There are undoubtedly many people more qualified than myself to review this particular book. Their knowledge of the subject area comes close to encyclopaedic - in that I don't intend to try and compete. Rather, due to the nature of this book, and despite having a lot of good Tiger references available to me, I prefer to run it as an Review of a modeling book rather than a 'true' reference book on the Tiger variants.
This is the fourth volume in the 'Elements in Combat' series and I feel fortunate in having been able to Review all four of them. In that, as the style of presentation is broadly similar, i'm beginning to get a good 'feel' for the series. I make no bones about it, a number of publishers have produced similar books, but Xtreme Modelling are doing, in my opinion, a superb job.
So, in conclusion, in this Review the focus will be on Techniques Presented and the 'Practicality' for modelers...
The Raw data of the book
Elements in combat #4— Tiger & Variants, Volume 2 is produced by the Spanish Publishing house Xtreme Modeling. This is the fourth in the series which has covered Diorama Techniques in the first two, and the 'vanilla' Tiger in the third. The book, which is A-4 format, is produced in softcover and contains 120 pages.
An initial comment is perhaps desirable at this point. Some may disagree with the inclusion of the Tiger II as a 'variant' rather than a subject in its own right, but since there were variations within the vehicle, perhaps it was felt by the Editors that it WAS a justifiable inclusion, as clearly its 'pedigree' could be argued as originating directly from the Tiger I?. The chapter headings are: TIGER I Variants Panzerjäger Tiger (P) Ferdinand
Panzerjäger Tiger (P) Elefant
Bergepanzer Tiger (P) TIGER II Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. B Porsche turret
Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. B Henschel turret Early Production
Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. B, Inside the Henschel turret
Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf. B Henschel turret Final Production TIGER II Variants Jagdtiger Porsche suspension
Guest Star: Adam Wilder - Color Modulation Style, Jagdtiger Henschel
Geschützwagen Tiger - José L. López
Five further chapters complete the book. The first is four pages of MODERN photos of the internal arrangements of the preserved example of a KingTiger Ausf. B at the Münster Tank Museum in Germany. The final chapters consist of five pages of color profiles, a complete bibliography of the Tiger, brief biographies of the modelers who collaborated with the book and, on the back page, a list of the models available and used - all in 1/35th scale and the majority being from DML - a company who has helped the Tiger modeler enormously by their singled-handed 'obsession' with the subject!
Case Study - two 'typical' projects
Most of the book consists of the ten 'projects' which for reasons of space I have listed but am unable to expand on further. Rather, as I usually do, I'll look at one or two which particularly interested me and try to show how they reflect the nature of the book.
At the outset, my interest with the Tiger has primarily lain with the Tiger I although, following some of the threads on the Forums I'm now developing an (unhealthy?) interest in the 'Paper-Panzers' or those vehicles which arrived at mock-up or prototype stage. It follows on from many years ago, when on a visit to the Smithsonian storage area outside Washington, I first encountered examples of 'Luftwaffe '46'. So, as the first closer study of one of the chapters, I've chosen the final project: The Geschützwagen Tiger which was done by José L. López.
This model is based on the recently-released model by Trumpeter, which for sheer madness on the part of its original designers, takes some beating. Mooted as being armed with the 17cm Kanone or the 22cm Morser, the vehicle would have weighed-in at an impractical 60 tons. One example was captured and documented by Allied forces and in this, unfinished, configuration, José has chosen to model it. Case Study #1 - the Geschützwagen
Unlike the other subjects in the book, the Geschützwagen is modeled in its 'raw' state - unpainted and incomplete, exactly as it was found. I've tried this kind of finish on a couple of occasions (with a T34 & KV1), never, sadly, very satisfyingly. So, I have looked with real interest at the techniques used...
The chapter begins with a brief background on the vehicle. The next section, construction, looks at the pitfalls and areas which require correction. An introduction to the finishing of the model discusses the difficulties of painting such a large surface area in a single color - in a sense in a single shade it would develop all the aesthetic interest of a brick. Some way of breaking it up had to be found... This is where this chapter becomes interesting. All the usual stages are described priming, base coat, varnishing washes etc. With the use of the step-by step photos, the project starts to gain momentum. The intention was to create a model which looked as if it had been abandoned in a factory - the accumulation of layers of dust and dirt and to break up the large surface area into points of interest. This chapter becomes a very useful guide to dealing with single-color vehicles and emphasises the importance of using and developing techniques which can be used even with large surface areas. While not everyone is going to follow the construction of the same vehicle in the same setting the lesson is a valuable one nevertheless with applications for many different vehicles. Case Study #2 - Jagdtiger Henschel
In this chapter, it's been chosen not because of the subject matter (a vehicle I personally don't like) but because for the average modeler, the breadth of technigues demonstrated is utterly impressive. Adam Wilder, whose work is increasingly well-known, takes the DML Jagdtiger as the starting point. Construction is essentially 'from the box' - no additions (apart from a figure) are listed. The same challenges with the Geschützwagen are present - essentially taking a large, single-color vehicle and giving the finish depth and interest. The technique, which is predominant in this build, is the use of Color Modulation - something which Adam has spent a lot of time developing and even more time in explaining at seminars round the world and writing of it in many publications. The chapter contains the following sub-headings: (Basic) Painting
More Contrast & Blending Oils
Making a model 'different'
Each of these tasks is explained by both text and with reference to the large number of step-by-step photos. Color Modulation may seem like a much more time-consuming process than the more conventional forms of painting, but it's now (dare I say it) become more and more 'standard', particularly as an attempt to give more depth to subjects. The technique is clearly presented and in addition, Adam's own approaches to areas such as weathering or fading are of great practical use to the modeler who may be looking to develop skills in particlar areas. The end result is impressive - particularly the smaller touches such as the whitewashed 'capture' numbers and a curious Soviet Tanker examining the vehicle from the roof...
Rather than one author presenting their favorite techniques in a series of builds, the format of books like this allow a variety of modelers to approach building and finishing in a more personalized manner. The variety of subjects and the variety of modelers involved in this book allows the reader to experience a wide range of opinions on a variety of finishes on a good variety of subjects.
As to 'Practicality' one of the most impressive things reflected in this book is just how good models have become in the last few years. There is certainly use of some AM sets, in general though, 95% of the builds are OOB. Many modelers tend to get put off, when an article suggests taking a base kit, 4-5 sets of PE, replacement barrel and throw in a set of Friuls. It tends to get to 'Resin Prices' when this is suggested. With this book, the projects begin with the assumption that the kits are of a sufficiently high standard to allow the model to follow the build 'as intended'. Certainly some of the featured modelers have added same AM items, but nothing excessive. Most of the book is on technique: finishing, base-coating and the other processes such as weathering or the use of different products are all explained clearly.
Even though Color Modulation is a common theme throughout the book, that isn't to say it's become a new 'orthodoxy'. Within this book there are many different approaches - the book becomes a much more 'personal' book than initially imagined.
The photos are well-produced: good-sized and very clear. The section on the actual vehicle is excellent, giving some hugely valuable pointers if you want to 'open' a model up or if you're working with one of the Trumpeter 1/16th scale models. Equally useful are the color profiles. A huge variety of color schemes of many different subjects are presented - enough to keep you going for a month or two at least!
Quality of the book, in general, is excellent - there are some 'gremlins' with some of the spelling although nothing which takes away from the total publication. The first book was excellent, this acts as the perfect complement to it. A cliché if ever there was one, but genuinely a book for modelers BY modelers. What more can you ask for?
Highs: Quality of production is superlative. Excellent photos, color profiles and good information. The huge database of techniques is breathtaking.Lows: Perhaps some may have preferred the KingTiger to get its own book as a separate subject rather than as a 'variant'?Verdict: Superb complement to their first book on the Tiger. Once again, great value for money.
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About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...