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Tiger I (early)

Skybow 1/48 Sd.Kfz.181 Ausf.E Tiger I (early) Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review February 2006 Manufacturer Skybow
Subject Sd.Kfz.181 Ausf.E Tiger I (early) Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4833 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great details Cons Decals
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $25.00

First Look

Tiger I (early)
Tiger I (early)
Tiger I (early)
Tiger I (early)
Tiger I (early)
Tiger I (early)
Tiger I (early)
Tiger I (early)

After the French campaign, the German Army found the performance of their tanks not up to their expectations. Therefore they developed the successor type Mark VI. This new heavy tank weighed 56 tons and was equipped with a powerful 88mm tank cannon and much heavier armor. In 1942, the new Tiger I was first employed in the Leningrad campaign and thus became one of the most famous tanks of WWII, the Steel Tiger.

The box-like shape of the Tiger I still represented the typical characteristics of traditional German tank designs. During the time it was in use, the Germans developed a number of more modern designs (notably the Panther), which all became famous representatives of the German tank forces.

The shape of the Tiger I comes very close to what was our childhood impression of what a tank looked like. This tank model has become the favorite of almost every beginner of tank modeling over the years.

This new kit comes in a box that is very similar to the ones that DML Dragon uses to package their 12” jointed figures with the authentic cloth clothing and equipment. It has a hinged lid, that lifts to reveal a clear plastic window which allows us to view all the hits contents.

The box lid has what appears to be a color photo of the model made up. A side panel has 3 more color views of this made up model. The back of the box has a 5 view illustration of  the same model in the markings of the SPz.Abt. 501 (one of the marking options provided on the decal sheet). Below this is the vehicles history, in Chinese, Japanese, English and German.

The box is of the end-opening type with a locking tab. Inside is a vacuformed, clear tray with a lid that holds all the parts. This tray is compartmentalized. The larger compartment holds trees of the smaller parts and the black vinyl rubber-band type treads. The treads are in a clear vacuformed cylinder and are of the glueable vinyl material. The smaller end compartment holds the hull top and bottom, the main turret body parts and a small cello bag full of 20 metal screws. This kit is really packed like a fortress.

The instructions and the decal sheet complete the contents.

The instructions is a single sheet that is folded in the center to create 4 pages. Inserted into it is a single page that has 3 different full-color 4-view illustrations, to be used for a painting and marking guide.

The instructions are printed on slick coated paper with actual color photos of the kit parts in all the assembly steps.

There are 5 trees of dark green parts and the hull pieces in the kit.

Page one of the instructions begins with a full color copy of the box art. This is followed by the parts trees illustrations and a price list of what it would cost to buy any of the parts trees, should the modeler need a replacement for any reason.

Pages 2 through 4 gives a total of 13 assembly steps. It appears that the center 2 rows of road wheels are to be held in place with the metal screws provided in the kit. These screws will be cleverly hidden by the outer row of wheels after assembly.

All the hatches can be posed open or shut as preferred. However, there are no interior parts, no crew figures in the kit. A nice assortment of tools and a very detailed Feifel air cleaner system (peculiar to early Tigers) is included.

Painting and marking options are given for:

  1. SPz.Abt. 501, North Africa
  2. SPz.Abt. 502, Russia 1943/44
  3. SPz.Abt. 505, Russia 1943

The decal sheet is rather strange in this kit. Reason being that it is printed in reverse or mirror image. This means that you will have to put the decals FACE DOWN on the model to transfer them. The back of the decal sheet has “frames” printed on it. These frames are around each of the markings that appear on the face side of the decal. It will help to get the marks on straight, but how that will work out remains to be seen. I personally feel it is a bad move by Skybow.

The kit is very crisply molded, with good detail, no flash and mold pin marks are mostly hidden from view. Highly recommended.

Until I got this kit, I was of the mind that Skybow had gone out of business. They previously released several 1/35th scale kits, mostly soft-skin US vehicles. I have a few of these. I was told that they had sold these molds to AFV Club and had ceased production. Apparently, they are back again and cutting a nitch in the 1/48th scale market.

I want to sincerely thank Winston Vermiyea, of Wings N Treads for this review sample.