by: Darren Baker [ ]
IntroductionThe Sturmtiger was the Germans answer to a requirement for demolishing building structures, being used on the eastern front in built up areas as defensive strong points and ambush structures with just one shot. It was armed with a 38 cm naval mortar RW61 L/5.4, the initial requirement was for 10 units a month to be supplied, however only 18 were ever manufactured, all of these unit were built using recovered battle damaged Tiger I chassis. Due to recovered Tiger I’s being used, the chassis layout can be of different types depending on the version of Tiger I being utilised, the original design was based on the late Tiger I chassis.
All of the Sturmtiger’s were supplied from August to December 1944, with all 18 going to the eastern front. The arrival of the Sturmtiger was too late to have any real impact, as the German forces had gone from being on the offensive, and were now fighting a defensive war. The new superstructure and weapon increased the weight of the Sturmtiger to 65 tonnes, from the Tiger I weight of 57 tonnes. Today only two examples of the Sturmtiger survive:
•Sturmtiger hull #250174 is on display at the Deutsches Panzermuseum at Munster. This vehicle is currently on loan from the Wehrtechnisches Studiensammlung in Koblenz, Germany.
•A Sturmtiger is on display at the Kubinka Tank Museum in Russia. This vehicle is believed to have been captured by advancing Red Army units in the Elbe area in April 1945.
•There is also a 380 mm Raketenwerfer in the collection of the Bovington Tank Museum.
Dimensions for the Sturmtiger are as follows:
Width: 3.57m w/o side fenders, 3.70m with side fenders
Height: 2.85m w/o the crane, 3.46m with the crane
Using the Length, Width, and Height measurements above, the Tamiya offering comes out very close when scaled down, close enough that is, to making no difference.
Kit contentsThe model comes in a fairly lightweight box measuring 380mm X 245mm X 68mm, inside are 5 poly bags containing the sprues, with nuts and bolts for mounting the main gun.
Included in the kit are the following:
• 4 yellow sprues of kit parts
• 3 black sprues of individual track links
• The hull of the vehicle in yellow styrene
• A small decal sheet
• A fold out set of instructions
• A painting guide
• 2 nuts, 2 bolts, and 2 washers
In typical Tamiya style the mouldings are crisp and free of flash, and detail is of an acceptable standard. The instructions are printed on 5 double sided, fold out sheets in 24 stages, each page is slightly smaller than A4 size. The instructions are black and white images, with each stage very clear and not so busy that you may miss something. The decals do not refer to any individual vehicle, consisting of decals for 6 rounds of ammunition and 2 German crosses for the vehicle, it is odd that there are decals for 6 rounds included when there are only 4 rounds in the box. The painting instructions give two possible schemes: a standard 3 colour camouflage design, and a 3 colour ambush colour scheme.
The exterior of the lower hull is built in nine stages, with the instructions clearly stating that to replicate an accurate representation of the Sturmtiger, zimmerit will need to be applied, and shows clearly where to apply the zimmerit. The steel, idler, and drive wheels are nicely replicated and appear accurate judging by the pictures I have viewed online, I do not claim to be an expert in this area though. The rear wall of the hull has been nicely detailed, with the exhausts being of a quality on par with those of DML’s Tiger I kits while avoiding the need for too many parts.
The rear engine deck is also well replicated, and Tamiya recommends the addition of AM grill covers. The main engine inspection hatch is a separate piece which allows for the inclusion of an engine, and the design allows for any other structures you may wish to purchase and install in the rear if so inclined. The suspension arms in this kit are separate items, this allows for adjustment on the wheel layout for inclusion in a diorama so that all wheels touch the ground.
2 construction stages have been turned over to the individual track links, and their correct positioning both in regards to the track sag and position on the wheels. Each track link is attached to the sprue at 2 points, these 2 points are the teeth that link each track link together, reducing the needed clean up to a minimum. There are also 2 very small and shallow push out marks on each track link, however I believe they are so small that no remedial action will need to be taken, as they would easily be hidden by the paint and weathering.
A very basic and minimal interior is included in the kit, this area is covered in 5 stages. The kit interior consists of a floor pan, the driver’s position (in so much as it has the driver’s seat), rear fighting compartment firewall, and ammunition storage racks. Despite this minimal interior it does help to fill a large portion of the boxy interior, plus with the addition of the four rounds of ammunition, it also allows for the fighting compartment to be shown opened up rather than closed down.
The Main Gun (Mortar):
The main gun is covered in 3 stages, one of which covers the installation. The main gun is nicely detailed, however the failure to replicate the rifling of such a large bore weapon is very disappointing and obvious. The finished weapon does give a good impression of what an imposing beast the Sturmtiger was. The detail includes a full breach and various adjustment handles, which helps to give the impression of a busy fighting compartment.
This area is covered in 4 stages and has one of the (in my opinion) biggest weaknesses that would have been easy to rectify by the manufacturer, the self defence MG is just a barrel glued into the exterior mount, there is nothing at all on the inside, it is also a solid piece of plastic and will need to be hollowed out for a more realistic appearance. Apart from that major omission, this area of the model is again nicely detailed on the outside, some of that detail may have benefited from being moulded as separate pieces, but is still of an acceptable standard. The interior of the structure has no detail in place so there is a place for the scratch builders out there.
The last 3 stages cover the addition of the side skirts, tools, and crane structure. The parts covered in this area are all acceptable, considering they are injected moulded plastic from a mould made in 1989. The skirts are a little on the thick/heavy side but otherwise perfectly acceptable, another weakness of the side and front skirts is that being single pieces you cannot use them to accurately replicate a vehicle with parts missing from the skirt, or uneven placement. The tools have moulded on clamps, this does make the shovel a bit on the heavy side.
ConclusionConsidering the age of the moulds being used to produce this kit, it will build into a perfectly acceptable representation of the Sturmtiger, the addition of zimmerit, either home made or AM, is a must. The addition of PE grill covers is another area that I feel is worth the added expense. I am planning on doing a build log on this kit and plan on making use of various AM items, possibly even the AFV Sturmtiger interior.