In-Box Review
German 38cm Assault Mortar Sturmtiger
  • 22154

by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]

The 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:

Length: 6.28m
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 contents
The 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.
Lower Hull:
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.

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.

Finishing Construction:
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.
Considering 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.
Highs: Individual track links, partial interior, taking the time to point out the need for zimmerit and its location, also mentioning engine deck grills.
Lows: Only including a MG barrel with no detail on the inside of the vehicle for the defensive MG, and no rifling in the very large calibre barrel of the main weapon.
Verdict: One of Tamiya’s best offerings as regards to accuracy, should build into a nice representation of the Sturmtiger.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35177
  Suggested Retail: £22.99
  PUBLISHED: Jan 01, 2009

About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


I'm not an expert, but as far as I remember, those (1 initially, 2 more later on?) were prototypes fielded in summer 1944 during the Warsaw Uprising. That however means some differencies against the production version (like rubber wheels, barrel, Feifel filters). It's been also speculated whether or not the captured "Kubinka" Sturmtiger is actually one of those prototypes refitted. HTH -A-
JAN 14, 2009 - 03:05 AM
Hi, While I do appreciate that you have taken the time and trouble to review Tamiya's 1:35th Sturmtiger, I do feel that you were unduly harsh on what is by definition, no longer a state of the art model. It should be seen in the background of the era that it was manufactured, and while no means perfect ( what kit is?), it was innovative for its age, and should be rated as such and not in comparison to the latest wonders from Dragon or even Tamiya itself. I dare say in comparison to Tamiya's Pz II ausf A,B, C and IS II it comes horribly short. Appreciate the Sturmtiger for what it is and was, a 20th century kit and one of the first in Tamiya's bold move to give us better and more accurate kits. Cheers Tony Dill
JAN 20, 2009 - 04:09 AM
Tony I am not sure where I have been harsh in this review of Tamiya's Sturmtiger, I am very pleased with the purchase of this kit and only knocked it in 2 areas (the poor representation of the MG and no rifling in the main weapon. I even made a point of commending them for taking the time to advise Zimm be added and where, and that the addition of engine intake grills would improve the look of the finished model. I opted to buy this model over the AFV offering because I didn’t like the look of the plastic used for the AFV kit and the use of rubber band tracks (this was before I decided to go with AM tracks). I am really pleased with the product and gave what I felt was a far appraisal of this kit. Please point out areas you feel I have been overly critical of and I will look at that/those areas again.
JAN 20, 2009 - 09:50 AM
The MG might not be as big of a problem. I've built the kit, with it's left side cut open (I had upgraded the interior somewhat with PE, and resin), and replaced the MG, installled radios, and everything -nothing of which can be seen either from the loading hatch or from the hole on the other side... The transmission, and the driver's position is worth working on, but the mortar simply covers the MG. If you want to build it with the superstructure unbolted and removed (a dream project of mine with the Royal Model interior), it would be another matter, but as it is, the radio operator's station is simply not visible -so it's really not a problem. (Unless you cut the hole on the hull on that side, that is.) The superstructure could be more textured, and Tamiya should have included the PE grills. Otherwise it's a great kit.
JAN 20, 2009 - 10:28 AM
Here is a picture of the Royal Models 38cm ammunition. and at £7.99 I feel this is a fair price.
JAN 22, 2009 - 11:44 AM
Darren, I know that we can all get very worked at times, but the impression I got was that you had found the Tamiya kit lacking although as you say you only really knocked it in 2 areas. I also got the impression that it was being compared to current offerings and feel itshould be seen in perspective of what it really was and when it was produced, and as such it does a really fine job. And what kit is actually perfect. I can find fault with the most expensive kit that I have from the best manufactures. Its what we expect really and are prepared to put up with. I do agree that if I were to build it again I would still build it again as opposed to the AFV offering which I have and yes, the resin interior is neat but not the be all. Agreed, the Italeri offering is not even in the race. Yes, I do love the kit and I know that when it originally came out it was slated for facts like the non-existant rifling, no p/e engine deck screens, simplification of crane and close-in weapon, but with theirTiger family Tamiya had made the quantum jump from their earlier toylike offerings, ie motorized. Anyway, Darren, that's my 2 cents worth. I do like these Tamiya Tigers and guess so do you Tony
JAN 23, 2009 - 08:18 PM
As I said Tony I am very happy with what is in the box, I didn't knock them over the zimm or engine deck grills as there are not many kits that would come with either or both of these items, Tamiya have gone the extra step and highlighted the need of one and where to put it and recommended the other be used. I have knocked them for 2 areas that I feel should be better even considering the release date and level of ability at that time. all that said my purpose of doing a review of this kit was to give a fair assessment of what is an older kit that is still in production and readily available, and to make anyone who is considering purchasing this product aware of: 1. What is in the box. 2. What the general quality of the product is. 3. Any weak areas that I feel are present. Please use the "You review this item" button at the bottom of the review to add any observations you feel are needed or that I may have missed. I have not taken any offence at any of your comments here, and I look forward to any additions you can make to the review I have done.
JAN 24, 2009 - 04:07 AM
Darren, Just got up to speed with our build. I'll look into the Osprey book, thx for the heads up on that. There's a YouTube vid of this monster firing it main gun, 30 sec. clip if I remember, WOW!!! is the word. You can see the 38cm round leave the weapon and the back blast is nuts!! I don't know if you've seen the vid. or not. FYI. Can't wait for some more pix's.
JAN 25, 2009 - 08:53 AM
I am awaiting delivery of the AM items and will admit I am itching to get started on it.
JAN 25, 2009 - 01:20 PM

Click image to enlarge
  • 21154
  • 20137
  • 19149
  • 17167
  • 16173
  • 15184
  • 14193
  • 13231
  • 12290
  • 10315
  • 11318
  • 9202
  • 8188
  • 7239
  • 6260
  • 5262
  • 4341
  • 3407
  • 2782
  • 11317