to 10 Pz of the DAK. Turret numbers are red with white outlines, along with two Balkenkreuz crosses - but nothing else – such as the “prowling Tiger” of the 501st.
The kit’s instructions remind me of something Matchbox used to do. However, in Step 2, they do show the option of building the suspension with the front outer-most roadwheel removed and an optional hub piece used instead – a practice used to prevent mud-packing. And in Step 12 they show the optional/correct placement of the two headlights for a 501st Tiger. They also have the color call-outs (as numbers) and decal placements for the two 501 Tigers.
If building this kit strictly OOTB, then the only Early Tiger possible is a “Tunisian” Tiger. Otherwise, this kit offers a good base for the Tiger fan to modify into a sPzAbt 502 “Leningrad” Tiger.
Also of note during a build is the row of holes molded in the turret sides, used to attach the spare track links… Even if the track hanger parts were provided – they’re not - this is incorrect for such an early Tiger and you will have to fill these holes. In fact, you should completely ignore Step 16 in the instructions, as this would also have you adding the cover for the loader’s periscope to the turret roof - which is non-existent for this Tiger version.
Other build-fixes should be the removal of the “triangle ends” of the side track guards, a feature that didn’t exist on this version of the Tiger I. Also, add some texture to resemble a non-skid pattern on the smooth front fenders, and take care in fitting the upper hull top to the upper hull sides.
Lastly, the “ice tread” pattern on the surface of the link/length tracks is incorrect for this version; one could easily sand this off of a few of the links that would be readily visible.
These issues aside, this is one fine kit and is years ahead of any 1/72nd Tiger I we have ever had before. Highly recommended!
The Pros and Cons - IMHO.
Pros Aside from the link/length tracks and turret holes, appears to offer a fast build, finish Great appeal to Tiger fans wanting a Tunisian Tiger in braille scale Great appeal to Tiger fans who want a very early “Early Tiger” A zimmerit-free Panzer build!
Cons IMHO, link/length tracks add build complexity unnecessary in this scale Molded-on tools and OVE – that’s decades-old Hasegawa technology And incomplete OVE for the vehicle Pre-molded holes in turret walls: why not use easily removed stand-off pins instead??? No crew figures provided Hull hatches molded closed - and with Hasegawa-softness of detail
This is a fine kit and allows for building up the earliest of Tigers without much effort. Thanks to the parts commonalities between the two RoG Tiger kits, you can cross-kit just about any version of Tiger I you’d care to build. And with Dragon’s new Late Tiger offering, Tiger I fans never had it so good.
IMHO, build Dragon for your zimm’d Tigers and RoG for your Early Tigers!
And now for the inevitable comparison to the newly-released Dragon 1/72nd Tiger I kit… (This section repeated in the Dragon review)
IMHO, the biggest concern was a size differential between these two 1/72nd Tigers – as seen in past “same scale” braille kits. Not having a micrometer handy, the size guestimates noted below are within a paintbrush bristle or so of each other, and so IMHO, there would not be an issue with having both a Dragon and RoG Tiger on the same display shelf…
The Dragon seems to have slightly wider hull. The Dragon seems to have slightly wider mantlet. The Dragon seems to have slightly longer side track guards. The Dragon seems to have a slightly taller turret.
Barrel lengths appear to be the same. Wheel diameters appear to be identical. Hull sides appear to be the same length.
Not to be picking nits, but as for other “common-area” parts comparisons between the two Tigers:
The RoG 88mm barrel detail seems a tad nicer – which is not an issue to those who use aftermarket turned barrels anyway. The RoG front-plate with drivers visor and co-driver MG port looks nicer than Dragon’s. The Dragon hull MG is easily removed from the sprue, RoG’s MG is clumsily attached. The RoG rear hull plate has slightly crisper details – which will mostly be unnoticeable. The Dragon has a few OVE parts molded separately, such as an axe, C-hook, and a fire extinguisher. But - other OVE tools are surface molded as with all on the RoG. The Dragon is completely missing the track cable for the hull side, while RoG’s is molded separately. The Dragon is completely missing any spare track links for the turret, while the RoG Early Tiger has the unneeded links. The Dragon turret side vision ports are swollen blisters on the turret sides, missing any detail such as the horizontal vision slits. The Dragon tow cable-end details seem nicer, even discounting the included wire to create the cables – which may not be so great if you can’t match your wire twist to the molded portions of the tow cables!! The Dragon side track guards seem to have crisper details. The Dragon hull hatches have better 3-dimensional effects with hollow-molded periscope covers. The Dragon exhaust stacks seem to have better 3-D depth – which will mostly go unnoticed behind the formed brass exhaust shields included with the kit. The RoG drive sprocket has better 3-D molding, with see-through spoke details where needed and better looking guide teeth.
And finally; Given the parts commonality between the two RoG Tigers; if we speculate on an apples to apples comparison between a RoG Late Tiger and a Dragon Late Tiger: the heavy lifting of zimmerit has already been done for you by Dragon.