You’ve tried cars and airplanes, but maybe you need something new. Perhaps you’re a beginner and want to get into the model building, but you just aren’t that into model ships. Model tanks offer all the fun of building accurate scale models of some of history’s most famous vehicles, but they’re unexpected and just really cool.
If you want to add a model armored tank to your collection, look no further. We’ve put together a list of our best model tanks to help you get started building right away. Plus, we’ve answered a few questions you may have about how to choose the right one. Let’s take a look.
Best Model Armored Fighting Vehicle Kits
|Model||Description||Parts||Length, in||Length, mm|
|Dragon - Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D||German Medium Tank||175||6 5⁄8″||169|
|Tamiya - M4A3E8 Sherman||U.S. Medium Tank||278||8 7⁄16″||214|
|Revell - T-34/76||Soviet Medium Tank||210||7 1⁄2″||190|
|Tamiya - Panther Ausf.D||German Medium Tank||311||10″||254|
|Miniart - T-44||Soviet Medium Tank||768||8 5⁄8″||219|
|Tamiya - Valentine Mk.II/IV||British Infantry Tank Mk.III||293||7 3⁄8″||157|
|Meng - King Tiger||German Heavy Tank||567||11 7⁄16″||290|
|Dragon - Tiger I Early Production "131"||German Heavy Tank||759||9 1⁄2″||241|
|Miniart - SU-85 Mid Production||Soviet Tank Destroyer||805||9 3⁄16″||233|
|Tamiya - Matilda Mk.III/IV||British Infantry Tank Mk.IIA||340||6 7⁄8″||174|
Dragon – Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D German Medium Tank – Best For Intermediate Builders
Our first tank is a 1/35 Panzer with fewer parts than usual for Dragon, which is suitable for the intermediate builder. It has excellent attention to detail but doesn’t have an enormous time commitment. It features a fully molded hub and some suspension parts already molded on. Tracks are single length DS, and the hatch can be displayed open or shut.
Tamiya – M4A3E8 Sherman “Easy Eight” U.S. Medium Tank – Best For Beginners
Our next tank is a Sherman “Easy Eight”, a favorite for its smooth ride. It has excellent detail, but the assembly is simplified. The cast effect detail on the turret looks great, plus the welded hull surface is highly accurate. Single pin T66 tracks are highly accurate, and the included commander figure is in a realistic pose.
It has two basic decal models, but the figure is only assembled from the waist up, so you don’t have much choice about how to display it.
Revell – T-34/76 (model 1943) Soviet Medium Tank – Best For Practicing Build Skills
This T-34 model has excellent exterior detail and two bucket seats in the interior. It comes in an upper and lower hull plus five additional sprues of pieces that provide excellent detail and realism.
You’ve got two different decal options for two famous model Soviet tanks. You will need some tools for some of the pieces so make sure you have what’s recommended (tweezers, etc.)
Tamiya – Panther Ausf. D German Heavy Tank – Best Hull Practice
The Tamiya’s Panther has a solid lower hull and a separate turret piece. You can display the hatch open or closed, and the exterior is covered with excellent details that should make this model stunning to display. The wheels have suspension plus vinyl tracks. Photo-etched pieces give hyper-realistic details on some of the smaller accessory parts.
The one-piece gun barrel has a separate muzzle break, and there are separate vehicles tools and the equipment. It comes with two figures, a full soldier figure and a half commander for the hatch.
Miniart – T-44 Soviet Medium Tank – Best Soviet Tank Model
The T-44 uses injection molded parts for a durable build. It comes with less than 700 plastic pieces and nearly 100 photo-etched accessory parts. The engine compartment is highly detailed, but the model has only partial interior compartment. It has plenty of useful detail without being overly involved to build.
The track links can be clicked together, which should make anyone with experience building tracks happy. The color scheme is shown for MIG paints only. You’ll have to find color matches yourself if you use other colors. The kit comes with plenty of decals for building quite a few different Soviet tank styles.
Tamiya – Valentine Mk.II/IV British Infantry Tank Mk.III – Best Plastic Pieces
Tamiya’s Valentine is made of excellent quality, injection molded plastic with seven sprues of parts. There’s no flash and no sink marks, making the pieces an excellent fit despite their size. Instead of Tamiya’s typical one-piece hull, there’s actually three with all accessories and parts coming off the central portion.
The wheels are easy to put together and offer fantastic exterior detail. It comes with decals for a few different tanks, but Tamiya doesn’t offer paint ranges for other types of paint besides their own variety. If you’ve got a different paint set up, you may have to do some research. It comes with two figures, a gunner and a commander.
Meng – King Tiger (Henschel Turret) German Heavy Tank – Best Value For Money
Meng’s model of the iconic King Tiger features a ton of accessories and parts in a small box. It has a full 12 sprues of parts plus a lower hull and a small photo-etched sheet for detail. It doesn’t come with the interior or Zimmerit decals, but that’s easy to add on later if you decide you want something more involved.
The included tracks are link and length tracks, so you aren’t having to glue individual parts and take up a lot of your time. There are just a few photo-etched parts where the model will really benefit (screening, for example), and the kit comes with two basic figures for scale. The instructions are black and white, but they are clear and easy to understand.
Tiger “131” is the only Tiger I in the world in working order. Dragon’s kit comes with extra parts, a lot of them in fact. It has a solid lower hull with plenty of exterior detail. Plus, there are three different build options. The design of the commander’s cupola is inspired while the slide molding makes it a lot easier to get everything assembled. The kit comes with well done DS tracks, but advanced builders may want to replace them with individual links.
Miniart – SU-85 Mod.1943 Soviet Tank Destroyer – Best Interior Detail
Miniart’s models always have excellent full-color instructions, and this one isn’t any different. Molding quality and detail level is beyond praise. The interior has such incredible detail that you may not want to finish it up and hide everything. The engine also has excellent detail, and that’s where you’ll start with the overall build.
The decal sheet includes a ton of different decal choices, but the kit only comes with two options for models. This is a little surprising, but it does mean you’ve got plenty of details even down to the smallest decorations. Those decals are comprehensive for the two model options, providing a visually pleasing display.
Tamiya – Matilda Mk.III/IV British Infantry Tank Mk.IIA – Best Straightforward Build
Our final tank comes with a full-sized figure and two torso figures to get everything started. It has an incredibly detailed exterior with a cast metal finish on both the turret and the engine deck cover. Instructions are clear and easy to follow. The sprues are perfectly molded and packed separately so that no part is lost.
You have three different options for models of a tank. It has seven sprues, two flexible tracks, painting instructions, and a comprehensive instruction booklet. There’s no flash, and all plastic parts are highly accurate. The hatch can be displayed open or closed, and the tracks have the choice of link and length or vinyl.
These aren’t just toys. Model tanks offer realism, historical accuracy, and the chance to build something as elaborately or as simply as your ability will allow. Here are some things you should keep in mind as you choose your first (or tenth) model.
Models aren’t difficult to get into, but you need to choose the right skill level. We know that you want to build something really impressive, but if you select something way over your ability level, chances are it’ll sit half finished in your closet. What a shame.
Beginning level models gently ease you into the process of building a quality model. They help you develop and practice skills you’ll need for the more complicated models later on without causing so much frustration that you quit halfway through.
Model levels aren’t always consistent, so it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s recommendations before beginning. Level one is almost always a beginner, but precisely what that means is up for interpretation. The manufacturer’s recommendations can help you decide.
As you move up through ability levels, the different levels can also be inconsistent. If you tend to work with the same company, you’ll get a feel for how their models are leveled. Changing companies may require a little more research. If nothing else, reviews online can help you get a user perspective before during and after the build for skill levels.
Scale And Size
The scale of the model is another consideration. The scale is based on the original size of the tank your model is based on, so the measurements may not be consistent across each scale type.
The most common scale for tank models is 1/35. Most of the good models are released on this scale. A beginner should start with this scale. 1/72 is a standard scale size that produces smaller models. Your model will be 1/72 the size of the original while a 1/16 scale model will be much bigger.
Number Of Parts
Tanks do have some large pieces that come already assembled but how much of that assembly depends on your preference. Most tanks have at least a solid lower hull that anchors the model and allows you to build out. Others have one piece upper hulls or multiple pieces depending on the skill level.
One area that you may want to really consider is the track. Old models had tracks that needed to be assembled and glued by hand which took so much time and scared away many builders. It was tedious work.
Now, you can choose something called link and length tracks, which is longer pieces of preassembled tracks. You connect the longer links together around the wheels to make the look, saving you time and a whole lot of headache.
Experienced builders may want to give traditional tracks a try because it does build fine motor skills needed for much smaller and more complicated models, but beginners should think twice.
Accessories that provide scale and realism are excellent additions to models, but not every model comes with good accessories packs. Models intended as quick builds may be very simple all around with little detail.
An excellent accessory to look for is a figure. Figures give proper perspective to the scale of the tank and can add a bit of realism. Tank figures come in two different types, full or half. Half figures are available only from the torso up and sit inside the tank. Full figures include the lower half of the body,
Other types of accessories are armament related. Armed tanks had plenty of ammunition both for the tank and for the figures inside. More elaborate kits include these details for the interior build although some may not be easily seen once the model is put together.
Other accessories could include photo-etched pieces for complicated parts such as screens or grates. These pieces add realism that you wouldn’t be able to duplicate with just paint and plastic
Glue And Paint
Very few models come with glue and paint. If you’re a complete beginner, this is an extra expense to add to your budget for your first model.
Choose a model that doesn’t require complicated paints so that you don’t have to blow half your budget getting 17 different paints. Instead, one or two colors is a good start. As you build, your paint collection will get bigger and more complicated paint jobs won’t be such a strain on your wallet.
You can also choose models that have paint recommendation in the instructions to help you choose the right colors. Some models include paint instructions for several different brands of paint while others only have the recommendation for a particular company. Paint can really make the model display, so as a beginner, it’s helpful to have good suggestions.
Price is a big issue, but many models aren’t going to break the bank. As a beginner, it usually isn’t helpful to spend too much money on a model because you aren’t sure if you’ll finish or if it’s going to be a long-term hobby. Use a budget model to help you build your skills and then get the higher priced models as you get better.
Price can be an indicator of quality, so as you’re modeling skills improve, you could splurge and get models with real aluminum pieces, more photo-etched parts, and better figures for perspective. We wouldn’t discourage you from spending more money on a better model, but it may not be necessary right from the beginning.
Get To Building
Armor is such a cool model build, and there are some very iconic tanks out there you can display. They offer a look at history and a way to improve both engineering thinking and hand-eye coordination. Once fully built, they can be just as striking as some of the classic model ships or aircraft.
If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea not to bite off more than you can chew with modeling. Nothing is more frustrating than starting off strong and encountering too many issues to allow you to finish. It’s best to start slow and build those skills so that you know you can always finish the model you’ve started.
Once you’ve mastered the art, you’ll have an amazing bit of engineering and wartime history displayed right on your shelf or mantel. Get the right model, and you’ll build a lifetime of skills.