Clearly a little synchronicity going on at the moment with Elliott's build!
We live in a fortunate age where we can build our models based on the research of giants of our age. Thanks to the likes of Doyle, Dyer, Jentz et al I can set about identifying a particular Tiger, specify when it was built, which features it should have, and then take the pleasurable step of building the beast, confident that it bears a good chance of looking right.
So here’s a project I’m doing for the Sharpshooters Museum. The theme is the fighting in Villers-Bocage on 13th June 1944. Where Elliott is representing the morning fighting on Point 213 with his current Firefly project, I’ve opted for the afternoon battle, close to the Mairie (town hall). This centres around an ambush position that a troop from B Squadron, 4 CLY took up in the lower half of the town’s high street. The troop was led by Lieutenant ‘Bill’ Cotton, who had been with the Regiment since before the war and had worked his way up through the ranks - a veritable desert veteran.
The troop, after trying to skirt round to the south of the town had ended up near the Mairie, and Cotton had arranged the troop so that it could engage anything coming down the high street. Up against the wall on the Eastern side of the square (the direction from which the Germans would come) was the troop’s Sherman Firefly, commanded by Sgt Bob Bramall. In front of the Mairie were two Cromwells commanded by Sgt Len Grant and Cpl George Horne, whilst Cotton’s own 95mm Howitzer armed Cromwell CS was parked in the yard of a garage on the corner of the street running parallel to the high street. Alongside the troop was a small contingent of infantrymen from 1/7 Queen’s Regiment which included a 6-pdr anti-tank gun. During the afternoon they fought off repeated attacks by the Germans, knocking out two Tiger tanks and one Panzer IV without loss. They are likely to have been involved in damaging two further Tigers.
As the fighting died down, Cotton and Bramall set about preventing the recovery of the German tanks before the anticipated British withdrawal. They stuffed petrol-soaked blankets into the turrets of the German tanks, then set them on fire. It is this moment that the diorama will depict – as Cotton stands on top of Tiger 113 with his umbrella up (it was raining) and Bramall pouring petrol onto a blanket.
Their task was temporarily thwarted by the French pompiers (fire brigade), who turned out, intending to put out the flames before any housing caught light. They were dissuaded from this task.
Fortunately, Cotton had his camera with him to record the scene and this is the picture he took:
(Pictures included for discussion purposes only) Credit - Richard Cotton
By happy coincidence, when the German war photographers arrived they took further shots of the same scene. These were taken by Kreigsberichter Zwirner on around 17th June:
Bundesarchiv image 494/3376-08A
Bundesarchiv image 494/3376-07A
The mess made of the town was due to the RAF, not the Sharpshooters - we tried to leave it in reasonably good order.
The diorama will show the whole square including the front face of the town hall, the buildings on the southern side of the high street, the Firefly, two Cromwells, the 6-pdr, Tiger 113 and the Panzer Lehr Pz IV. I’ll do a sketch when things have moved on a bit. It will be built in 1/72 scale.
The item currently being built is Tiger 113, commanded by Oscha Heinrich Ernst. I decided to see what I could do with the Revell Tiger I, described as ‘late production’. It is fairly clear that the kit was created as a much earlier production model and that they added the parts to make it resemble a late production variant. Well, most of them. From the detail visible in the photographs above, it can be established that 113 was built in April 1944 and so there are some additional modifications needed to make it right. I’ll list the changes made from the front, working towards the back:
1. The guide horns on either side of the hull plate are the earlier, vertical type. I recarved them to show the angled shape cut out from the steel.
2. Many of s.SS Pz 101 Tigers had a section of spare track mounted on a bar on their front plate. As I bought two Tigers for the project I had some spare track to mount on the front. I’ll be contacting OKB to make up the shortfall (and perhaps make an early Tiger for another project).
3. Zimmerit was simulated by scoring the relevant surfaces with a scribe, painting the surface with MEK and then rescribing. It looks subtle at the moment but a couple of oil washes will soon bring it out. Notice that I gouged patches for the unit markings and that I didn't bother with the portion of the bow plate that will be covered by the track.
4. On the glacis plate I modified the over-large headlamp and added a cable conduit.
5. The machine gun mounting lacks its collar, so I carved one, and thinned away the plastic to make the shape better.
6. The right hand forward mud guard was missing from the tank and, as the kit provides it as an entire plate, I had to fabricate the rear section which is part of the hull - where the missing, larger forward section is thin plate and has been torn away.
7. The forward section of track guard on the left hand side appears distorted in the pictures and so I removed the panel and replaced it with some wine bottle foil, distorting it to represent the pictures.
8. A turret ring was added and the tools moved slightly to accommodate it. This was made from 30-thou square strip which makes it slightly narrow but more surgery would have been required if I had used thicker strip. Once dry, the strip was reduced in height.
9. The rear idler in the kit is the larger 700mm type where it should have been the later 600mm type. I pinched one from a Fujimi 1/76 Tiger, adding some material to bring it up to scale. There is no wastage as I have reduced the Revell one so that it can be a 1/76 version. Whilst on the subject, the Revell kit also comes with a very nice set of rubber rimmed wheels which I have thinned down in order to convert the Fujimi model to a mid-production version.
10. The exhaust protecting shrouds are made of thin plate and so they don’t look right if left as they were. I hacked them about a bit to make them look a little more real.
11. Working up to the turret, the main gun should have the smaller muzzle brake and the forward section of the gun looks a little bulky. Fortunately, the Dragon Jagdpanther has a spare which, despite depicting the L71 version of the main armament looks much closer to the final Tiger I's piece. I trimmed it to length and replaced the relevant portion of the gun.
12. The sight should be the monocular variety and so I filled the extra hole in the mantlet.
13. The turret roof should be the thicker 40mm version and so I fitted the kit part slightly proud of its intended location. This didn’t have quite the effect I was after and so I added a weld strip round the edge using very thin plastic rod, washed in MEK and then scribed to look more like a weld bead.
14. Another addition was the close defence weapon on the rear of the turret roof (shown in green). This is a disk punched out with a punch’n’die, with its edge angled and an oval scribed into the top to represent the opening.
15. The lip around the loader’s hatch was removed and the loader’s hatch sanded down to represent it sitting lower in the roof armour.
16. Retaining strips were added to the top of the spare track sections from plastic strip.
17. Lips were added to the turret bins to add a little interest to their shape.
There are probably a few other things I have done but forgotten about as I have not had to add too much plastic or filler to help it stand out. One thing I could certainly have done but chose not to was replace the three steel hawsers, which are over scale thickness. Given the scope of the model this, and the grills over the engine deck seemed more trouble than they are worth.
Hope you enjoyed this trawl through the mysteries of the Tiger.
All the best