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Tiger I Early Version ‘Operation Citadel’ (A1354) 1:35


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Tiger I Early Version ‘Operation Citadel’ (A1354)

1:35 Airfix

 

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Everyone that’s even a little bit interested in tanks will know the name of the dreaded Tiger tank from WWII, which was at the forefront of German armoured might, and if it wasn’t for the limited numbers on the battlefield coupled with their unreliability, plus Hitler’s meddling with his General’s decisions, the invasion in 1944 might have been much harder fought than it already was.  Designed to replace the Panzer IV but often fighting alongside it, the Tiger added extra armour and a larger 88mm gun similar to that of the successful Flak 37 artillery piece, and became one of the most dangerous tanks on the field in the later stages of WWII.  The drive-train was stressed to the max due to the huge weight of the gun and armour, which caused many vehicles to be lost due to breakdowns and subsequent abandonment and scuttling of the hull.  This issue was also carried over into the even more lethal King Tiger (Tiger II, Königstiger).

 

Operation Citadel was the Germans’ last ditch attempt to turn the tide of the Russian tsunami that concentrated on the Kursk salient in an effort to cut-off a large portion of the Russian invasion force, showing initial signs of success but was halted at the decisive Kursk battle that led to huge losses of irreplaceable German armour and aircraft that critically weakened the German forces that accelerated their ultimate downfall in Berlin.

 

 

The Kit

This is another of Airfix’s collaborations with Academy in order to get their new 1:35 armour line up and running, with new indigenous tools coming on stream in due course.  The box is an Airfix red-themed affair with a painting of a camouflaged Tiger heading toward us.  Inside the box are nine sprues and lower hull in sand coloured styrene, five sprues in black, a tree of poly-caps, a length of braided cord, small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and a small decal sheet.  The instruction booklet has been adapted to the Airfix style but without the shading of newer kits, and there are coloured profiles in the rear for the two decal options in the box.

 

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Construction begins with the lower hull, which is decked out with the swing arms on both sides with a couple of little holes puttied over on the way.  The wheels are next, and these are created in two types, one of which has a poly-cap between the halves, with more poly-caps to hold the idler and drive sprockets in place.  The paired wheels are applied to the axles at the end of the swing-arms, with the outer set joined by an inner wheel with another longer poly-cap added into the mix.  This gives the correct interleaved format that cost the crews so much time to repair and replace when one was damaged, meaning they had to remove a huge number of wheels to get at one of the inners.  With these and the towing eyes fitted, the rear bulkhead is decked out with exhaust stacks, armoured shields and mudguards before being glued in place on the lower hull.  The feifel air cleaners are made up and fixed along with the deformable outer exhaust covers that usually ended up beaten half to death and perforated by small arms fire.  Pioneer tools are dotted around the remaining spare space along with the jack and convoy lights, then the top deck is begun.

 

The deck is made up from a forward section with the turret ring incorporated, with the large cast cooling vents fitted around the rear section over the radiator baths, with PE grilles installed over these to keep out grenades and large chunks of dirt.  More pioneer tools are added with the hatches at the front, and at the rear the engine hatch is fitted out with mushroom vents, the feifel filter trunking and manifold, then added to the remaining space in the engine deck.  This is added to the lower hull along with the top glacis plate that houses the bow-mounted machinegun and driver’s view port, with the lower near-horizontal panel added at the same time.  The large plastic towing cables are fixed to the top deck once complete, and the other small black sprue contains the hoses for the feifel filters.

 

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The tracks in this kit are individual plastic links that take up four of the black sprues.  They are glued together in runs of 96 links, then wrapped around the road wheels while the glue is still flexible and held in position while the glue finishes setting, being careful to add the correct sag to the top run to mimic the effects of gravity on those heavy cast links.  Each link has two sprue gates, and the inside of each part has two very feint ejector pin marks that won’t need clean-up if you’re planning on dirtying them up.  Each link has two guide-horns, but they are solid, unlike the real thing, which had a small hole in the “root” that isn’t easy to replicate in a single piece link.  Again, with mud added, this will hardly notice, but if you’re bothered you can always fork out for some Friul tracks or similar.

 

The turret is next, and here you’ll need to check you’re using the correct parts as there are two sets of the main turret parts included in the box. It’s the parts one the smaller sprue with only the additional hatch that you’ll need, so don’t blame me if you use the wrong ones!  You begin with the barrel and mantlet, with the former made up from four tubes of different lengths and diameters, plus a three-piece muzzle brake. The mantlet is three parts, and includes the socket for the gun tube, plus the holes for the sighting devices and co-ax machinegun.  This assembly is added to the two turret halves, trapping it in position and allowing it to pivot.  The grenade launchers have small PE detailing parts added to the back of each one, and attach to the sides on a C-shaped bracket.  A pistol port is added to the left side at the rear, and some small PE parts are optionally glued to the left under the gun pivot.  The roof, commander’s cupola, gunner’s hatch and optional rear stowage bin with PE clasps are then glued in place with a mushroom vent for fume extraction, and a shell ejection port for getting rid of those pesky used cartridges.

 

To finish off, the turret is locked in place using a bayonet connector, the feifel hosing is clamped down, the side skirts are fitted, and a little extra track is added to stiffen up the armour on the lower glacis, held in place by a PE bracket.  With the build complete you are given the option of adding zimmerit to the vertical portions of the hull, but check your references before proceeding, as factory application of this anti-magnetic mine paste was discontinued later in the war.

 

 

Markings

The small decal sheet contains markings for two options, both with a dark yellow (dunkelgelb) base coat and with one having green overpainted camouflage.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Tiger I early commanded by Alfred Dubbel, 1./Schwere Panzer Abt. 503, Russia, July 1943.
  • Tiger I early 11th Kompanie, III Abteilung, Großdeutschland Division, Kharkov area, Summer 1943.

 

 

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Conclusion

Another Tiger for the Airfix line, which although it isn’t the newest and most high-tech of offerings has good detail plus the addition of some PE and individual link tracks to recommend it.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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