The Tamiya Tiger Full Option

Since the photo etched detail set made by Aber is available for the Tiger my fingers itched to build another Tiger. To add some variation to the first one I built, and because the scale 1/16 is perfectly suited to being modified, my Tiger was built like it was manufactured in the second half of May 1943.

While looking through my references I encountered some weak points of the Tamiya Tiger and the Aber photo etched set. But now in sequence:

The kit out of the box – the Tamiya Tiger

The construction period of the original can be limited due to its characteristics to March 1943. On the one hand by the simplified form of the Feifel filters (introduced early March 1943, approximately with chassis number 250143), on the other hand by the absence of the loader's periscope (introduced late March 1943, starting with turret No. 184). However the launcher tubes of the S-mine-throwers are missing, which were installed starting from January 1943 (chassis number 250082). If you are interested in further improvements of the model, David Byrdens Tiger page is the place to go.

The improvement – the Aber PE set

By using  the complete Aber PE set one shifts the construction period of the original forward to mid/late April 1943. That's because of the spare track link holders on the turret sides, particularly the ones on the right side. Only in the second half of April three track links were attached on the right turret side, starting by the end of April there were only two installed. The appropriate chassis numbers are approximately  250207 to 250220.

Unfortunately Aber has forgotten the loaders periscope, which was introduced the at the end of March 1943 (turret No. 184). The drawings of David Byrden are of great help here.


A further change which becomes necessary by using the Aber PE set concerns the rear ventilation screens. Originally two different screens had been used, one for the right and one for the left side (cast as mirror-images). Starting by early April 1943 the design was however changed and only the left side screens were installed now onto both sides.


Probably another error crept in because the holders of the spare track links on the right side are wrongly positioned in my judgment. The foremost holder should actually sit behind the rear holder.

I come to this conclusion because of the following quotation in Jentz’ book „Germany’s Tiger Tanks – D.W. to Tiger I, p. 80:

“On 13 April 1943 Henschel informed Wegmann: The last two spare track holders on the right side have to be dropped and another holder mounted farther forward. The five holders on the left side can be retained. After this change is made, it will allow the engine hatch to be opened when the turret is traversed to 1:30.”

But in such a way as the holders are positioned now, it would be impossible to mount them further forward.

Another difficulty while using three spare track link holders is finding an original, because only 13 Tiger were built in that configuration.

The conclusion – my Tiger

My model dates between the introduction of the HL 230 P45 engine (mid May 1943, chassis number 250251) and the end of mounting smoke candles (early June 1943).

In addition to the above mentioned changes (loader's periscope, vent screens) some more changes are necessary:

On top the hatch of the engine compartment a new cover plate is installed instead of the screw used so far. Thus it becomes necessary to move the locking mechanism of the cover plate as well as the mounting plates for the hoses of the Feifel filter.


The drive sprocket gets a new, simplified cover (late April 1943, chassis number 250220).


The mounting plate for the external starter mechanism gets a second hole.


The search for the original

Normally a modeler proceeds in such a way that he is trying to build a model which is shown in as much reference pictures as possible. Then an appropriate kit is changed in such a way that the model comes as close to the original as possible.

In my case it was somewhat more complicated because I knew exactly which characteristics my model should exhibit, but did not have an original in mind. Due to the work of many authors it is however possible today to research what units a Tiger built in a certain period was assigned to.  In the case of my Tiger those units in question were the heavy tank sections Grossdeutschland, 502 and 505 as well as the SS sPzAbt 101.

After knowing to which units my Tiger could belong I only had to find pictures. As I soon had to realize, the word "only" was considerable understatement. From the units specified above my first choice was the sPzAbt 505 because of the camouflage pattern and the markings. In hope to land a lucky strike I first sighted all pictures (from approx. 12 books) of Tigers of this section from the summer 1943. Unfortunately without success. Then I made a list of all 45 Tigers of this unit with its tactical numbers and noted beside every of them on the basis of my pictures whether it was a possible find or not. After approximately 2 months I finally scored a hit:

It is the Tiger with the tactical number 231 of the sPzAbt 505. Since the pictures concerned are subject to copyright, I will only mention the books: "Tigers in Combat volume I" on page 26 and "Tiger on the Eastern front" on page 65. The first picture shows the Tiger from the side and the other one from the back, so an exact identification of all characteristics is given.

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