Afrika Korps Tiger
by Paul Pressler Tiger I Ausfhrung Afrika
This Afrika Korps Tiger was built from Tamiya’s 1/35th scale Tiger I Ausfhrung Afrika kit. The figures are Cromwell’s 1/35th scale Tunisian Tiger Crew, CF 64. After market products that I used were Fruilmodel tracks, and Tamiya’s Tiger I Early Production Photo Etched Grill Set. I also used Third Group’s “Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I (#1) Ausf. E, sPzAbt 501 & 502” after market decals.
My primary guide for construction and finishing techniques was Tony Greenland’s Panzer Modelling Masterclass, 1995. Also, I referred to an article in the July 1999 issue of Military In Scale magazine entitled “A tale of two Tigers”. This article reviewed Tamiya’s Tiger I Ausfhrung Afrika and Academy’s German Heavy Tank Tiger I (Early Version) kits. I recommend this article to anyone interested in building either of these kits.
My guides for construction and painting of the figures were How to Build Dioramas, 1980, by Sheperd Paine and an article off the internet called “Painting Faces: A Basic Guide to Improving 1/35th and 54 mm Scale Figures” by Mark Bannerman. I used three other books for painting and color references for the figures. The first two were published by Historie & Collections. They are German Soldiers of World War Two and Afrika korps – Tropical uniforms of the German Army 1940 – 1945. Finally I referenced the Osprey book #9, Modeling WWII Figures. After discussing the construction and painting of the Tiger, I’ll do the same for the figures.
Over the last several years, my brother, Patrick, and I have been focusing our modeling on constructing models of vehicles that fought in Tunisia in 1943. This was Germany’s last stand in North Africa and was also a time period when German armor was upgrading, such as the introduction of the Tiger tank and the long barrel 75 mm cannons on the Panzer IV’s. Actually, our original idea was to have some gigantic diorama with vehicles and panzers which could have been in Kampfgruppe Irkens, a unit organized in Tunisia in April 1943 from various parent units such as Panzer Regiment 5 and Schwere Panzerabteilung (sPzAbt) 501. That is why the panzer which I built previous to the Tiger was a Panzer IV F2.
After building the Panzer IV F2, I built a 57 mm Pak by Tamiya. After the Pak, I was ready for another panzer which would have fought in Tunisia. Of course I was itching for a heavy panzer and I wanted to try out one of Tamiya’s newer kits. Since I got back into modeling in 1994, all of the kits I had built were older Tamiya kits or by Dragon (the Panzer IV kit). I knew that Tamiya had an early production Tiger I kit and I figured that I would have to buy a Tiger I North Afrika photo etched set in order to adapt the kit – that is, until I saw the Tiger I Ausfhrung Afrika kit. It was exactly what I was looking for.
This Tamiya kit was definitely a pleasure to build. The instructions were very explicit and all the parts fit together nicely. Of course, I did the usual prep work prior to gluing like sanding off mold seams and making sure that the parts fit together correctly. Overall, I would say that minimal filing and adjusting of pieces to get a good fit were necessary and I would say that the quality of the kit was very good.
One part that I did think needed some extra filing was part #F28 (there are two of these) which fit into the intake pipes which are located on the back deck of the tank. I recommend that before inserting and gluing these parts into the rubber intake pipes, that the section of the parts which inserts into the pipes be filed down a good deal so that they don’t cause the intake pipe to bulge out.
At this point, I’ll go over the scratch built modifications that I included. The photo references that I primarily used for my model can be seen on pages 19 and 28 of Squadron’s Tiger in action booklet.
On page 28, one can see two spare tracks mounted on metal bars that extend from the bottom rear hull of the tank. This spare track mounting feature did not come with the kit so I furbished my own. I used a small, flat brass bar and cut it into four pieces. I then bent the pieces as seen in the photograph on page 28 and glued them to the hull using cyanoacrylate glue. A good close up view of similar bars on a Tiger can be seen on page 47 of Squadron’s Afrikakorps in Action booklet.
Next, I installed copper wires to run from each of the Bosch headlights located on the lower hull to connector knobs located on the hull above each headlight. A good view of the headlamps and the wire that I added can be seen on page 18 of the Tiger in action booklet. This was relatively easy. I used my pin vise to drill the holes in the headlamps where the wires would obviously have connected and then in the lower side of each connector knob facing to the outside of the tank. I then inserted the wire in the headlamps and knobs as seen in the above mentioned photograph. The wire was copper wire taken from a piece of electrical wire that I stripped to expose the smaller copper wires.
Next, I did some modifications to the smoke dischargers. First, I cut notches into the rims of the smoke dischargers using a jeweler’s saw. Obviously, the smoke dischargers did not come in the kit with the notches already, but should have to have been realistic.
See page 8 of the Tiger in action booklet for a good view of the notches. When cutting the notches, I just eyeballed the proper dimensions of the notches while looking at the photograph. I also scratch built the smoke discharger wires as seen on page 11 of the same book. First, I glued small pieces of plastic onto the back of the dischargers to represent connectors knobs that the wires would attach to. The plastic pieces were small “rivets” from my Dragon Panzer IV kit.
Using the smallest drill bit I could find for my pin vise, I drilled holes into the tip of the connectors knobs and installed the smallest copper wire I could find into them. I found that the wires were actually much smaller than the openings of the holes, so I used milliput to fill in the holes around the wires and also to further cement them in place. After mounting the smoke dischargers to the turret on their brackets,
I brought the three wires on each side together and carefully twisted them together and to make them look as much as possible like one wire. With these small copper wires, I had to be careful because they were flimsy and would break with too much bending. After forming the three smaller wires into one, I then drilled a hole into each side of the turret roof where the combined smoke discharger wires enter into the roof as seen in the photograph on page 13 of the Tiger in action book, and inserted the smoke discharger wires.
I made a slight modification to the three sided plastic “ridges” on the top of the turret which were supposed to serve as a guide for mounting the smoke discharger brackets. They didn’t look realistic to me and I saw nothing that resembled them around the smoke discharger brackets in any photos I looked at.
If anything, the photos revealed that the brackets were welded on and these “ridges” were supposed to be weld seams. Therefore, I decided to make the brackets on my model look like they were welded on. To do this, I dabbed small amounts of Tenax – 7R Space Age Welder on the “ridges” to soften them up and used my hobby knife to make many small cuts in them. This gave the “ridges” the appearance of a weld seam.
Another modification I did was to make the side skirts look like they had been bent out a little after the Tiger got too close to some branches while going through an olive grove or while rolling over some cactus plants. An example of bent out side skirts on a Tiger can be seen in the top left picture on page 19 of the Tiger in action book. The skirts in the kit came as one long solid piece, one for each side. I believe that there were actually four smaller equal sized skirts on each side, each one bolted separately onto the tank. The skirts that came with the kit had grooves where the individual skirts would have been separated. Using my jeweler’s saw, I simply cut down one groove on each side to cut the skirts in two. I cut the middle of the skirt on the left side and the front quarter skirt on the right side. After filing, sanding and smoothing out the cuts, I then glued on the four individual skirt pieces. To give a skirt that bent out look, I simply adjusted it in or out while gluing it on.
The metal tracks by Fruilmodel were well worth the added expense and extra time. Having done so much scratch work and modifications to the model, I had to have the most realistic tracks possible.
This was actually the second kit that I used Fruilmodel tracks on. I had used their earlier track links on my Panzer IV F2 kit, the types that had to be crimped to each other. The Tiger Fruilmodel track links were their later types that were put together like the real thing, with a metal bar running through the individual links. With the bars holding them together, I had no worry of them coming apart. The links came in plastic bags and some filing and sanding of flash was necessary. The “track pins” that came from Fruilmodel were actually a coil of wire, I presumed to be aluminum.
At any rate, I found this wire to be too soft to be able to stick through the guide holes in the individual links. Once again, I found the appropriate sized copper wire from a one foot piece of electrical wire. Even with this wire, I found it necessary to use my pin vise and an appropriate sized drill bit to drill through the guide holes to remove flash and to open them up before inserting the wires.
The wires were simply clipped off flush with the track links at the insertion points after joining each link together by inserting them through the guide holes on the “male” and “female” sides of each link and then using a drop of cyanoacrylate glue at the insertion point, being careful not to use too much glue so that the tracks were still movable. I did not drill all the way through each link. I stopped when I had only partially penetrated into the last guide hole on the “female” side. The final links of each side I did not connect until after painting and dry brushing the tracks completely and I was ready to put the tracks on the model.
So that the tracks would rotate to some degree, I did not glue on the drive sprockets or the road wheels to the shafts. Since the drive sprockets needed extra support in order to stay on without glue, I drilled holes into the shafts of each sprocket and through the hull of the model and inserted an approximately 1.5 mm diameter brass bar into the sprockets to act as the drive shaft. I found that the best way to install the tracks was to lay the tank upside down with the turret off. I laid the upside down tank onto a small, stuffed animal which inserted just into the turret ring which allowed me not to damage the paint or break anything. The tracks were then threaded around the road wheels and the final track pins were put in.
Finally, I modified the bow machine gun slightly by drilling a hole in the barrel mouth using a pin vise to make it look like it had an actual opening. Also, I added an antenna after drilling a hole into the antenna mount. The antenna was a piece of .012 inch diameter brass wire.
While painting the Tiger, I primed all pieces with Floquil’s light gray primer. The interior of the Tiger was painted Model Master’s Panzer Interior Buff while the base color for the exterior of the Tiger was Model Master’s Afrika Braun, 1942. I painted the interior of the Tiger as I constructed it. Though not visible in any photos taken, I painted the breech of the 88 mm Pak a metallic color and Interior Buff, as seen in a photo of the interior of the turret on page 24 of Schiffer Military History’s 1991 book, Kampfpanzer IV Tiger I by Horst Scheibert. I painted the commander’s cupola periscope vision ports a dark metallic color and then a coat of clear green to try to represent glass. I then spread a layer of Microscale’s Micro Krystal Klear over each vision port to achieve a more glass like look. I used the same method for the glass in the periscopes of the hatches for the driver and radio operator.
After completing most of the construction of the model, I air brushed the Tiger with primer and then with a couple of coats of a mixture of the Afrika Braun and 20% light gray. The purpose of adding the light gray as opposed to adding just white was not only to give the paint the proper scale effect, but also to give it a more faded and dull look from the exposure to the North African sun.
Next, as prescribed by Tony Greenland in his Panzer Modelling Masterclass book, I sprayed a glosscoat over the model and applied the decals with the aid of some Solvaset. Surprisingly for me, the area with which I had the most difficulty with the model was in the applying of the decals. It seemed like the decals were too soft as I was trying to adjust them into the proper position on the model and that they wanted to come apart if I tried to move them one way or another. I later found out later that I was using too strong of a solution of Solvaset and that I should have used more water to thin the Solvaset.
I also used a method I had used before on my Panzer IV to help ensure that decals didn’t develop that “cloudy” look, especially the large ones with a lot of clear space in them. After adjusting the decals into the proper position I dabbed a little extra Solvaset onto the decals with a soft brush. Then, I sparingly dabbed on some Future floor wax onto the decals with a soft brush. Of course, this made the decals very soft and I couldn’t expect to adjust them any further after applying the Future floor wax.
I let the decals set for at least 24 hours and then sprayed a coat of dullcoat over them because the Future floor wax left them too shiny. Actually, I believe it took several coats of dullcoat to finally get rid of that shiny appearance. After letting the dullcoat dry for at least 24 hours, I then resprayed the Tiger with another coat of glosscoat. My final spraying of the model was with a glosscoat because, according to Tony Greenland, the upper-structure of a model should have a satin appearance.
The next step was to apply a wash to the model using oil based sepia extra diluted in about 75% thinner. I applied the wash only to obvious places that needed darkening to give depth, such as around hatches and other places where the recesses needed to stand out. Next, I dry brushed the upper-structure of the Tiger starting off with a 50/50 mixture of white and Afrika Braun. I dry brushed all edges, tops of rivets and bolts, and practically every detail that stood above the surface of the tank.
With each dry brushing pass over the model, I kept adding white until I was finally dry brushing with white by itself. I found that by using an oil based white, I could dry brush longer before having to re-dip my brush in the paint and that it applied easier to the surface of the model. The disadvantage to oil based paints is that they take much longer to dry than enamel or acrylic paints. Though it would seem that I was close to being finished with painting at this point, using the Tony Greenland method, I still had much painting to do on the sub-structure of the Tiger.
I air-brushed the sub-structure of the Tiger with a mixture of Humbrol Dark Earth and 30% flat black. I sprayed the sides of the Tiger from the mudguards down, the bottom of the Tiger, and the lower front and rear hulls of the Tiger. I feathered the lower front and rear so that the dark earth would transition easily to the Afrika Braun of the upper-stucture. In addition, I also sprayed the road wheels and the tracks this Dark Earth mixture. As opposed to the upper-structure, the sub-structure was left matt.
The next step, as outlined in the Panzer Modelling Masterclass book, was to dry brush the sub-structure with straight Dark Earth and then to keep adding quantities of the base color, Afrika Braun in my case, to the dark earth so that there would be a subtle transition between sub-structure and upper-structure. The higher areas of the sub-structure would of course receive more dry brushing with more Afrika Braun added to the mixture until I was dry brushing with straight Afrika Braun in order to achieve the subtle transition between sub- and upper-structure. This subtle transition from sub- to upper-structure is especially apparent at the lower rear of the hull and may appear as a type of weathering.
The same type dry brushing was applied to the tracks and to the road wheels. For the road wheels which faced to the outside, straight Afrika Braun was dry brushed as the final step so their appearance would be almost as Afrika Braun as the upper-structure. The inner parts of the road wheels were dry brushed with the Dark Earth/Afrika Braun mixture, but were left a darker appearance to give more depth and to represent more weathering than the outside road wheels.
I found that dry brushing the sub-structure with a Dark Earth oil mixture is easier because of the large surface area needed to be dry brushed. The oil paint stays longer on the brush, doesn’t dry out on the brush as quickly as the enamel Dark Earth, goes on smooth, and speeds up the process. I just added the Afrika Braun enamel paint to my Dark Earth oil mixture as I made my dry brushing passes over the sub-structure, road wheels and tracks until I was dry brushing with straight Afrika Braun.
The oil based Dark Earth mixture is as follows: gold or yellow ochre – 3 parts, black – 1 1/2 parts, red oxide – 1 part, white – 1 1/2 parts. Before gluing all my road wheels together (up to this point I had only glued certain sections together) I masked them off using Parafilm so that I could spray the rubber portions around the rims. I used Model Master’s Flat Sea Blue with about 15% white added as my color. After letting the paint dry for a day, I dry brushed the road wheels adding white to the sea blue until I was dry brushing almost with straight white. I found that unless the final dry brushing mixture is almost straight white, one barely notices that an edge or a raised detail has been dry brushed.
After I completed my dry brushing, I sprayed the muzzle break a mixture of sepia extra and thinner, a little thicker than the mixture used for the wash. I had to be careful when spraying this mixture so that it didn’t spray on too heavy. I found that the best way to spray on this mixture was to spray it on in several light coats, allowing it to dry in between coats. Also, I brushed on this mixture in the smoke discharger openings, the muffler openings and on bottom side of the muffler flaps
Not to forget the tools for the Tiger, I sprayed the machine guns, the metal tools and the tow cables flat black with a little white added for somewhat of a scale effect. Objects to be painted wood such as tool handles were first painted Tamiya Dark Yellow. Once the paint was dry they were washed with a mixture of thinner and approximately 33 % Burnt Sienna oil paint. I found that I had to apply several coats of the Burnt Sienna mixture to the wooden parts in order to achieve the right wooden appearance.
My next step was to dry brush the metal parts of the tools, the tow cables, the muzzle brake, the machine guns, the drive sprocket teeth, the edges of the tracks, etc. using Hannants Oily Steel. I believe Model Master’s Steel would work well, also. The object of this dry brushing was to give the metal objects a metallic look as if some of the original black paint had rubbed off in different areas. Not only were edges were dry brushed, but the flat surfaces were lightly dry brushed, also.
Next, I used Chrome Silver to dry brush the highest raised detail of the metal objects such as the edges of the shovel, the edges of the muzzle brake, the tips the machine gun barrels, the tips of the drive sprocket teeth and the rims of the smoke dischargers. As explained by Tony Greenland, the Chrome Silver added a brightness to the tips of these areas in contrast to the Oily Steel which was already dry brushed on.
The final step to completing the Tiger was the application of pastel chalks. For the upper- structure, a 50/50 mixture of dark brown and black pastel chalks was prepared. The chalk sticks were scraped with an exacto blade and the resulting powder was ground as fine as possible with the blade. Next, using a 10 aught brush, the powder was carefully brushed in a thin line at the base of all raised detail on the tank, blowing off the excess. Black pastel chalk was applied to the base of the raised detail of the sub-structure. If too much chalk was applied in an area, I simply used a damp cloth to wipe it off. Using the chalks had a similar effect as a wash – bringing out depth and making the small details of the model stand out.
Finally, I used the chalks to represent rust stains where water drained from around bolts and other metal parts. For this purpose, I prepared a mixture of 50% orange to 50% black chalk powder. An example of where I applied the “rust” chalk was to the bolts on the side skirts. I simply “painted” the chalk in a downward direction as the rusty water would have drained due to gravity.
Now, on to the figures! These Cromwell figures, along with a Verlinden “German Panzer Crew Afrika Korps” tank commander figure that I was doing at the same time for my Panzer IV F2, were my first figures to model since my early modelling days back in junior high. One thing that was difficult about the Cromwell figures was that the only instructions included was a sketch of each figure and I couldn’t tell exactly which figure was supposed to go into which hatch or how their arms were were supposed to be positioned exactly. I had to do a good deal of searching on the Internet and use my own imagination to finally come up with what appeared to be the correct answer.
I found the detail of the Cromwell figures to be very good but the ease of fitting the pieces together mediocre.
For example, the necks didn’t always fit flush onto the torso without a lot of sanding and there was much gap around the arm sockets after positioning them properly.
I had to use much milliput and Squadron model putty to fill in these gaps. The most difficult time I had was in positioning the arms of the loader. To put the arms in the same position as in the sketch created so much gap that I thought something had to be way off . For this figure, as with all of them, I drilled holes into the arms and shoulders and inserted copper wire into them to better hold the arms on. I used wire in the same way, without using glue, to hold the heads onto the bodies.
The only additions or modifications that I made to the figures had to do with the headsets and throat microphones. I also added lower legs to the loader. The commander and radio operator came with headsets molded onto their heads, whereas the driver and loader didn’t. After reviewing numerous photos of panzer crews, I noticed that most drivers wore headsets. I also noticed that most crew members wore throat microphones. Therefore, I decided that all my figures, except for the loader, should have headsets and throat microphones with all the included wiring.
For the driver and my Panzer IV commander, I used headsets from Dragon’s 1/35th scale German Sturmartillerie Crew kit. Also, I found good photos of a headset and a throat microphone on pages 100 and 101 of Historie & Collections book, German Soldiers of World War Two. This book and the other book by Historie & Collections, Afrikakorps, Tropical uniforms of the German Army, 1940 – 1945, are great references for figure modelers. They show modern day “models” wearing various German uniforms of the different branches from all fronts and time periods. I’m not sure whether the uniforms are real or reproductions. I assume they are reproductions.
The earpieces that came in the Dragon kit were too small in diameter to cover the ears of the driver and Pz.IV Cdr. To fix this and to make the headphones look more like the real ones in the above mentioned photographs, I made small O rings out of scrap plastic using different metal files. The inside diameter of the O rings were made large enough to fit over the ears while the outside diameter of the O rings were made approximately 1 mm larger than the diameter of the Dragon earpieces. In thickness, the O rings were probably less than 1/2 millimeter. The O rings were simply glued to the bottom of the Dragon earpieces.
The modified earpieces were then glued onto the figures using cyanoacrylate glue. Milliput was used to fill in any gaps around the edges of the earpieces and as a further cement. Another problem that I had was that the headbands for the earpieces, which were metal, were too short. I had to cut them in half and glue them on one half at a time, first to the earpiece, then to the top of the caps. I had, consequently, a small gap at the top of the caps between the headband halves. I took milliput and shaped it between the two halves to complete my headbands. Since the metal headbands had a type of ridge running down the middle, I imitated this on my milliput “connections” by digging out a small “trench” with my xacto blade in the milliput between the two headband halves and gluing a small brass wire therein.
I performed the same steps for the headbands of the Tiger commander and radio operator. Though they already came with headsets, their head-bands were molded to the sides of their heads and looked poor and unrealistic compared to the metal Dragon headbands. So, I used my xacto blade to remove them. Since they were made of resin, this was easy. For the commander’s earpieces, I glued a small, round, thin piece of plastic, which I fabricated, to the center of each earpiece to give them that “three level” look like the other earpieces had.
To hold the headbands onto the earpieces of the radio operator and Tiger commander, I used my pin vise to drill two small holes into the center of each earpiece and then glued small diameter brass wires into the holes. I then glued the metal Dragon headband halves onto each earpiece using the brass wires to anchor them. Milliput was then shaped around the tips of the brass wire give a small knob appearance and to help anchor the headbands onto the earpieces. I further completed the headbands the same way as for the driver and Pz. IV Commander.
Tne thing I learned in dealing with these small metal parts and trying to glue them on, was the necessity of a slow setting cyanoacrylate glue. I was using a 5-15 second glue and if I didn’t place my piece right the first time, I had to scrape off the glue and start over. By using “Slow Jet”, one – two minute setting extra thick professional grade cyanoacrylate glue, the gluing on of small, metal pieces became decidedly easier. Then I had much more time to place the small pieces and make sure they were in the right position. And I found that the glue held very well.
As with the headbands, the throat microphones were flat metal strips from the Dragon kit. They were round at the ends to represent the microphone parts. However, I saw no easy way to connect wire to the microphones since they were so flat. I also didn’t want to rely on glue alone. Therefore, I came up with a way to give the appearance of the throat microphone wires actually being connected to the microphones. First, I positioned the throat microphones on the neck of each figure individually to determine where to install the wires. I then drilled a tiny hole to the left and the right of each figure’s vocal cord location and inserted the smallest diameter copper wire I had into each hole using cyanoacrylate glue and milliput to secure them. I then glued the throat microphones on with the round microphone parts placed on top of the wires.
However, since the throat microphones were too long for the necks of the figures, I had to cut out part of the middle section of each throat microphone band and glue each half on separately. The wires ran out from the bottom of the microphones and with some milliput to fill in the gaps and to sculpt additional shape to the microphones, the wires looked like they were connected directly to the microphones. These throat microphone halves were very small and difficult to handle. I found out that using tweezers to grip photo-etched parts was not wise because if the tweezer teeth slipped, the part would go flying off and become lost in the carpet. A better method was to pick up the part with a small dab of modeling clay on the end of a toothpick.
The next items that I worked on were the throat microphone wire junction boxes that typically hang down just below the crew members’ ribs or are clipped on the crew members’ uniforms just above their abdomens. Again, pages 100 and 101 of German Soldiers Of World War Two were a great help in showing me the positioning of the junction boxes and the microphone wires. The Tiger commander figure had a junction box already molded to his chest. I drilled two small holes in the top and one in the center of the bottom of the junction box.
I glued the bottom wire into the junction box but didn’t glue in the top wires since they had already been glued to his neck and I wanted his head to remain removable. Since the driver was a half figure, there was no need for a junction box for him. However, the radio operator needed a junction box as did the Pz. IV commander. The plastic junction boxes that came with the Dragon kit were too thin to drill holes into them.
To solve this problem, I glued a small piece of scrap plastic to the back of each and used Milliput to sculpt them to the proper shape. This gave me a thick enough surface todrill the two holes into the top and one into the bottom of the boxes. I then inserted the two wires that were connected to the throat microphones of the radio operator and Pz. IV commander into the two holes at the top of each junction box after determining their proper lengths. A wire was also inserted into the bottom of the junction boxes of approximately 1/2 inch length. Again, the wires were glued in with cyanoacrylate glue and any gaps were filled in with milliput. The junction boxes were quite small and there wasn’t much plastic to work with. A good eye and much patience was needed when drilling the holes into them.
Using the photos of the panzer officer wearing the headset on pages 100 and 101 of the above mentioned book as a guide, I installed the headset wires on the figures. One might notice that the wires coming from each earpiece appear to connect together somewhere around the waist of the panzer officer and then proceed as one wire away from his body. To imitate this connection I decided to make a small plastic sleeve that the wires could fit into. I took a small round piece of scrap plastic and with my smallest drill bit, drilled a hole into it. Using a small metal file, with the bit still in the plastic,
I filed the plastic down around the bit until I couldn’t file much more without filing all the way through. I then removed the bit and filed the piece to about two to three millimeters in length. The idea was to make this piece as small and thin as possible so that it wouldn’t be too noticeable. I then took two of the smallest diameter copper wires that I had and inserted one all the way through the sleeve to about half way up the wire. I inserted the second wire just into the sleeve so that a “Y” was formed. and used the Slow Jet glue to glue the wires in the sleeve. I cut the wires so that the junction of the “Y” would be around the waist level of the figures and then inserted the two upper wires into the earpieces after drilling holes into them just below the headband connections. I then glued the wires to the earpieces and used Milliput to fill in any gaps. The length of the lower wires was not very important because most of the lower wires would be inserted into the hatches and not seen.
The last modification I made to the figures was to the loader. He came as a 3/4 figure with no legs below his shorts. Since he would be sitting up in the loader’s hatch and someone might notice his lack of legs, I decided to give him some. I found an old Tamiya kit of plastic Afrika Korps figures and cut the legs off of one of them wearing shorts and installed them on the loader. This was an easy operation to accomplish. Using some instructions from How to Build Dioramas by Shepherd Paine, I modified his feet so that they were not at an unnatural 90 angle with his legs. I cut a wedge into the back of the ankles and holding the ankles over a flame slightly bent the feet downward. Of course, I know that the loader’s feet are down inside the turret where they can’t be seen, but I know that his ankle muscles aren’t getting tired.
I painted all the faces, arms and legs using oil based paints as described in the article by Mark Bannermann, “Painting Faces: A Basic Guide to Improving 1/35th and 54 mm Scale Figures”. That included the eyes, lips and hair. For all uniforms and accessories painted, the base coat was applied first, followed by a shade color, then a highlight color. The primary guide I used for the tropical uniforms were the pictures on pages 20 and 21 of the panzer Oberfeldwebel from the Historie & Collections book, Afrikakorps – Tropical uniforms of the German Army, 1940 – 1945.
The paints I primarily used for the uniforms were Vallejo acrylic Model Colors. The main reason for using Vallejo paints was because they were the only colors referenced in the Osprey book, Modelling WWII Figures, which I used as a guide for selecting the colors to use on the figures. The Afrikakorps figure on pages 13 – 17 was the primary reference I used from the book. I used the figure’s jacket as a color reference for painting the trousers of all the figures since it was close to the color of the Oberfeldwebel’s trousers.
The Afrikakorps figure’s cap was used as a reference for painting the shirts of the figures for the same reason. The olive colored cap of the Oberfeldwebel was used as a reference for the driver’s cap, while the light sand colored cap on page 35 of the above mentioned Historie & Collections book was used to help paint the caps of the commander and radio operator. The Osprey book told which paints to mix together but it didn’t tell how much of each paint. I just had to mix the colors until I believed I had achieved the right color.
The loader’s cap was painted black to represent the preference of some panzer crew members to continue wearing their black panzer caps after they had been transferred to North Africa. Actually, the color wasn’t totally black, but a blue-black mixture as described in an article in the April 2001 issue of Fine Scale Modeler called “Paint it black”.
One problem I had using the Osprey book was the two different types of Vallejo colors referred to. Sometimes the Model colors were referred to and other times the Film colors were referred to. But everywhere I looked on the Internet, only the Model colors were offered for sale. After much investigation, I found on the Internet a conversion table from Film colors to Model colors at: http://www.lilliputmodel.com/articulos/vallejo/filmcolo.htm
Though this is in Spanish, I had no problem using it and it helped me out a lot. I determined while painting the figures that the rank of the Tiger commander would be Feldwebel and the rank of the other three crewmen would be Gefreiter. Oil paints were used to paint the very small details of the figures like the pink piping, the buttons, and the insignia.
To paint the “diamond” on the Tiger commander’s shoulder boards, some silver enamel was mixed with white oil paint and “dabbed” on to have aconical, three-dimensional look. The arms on the radio operator’s watch were painted with white oil paint using a toothpick. The edge of the watch was also highlighted with the white oil paint. The advantage of using oil paints for small detail is that any excess paint can easily be wiped off. However, one must let the paint dry for several days. A lens was applied to the watch using a drop of Microscale’s Micro Krystal Klear.
Upon completion of the figures, they were easily placed into their hatches on the Tiger, except for the driver. The driver figure didn’t fit directly down into the hatch, but had to be inserted through the turret ring with his head off using a bent pair of tweezers to position him. Before inserting the driver in his location, I first glued a piece of flat plastic to the shelf below the driver’s hatch to act as a platform to hold him up and to raise him up so that his head would protrude out of the hatch more. I also installed a piece of thick wire into the bottom of the radio operator which extended to the hull of the tank to give him some support. In addition, in order to help hold all the hatch covers in the open position better, I used my pin vise to drill corresponding small holes in the hinge areas of the hatches and hatch covers where they connected and inserted small, brass wires.
I really enjoyed modeling the Tunisian Tiger figures. They gave me a chance to add an element of realism and life to the Tiger model that would have been lacking no matter how well the model was built. When a person looks at the model with the figures in their tropical uniforms he should know that the setting is North Africa. Though adding the figures extended the overall time required to complete the Tiger, I believe they were well worth it.
In conclusion, when I set out to build the Tiger I Ausfhrung Afrika, I decided that I would take my time and build it as realistic as possible, no matter how long or the extra trouble it took. Some of the modifications I didn’t plan from the start, I just noticed the necessity of adding them as I reviewed more pictures of the Tiger. The notches in the smoke dischargers are an example. I didn’t even decide to add the figures until I was far along in the building process. Overall, Tamiya’s Tiger I Ausfhrung Afrika kit was a very enjoyable kit to build and one I would recommend to anyone.
Photos by Jeff Junker