Tiger On the Prowl: A 15mm WWII FireFight! | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Wednesday, 23 January 2008

More than sixty years after the Tiger first prowled the battlefield, we’re hearing more and more armchair generals question the validity of claims about German tank engineering. One need only go to the source to find that in the case of the Tiger, these claims are very valid. Certainly everyone that fought these big cats feared them, and that says a lot.

 


One of each tank in this review.

While the Tiger had some problems that were never quite worked out, these issues were no different from those encountered by other countries making heavy tanks in World War II: limited range and wear on the drive train from the massive weight, around 61 U.S. tons in the case of the Tiger, and being too heavy for many bridges. It was a fearsome beast though, with reports of its powerful 88mm shell penetrating clear through Sherman turrets and shooting through buildings to destroy Shermans. Both German and Russian accounts relate the Russian cry of “Tigri!” as being used to warn the front to retreat in the face of this tank, most notably Franz Kurowski in Panzer Aces II

Considering the Tiger’s popularity on gaming tables—where its shortcomings are often under-played—and the lasting notoriety of this tank, we decided to bring 15mm mid-production Tigers from every major vendor into our painting area and let you know the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Our thanks to Scott Washburn of PaperTerrain for reading this one for us.

The selection of Tiger tank models available in 15mm is, as you would expect, broad. It is also unsurprisingly a high-quality group of tanks. These are must-haves for a German player; considering that only 1,350 or so were produced during World War II, wargamers tend to echo the claims of Allied gunners who claimed many more Tigers killed than were deployed on all fronts. All gamers who play Germans have them, even if they don’t play them. We have at least one Tiger in every scale from 1:16 down to 1:300, though we’ve never fielded one on our gaming tables. 

We brought Battlefront, Command Decision, Peter Pig, Quality Castings and Quick Reaction Force models in for a paint-up and review. Because Battlefront is in the process of remastering its Tiger tanks, we also brought in the new Michael Wittmann box set to show what future Battlefront offerings will look like, even though the Michael Wittmann Tiger is late-production. We’re not reviewing this box set here, only using it to show you the comparison of size with existing models.


The Michael Wittmann box set with Baueda CAMA terrain bits. 

For this review, we painted the tanks a base color, as is our normal procedure. A multitude of flaws can be covered up with a camouflage paint job, and we want to make certain you see these tanks as you’ll receive them, not as we would paint them up. We will deck these out with camouflage at a later date.

Along those same lines, we’ve left the paint simple. Our collection of Tigers is usually painted up with more care detail than other tanks we own, but for this review we simply painted the base coat, drybrushed a lighter shade over it, colored tracks and tools, and washed the whole to bring out details. In our experience, this gives a better result when taking photographs that are meant to compare the vehicles than a complex multi-shaded paint scheme with dust added. 

We were very happy to see that all of these tanks are good enough for your table. After our Panther review, that’s a nice change of pace for German big cats. All of these look good sitting next to PzIIIs and PzIVs of the respective vendors, and all of them look great next to Panthers—largely because the pool of Panther models is so woefully inadequate.

With all that said, we’re happy to accept Peter Pig as the choice for our tables, with the possibility of throwing in some Battlefront tanks in the future. The Peter Pig Tiger is highly detailed, very accurate for mid-production, easy to assemble and has enough options for our taste. The tank looks great, with only the Battlefront late-production Tiger we threw in coming anywhere near the level of detail and accuracy of the Peter Pig product. 

Battlefront Miniatures


As you no doubt already know, Battlefront tanks come with resin bodies and turrets; the guns, tracks and any extra bits are metal. All BF tanks come with a command figure, and all but the newest come with a dismounted crew figure. This tank is no exception—it included a spare road wheel, smoke dischargers, a gun, tracks and a turret hatch cover in metal. 

The mounting of the turret is the standard BF mechanism: a circular protrusion on the bottom of the turret, 1.8 cm wide, and a depression in the hull 1.9 cm in diameter to hold it. The mounting works well and holds the turret in most circumstances, only becoming jiggly with a tilt of about 40 degrees. This can be eliminated by pinning the center of the turret to the center of the hole.


The tank comes with a piece of tread on the front as improvised armor, two tow cables and a track cable. The turret can be modeled open or closed, with the open position being more akin to early Tiger 1Es than mid-production Tiger 1Es. This is also true of the smoke dischargers, which were removed from production relatively quickly due to their being a liability that caused crews to bail. While “mid production” is a bit loose for a tank version, there are limits … but since we bought the “Kursk” version of this tank, and that would lean toward more early than mid production, no foul on BF’s part.

This Tiger is modeled with all three rows of road wheels, correct for an early- to mid-production tank, and the tracks are 6.7mm, midway between transport and combat track widths, so you could use it as either. 



 

The detail on this model is fine, with our touch points—the radiator grilles on the back deck, the exhaust heads and the hatches—being crisp and well-defined. The only bit that is short on this tank is the hull MG-34, which is MIA; you’ll have to model one if you want it. We use floral wire for a simple solution to this problem.

 

Overall, this is a fine tank. The few negatives are not enough to overshadow the beauty of the overall piece. The height measurement is far over what it should be for 1:100, and it shows, but if you’re using all BF vehicles this will not be a problem for you.

Manufacturer Battlefront Miniatures

Model number: GE 072 Tiger 1E (Kursk)

U.S. Sourcing: The War Store 

U.S. MSRP: $11.00

UK Sourcing: Battle Honours

UK MSRP: £6.50

 

Battlefront Michael Wittman Tiger Box Set


 

While we’re not reviewing this model, we wanted to mention it. As the table below shows, it is very close in measurement to both the current mid-production BF Tiger 1E and the Peter Pig Tiger 1E. The nice bits on this mini that aren’t available on any of the other tanks reviewed are hatches and figures for the loader, gunner and driver. We modeled ours with the loader and driver looking out along with the commander. This tank’s tracks are 7mm—very close to the width of combat tracks—and the wheels are in the late-war two-row arrangement. All in all, we love this tank, and BF tells us that in the future, as its Tigers are remastered, this is what they will all look like. In terms of scale and detail this is very close to Peter Pig vehicles, so we’re salivating at the thought.

Note that the Michael Wittmann box set is more expensive than a single Tiger - $17.00, but comes with everything pictured here. 


 

Command Decision


Command Decision tanks come three per pack, and they do not offer various versions of Tigers. Frankly, we’re not all that disappointed by this. It’s obvious when the commander’s cupola is early (like the top of a 60-gallon drum in shape) or late (like the crenellated turret), but at 15mm, you have to make a call on how important this one very obvious difference is to you. These tanks come with the later version of the cupola. 

CD vehicles are generally on the less expensive end of the spectrum in a per-tank scenario. Some popular wargames limit your ability to deploy Tigers to two in a standard army, so be certain you know what your rules allow before you jump on the “bargain” of three tigers for one price.

 

The CD tanks are nice enough to adorn your table, but are toward the lower end of the quality spectrum. The level of detail is less than competitors, with the most glaring example of this being the exhaust pipes, which are melded at the top with their protective shields.

The tank comes with two tow cables, a shovel, a link breaker bar and a hammer. Unlike most entries, there is no jack on this tank—it must be stored in the stowage bin. The bow machine gun is absent, though like BF’s entry, the mount is there, so you can make one with floral wire or a similar device if you wish. 


The road wheels on this tank are laid out in two rows, which the Germans did after steel-band wheel covers were invented because they stood up to the increased per-inch pressure better than rubber, and because fewer wheels meant fewer places for sand and ice to stick. Because we chose mid-production as our guiding line, this squares with our review. 

The tracks are 6.5mm wide, in-line with transportation tracks, which may well explain the missing row of road wheels, as they were removed for transport owing to the narrower tracks.


 

Overall, the CD Tigers will likely serve you well. While less inspiring than the competition, they look fine on the table, with the loader’s hatch and the exhaust pipes being the only points at which you can see a glaring inconsistency.

 

If you need more than one or two tanks, CD is a good option, being as much as four U.S. dollars less expensive than competitors’ offerings in groups of three.

Manufacturer: Old Glory 15s 

Model Number: CD 300

U.S. Sourcing: WarWeb

U.S. MSRP: $22.00 (three per package)

UK Sourcing: Old Glory UK

UK MSRP: £ 16.50 (3 per package)

 

Peter Pig

 

We have just one word for the Peter Pig Tiger: Astounding. When planning this review we conversed with Martin at Peter Pig about the Tiger versions the company had available, and which we were going to review. In the end, we slightly modified this review to be able to include Peter Pig—we originally wanted to do early production Tiger 1Es—and we’re glad we did!

The Peter Pig model comes with a hull, two tracks, a barrel, a rear glacis plate and a turret hatch (ours came with two … our apologies to whoever didn’t get one). It’s simple to assemble and looks darned good even without paint. 

As is true with all Peter Pig guns, the 88 on this tank is huge. But the difference on a Tiger is much less glaring than that of a 2cm gun.

The vehicle is loaded with all of the things that build up on a tank that’s active in combat: Tow cable, track cable, shovel, hammer, pliers, jack, breaker bar and manual start crank. 


There’s also a bit of track mounted on each side of the turret. This is more of a late-production item than mid-production, but as we’ve said above, mid-production is ill-defined, so we’re willing to accept it. 

Unlike most in this review, the commander’s hatch cannot be mismounted unless you do so on purpose. Most vendors count on your knowledge to correctly place the hinge of the hatch at the 9:00 position, while PP includes a spindle-and-hole arrangement that makes it clear where the mount belongs.

The loaders’ hatch and the gun ventilation shaft are the most detailed of all of the tanks we looked at in this review; the exhaust is detailed enough for 1:100 (you can’t see the holes in the top of the exhaust, but they were small in the original); the rear deck venting stands out beautifully … this is what you think of when you think Tiger. 

The turret mounting of the Peter Pig model is the best in this review as well. A tube, 1.5 cm in diameter and 6 mm deep, extends down from the turret and slips into a hole in the hull that is 1.6 cm in diameter. It’s a loose fit that allows the turret to turn freely, but the extra length of the turret piece (twice the size of the BF mounting) means it does not fall out until the tank has passed vertical.


 

The wheels are mounted up as three rows, and unlike everyone else in this review, you can actually see all three rows - the back of these treads is finished.

The one thing that’s a bit odd about this tank is the new Peter Pig track-mounting system. Using this system, there’s a gap through which you can see the other side of the tank … through what should be solid hull. To see this problem you have to be looking levelly at the tank from the side (see picture). We don’t find this to be a major problem, but you might. For a fix, you have two choices: Purchase some other vendor’s vehicle, or use a piece of plastic card to block the view through the tank (be sure to paint it). 

And of course, we have complained before about molded-on bow machine guns, and this one is no exception. It’s molded on, and includes a glob of metal under it. We’ve given up filing this out, and now just paint it, counting on the small size to cover our laziness.

 

 

Bottom line, we think this tank is tops. After this review we’ll have scant need of any more Tigers, but if that changes, we’ll be purchasing them from Peter Pig.

Manufacturer: Peter Pig

Model Number: 400 Tiger I Mid-production (Normandy & Russia)

U.S. Sourcing: Brookhurst Hobbies

U.S. MSRP: $16.95 

UK Sourcing: Peter Pig

UK MSRP: £7.00

Quality Castings

 

Quality Castings Tiger 1Es come in all metal, with two tracks, the hull, a turret with a molded-on gun, open and closed hatches, a commander, and the bow machine gun.

Like most QC tanks, this is 15mm, not 1:100. Be aware that this is the smallest tank in the review and will not play well with the largest—Battlefront and Peter Pig. The CD and QRF tanks are in-between and would work with those from Quality Castings. 

The QC turret-mounting mechanism is nice enough, a peg 4mm wide and 8mm long that slips into a hole in the hull. It holds the turret in place unless the tank is tipped upside down, and leaves enough play for the turret to turn as well as the Peter Pig mounting. It is a little easier to get the Peter Pig turret into the larger hole, otherwise they are equivalent.

The QC model has plenty of detail, with only the thickness of the exhaust shields and the loaders’ hatch being of dubious quality. The rest of the tank is vivid, and if you like most QC products you will find these to be just what you expect. 


Stowage on the QC tank includes two tow cables, a nicely coiled track cable, an axe, a hammer, a shovel, a breaker bar, pliers and a bundle for the side of the tank.

The tank sports three rows of wheels in the early-to-mid-production combat configuration, and looks good enough set up that way. The tracks are 6.5mm, and considering that the rest of the tank is less than 1:100, that is likely close to dead-on for combat tracks. 



The commander’s cupola is the later version, which as we’ve mentioned above is just fine for a mid-production vehicle. The loaders’ hatch lacks detail—things that obvious on the turret stand out when they are absent. The rear-deck radiator grilles are highly detailed; the exhaust covers, while a little thick, are separate from the top of the exhaust pipes; and the exhaust pipes have more detail than those on any other vehicle but the BF tank. Nice. 

Having a separate machinegun is wonderful in our book, but it might be less important to you. We like having the guns look like they’re hunting down enemy infantry, and without any excess metal underneath or anything of the kind, this one does.

 

Overall, this is a fine Tiger if all your vehicles are appropriately scaled. Placed next to the BF Tigers it looks like a PzIV, but because the BF tank is oversized and the QC tank undersized, this makes sense. We think that these would be great additions and we like the look of the overall vehicle, which is important to most of us.

Manufacturer: 19th Century Miniatures, LLC

Model: 4093 Panzer VI Tiger Tank Mid War 

World Wide Sourcing: Old Glory 15s

U.S. MSRP: $9.00

There is not currently a UK source for Quality Castings, but the company assures us that it will take care of EU residents who order direct. Several readers have written to tell us that their experience ordering direct was acceptable or outstanding.

 

Quick Reaction Force


The QRF Tiger 1E is a 1943 model. The problem inherent in classifying early, mid or late production of a tank that was produced for only about 2.5 years becomes obvious when comparing this model to the others in this review, as we shall see below. The all-metal QRF Tiger comes with a body, a turret with attached gun, two treads, a commander figure and a turret hatch. There is no bow machine gun, though the mount is there, so again you can make one with a bit of floral wire. 

Our QRF tank came to us in one piece, but we (in this case, “we” means “Don”) tried to store three reviews’ worth of models and figures in one box, and broke the barrel doing so. While we repaired the barrel, we want to assure you that the broken barrel in the pre-assembly picture is our fault, not QRF’s.

 

In point of fact, this model is the only one that is a true mid-production Tiger. All of the details—including the hosing that runs across the back deck—are accurate for an early 1943 version of the tank.

The road wheels are arranged in the three-deep manner common on early- and early/mid-production Tigers, and the treads are 6.5mm wide, in line with the other vendors’ tracks and not too far off for combat tracks. 

The turret of this tank seems a bit short and wide to us, though we did not do a measure comparison to our line drawings. We believe that the large (20%) difference between the height of the model and the height of the original is due mostly to height lost in the turret. It is also odd that the gun vent is not present on top of the turret, but it’s certainly not a screaming problem, just more blank space than we expect.

QRF includes little external embellishment; a bit of track on the front lower hull is it. Unfortunately our bit of track was pretty mangled, and we don’t know if this is a function of the mold or merely our model. 



The absence of tow cables and track cables bothered us quite a bit. It may be of no consequence to you—or if you’re a modeler with free time, it may be your preference as you can then model these Tigers in a different configuration than all the other tanks in the review. 

The commander’s cupola on this tank is the drum style; again, that is perfectly in line with what we bought—the later, periscope-based, cast cupola did not start appearing until July 1943. The level of detail is high on this tank, with the rear deck grilles and all of the hatches clearly defined. The command figure is rather nice as well, striking a pose that shows confidence.

This model is just the right size to blend with any of the other vehicles in this review, though it looks better with the larger figures than those from QC. The turret is wider than average, but this is only glaringly obvious if you place the tanks side-by-side. 


 

Overall, this tank will serve you well. We like it and won’t have any problems placing it into our heavy panzer Abtielung to teach our army’s enemies some lessons.

 

Manufacturer: LKM Direct

Model: GFV03 PzVI Tiger model 1943

U.S. Sourcing: Wargames, Inc 

U.S. MSRP: $7.95

UK Sourcing: LKM Direct

UK MSRP: £ 5.00

 

All measurements in the following chart are in centimeters.

Name

Length

With Gun

Width

Height

Notes

Original/100

6.31

8.54

3.7

2.93

Width for transport 3.4

Battlefront Old

6.4

8.5

3.5

3.15

 

Battlefront New

6.2

8.5

3.7

3.0

 

Command Decision

6.4

8.4

3.8

2.95

 

Peter Pig

6.2

8.5

3.8

3.0

 

Quality Castings

6.05

8.3

3.6

2.6

Not designed at 1:100.

Quick Reaction Force

6.2

8.4

3.75

2.5

 

 

Left to right - CD, QRF, QC, PP, BF 

Tools of the Trade

All models in this review were assembled and painted utilizing the following tools:

-         Armory Grey Primer (Armory black used on Michael Wittman)

-         Vallejo Military Colors Paint set

-         Adikolor inks and watered Vallejo paints for highlighting

-         Brushes are primarily Reaper, with a few Citadel, and Vallejo for specific tasks

-         Future floor polish used with some watered paints to enhance highlighting

-         Armory Clear Matte Sealer for dull-coating

-         Trimming and file tools from Foundry

-         Zap-A-Gap for gluing

 

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