by: Andy Brazier [ ]
Introduction Officially designated Panzerkampfwagen VI Sd.Kfz 182, the "Königstiger", which was its proper name, was placed into service early in 1944. It served on the Western and Eastern fronts notably in the battle of Normandy, Operation "Market Garden" in Holland, and the offensive in Ardennes. It also served in various other operations in Poland, Hungary and Minsk. A small number also defended Berlin in April and May 1945. With its great firepower and thick armor, it proved to be more than an opponent for any tank the Allied forces could field. However, the size and weight of the King Tiger caused its share of problems. It suffered mechanically with many breakdowns and had poor maneuverability. Many roads and especially bridges were not suitable for a tank this size and the fuel requirements were enormous. Many were abandoned due to lack of fuel rather then being destroyed during the offensive in the Ardennes. Production also suffered with the bombing of the Henschel factory. The King Tiger was a case of too late and too few in number to make a difference in the outcome of the war.
Krupp had designed the turrets to fit both the Porsche and Henschel chassis. The initial design called P-2 Turm (or commonly known as Porsche turret) mounted a single piece (monobloc) barrel of the 88mm and had a curved mantlet in the front and the commander’s cupola was offset to the left creating a bulge.The front armor was 100 mm thick, the sides were 88mm thick sloped at 60 degrees and the top armor was 40mm thick. It had space to carry 16 rounds of ammunition in the turret. However, the curved mantlet in the front acted as a shot trap by deflecting incoming shots downwards towards the roof of the hull. A new design was ordered to fix this but as an interim measure, it was decided to go ahead with the production of 50 units with this turret. This was commonly referred to as Porsche turret.
The kitWith a 193 parts (187 in grey plastic, 4 etched brass, 2 tan plastic tracks) packed into the standard top opening box, this kit is well packed and pretty detailed. The hull and turret feature beautifully rendered molded on Zimmerit. The scale of the Zimmerit looks pretty much spot on, but the panel lines are a little deep in places, but should lend well to washes. A shallow engine deck can be found underneath the engine cover, but once everything is in place you won't be able to see it anyway. Photo etch for the engine screens is provided and although probably a little over scale are a nice touch.
The wheels are well detailed with any pin marks on the backside, so clean up and filling is greatly reduced, if needed at all. The suspension arms are molded onto the chassis, so surgery is required if you want the tank to sit correctly on uneven ground. The tracks are a one piece Dragon Styrene affair (rubber band type) and are nicely rendered. The tracks are quite soft and may be a bit of a pain to fit, as a quick test of putting them together seems to require 3 hands once they are on the wheels.
Two guns are supplied in the kit but one is not used as it is for the "Henschel turret". The gun is a one piece molding (so no seam cleanup needed, yippee) and the muzzle brake looks fantastic and has been "slide molded" and is attached to the gun (so surely the whole gun has been "slide molded"?). Interior detail for the turret has the breech mechanism for the gun, but nothing else. The hatches are detailed on both sides so positioning them open is possible, but it doesn't mention that in the instructions.
Thirty four spare injected plastic track links are included in the kit and are labeled as "parts not used". At no point in the instructions are you told where to place them which seems a little odd to have included them on the sprues! With a little scratch building, the mounts for the tracks could be built and attached and give a little more life to the kit.
instructions, painting, and decalsThe instructions are printed in a clear logical build order and are in full color. Rather then the usual line drawings the build sequence is done using photos of the kit in various stages of construction. The paint guide is full color drawings with profiles of the front, back and left side. Option 1 has a top profile as well but none have a right side profile, so a bit of guess work or research of the particular vehicle you are depicting will be required. All the colors given are for the Gunze Sangyo Aqueous Hobby color and MR Color range of paints.
The decals are printed by Cartograph and are well printed, in register and have a little carrier film around the edges. Six different marking options are available, and are:
3/s.Pz.Abt. 503, Mailly le Camp, 1944
3/s.Pz.Abt. 503, Hungary 1945
s.Pz.Kp.(Fkl) 316, France 1944
s.Pz.Abt. 506, Arnhem 1944
unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1944
s.Pz.Abt. 503, Normandy 1944
conclusionHaving only just really started to build 1/72nd armour, as an escape from 1/48th aircraft, I am really surprised at the detail that has been added to these kits. They are IMHO still a great quick, fun build, and given enough time and talent (but not from me lol) you would be hard pressed not to think they are a larger scale. The added Zimmerit is definitely easier then trying to add your own and does add some life to the model. This is a beautifully molded kit with sharp detail and a very easy to assemble. Some of the parts do need some care in while removing them from the sprue as the connection is rather large and thick, but that is a minor niggle. A great little kit which doesn't have any fit issues. The model was sprayed with Tamiya acrylics with weathering done by MiG pigments. A piece of slate with some mud and grass stuck on, gives it a small but effective base.