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TopDrawings #99 Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf.B Tiger II (9788366148703)


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TopDrawings #99 Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf.B Tiger II (9788366148703)

Kagero Publishing via Casemate UK

 

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Hitler's obsession with "bigger is better" is well understood, and that coupled with his constant interference in things he knew little about hampered their attempts to take over Europe.  The Tiger tank and its even larger sibling the King Tiger or Tiger II were both part of that escalating size battle, and even before the Tiger design was completed the original drive-train that was used in both tanks was under too much strain that would result in many abandoned or scuttled Tigers and Tiger IIs on the battlefield due to mechanical breakdowns.  When either tank wasn’t broken however, they were a terrible foe for the Allies with the Tiger II having almost impregnable sloped frontal armour and a powerful 88mm cannon that could out-range almost every tank on the battlefield.  It played havoc with the poor Shermans until the British 17-pounder was fitted to the Firefly, but the Sherman's thin armour was still no match for it and they had to use a tactic of sending several Shermans to try to outflank them and penetrate their thinner side and rear armour.  Thanks to a complex design that was never fully streamlined, they weren't able to put Tigers or Tiger IIs into the field in sufficient numbers to halt the tide of defeat, with a small number of the beasts prominently displayed in propaganda films to terrorise the enemy, and very few reaching the frontline.  Overall, it could be argued that the Panther was a more successful design than either Tiger when every aspect was taken into account, but they were the most feared on the battlefield despite their shortcomings.

 

Most manufacturers with AFV kits in their range have offerings of this iron beast in all the main scales, as other people's King Tigers don't make money for them, and it's still an amazingly popular subject today as my stash in 1:35 will attest.  The TopDrawings series majors on scale plans, which is the main thrust, but also includes a little background information, some pertinent profiles, and often a bonus of decals, loose-leaf plans or masks targeted at the subject matter in hand.  With this edition, you get an A3 sheet of double-sided isometric drawings of Porsche and Henschel turreted King Tigers from various angles.

 

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The book is written in English on the left of the page, with Polish on the right, which translates to top and bottom for the captions to the various drawings within.  The book itself is bound in a card cover with 22 pages, and the rear cover devoted to additional profiles of two tanks in interesting Dunkelgelb-based late war schemes.  The first half of the plans begin with the Henschel turreted production machines, then the more complex Porsche turreted tanks that had the curved sides and tubular commander’s cupola side panel.  The Porsche turrets were dropped after the simpler Henschel design was implemented, which leads to them sometimes being referred to as “Early”.  After this the colour profiles show eight vehicles in differing ’44 dark yellow-based schemes, most wearing the mine-resistant Zimmerit coating that was initially applied from the factory, and includes a mix of Porsche and Henschel turrets.  After the break there is another set of plans that focuses on the turrets both inside and out, then the complex wheel arrangement that also plagued the Tiger I, but without rubber tyres to reduce reliance of the scarce rubber of earlier designs.  There are also cross-sectional drawings of the turret, detailed scrap drawings of the various aspects of the hull, as well as a detailed view of the running gear from below, showing the orientation of the interleaved wheels.  The larger drawings are in 1:35 scale, but some are printed in 1:48 and 1:72 for convenience, and there are numerous front and rear views as well as some overhead and the aforementioned view from below to give a better look at the King Tiger's form.

 

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Conclusion

These books are essential for the modeller that enjoys comparing their models against scale plans, and wants them to be as accurate as possible, with the loose drawings a pleasant addition.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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