Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Modeling the Initial Tiger I in Flames of War

Waldemar Trojca gets me in more trouble than any human being I know.  He has recently published the second volume of his acclaimed Tiger Technical and Operational History series, but the first volume had me in enough trouble.  Going through the excellent research and color plates, I discovered Schwere Panzer Abteilung 502 and its unique Tiger I tanks which served in the Soviet Union during the winter of 1942-3.  By February 1943, the first company was down to five tanks, so they repainted their winter camouflage and renumbered them one through five.  Two of the five vehicles are early production Tiger I tanks.  For these the standard Flames of War miniature (GE070) will work fine with little modification (such as the removal of the shovel on the front hull).  However, the other three are initial production Tiger I tanks which vary from the Flames of War model in many distinctive and critical ways.  Not being content to "make do" I decided to begin the conversion from "early Tiger I" to "initial Tiger I" to correctly represent the unit on the table - after all, how hard could it be???

The answer, of course, is VERY hard.  The initial production Tiger I differs on nearly every important surface of the vehicle.  Stowage is in different places, the front fenders are different, the turret stowage boxes are field modifications from a Panzer III, and so on.  Starting with the rear hull, there is less stowage and the exhaust system is different from the early production Tiger I.  Unfortunately it was easier to remove all of the detail and replace it than it was to simply modify the existing details.  The photo below shows the rear hull with replacement fittings.  The miniature was slightly concave, so there is extra green putty building up a smooth rear hull.  The photo below that shows the prototype exhaust pipe (at left) along with the prototype front fender (which had a distinctive diamond tread surface).  The prototype exhaust was built from aluminum rod, styrene sheet and tubing.  A micro-punch was used to create the rivet detail.  The fender is simply some mesh glued over the top of a styrene sheet cut and bent to the right size and angle.  I've cast up several copies of both of these parts as each tank requires two exhausts and two fenders.


Additional modifications to the hull are fairly extensive as much of the stowage is moved or absent.  The small side tow cable is not found on the initial production Tiger I, nor is the front shovel or the S-mine launchers.  These were all therefore removed.  The bolt cutters are also in a different position.  Perhaps the most significant change was the location of the primary tow cables.  Rather than the connecting eyes being stowed forward, they are stowed aft on the initial Tiger I, which meant the entire tow cable had to be replaced.  I used styrene sheet, copper wire, and resin copies of the eyes from the original miniature as replacements.  The initial Tiger I also had only five, not six, gun cleaning rods.  These were replicated with stretched sprue.



 The turret also required minor modification.  Essentially the molded in turret stowage box had to be removed.  This will be replaced with one from a Panzer III.  Instead of sacrificing multiple Panzer III miniatures, I've cast up copies of the stowage box to use on converted turrets.



Now that the primary surgery is done, I need to finish neatening up the miniature for assembly and painting.  The fenders and exhausts will be attached prior to painting, but I generally wait until after painting to attach the tracks.  The Tigers of the 502nd are all gray with substantial whitewash.  I'll also need to make up custom decals as the markings are completely unique to this unit, but it will give me a chance to try out my new dry transfer maker!
Ultimately this will all go into an Eastern Front army using the Schwere Panzerkompany 1942 list.  I know it's not the most competitive list out there, but it will be RIGHT for these guys.  I'm also including some winter mid-war grenaders in the mix, so it should look great on the table, even if I die heinously!  I'll post more "in progress" photos as this one works its way through the queue.


  1. Great detail into the customisations done. I'm like this project and will look forward to seeing more.

    1. Me too! :-)

      I'll continue to post updates as I get them. Should be a fun project. I'm planning on posting the unit history soon...