I love these little guys. It’s a shame they are difficult to get, but Dragon’s 1/144 series of armor is just really, really nice. The detail is astonishingly crisp (many 1/72 kits have softer, worse detail), the assembly is simple… the best quick-and-dirty project you can ask for. In less than an hour you get two models built; a couple of hours more, and they’re ready.
I have built a couple of these kits over the years; the Jagdpanzer IV has been featured previously. (I built their Leopold Rail Gun, and the Karl Morser as well. All of them are excellent little models. If I can, I’ll get my hands on a couple of more.)
There’s not much to tell about the construction. The tanks are made up from 5-6 parts, most of which are already separate
d from their sprue, so you don’t even have cut them off. The only problem I found was with the photoetch engine grilles of the Afrika Korps version. (Yes, these models come with photoetch.) The molded-on air filter for the engine goes across the engine grilles, so it’s not possible to install the PE screens… which is kind of annoying. The other issue I found was that this very same tank is presented with steel-rimmed roadwheels -I think. In this scale it’s difficult to tell, but the other Tiger has definite grooves set onto the sides of the wheels, signifying the rubber tires. Since this was missing in the Afrika Korps Tiger, I assume it’s supposed to have the st
eal rimmed wheel setup. Which is historically incorrect. (Both Tiger I.’s are from the early series, which came with rubber tires.) The tracks are given as flexible bands; unfortunately one of them broke (the fit is really tight).
After an aborted attempt with a paintbrush, I did the painting steps along with other tanks to be able to rationalize the use of airbrush in such a small scale… It would have been a bit silly to fire up the compressor for two tiny models. Getting them
done on an assembly line, however, allowed me to get a nice finish on the paintjob in the simplest way possible. (It IS hard to achieve good results with paintbrushes. Not impossible, but hard.) The tools and cables were pained very carefully with the edge of a very thin paintbrush. I made sure the brush held only a very small amount of paint to make sure there would be no run-offs from the delicate details; this was a hybrid version of brush painting-drybrushing… the results are not perfect, but they would do.
The models were primed black, and then I used sand/tan, and German gray/tan to give them their final camo color. These colors need to be lightened significantly to account for the scale effect – I used tan for this purpose. (White is not ideal for lightening
a color; it makes colors look flat and plain.) Once the decals were dry I sprayed semi-matte varnish on the models to protect them. The only finicky thing to paint was the rubber tires of the road-wheels.
Weathering was done very lightly. Due to the scale of the models, subtlety was necessary. I used thin brownish paint to do pin washes, which did bring out the details nicely. The wash was light both in color and application; after all the panel lines would not be very much visible in this scale. (This is a matter of taste -and the purpose of the model. For example Warhammer 40k models usually go for the heavily accented panel lines to show contrast.) The same goes for the dust/mud. If you see apparent dust on the model, it would mean the real vehicle would have been probably covered by dust centimeters thick. I used a brush to layers of earth colored pigments dissolved in water onto the sides and top, and once dried, I used a stiff brush to remove most of it. Since I put these guys into display cases, I did not use any fixer. As a final touch I ran a soft leaded pencil over the raised details, rubbed it lightly against the surface of the mud guards; this gives a nice metallic sheen to the model. Paint chips and rust patches were not applied (as they should not be visible in this scale).
I got some tiny display cases on ebay, so keeping them safe from harm and dust is not a problem. The Afrika Korps Tiger got the cobblestone street base, and the gray Tiger got the grassy one. I added quite a lot of earth colored pigments to both base to make them look less artificial. (The green was especially plastic-like with the uniformly colored mud.) Unfortunately I don’t have my “proper” camera with me, so the photos are not the best; I’ll try to remedy this issue later. (I’m in the middle of moving residences.)