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Panzer VI Tiger Ausf B***FINISHED***


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Whilst going through my stash for another GB I came across another few that are eligible for this one, though I will only be building one.

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Back in I think 1961 Airfix released their first Tank kit - the Sherman. I remember being on holiday visiting relatives in Scotland, and walking into Woolworths in Alloa and seeing it, so that was the first of a string of Airfix military vehicles I built. Generally they went for the better known ones - Sherman, Tiger, Panther, Panzer IV, Stug III, T34 and so on, so there were plenty of gaps, and I was therefore pleased when one day in the early 1970's I saw a batch of Fujimi tanks in my LMS which filled some of them. Over a few years they built up quite a range, together with diorama sets, 88mm AT gun and so on and with the smaller kits they included extras such as motor bikes, Kubelwagen/Schwimmwagen/Jeep etc. Below is a copy of the relevant pages in there 1976 catalogue.

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By that stage they had released everything shown up to the Panzer Jager I and seemed about to release a Japanese Ha Go, and on another page they had another half dozen " future releases" shown in silhouette which comprised a Befehlswagen I, Gigant, Panzer II, Marder II, SiG 33 and Wespe, but for some reason none of those 7 were ever released and they went into a sort of hiatus. Then, about 10 years later more kits began to appear though mostly the more  "commercial" ones such as Panzer II, II, IV, V(Panther) and Panzer VI(Tiger). and subsequently they have released a few more including some post war Japanese Defence Force ones and an IS-2. According to Scalemates, most if not all of the second batch were formerly Nitto kits if I am reading it correctly. I have built all of the first batch, some more than once, and also a few of the second batch.

 

In my stash I still have a few of the first batch, mostly Valentines, which I bought many years ago with a view to converting them into early British A9 and A10 Cruiser tanks, but then I discovered the Millicast range of resin models which already had those, so the Fujimi ones never got built. If anybody fancies building one please send me a PM. The original Fujimi King Tiger (WA1) was of the late production version with the so called " Porsche" turret, but the one I intend to build now is an early one with the so called "Henschel turret" - in fact both turrets were designed by Krupp but more on that another time. It was first released sometime in the 1980's so I guess it qualifies.

 

This is my build of the original Fujimi "King Tiger" with the "Porsche" Turret.

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It will be interesting to see what differences there are between that original Fujimi moulding and this later presumably ex Nitto one.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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3 hours ago, Stef N. said:

This'll be good. Is this the earliest use of link and length tracks? All the best in your build.👍

Interesting question.

 

The original Fujimi kits had "rubber band" tracks and according to the instructions on Scalemates, the 1979 Nitto release was the same, but this Fujimi reboxing sometime in the 1980's has link and length. In my collection are a number of Esci kits from the 1980's such as the M 48, M 60, T 62 and Leopard 1A4 which all had link and length which was the first time I had come across it, but as to who used it first I have no idea. Depending on how good or bad the engineering is it can at times be a real PITA to install compared with the "rubber" track" but on the other hand it does not degrade with age - most of my early Airfix kits rubber tracks have gone brittle and broken.

 

Pete

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Here are the sprues.

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A lot more parts than the original Fujimi kit, not only because of the switch to link and length track from vinyl, but also because it comes with a detailed interior  - drivers compartment, engine, turret interior and shell racks. Unfortunately, even with all 4 hatches open very little will be visible so I will leave it out!

 

The original Panzer VI Tiger was a result of a call by the Waffenamt for a heavy assault/breakthrough tank back in  1937. After the Porsche prototype with electric drive failed, Henschel won the contract for what appeared to be a bigger/heavier version of the Panzer IV in terms of the hull, with a new torsion bar suspension and carrying much thicker armour and a shortened version of the 88mm gun. By the time it entered service, the Germans had encountered and been seriously impressed/worried by the Russian T-34, and had rushed the Panzer V Panther into production with sloping armour, and so when it was decided to upgrade/replace the Tiger they went for an even bigger machine with sloping armour and the full length 88mm gun which was even more powerful. For whatever reason they called this the Panzer VI Ausf B Tiger II rather than giving it a new name - perhaps they were short of "big cat" names having already used Panther, Tiger, Lynx, Leopard (not actually built) and Puma. Early production models had a turret with a conventional mantlet, but this was found to create a "shot trap" under the barrel so after 50 were built a switch was made to a new mantlet similar to a design intended for use on the Porsche Tiger. Although both were made by Krupps, the early one has come to be known as the "Henschel" type and the later one as the "Porsche" type.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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  • 1 month later...

With only about 3 weeks to the deadline I thought I had better make a start on this so I began to put the wheels on.

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Inner set.

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Middle set.

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Outer set.

 

Like the Panther and Tiger before it the King Tiger had a torsion bar suspension with interleaved wheels - probably to spread the weight. A good idea on paper no doubt but in Russia mud froze overnight between the wheels and jammed them, up. Most of the tank models I have built had rubber tyres on the wheels so it was a good idea to paint them on the sprues, but this beast had steel tyres with a thin cushion of rubber sandwiched between them and the actual wheel so I decided to put them on unpainted and sort it out later using Colourcoats "Dunkelgelb".

 

As I mentioned earlier this kit comes with a lot of interior detail, non of which will be visible.

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 I stuck the basic engine etc in anyway as it helps to locate everything.

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I won't bother adding seats, steering wheel, or the turret interior except for the breech of the long 88mm gun, as it will help to balance the barrel (probably). Now I will finish the lower hull and paintwork before starting on the link and length tracks. Construction should be quite quick - the paintwork may take a little longer depending on whether or not I try and paint the so called "ambush scheme".

 

Pete

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Over the years I have built a handful of small scale tanks that had link and length style track and am yet to get a "perfect" result, though some have been fairly close - there is probably a trick to it but if so I have yet to discover it. The placement of the first part is I think the key - if you get it even slightly wrong then you will end up with a "creeping" error that causes slight misalignments all the way round. In this case I have a couple of small "steps" going round the idler and sprocket on one side but a bit of filing will pretty much hide them, and there was a very small gap on the top run, but that will be hidden by the "mudguards".

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At least this type of track allows for a bit of sag on the top run, though I could have done with bending the length behind the sprocket perhaps - but that would no doubt have left a gap. Anyway, it will not be visible once the mudguards go on. I had to cut off some of the "guides" under the track to get it to fit as it did not align too well with the gaps between the wheels and getting in to do the top run was tricky at times due to the limited access caused by the top part of the side moulding.

 

As you can see the hull resembles the Panther rather than the original Tiger I and there is a reason for that. At the start of WWII the Germans had 4 tank designs in service, the light Panzer I which was intended primarily as a training tank, the bigger Panzer II intended for scouting, the Panzer III medium and the Panzer IV heavy. The last 2 were essentially quite similar in appearance though the Panzer IV was somewhat bigger – both had rather boxy hulls with vertical sides. Just before the start of the war a request was made for a new heavy tank with thicker armour and a more powerful gun, and both Henschel and Porsche submitted designs. The Porsche one had electrical drive which proved unreliable and in mid 1941 Henschel were awarded a contract for what would become the Panzer VI Tiger I when it started production late in 1942 and entered service shortly afterwards. In the meantime the Germans had invaded Russia and been shocked by the ability of the T-34 to defeat their weapons, due in part to it having sloping armour which not only helped to deflect shells but also effectively increased the thickness of the armour – at 45o  a projectile hitting 2 inches of armour actually travels diagonally through 3inches of metal if you think about it.

 

This experience was too late to change the design of the Tiger which had what looked like an enlarged and up-armoured version of the Panzer IV body with vertical plates. Consequentially contracts were awarded for a new medium tank with sloped armour in December 1941, and production of the Panzer V Panther was expedited so it entered service just after the Tiger. Inevitably, before long it was decided to build more powerful versions as the Panther II and the Tiger II, but only the latter ever reached production. Once more both Henschel and Porsche offered designs and both had their own ideas about suitable turrets so Krupps were instructed to build turrets for them. Henschel again won the contract and as Krupps had already started building turrets for the Porsche version, the completed ones were fitted to the first batch of King/Royal Tigers as the Allies called them. This model is one with the earlier so called Porsche turret, of which more later.

 

Pete

 

 

Edited by PeterB
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Although there were clear differences between the turrets Krupp built for the Porsche and Henschel Tiger B, AFAIK the hulls were identical though there were changes throughout the service life. As you can see the original Fujimi kit at the bottom and the new ex Nitto one above it are generally the same but there are differences.

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The hatches at the front are bigger and the Nitto one provides what appear to be armoured covers for the grilles nearest to the turret, whilst the "skirts or mudguards" have reinforcing slats. Also, whilst the old kit had the front section of the mudguard moulded as part of the side unit it is separate on the Nitto one and not a very good fit. The new kit also has rear mudguards unlike the early one. The hull is now complete except for the various tools and towing cables the kit provides, so I will now make a start on the turret.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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I assembled the parts of the 88mm KwK 43 L/71 gun (the Tiger Ausf A had a shorter L/56 version).

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I left out the seats, shell racks etc and glued the rest together, and painted it.

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Here are some comparison pics of the old "Henschel" turret and the new "Porsche" version.

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The sides and rear of the Porsche type were angled at 30whilst those of the Henschel production type were at less of an angle - this had two consequences, the first being that the commander's cupola had to be bulged out on the Porsche turret, The other was that there was less internal space so shell stowage in the turret was 16 in the Porsche and 22 in the Henschel. The main difference was at the front where Porsche designed a curved section with a conventional mantlet but this was considered to create a shot trap under the gun allowing a lucky hit to wreck the turret ring and jam it even if it did not penetrate. Henschel therefore went for a flat and almost vertical plate with a circular mantlet - angling the plate somewhat more was considered but it was found that would stop the front hatches being opened when the gun was pointing to the front. Finally, at the rear Henschel provided a small door for loading shells and ejecting spent cases, whilst Porsche went one better by providing a big door to allow easy removal and re-fitting of the gun, incorporating a smaller shell loading door in the middle of it.

 

Speaking of the gun. there were two versions. The original as on the kit I am currently building had a single monobloc tube/barrel - the thicker part in front of the mantlet is actually an external sleeve! Later versions as in the old Fujimi kit with the Henschel turret had a 2 piece tube as this made it easier to manufacture.

 

With regards to the crews' habit of hanging spare track plates on the side of the turret, experiments showed this was of dubious value and in some circumstances actually made the turret easier to penetrate, but if hung at the proper angle they did help a little, so "official" brackets were fitted from mid 1944 onwards.

 

So now I have to put the camo on.

 

Pete

Edited by PeterB
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Following its creation the Wehrmacht seems to have initially painted its vehicles in a greenish grey, but by the late 1930's it had standardised on a base colour of dark grey that would later be re-classified as RAL 7021 Dunkelgrau, known to generations of modellers as “Panzer Grey”. At first this was partially overpainted with patches/stripes of a green and/or dark reddish brown, but by the start of the war it had been decided to just have the overall grey, though camouflaged tanks were still to be seen in Poland and France. By the end of 1942 it had become apparent that the dark grey was not ideal for most of the terrain in Russia, and perhaps following the introduction of some un-repainted machines originally intended for the Afrika Korps still in the later dark version of "sand" it was decided in early 1943 to change the base colour to a brown/sand colour called RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb. Crews were provided with pots of paint paste to use as a disruptive pattern, these being diluted with a solvent such as petrol usually, and the colours used were RAL 6003 Olivgrun and/or RAL 8017 Rotbraun. This continued to nearly the end of the war when paint shortages resulted in tanks leaving the factories in either the old grey or else red primer, the only normal exception being in winter when a washable white paint could be applied.

 

Starting in Russia and also being used in France and Germany following D-Day, some tanks were painted in a variation on the Dunkelgelb/Olivegrun/Rotbraun scheme called the “Hinterhalt” (ambush) scheme no doubt intended to break up the outline when in defensive positions, and I have had a shot at doing my Tiger B in that, though I never was any good at truly random paint patterns.

 

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That just leaves the tow ropes and other tools to paint and fit, a bit of touching up and then adding the decs.

 

Pete

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  • PeterB changed the title to Panzer VI Tiger Ausf B***FINISHED***

Unlike the earlier Fujimi kits, this one does not have a lot in the way of decs - a white outlined red number, some crosses and a choice of what appear to be 4 SS Panzer Regiment badges. As only 50 were built with this turret I have not been able to find much info on them in terms of who used them but it seems that the crosses were often not used and I thought that the red numbers would have compromised the ambush camo scheme so I used some generic black ones. Anyway, this anonymous Tiger Ausf B is now done and ready for the gallery.

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You can see the differences between the old kit of the one with the production Henschel designed turret on the left and the "Porsche" turreted one on the right in terms of shape, mantlet and early "one piece" barrel. Not a bad little kit with quite a bit more detail. I enjoyed making it and thanks to the organisers for this GB.

 

Pete

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