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Pz.Kpfw.VI Sd.Kfz.182 Tiger II Henschel 105mm (84559) 1:35


Mike

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Pz.Kpfw.VI Sd.Kfz.182 Tiger II Henschel 105mm (84559)

1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd

 

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The King Tiger needs little introduction to most armour aficionados, as it became one of WWII's truly iconic AFVs, even though it saw only limited action in the closing months of the war, and had serious flaws that were never fully resolved due to its short time in service before the factories and then the Reich were over-run.  As with any new equipment, Hitler was insistent that he was involved and always wanted bigger (compensating much?), which resulted in a heavily armoured tank with a massively powerful gun, but weight problems that put undue strain on its engine and transmission, resulting in a high preventative maintenance burden and frequent breakdowns on the battlefield.  It has been said that more King Tigers were lost by crews having to abandon and scuttle a broken-down vehicle during a fight than were knocked out in battle.  The design was complex, and although the simpler later turret design was chosen over the alternative and more complicated early offering to ease construction, it still took far too much time and valuable resources to create one, especially when compared to the comparatively rustic T-34s that the Soviets were churning out in huge numbers. 

 

The initial turret design was more complex to produce, and can be identified by their curved sides to accommodate the commander’s cupola, which was difficult to produce as it demanded high levels of accuracy in shaping thick armour-grade steel.  This is the turret we usually call the “Porsche Turret”.  They were fitted to the first tanks off the production line, and as such the later simplified design that we call the “Henschel turret” should by rights be the "second production turret", as the initial turret design was a common element of both Porsche and Henschel designs.  Upgrades were proposed to solve some of the more pressing issues with the type, which included a replacement fuel-injected engine that would add around 100hp to the power available, although a new gearbox and transmission unit was discarded due to negative experiences during testing.  The main armament was also to be upgraded to a 105mm KwK L/68 unit, but the army had not yet accepted the design, so it would have been a risky upgrade.  As it happened however, events conspired against the Nazis and the war ended before any significant improvements could be made to the already impressive capabilities of the Königstiger, which we interpret literally as King Tiger, but actually refers to the Bengal Tiger in German.

 

It took bravery on the part of Allied tankers to tackle a King Tiger, 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 flanks weren't easy to breach, having 80mm of sloped armour on the hull and turret sides. The Allied tankers developed a technique whereby a squad of tanks would attack a KT from various directions, hoping that in the confusion one or more would be able to flank their target and get close enough to penetrate the side armour, while the others dodged incoming rounds from the devastating main gun.  This task was made a little easier by the introduction of the ‘Jumbo’ Sherman with high velocity gun, and the Pershing heavy tank, although these were also only available in limited numbers before the war ended.

 

 

The Kit

This is a new boxing of the base kit from 2018 with additional parts to depict the larger gun, building on their well-detailed rendition of the behemoth.  The kit arrives in a large top-opening box with a painting of the 105mm equipped KT that is presumably rolling through the debris of Berlin in a last-ditch attempt to stave off defeat.  Whether any up-gunned KTs were taken from the testing ground into action we’ll probably never know for certain, although that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.  The fact that one of the decal options has a red primer covered turret certainly implies that the designers of the kit think they did, but I can’t remember seeing any evidence in my wanderings.  Inside the box is a small divide to keep the sprues from moving about unnecessarily, and there are plenty of them to be kept still.  There are fourteen sprues of grey styrene, ten in brown, a single clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) in a small bag with the decal sheet and a card backing, the instruction booklet that is printed in black and white, and a single sheet of glossy A4 printed in colour that depicts the two markings options.  Detail is very good, especially on the armoured areas of the tank, where there is a nicely restrained depiction of the texture common to rolled armour-grade steel of the era.  The sand-cast texture on areas such as the exhaust armour and the mantlet is present, although it would probably benefit from being accentuated by stippling with liquid glue or Mr Surfacer and an old brush to ensure it doesn’t disappear under paint.

 

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Construction begins with the lower hull, adding the armour covers to the front of the final drive housings, then threading the swing-arms and torsion bars through the hull from both sides, followed by the road wheels, which must be applied in the correct order to achieve the interleaved effect.  The four-part idler wheels and two-part drive sprockets with the final drive bell-housing incorporated are made up in a confusing flurry with arrows everywhere, then they too are installed along with long and short caps to the centres of the road wheel stacks.

 

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The tracks come next, and they’re an interesting part of the model as they have good detail, and with a little care can be made up to be workable.  Each track run is handed, and every link is made from the main part that has the tread detail moulded-in, and has an insert added to the inner face, with another overhanging behind it un-glued.  This then forms the insert for the next link, with another insert added to the rear, a process that continues until you have a run of 92 links per side.  The main link has two sprue gates on the hinge-points, while the inserts each have two sprue gates on edges that are easily sliced away, so shouldn’t take long to prepare.  There are also three tiny recessed ejector-pin marks on the exterior face, but with paint and a little bit of mud they probably won’t be noticed, so fill them if you’re inclined or hide them later.

 

Attention shifts to the rear bulkhead, which is detailed with twin exhausts in armoured shrouds, adding two track tools, Notek convoy light and a large shackle between the exhausts, which is something I’ve not seen before.  The bulkhead is slotted into the rear of the lower hull and has a pair of towing shackles clipped on with no glue, allowing gravity to do its work.  The upper hull has the domed kugelblende armour fitted to the glacis from the outside, adding the pivot and socket from inside, and a clear periscope through a slot in the front deck.  To fill the hole in the ball-mount, the machine gun is made up with sighting and grip mechanisms, plus a twin saddlebag magazine, and a domed cap on the left that allows the top of the gunner’s head to take some of the weight of the breech and assist with movement.  The rear of the upper hull is open at this stage, with just two rails joining the front to the back, which will help support the engine deck insert when it is completed.  Work starts on this by adding the large maintenance hatch in the centre with triple mushroom vents mounted on top, then detailing it with lifting hooks, more mushroom vents and hinge-covers, applying PE meshes over the grilles to prevent debris and grenades getting into the engine bay, followed by mounting it over the bay.  The front hatches are usually moulded in an insert on King Tiger kits, but Hobby Boss have elected to mould it into the upper hull, having a small insert with a clear periscope in front of the driver’s hatch, fitting armoured covers over it and the other periscope that was installed earlier, plus simple hatches.  The pioneer tools are installed all over the deck and side of the upper hull, the hand-tools having PE clasps, while the fully styrene towing cables with moulded-in barrel-cleaning rods are mounted on pegs on the sloped hull sides, surrounded by more pioneer tools with PE clasps.  At the front, a cyclopean headlight is mounted on a central bracket on the glacis, with the wiring snaking away aft, adding some PE details for effect.  The fenders are moulded as single lengths on each side, and these have been thinned at the edges to give a more realistic look.  At first glance, the instructions seem to imply that adding the fenders should be done over the small rectangular PE mounting blocks, but a short text to the side states (using mostly part numbers) that you either fit the fenders or the mounting blocks.  If you cut sections of the fenders out to depict lost portions, you can apply the blocks in the missing area, and depending on whether you think that the area behind the fenders would be left in primer, that gives some leeway for a little bit of fancy painting.  In action, these fenders were often casualties of incautious or hurried manoeuvring, and were bent, mangled, or even torn from their mounts, as evidenced by many photos of the type. A pair of front mudguards of the later type are pushed onto rectangular holes at the front of the hull, adding separate sloped sides, and two more towing shackles are clipped over the torch-cut ends of the hull sides below.  The texture of torch-cut armour isn’t replicated at the front or rear, so check your references and have a go at recreating that if you wish.  It’s not too difficult, and can be achieved with a file or sharp blade.  Speaking of the rear, simple sloped panel mudguards are fixed to the rear, with small PE eyelets added to the mounting point.

 

Turret time!  The turret build starts with some of the ancillaries, first of which is the commander’s cupola, which has seven vision blocks inserted into the two-part surround, with seven frames glued to the interior, plus six armoured covers and one that has a pin moulded into the top, attaching the three-part hatch with a long pin from below so that it can raise and turn to open, adding a PE backup sight to the front of one periscope.  The mantlet shroud is next, which is specific to this variant, made from three interlinked cylinders of varying sizes and lengths, plus a PE part folded and glued on top of the widest section.  The gunner’s hatch is a simpler radiused rectangular affair, having grab-handles inside and out, plus a locking wheel in the centre and a curved hinge-guide on the underside.  The rear turret hatch is built from two layers that trap another part in between, then a pistol-port is inserted into the centre from both sides (I thought these were deleted on later production?), adding grab-handles and hinge-points, which are partly covered by either a styrene inner layer, or alternatively, a PE part that is bent to the curve shown next to it in the instructions.  The outside also has a grab-handle fixed to the top edge.  The larger 105mm barrel is particular to this variant, and is made from a full-length section that has the wider portion fleshed out by adding the other half of the cylinder to the hollow half, fitting a four-part muzzle brake to the dangerous end.  With careful fitting and sanding of the mould seams, no-one will know it isn’t made from turned aluminium.

 

As it’s an exterior kit, the turret interior is absent, the gun pivot made by fixing a short cylindrical socket to the two-part floor by a pair of trunnions, using no glue on the pegs if you want to pose the gun later, or just leave it mobile "for reasons".  The upper turret is slide-moulded as a single part minus the front, adding two bent PE parts to the forward roof, positioning them with the aid of two scrap diagrams nearby.  More detail is fitted to the roof in the shape of mushroom vents, a shell ejection port and some lifting eyes, then inserting the two-part mantlet in the open front from both sides.  Surprisingly, there are detail parts inside the roof of the turret, carrying the external details inside, and adding a periscope and more details just in case humanity gains the ability to see round corners later in our species’ evolution.  The gunner’s hatch, commander’s cupola and yet more details are installed over the following steps, including multiple cleats on which to hang spare track links, adding three to the rear and two to the front of the side armour.  All the location points for these small parts are marked on the hull texture as very fine, almost invisible shapes to help you, which also extends to the strange blister-shapes that are applied to the top edges of the turret sides.  I must find out what those are, as I’ve not seen them before.  The spare track links have small portions removed because they are hung individually rather than as a run, showing where to cut in more scrap diagrams.  The gun shroud slots over the tube projecting from the mantlet, and that accepts the rest of the barrel, adding the rear hatch at the same time.  Incidentally, this was the only way the gun could be removed from the turret after completion of the real thing, which explains its presence and comparatively large size, as well as the fact that it can hinge almost flat against the deck.  The completed turret drops into position on the hull, and as it doesn't have the usual bayonet fitting to hold it in place, you'll need to remember that if you ever turn it upside down.

 

 

Markings

There are two options on the profile sheet, and as usual Hobby Boss’s designers aren’t forthcoming with information on their veracity or otherwise, but as this particular variant wasn’t officially involved in combat, you can take them with as many pinches of salt as you wish, or just go your own way and paint it how you see fit.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

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Decals are printed in China, and have decent register etc., but as none appear to be used on the profiles, they’re only there in case you’d like to use them.  The shaping of some of the blue-on-white digits is unusual and would probably send a font-designer into apoplexy, but the vehicle codes were often hand-painted by crew members, and could be pretty amateur.

 

 

Conclusion

I have a fair few Tigers and KTs in my stash, and this appears to be a decent model of the beast that terrified Allied tankers whenever it turned up on the battlefield.  It’s unusual because of the gun, and detail is good all over, even down to the texture on the hull parts.  The tracks will be time-consuming, but that’s tracks for you, plus there’s the easy get-out of slapping some muck on them to hide any seam lines or ejector-pin marks you didn’t get round to.

 

Highly recommended.

 

At time of writing these kits are on heavy discount with 30% off their usual price at Creative

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Review sample courtesy of

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  • 3 months later...

The Tiger II with a 10,5cm gun was a proposal made by Krupp in 1944 (it was part of a larger design proposal to up-gun every tank design in production at the time, Panther with 8,8cm, Stug III with 7,5cm L/70 etc). The design was quickly rejected as the 10,5cm gun wasn't much of an improvement over the original 8,8cm. The larger gun and ammunition also took up a lot more space inside the turret, limiting the movement of the crew and increasing the loading time for the gun.

 

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