Zimmerit in 1:76 scale -
finishing the Fujimi Tiger I Late
The Fujimi Tiger 1 Late is an excellent model and it inspired me to experiment with a different method of replicating a zimmerit finish in 1:76 scale. What I was after was a finish that gave the impression of zimmerit that is appropriate for the scale, rather than an exact scale representation.
As I studied the kitís parts and instructions, I debated the best way to create a zimmerit finish. In the past I have used a hot needle to scribe the textured surface. This was very time-consuming but the appearance of the model was reasonable (from a distance anyway!). I have also had good results with Tamiya Putty. This involves applying a thin layer of putty and creating the corrugated appearance by scraping with a very fine razor saw. I am not sure how thick zimmerit paste was on the real thing. It seems to have been about 30 mm thick and, therefore, should only be about 0.4 mm thick on a 1:76 scale model. This means that it is difficult not to end up with 1:35 scale zimmerit on a 1:76 model when using putty. The hot needle technique is problematic - too much heat and you may have to model a burnt out Tiger.
After experimenting with scrap plastic and the flat pieces of sprue in the Tiger kit, I found that it is relatively simple to simulate a zimmerit finish with Humbrol liquid poly cement. This involves brushing liquid poly over the appropriate surface. When the plastic has softened, the corrugations are formed by pressing the tip of a small screwdriver into the plastic. I used a screwdriver with a 1.5 mm wide tip and this produced the corrugations quickly and accurately enough for my requirements. When the liquid poly had evaporated and the plastic regained its original hardness, I scribed vertical lines with a hobby knife to replicate the factory applied zimmerit finish of late production Tigers. After painting, the surface of the model gives a convincing appearance of a zimmerit finish, even from close range!
When I was making the zimmerit finish, I removed the track changing cable moulded on the left side of the hull. The cable is missing in many photographs of Tigers and I was not too concerned about it. However, with care, it should be possible form the zimmerit finish around the cable.
Incidentally, if you intend try this technique, work on a small section (about 10 mm) at a time and make sure that your working area is well-ventilated.