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Mike

Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Henschel Turret) 1:35

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Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Henschel Turret)

1:35 Meng Models via Creative Models

 

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The King Tiger needs little introduction to any armour lover, as it became one of WWII's iconic AFVs, even though it only saw limited action in the closing months of the war, and had a few serious flaw that were never fully fixed due to its short time in service before the fasctories and the Reich were over-run.  As with any new equipment, Hitler stuck his oar in and always wanted bigger, which resulted in a heavily armoured tank with a massively powerful gun, but weight problems (I know that feeling!) that put undue strain on its running gear, resulting in a high maintenance rate and frequent breakdowns on the battlefield.  It has been said that more King Tigers were lost to crews having to abandon a broken down vehicle than were knocked out in battle.

 

The design was complex, and although the simpler Henschel turret design was chosen over the alternative and more complicated Porsche offering to ease construction, it still took far too much time and valuable resources to create one.  The Porsche company had already built a number of turrets however, so they were used up in the first batch of tanks, and the Henschel design should by rights be the "production turret", as they designed the chassis too.  It took bravery on the part of the Allied tankers to take out a KT, as they had to get well inside the killing zone of the mighty 88mm gun in order to penetrate the frontal armour, and even the sides weren't easy to breach.

 

 

The Kit

We have had many King Tiger models in 1:35 over the years, and more recently the market has become a little more crowded with new kits coming out to broaden the modeller's choice.  As is often said, X's King Tiger doesn't make any money for Y, and Meng now have their hat in the ring with this new kit that has been produced in conjunction with the Tank Museum in Bovington as well as their magazine, AFV Modeller.  They have opted for a modular approach to this kit, which they premiered with their Bradley M3A3 with Busk III, having the same optional interior set for those that would wish to model the interior of this beast.  There is also a track set available in case you're not overly fond of the link-and-length tracks that are included in the box, and a set of Zimmerit decals too.  Of course this will add to the purchase price, but if you aren't interested in those optional extras, at least you're not paying for plastic that will stay in the box and clutter up your spares bucket for years to come.

 

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So what's in the box?  Quite a lot, including ten sprues in primer-red styrene, a grey sprue containing two figures, a clear sprue, turned aluminium barrel, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) grilles, some poly-caps, a decal sheet, and of course the instruction booklet with integrated black and white painting guide.  A peruse of the sprues shows plenty of detail, and all of the armoured panels have a delicate rolled-steel texture that looks great, although if you're a bit heavy on the paint, it could well disappear under multiple layers.  There are a few parts that aren't needed if you are assembling the tank with the interior, so take care and read the instructions fully before you start gluing, as some of the differences are quite notable.  The red primer styrene colour is actually quite clever, as if you ever wear through the paint with handling, it will still look authentic after a fashion, a feature that could be done deliberately if you so choose.  Inclusion of a metal barrel is great news, as it removes a tiresome seam-filling chore from your task list, but if you really really hate metal barrels, there is a styrene alternative there just in case.  The tracks being link and length will delight and horrify modellers in equal measure, as you can't please all the people all the time, especially with track technologies.  Suffice to say that the detail is excellent, but if you would prefer a workable track, there is the extra track pack from Meng, or you could opt for some from Friul.

 

Construction begins predictably with the road wheels, which have a poly-cap hidden between the two, and a choice of two types of cap for both inner and outer pairs.  The three-piece idler wheel and two-part  drive sprocket also have poly-caps at their hearts, which will help when adding the tracks and during painting.  The lower hull is fitted with a pair of inserts behind the suspension ports, which is only applied if you aren't building the interior, which has the torsion-bars included as part of the set.  Final drive armour and towing eyes are added to the front on each side of the lower glacis, and a pair of bracing bulkheads are inserted into the hull to give it rigidity in the absence of the interior.  The swing-arms then fit onto the pins in the suspension ports, and these parts are again only appropriate for the fixed suspension option.  The wheels can be fixed onto the stub-axles at this point, and the rear bulkhead is then built, studded with track joining tools, the twin armoured exhausts  and some small PE parts for the jack that will be fitted later.  This slots into the hull from above, and is joined by another brace that fits near the front of the hull roof, plus the front towing shackles that dangle permanently from the front of any KT.

 

The tracks are link-and-length, as previously mentioned, and are also handed, so care is needed in construction.  The exploded diagram shows which parts are fitted where, and the top run will have a degree of natural sag that has been engineered in thanks to the construction jig supplied for this section.  The individual links create the sharper curves around the idler and drive sprockets, and here each link is made of the two parts to give extra flex to the shape, which is as it should be.  The track pack that's available separately renders all this obsolete of course, and we'll try to get hold of a set in due course to see what's included and how it changes the build process.

 

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The upper hull has a separate engine deck, and under this a bracing part is fitted, which would be replaced by the interior set if you opt for it.  The upper glacis exterior is moulded into the upper hull, and is backed up by another internal part to give it a more realistic armour thickness.  The rest of the hull roof is then fitted, which includes the turret ring and a cut-out for the separate insert with the driver and machine-gunner's hatches.  The ball fitting for the bow-mounted machine gun is held in place behind the armoured bulge of the kugelblende, with the barrel sliding through the centre minus breech.  At the rear of the upper hull the correct armour thickness is portrayed by the addition of a pair of extra parts that make up the difference without risking sink-marks.  The engine deck is split like the real thing, with the radiator baths on each side and PE mesh covers for each outlet, plus a scattering of lifting lugs and pioneer tools.  The central panel is for engine access, and has a number of armoured mushroom vents, lifting lugs and grab handles added along with the "easy" access hatch within it for daily preventative maintenance.  The final panel is the driver's compartment, which has two more mushroom vents, more lifting lugs, and of course the two hatches with grab handles for the crew.  The remainder of the pioneer tools and towing ropes are then installed on the sloped sides of the hull, and the curved PE grilles are shaped around a two-part jig before being glued to their frames and put in place over the forward radiator louvers.  The two halves of the hull are brought together and the remaining details are fitted, such as the mudguards, and jack at the rear, fenders along the sides, front mudguards and the central headlight light on the glacis.

 

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Now for the turret.  For scale fidelity, the turret has a double skin, and the improved, flat Henschel mantlet fits in the front, eliminating the shot-trap that was present in the Porsche design.  The turret roof has the cupola details and the central fume extractor vent added inside, and the floor has a commander's seat added (which will be stood on by himself), and a perfunctory pivot for the gun base added at the front.  Again, if you're going for the full interior, this will be set aside.  With the lid and floor installed, the clear periscope parts and the armoured mantlet slab are glued in place, and the flip-down crew access hatch is built to scale thickness and installed on twin hinges.  Incidentally, this hatch doubled as the only way to get the massive gun out of the turret, so wasn't just for crew comfort or their safety.  The hinges are covered by protective armour, as are all the vision blocks, vents and the gun's optics, which have a bullet-splash screen added around.  Lifting eyes, machine gun ring, and brackets for spare track are added, plus of course the true mantlet of the gun, which flares out to deflect shot into the armour.  The metal barrel is tipped with a styrene flash-hider, and a two-part inner shroud to the rear, which is then pushed into the breech with a keyed peg ensuring the correct orientation of the muzzle.  The gunner's simple hatch, the commander's MG and his rotating hatch are built up as the final acts, and the turret is then fitted to the hull, minus any retaining mechanism.

 

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The Königstiger had a crew of five, and two are supplied in the box on a single grey sprue.  If you choose to use them, you can build up the commander and loader in their entirety (i.e. with legs).  The commander is stood up and has his binoculars pressed to his eyes, appearing to be looking at what the loader is pointing at from his seated position on the edge of his hatch.  Sculpting is up to Meng's usual high standard, and parts breakdown facilitates good detail.

 

 

Markings

The decal sheet is small, and for what must be the first time in my experience, not printed by Cartograf for them.  To be frank, it isn't all that important with AFV models for the most part, as the markings are few and were often hand painted by less than talented workers.  The quality isn't quite up to the usual standard, but they should suffice for their purpose.  On my sample the registration is good, and colour density was of a similar quality, but there were a few tiny artefacts in the black, with slight stepping visible on diagonals under magnification.  To the naked eye however, these would be hard to pick up on.

 

From the box you can build one of the following four (not six as mentioned on their website):

  • Tank 334 s.H.Pz.Abt.503, Wehrmacht, Hungary, October 1944 – Dark yellow with green and red-brown camouflage.
  • Tank 124 s.H.Pz.Abt.505, Wehrmacht, Poland, September 1944 – Dark yellow with green and red-brown camouflage.
  • Tank 223 s.H.Pz.Abt.501, SS, Belgium, December 1944 – ambush scheme.
  • Tank 324 s.H.Pz.Abt.509, Wehrmacht, Hungary, March 1945 – white distemper over ambush scheme.

 

The painting guide is in black and white and the shades of grey are only referred to by their colour codes with no names mentioned until the table on the back page, which makes for a more difficult time envisaging which scheme takes your fancy the most.  Thankfully, they are all some combination of a Dark Yellow base with green and red-brown camouflage overlaid, except for the last option, which has winter distemper over the dotty ambush scheme.

 

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On a slightly sour note, the first two decal options were coated with Zimmerit anti-magnetic mine coating from the factory, which isn't supplied in the box.  If choosing A or B, you will either need to apply it yourself using putty of some type, or purchase the Zimmerit decal set that Meng have made available separately.  To this reviewer, the Zimmerit decal should have been supplied in the box, or you can't accurately depict half of the decal options.

 

 

Conclusion

We are now spoiled for choice when it comes to the King Tiger, and Meng's approach of making the interior and workable tracks an optional extra allowed them to focus squarely on the design of the kit, with those looking for extra detail purchasing the extra sets if they want them.  Many AFV modellers don't bother with interiors in general, so why buy parts you won't use?  Detail is excellent, and if you're planning a buttoned up Tiger II, this would make an superb choice, with all the surface detail of the armour already done for you, and a couple of crew figures plus a turned barrel thrown in for good measure.  Watch out for the missing Zimmerit though when you're choosing your decal options.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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Nice review Mike.  Having bought this kit on the strength of previous Meng products, it is noticeable that the instructions are very much a retrograde step, particularly the lack of colour paint schemes.  I too, was irritated by the Zimmerit schemes, which are only referred to when you get to the paint options.

 

I have the tracks and they come with replacement torsion bar suspension arms to make the wheels more poseable.  The track pins are metal and come as an inside and outside.  They are tiny and I predict much swearing from me when it comes to assembly.  Let me know if you would like me to post some pictures.

 

Star Decals have some interesting options for alternative schemes, although if you are a regular builder of WW2 German armour, you could probably cobble together the necessary serial codes form the spares box.

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Thanks for the extra info Tim - I'll post the interior pics (we're expecting a set from @Creative Models Ltd), and a set of Zimmerit I picked up from @TIGER HOBBIESLIMITED, but if you could post up some pics of the tracks, I'm sure folks would be interested to see what's included :)

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Here are some pictures of the Meng tracks.  They are branded as 1/35 Supplies Series SP-038.

 

The box:

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Instructions are on the reverse.

 

Inside the box is the following:

 

Replacement torsion bars

 

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10x these sprues

 

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What I do like is that the mating surfaces are free from sprue gates and clean up should be fairly quick.

 

Finally,  two bags of pins:

 

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As you can see, these are seriously tiny!

 

The instructions say that there are 100 pins in each bag and 100 lengths of track to put together.  Which doesn't leave any margin for error.  Now, I haven't counted the pins, so I can't say whether there are any spares in the bags.  I would hope that Meng had added a few for the ham fisted modeller like myself!

 

To assemble the tracks you need to make use of the jig in the kit (E1).  I have cut a few lengths of the sprues and placed them together.  I haven't pinned them at this point.

 

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They do look pretty good and went together relatively quickly, with the caveat that I haven't tried pinning them together yet.  What they do lack is the weight of a metal track and I am not sure they are going to convert anyone who prefers the look and sag that metal tracks provide.  I am happy to give them a go and think that with careful painting and weathering they will look pretty good.

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