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Jagdtiger Sd.Kfz.186 Porsche Production Type (8003) 1:35


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Jagdtiger Sd.Kfz.186 Porsche Production Type (8003)

1:35 Takom via Pocketbond Ltd.

 

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The King Tiger was a development of the original Tiger that itself terrified Allied troops, but its fatal weakness was further stressing the over-stretched drivetrain by piling on yet more weight without significant improvements to the capabilities of these important areas.  When running, the King Tiger was a formidable foe, but too often it was to be found broken-down and abandoned, often because of something trivial.  This was of no use to the Germans, who were already short of tanks due to their complexity and losses on both fronts, and if the vehicle was abandoned in battle the crew were more than likely to scuttle it if they were able, or the Allies would pump a few rounds into it just to be sure. 

 

Adding yet more weight to the King Tiger by creating a heavy tank killer would not seem to be a bright idea, this is exactly what the German engineers did.  They stripped off the upper hull, discarded the turret and installed a fixed casemate with a huge Krupp 128mm main gun that could defeat any tank of the day with a single shot from outside the range of most if not all Allied armour.  The gun had some lateral travel for fine-tuning its aim, but any significant change in direction required the driver to reposition the vehicle, needing firm cooperation between driver and gunner to achieve good results.  The usual two contenders for the project were Porsche and Henschel, although these differed mainly in the suspension area, with the Porsche suspension using 8 wheel stations while the eventual successful bid from Henschel had nine, helping to spread the ground pressure a little.  Only eleven of the Porsche design were made early on, the rest by Henschel.

 

With 250mm rolled-steel armour on the casemate that was almost impenetrable, the weight caused extreme stress on the Maybach engine, which could only travel 50 miles at slow speed over rough ground on a full tank of fuel.  As fuel was becoming short at that point in the war, this later became a serious problem when the two recipients of the type lost a fifth of their strength due to fuel-shortage related issues.  The seemingly perennial issue with Nazi tanks was the complexity of their designs, which meant that fewer than 100 were produced before the end of the war, although there is some uncertainty on those numbers due to the breakdown of record keeping toward the end.  After the war three vehicles were saved for evaluation, and one still resides in the Tank Museum at Bovington.  It is only when you have stood next to the vehicle that you realise what a monster it is.

 

 

The Kit

This is a rebox of Takom’s 2019 kit, with a new lower hull that has one less roadwheel station for this very early series that were pressed into service due to the general lack of “proper” production examples.  It arrives in a standard top-opening box with an attractive painting on the top, and inside you will find ten sprues and two hull parts in grey styrene, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, decal sheet, and instruction booklet that has a colour painting guide to the rear.  This is an exterior kit, and has individual track-links on four of the sprues that have excellent detail on their constituent parts.

 

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Construction begins with the new lower hull, adding bump-stops, idler wheel axles and armoured inserts for the final drive housing at the front, then it is outfitted with eight two-wheel bogies each of which is made up from six parts and are split into two sets of four, handed to suit.  The massive bellhousing around the final drive is clipped into place, and it is topped with a two-part drive sprocket on each side, with a smooth three-part idler wheel at the rear. 

 

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Work begins immediately on the tracks, which are large and each made up from three parts, with 47 double-length links on each side.  My test build of a short section of 5.5 links took a while, as there are a lot of sprue gates to trim, most of which also require some clean-up, and there is a single ejector-pin mark on the inside of the link, which can see in the photo above, and may need hiding if you are planning to depict your Jagdtiger with nice clean tracks.  That’s your choice of course, and a lot will be hidden by the road wheels, which are densely packed.  The links can be made to be flexible after they are glued, but it requires care and sparing use of liquid glue or perhaps one of the more viscous types available to reduce capillary action drawing the solvent into the hinge cavities.  My first attempt to make all six links at once led to the links falling apart as soon as I handled them because the glue was drying too quickly to bond, so another attempt was made by assembling them one at a time, and flooding the exterior detail of the links with a little liquid glue after to improve the bond.  You might find a better solution, or opt for an aftermarket resin or metal alternative.

 

With the tracks out of the way, the rear bulkhead with exhausts, inspection hatches and pioneer tools are made up, adding heavily armoured cast covers where the exhaust from the bulkhead, the two parts having a satisfying cast texture moulded-in.  The rear is inserted into the lower hull and has a pair of mudflaps fitted to the end of each sponson.  The upper hull is largely complete thanks to some slide-moulding, and is detailed with mushroom vents, lights, pioneer tools and crew hatches, then styrene towing cables moulded with the barrel cleaning rods between them, plus a store of additional track links attached by brackets to both of the casemate sides.  The travel lock is made for the front, capable of being used or stowed, periscopes and sighting binoculars in their armoured slot are fitted to the roof along with various lifting hooks at the corners because armour is heavy and deep maintenance requires their complete removal, particularly of the engine deck.  More periscopes are inserted into the front and casemate roof from the inside, and these parts are moulded in grey styrene, so a coat of silver and some translucent green might be in order to add a little detail before adding the armoured covers.  The kügelblende is fitted to the exterior, but with the bow machine gun muzzle in its ball-mount added from inside, which can be left mobile with careful gluing.

 

The engine decks were covered with louvers to draw fresh air in and allow hot air to escape, and these were covered with mesh grilles to protect from dust, debris and of course grenades that could immobilise the expensive tank from within if they get through the armour.  These are found on the PE sheet and are glued over the cast louvers and accompanied by some small pioneer tools and a fire extinguisher, then the main engine hatch is fitted out with multiple mushroom vents, lifting eyes and an anti-aircraft mount for the MG42 on the back deck.  The rear of the casemate has a clamshell door that worked as crew entrance as well as the only route in and out for the gun if it needed to be removed for replacement or repair.  Even the hinges are heavily armoured, with twin door handles for dramatic entrances, and matching locks on the inside to keep out unwanted guests or pranksters.  A small pair of location marks above the doorway should be removed for this variant and the rolling texture will need to be replaced if you are heavy-handed.  A pair of large towing eyes are clipped in place on the rear of the hull sides that project aft of the rear bulkhead.

 

The big main gun is mounted across the tops of the sponsons in the lower hull, but the gun tube is first made up from two halves, split vertically and with a separate hollow muzzle at the tip.  There is a pivot point moulded into each half toward the rear, and these are trapped in place by the four-part mount, which has a curved stopper that prevents the gun from dropping beyond its real-world abilities.  A pin on the underside of the mount fits through the bottom brace and is glued to a small cap below to permit the gun to traverse the 10o as per the real gun, then it is glued into the hull and the upper hull is slid into place over the barrel.  At this stage the casemate front is a bit breezy, as the front plate isn’t yet installed, but this is now rectified and the big mantlet and short gun sleeve are pushed into place over the gun tube.  The final parts are the side skirts, which are supplied as a single length per side, plus another for the curved fenders at the front.  In reality these parts would often get bent, dented or lost during battle, and modellers often create their own damage, thinning the kit parts and simulating dents etc., or they resort to PE aftermarket for scale thickness and easy bending.

 

 

Markings

There are three options on the decal sheet and in the instructions, with the profiles penned by AMMO to get their paint codes in there and gain extra customers.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • 3./Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 653, Morsbronn, France, March 1945
  • 3./Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 653, Morsbronn, France, March 1945
  • 3./Schwere Panzerjäger Abteilung 653, Ritterschoffen, France, March 1945

 

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The decals are printed anonymously, and are in black and white.  They have good register, sharpness and colour density, with a matt carrier film reasonably close to the printed decals.

 

 

Conclusion

The Jagdtiger was an incredible piece of military equipment that if fielded sooner and in greater numbers could have possibly made a difference to the outcome or at least delayed the success of D-Day at the very least.  Luckily, they came too late and in too small numbers to make any difference at all, soaking up resources that could otherwise have been spent on simple, effective projects instead.  The detail throughout is good, with a subtle texture to the rolled armour, and a different texture applied to the cast parts.  The tracks are very detailed, but a little fiddly for my ham-fists, but with care they will get the job done.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

Review sample courtesy of

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It surprises me that manufacturers still keep referring to Jagdtigers and Tiger Ausf B in terms such as "Porsche Production".  In this case "Porsche suspension" or "early production" would be correct descriptions.  All Jagdtigers were of course built by Nibelungenwerke.  Presumably Porsche don't want any royalties for the use of the name, fear of which inhibits the descriptions of many other models.

 

I imagine it knocks the Tamiya offering into a cocked hat, probably the Dragon too.  Even if only for having indy link tracks rather than vinyl or DS.  However, direct comparison with the Tamiya kit isn't entirely appropriate as theirs is the main production type with the Henschel suspension.  This is the first competitor to Dragon in that respect.

 

Split gun barrel is a bit low-tech these days: slide moulds have been invented, as have aluminium barrels.  To my eye the welds, especially those around the plate interlocks, are much too trenched.  I'm sure the German experts here and on other forums will have their say.  With only 11 operational armoured tanks built with this supension (plus the mild steel prototype) there isn't much room for error as they seem to be individually known.  At least one, the one now at Bovington, had zimmerit applied.

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