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German Sd.Kfz.186 Jagdtiger Henschel (84562) 1:35


Mike

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German Sd.Kfz.186 Jagdtiger Henschel (84562)

1:35 Hobby Boss via Creative Models 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 in these important areas.  While it worked, the King Tiger was a formidable foe, but too often it was to be found broken-down and abandoned, often because of something trivial, but impossible to fix in the field.  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 put  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 without radical improvements to the running gear, but 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 of its prey 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 eight wheel stations while the eventual successful bid from Henschel had nine, helping to spread the immense ground pressure a little wider.  Only eleven of the Porsche design were made early on, the rest built by Henschel to their specification.

 

With 250mm rolled-steel armour on the casemate that was almost invulnerable at the time, the added weight caused extreme stress on the Maybach engine, with a range of only 50 miles at low speed over rough ground on a full tank of fuel.  As fuel supply was becoming difficult at that point in the war, this later became a more serious problem when the two recipient units 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 intact vehicles were reserved for evaluation, and one of those still resides in the Tank Museum at Bovington.  It is only after you have seen the vehicle from close range that you realise what a monster it is, and how terrifying its presence must have been to tankers and infantry alike.

 

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing with new parts from Hobby Boss, based upon their Porsche production variant from 2022 and sharing some parts with their King Tiger kits, so it’s a very modern kit.  It arrives in a large but shallow top-opening box with eleven sprues in sand-coloured styrene plus two hull halves, six sprues of brown track links, a clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) parts, decal sheet, instruction booklet in greyscale, and a separate A3 glossy sheet printed in colour on both sides that details the colour schemes and decal locations.  Detail is good, and it has a subtle but appropriate rolled steel armour texture over the surface, sand cast texture on armoured exhaust covers and the mantlet, and torch-cut ends to the upper hull armour, with weld-lines included where they intersect and overlap.  The torch-cut texture on the ends of the lower hull side panels is absent though, as we’ll discuss later.

 

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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.  Each track run is handed, and every link is made from two parts with twin guide horns as additional separate parts, and have the tread detail moulded-in, adding the next link, a process that continues until you have a run of 48 double links per side.  The two link parts have four sprue gates on the hinge-points, while the guide-horns each have one sprue gate on the edge that is easily sliced away, so shouldn’t take long to prepare.  There are two tiny, faintly recessed ejector-pin marks on the recessed parts of the exterior face that you could easily miss without magnification, but with paint and a little bit of mud they probably won’t be noticed, so ignore them at your leisure.

 

Attention shifts to the rear bulkhead, which is detailed with twin exhausts in armoured shrouds, adding two track tools, Notek convoy light, jack-block and a large shackle between the exhausts that requires the removal of the inner bolts on the armoured shrouds.  The bulkhead is slotted into the rear of the lower hull and has a pair of small PE loops added to the flat rear mud guards.  The upper hull has the domed kugelblende armour fitted to the glacis from the outside, adding the pivot and socket from inside, taking care with the glue.  To fill the hole in the ball-mount, the machine gun is made up with sighting and grip mechanisms, plus 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 precise movement, sliding a clear periscope from inside into the roof above.  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 two 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 on the hull.  The front hatches are usually moulded in an insert on most King Tiger and Jagdtiger kits, but Hobby Boss have elected to mould it into the upper hull with both, 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 and a mushroom vent on the right edge.  As we don’t have a turret to build, the open rear of the casemate is made next, layering it up from two panels, fitting enormous armoured hinge covers each side, and the two clamshell doors that are also made from two layers to avoid sink-marks.  Once in place without glue, the four hinges are clipped into position without glue, and a pair of grab-handles are installed to allow them to open and close, running a bar across the very bottom of the bulkhead before it is glued into position.  The pioneer tools are installed all over the deck and side of the upper hull, the hand-tools having PE clasps, while the 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 instructions diverge here into two options, allowing you to choose whether to have spare track links all along the side of the casemate, or just at the ends.  If opting for the latter, you should remove the very fine positioning lines from the surface of the casemate, which should be simple enough, using either a sharp blade to scrape them off, or very careful sanding.  It also applies to the aerial base at the top middle of the sidewall.

 

Returning to the lower hull, a large insert is placed upon the floor, locating it on two turrets that stand higher than the torsion bars in the floor, adding a curved raised section that guides the gun’s limited rotation.  There is a depiction of the breech and block made up and mated to the first barrel portion that has the recoil tubes moulded-in, and an insert placed between them, fitting thirty-two small PE lugs around the circumference of the barrel, and a flat plate to the other end, onto which the breech assembly is glued.  A protective frame around the breech is made from two parts, then it is pinned between two trunnions and mounted on the base that now resides in the lower hull, adding a periscope as you finish.  The upper hull is placed over the gun onto the lower, gluing it in place and adding the frontal armour over the barrel stub.  A gaggle of small parts are fixed to the front deck along with a pair of towing shackles that just clip onto the torch-cut ends of the lower side armour.  The texture of torch-cut armour isn’t replicated here, 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.  Between the two shackles is the travel lock A-frame for the main gun, which is built from five parts plus a pair of mounting pivots on each side that have markers on the glacis to help with locating them.  The casemate roof is shown separately for both versions, consisting of the installation of periscopes with armoured protectors, the main hatch with hinged smaller forward portion, lifting eyes, and for one version, a small part on the edge of the roof.

 

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The fenders are moulded as single lengths on each side, and these have been tapered at the edges to give a more realistic look.  The small rectangular mounting blocks are moulded into the hull, with corresponding recesses in the fenders so that you don’t have to remove them if using the fenders.  If you cut sections of the fenders out to depict lost portions, you can leave the blocks in the missing area, and depending on whether you think that the area behind the fenders would be left in red primer, that gives some leeway for a little bit of fun 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 PE brackets to complete them.  A mass of brackets are fitted to the sides of the casemate, enough for two or three rows of track links two deep, the links for which have small portions removed to depict them as individual links that are ready for action.  The mantlet for the big gun is made from three layers, and completed by inserting the barrel, which is moulded in halves, so take care when joining them to minimise clean-up afterwards.  Another pair of towing shackles are fixed on the rear, with a choice of two locations for the anti-aircraft MG42 machine gun on the rear deck.

 

 

Markings

Surprisingly, there are four decal options on the small sheet, but unsurprisingly there is no information given regarding the where or when, or even if these schemes were documented.  There is a varied choice of late-war schemes however, and all look at least plausible, so you have a choice to check your references, or just plough on and have fun with your model.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

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The decals are well-printed and suitable for the task, consisting of ‘balkenkreuz’ standard crosses, and four different vehicle numbers.  The paint call-outs are given in Gunze Sangyo Mr Color codes, with conversion suggestions for their alternative Acrysion brand, plus Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol codes to help you if Mr Color isn’t available or your preferred brand.

 

 

Conclusion

It’s a well-detailed exterior model of Nazi Germany’s Hail Mary tank design, ignoring the Maus that may or may not have seen action in the last days of WWII.  It should build up into a respectable replica of this type.

 

Highly recommended.

 

At time of writing, this kit is available from Creative at a healthy 30% over their standard price.

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Review sample courtesy of

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