Rye Field Modelís second Tiger I kit was a bold effort. Not so much that is was of one of the s.Pz.Abt 503 vehicles with the custom turret bins, but because it has a full interior. I reviewed the original Tunisian Tiger for Rye Field when it came out, and it had some issues. What I was curious about going in to this review was how accurate the interior would be, and if they had managed to correct their mistakes from the Tunisian kit.
Before I start on the kit itself Iíd like to just cover that the markings in this box are not all possible with the contents of the box. Some modification would be needed to create certain vehicles correctly. The only markings in the instructions that are possible are 311 and 314 due to the lack of S-Mine gear. There are still some inaccuracies with the side fenders and rear plate configuration, but youíd be close. Iíd like to thank David Byrden for answering any questions I had while working on this review.
The instructions are a 24 page proper book with 35 steps. That is a lot to wrestle with, but Iíll try to truncate my experience in to something understandable for anyone interested in buying the kit. The box is immense and containing 12 large sprues, a clear sprue, 2 large photo etch frets and a a set of what is essentially a clone of Modelkasten Tiger I early tracks. Also included again are lovely copper braided wire for cables. Decals are included for 5 vehicles, but as I mentioned only 2 are close to correct for the configuration of the Tiger in the kit.
There are some excellent 3D renders of the interior built up as well as a full color painting and marking page emblazoned with the AK logo. Unfortunately there is no historical evidence that Tigers in this unit were ever painted the color green suggested, so I would avoid painting any Tiger that color. The commonly held opinion is that these 503 Tigers were Panzer Gray initially, however if you model them with the balkenkreuz on the turret theyíre probably gray with yellow over-spray or yellow (with camo possibly). Not green.
Steps 1 & 2: The Breach and Gun Assembly
The gun breach and mantlet assembly is exactly as it was in the DAK kit with the exception that the barrel length has been corrected. So, off to a good start. One small part is new here that is indicative of the small parts weíll have to add to the turret interior. The breach is a pretty standard but nice assembly, but be mindful of part J65 as itís fragile.
The coaxial MG was a very cool assembly to put together as I had tried to scratch build one when I built Academyís Tiger with interior as theirs was nowhere near accurate. This one is spot on, but fitting both ammo bags was an issue, so I only installed one. The breach guard and catch bag assembly is straight forward, but be mindful of part J69, as you want to leave it loose until you install the gun in the turret.
Steps 3 - 5: Turret Ring Interior Detail
Starting this section, I noticed part J34 is a cylinder which is hollow on the back side for no reason. This seems a bit lazy to me, and if you really care you could replace it with styrene rod. The manual elevation wheel and gunners seat assembly works very well. All of the seat pieces which are fragile held up and fit together correctly. Part J9 has some very obvious ejector pin marks, so be mindful of that. The same goes for J44 which joins with J70. Those would be very visible if you had the turret out for a dio. The loaders seat and other parts for the rest of this step again worked really well. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the build.
Steps 6 & 7: Turret Basket Floor and Interior Wall
The photo etch basket for Jerry cans is quite simple and goes together like a breeze. Keep in mind itís not supposed to connect, so you can just bend it to shape and install it. Jerry cans donít have a photo tech rib, but they look good. The pedal assembly looks a little bulky but Iím glad it was in styrene and think it was done well. Connecting the bottom of the turret to the floor gave me a little bit of trouble as it always looked a little crooked. Be very careful when installing the 3 supports from the turret to the floor, there was some play in one of them as I wasnít sure how it was supposed to angle.
The turret interior walls have vision blocks and various containers going on here. Things go on well and look good, just be careful that some pieces have no detail on the back side, so youíll need to dress the turret carefully or replace those details.. Rye Field suggest in step 7 that you glue the RHS Turret half to the ring and basket. I didnít do this, I waited until the whole thing was ready to go together.
Steps 8 Ė 11: Turret Main Assembly
The LHS turret side parts go in much the same as the right, nothing bad to report. When joining the left and right side just be sure any pieces that need to sit ďjust soĒ are correct. This is in relation to that piece of the inner mantlet from the first steps. A few parts are shown here in red as there is no way to show them in a line drawing I suppose, but be careful of that assembly as itís fiddly. Very doable though. J100 and J101 would be attached to the turret roof, so I decided just to attach them here since I could never see them if the roof was on. I assume they are not lined up correctly to glue to the roof, but Iím not even sure how youíd do that.
The parts for the roof are not nearly as busy as those on the mantlet and walls of the turret. The ribs and gun lock are simple enough, but the gun lock gave me some trouble. Be mindful that parts J103 will need to lock in to the gun if you have the gun locked, so I have mine in the unlocked position.
The art J87 is the hatch close assist, and if you install it the way the instructions tell you itís in the hatch closed position. If you want the loaders hatch open youíd need the thin part the other way around. The loaders hatch and ventilator go together well, but during this step DO NOT install the part B64/P27. This was not used on these Tigers, and as far as I know where only seen on Tunisian Tigers. There is a PE piece for the field modified rain guard which is a nice touch.
Steps 12 & 13: Turret Final Assembly
The cupola is a nice assembly, although it still has a less than well thought out sprue gate on the main part which needs careful clean up. The vision block are well engineered and I was really impressed by the detail on the commanders hatch itself. That being said, I found that part A6 is too tall to allow the hatch to be opened properly. An early Tiger I hatch opens at an angle, and to properly get this one to work I had to replace that piece with a spare from Dragon. I suppose you could also just sand and shorten this one.
The smoke launcher brackets (D49 and D50) seem to have had their height corrected, but the launchers themselves (D16) are still far too thick and I replaced these with Dragon parts as well. The escape hatch is nice, and can stay workable if youíre careful. The turret bin is a decent assembly and fits well on the turret. I read of some concern the welds on the bin were inverted but I didnít get too concerned with that.
Step 14: Lower Hull
This is a step that really stands out compared to the likes of Academy or any other interior on a kit Iíd seen. The photo etch bracing that goes over the torsion bars is very well done and didnít give me any problems. The interior idler detail is very cool as well. I had to carefully glue that assembly though as I needed the idler arm to fit, so be careful there.
Steps 15 & 16: Interior Torsion Bars and Suspension
The torsion bars again have a very small and poorly thought out contact point for gluing if you want to leave them workable. That issue actually created a huge problem in my build of an uneven suspension that I had to end up gluing the suspension in places to fix. So be very careful that your suspension is even when you glue it. I also had an issue figuring out how to glue in the interior suspension elements. It seemed like the pieces didnít fit right in to the spot they needed to glue in to. I just sanded and jammed things in until they fit. But this step was not clear or easy so be careful.
Steps 17 & 18: Driver and Radio Operators Compartment
Fitting the pedals and little bits for the driver was a bit of a chore, but went well. The transmission and gauges were better thought out than academy but there are some errors and poor engineering here. Parts K57 and K58 which are very visible if you plan to show the thank open have a join seam that is exactly as bad as the Academy kit. Also the gauges for the driver arenít shown in the instructions, they just magically pop in later on in the line drawings. Also be careful of the steering wheel, I broke mine off, itís fragile. The transmission assembly can pop in and out for painting though, and that is well thought out.
Steps 19 & 20 :Interior Continued
Here inner structural rubs go in as well as the linkage for the transmission to the engine. Small ammo containers on the lower hull interior sides fit oddly but once you dry fit it makes sense. The floor ammo containers I had some issue fitting, but eventually got right. Also keep in mind the LHS bin was used other stowage not ammunition as the instructions tell you to do.
Steps 21 & 22: Interior Continued
The firewall may not fit perfectly well if you have any issues in previous steps. I believe that I had a step in my front plate much later on because of this. When you fit in the firewall make sure that you dry fit the major exterior hull plates. You may need to sand some things. This is also where the ammo goes in the hull side stowage areas and the lower hull floor goes in. I had some issue figuring out just how to fit that floor, but it went in eventually.
Steps 23 & 25 Interior Continued
The photo etch brackets here for hanging ammo arenít accurate, and are a bit fiddly. The rear suspension and fuel tanks and radiator assemblies are well made and go in easily. The Maybach HL 210 is pretty impressive. Itís worth mentioning here that there are linkages and pipes missing that make this not quite a full interior, but Iíll only comment on what is here. It was easy enough to build and went in a lot more easily than the Academy engine did.
Steps 26 & 27: Rear Plate and Suspension
The final drive exterior and sprockets go together well. I think the sprockets still feel thick though. The rear plate is pretty simple as the interior detail is a bit sparse. We are missing the exhaust connection to the stacks which is unfortunate. The wheels again utilize the workable polycap style and it works very well. Unless you want to paint your wheels first, in which case itís super annoying. In step 27 they have you install the custom toolbox and jerry cans. You will need to check your references if this matches the vehicle youíre making. As I made tiger 311 I did not follow this step and I installed the jerry cans on the opposite side.
Steps 28 & 29: Front and Side Armor Plates
The jack assembly is very similar to Dragons, and here we also have the option for a wheel without the rubber tire. Here you finally install the side armor plate, which I honestly would do much sooner than they tell you. Just to be sure things are fitting correctly as I mentioned earlier. The bow MG34 gave me some serious trouble. The piece where the Funker would put his head to fire the gun didnít fit well and this capsule shape locator peg did not fit in the capsule shaped hole in the front plate. I had to shave off the locator and do my best to make it look right. Part K19 should not be installed as itís a modern electrical panel installed on Tiger 131 at Bovington, also shave off the extension from the plate it glues to.
Steps 30 Ė 33: Upper Hull Deck
Be sure you drill out any holes youíll need before going any further. I chose to use the non PE clasp tools, so I drilled out quite a few. There is some interference between the hammer and drivers hatch. So perhaps donít drill those holes and wait until you install the hatch to glue the hammer on the deck. The way the Feifels are handled is a bit lazy and looks a bit bad because of that. They have you just cut off the hoses from the connector on the engine hatch, which leaves a rough semi hollow piece of plastic. Youíll want to either replace this with Dragon spares or do some careful clean up after cutting off the hoses. The Funker and Driver hatches can be made workable and quite cool assemblies.
The tow cables are made of a very excellent copper and are easy to get in to position. I did manage to mess up the measurements so be careful there. The conduit for the headlights was so fragile they both broke taking them off the sprue. I replaced them with brass wire and I suggest you do the same. The had the same issue on the DAK Tiger. Oddly then they have us install a few parts in the engine bay, and then buttoning up the hull. I of course left mine unglued.
Steps 34 & 35: Final Assembly
Lastly they have us install the unditching log supports which I chose to not install. To finish off the build we install the side fenders and tracks. The side fenders are molded as one piece and need to be cut apart if you want an accurate look. The tracks are Rye Fields Modelkasted clone tracks which I think are excellent although a pain to assemble. Also here we install our spare tracks on the lower front plate.
My After Action Report video.
Highs: Incredible detail compared to any other Tiger with Interior, Good value for money, Interesting rare Tiger subject.Lows: Some fit issues and instructional mistakes. Missing components for a truly full interior. Poorly engineered sprue gates.Verdict: This kit had some problems, no doubt about it. but I think itís a great value and a much needed kit in the life of a Tiger modeler. However, it's not a quick or easy build.
Our Thanks to Rye Field Model! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Adam Mann (Mannloon) FROM: WISCONSIN, UNITED STATES
I am a professional video game artist specializing in hard surface modeling and PBR texturing. I started making armor models a few years ago and have been trying since to translate my digital skills to paint and plastic, which isn't always easy. My specialty is German Armor in 1/35.