by: Matt Szefer [ ]
The Tiger tank is one of the most recognizable German tanks of WWII. Anyone who is interested in German armor knows a King Tiger Tank on sight. Zvezda released a new model kit of this popular vehicle in 1/35th scale. This is what the Zvezda instruction state : The King Tiger was the heaviest production tank of World War 2. With its powerful long barrelled 88mm gun it was capable of destroying a Sherman tank from a 3,500 metre distance. The King Tigers were issued to the army In February 1944 and were first used in combat In May, In battles near Minsk. Two companies equipped with these formidable machines participated In the Battle of Normandy during the D-Day landings. The King Tiger operated by an experienced crew was the most dangerous enemy for any tank to meet.
This kit is re-boxed Dragon King Tiger No 6208 from 2004. All parts are exactly the same, theonly difference is that the PE grills are not included in the Zvezda kit and decals are provided for different vehicles. Being a re-release of a Dragon product detail and molding is excellent. There are no visible pin marks or any other issues, just typical Dragon quality. After seeing the parts I think the assembly process should not generate any problems.
This model kit contains 423 parts. Inside Zvezdaís box you will find:
21 tan sprues
Big decal sheet
One piece of mesh for grill covers
One piece of string for tow cables
The sprues are packed in a large sturdy cardboard box, which protects the contents well. It is much bigger than most of other producer boxes. Despite the large size of the box the contents fill the entire space inside. The sprues are packaged individually in plastic bags, except where the sprues are duplicated. On top of the box there is a nice color box art, on the back, as in the case of Dragon, there are images of an assembled model.
Black and white color manual contains 19 steps. All information and tips, except short tank description on main page, is in the Russian language. On the first page you will find a sprue map which shows all the frames and parts distribution. The instructions are clear and easy to follow. Steps 1-10 are focused on hull, suspension and track assembly, the remaining 9 shows how to make the turret. Nice attention has been paid to the drawing of grill parts that you have to cut from a piece of mesh.
On the last page Zvezda offers paint schemes for five vehicles.
The first two are from 505th heavy tank battalion, Eastern Front, 1944.
The third scheme is for a tank from 501st Heavy Tank Battalion which was captured In August 1944 near Sandomiersk.
The fourth scheme depicts King Tiger No 121 from Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler Division.
The last scheme shows a tank from 503rd Heavy Tank Battalion, Eastern Front, 1944. There is also a list of the necessary paint colors, with the numbers of Zvezda and Humbrol paints.
A single piece lower hull is nicely molded with sharp details like two bumpstops on every side. The welds are really nice, visible but no over scaled. Details on the bottom of hull are well made, twelve hatches or openings are exactly where they should be.
Wheels and Suspension
The suspension in this kit is well detailed, but not workable. Steel road wheels are nicely done, and include such subtle details such as the strips attached to each pair of rim bolts. The kit provides the nine-tooth drive sprockets that look really massive. On the back side of idler wheels there are three ejector pin marks, but after assembly these are invisible. Overall this part of Zvezda King Tiger is well made and I think this area will assemble without any issues.
The tracks included with this model are individual track links moulded on the sprue in sand styrene. These consist of a main link and a smaller bridge, they need glue to keep them together and each link must have the sprue attachment points cleaned-up prior to assembly. The tracks in this model are the most time consuming part, but the final result should be pleasing. These track have one issue, on every second link are two ejector pin marks to remove. I know that part of the track is hidden but for good effect some putty and sanding will be needed.
Upper hull and rear plate
The upper hull is a single piece with a separate engine deck access hatch lid, as well as separate driver and radio operators hatch lids. Details on the front of hull are pretty well done, Zvezda has provided two different versions of ventilator covers and rain guards for vison blocks which are made of opaque plastic. The only thing to add is the cable to the Tarnscheinwerfer-Bosch head-lamp on the front. The side fenders are nicely molded in one piece and have good detail on the upper surface, but they are a little bit thick and have ejector pin marks on the underside that will need to be fixed.
The engine deck is nicely detailed and the engine access hatch lid is separate, this can be left open if wished. All parts for this area are nice looking, I think that only PE parts for grills covers instead of mesh will be a really welcome addition.
The separate rear plate mounts the exhaust pipes and cast armored guards. C-shaped tow hooks are provided as separate parts, complete with molded-on mounting brackets. The three-part jack looks pretty good too. The rear plate is finished off with one-piece extended mud flaps and U-shaped tow shackles. In my opinion the jack block need some work, it is flat, without any wood texture, except for that I have no other issues.
Tools and cables
The tools are a little bit old-school. They have moulded-on clasps, but without any details seen on current models from other manufacturers. In my opinion sanding these off and replacing them with PE ones will be needed. The two tow cables are created by connecting metal cable and styrene eyes with mounts. The plastic ends are nicely done but rope is rather average quality and I am going to replace it with aftermarket copper wire. The track changing cable are nicely made from styrene and have moulded-on mounts too but looks reasonable.
The turret is very well done and is a multi-part offering. The separate front plate has slots for the co-axial MG34 and the gunnerís sight. All detail parts are separate and include parts for the loaders hatch lid, two types of fan armored covers are included too. Separate lift hooks are also provided. The rear escape hatch lid is very completely detailed inside and outside. Multi part commander cupola looks pretty good. There is also an anti-aircraft mount for an MG34 for the cupola ring, however no MG34 is provided for it. As with the other parts of the vehicle the welds are nicely made. On the sides of turret there are location marks for spare track hangers, in the box the modeller can find two styles of them. Some are very well made (from N sprue), and the others (placed on B sprue) are flat on one side, which would spoil the final effect, so you must be careful to use correct parts. The main gun has basic internal details, this includes the recoil cylinders and breech guard. The 8.8cm L/71 gun consists of two styrene halves. To obtain a good effect sanding will be needed, especially on muzzle brake.
The decal sheet is quite large and as I wrote before, provides markings for five vehicles. The decals are crisp, thin and have good colors. Itís hard to write something more about them, before using it but I do not expect difficulties during using them.
An initial inspection of this kit indicates that it is well made. The molding are done very well, there is a lot of nice clean details. It is a combination of Dragon styrene parts with Zvezda decals, so we can expect good quality. Ejector pin marks are placed where they won't be an issue (except the tracks) and the parts count isn't needlessly high which is good for less experienced modellers.
The build instructions are clear and easy to follow. The decals and painting instructions provide a wide variety of painting options. The decals are well designed and provide the required markings for numerous vehicles.
Despite a few small issues (tools clasps, rope for tow cable) I highly recommend this kit for all levels of experience. The kit contents is really enjoyable and I expect to build this kit without any difficulties
Good job, Zvezda!