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James H

1/35 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.B King Tiger (late production) with full interior

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1/35 Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.B King Tiger (late production) with full interior
ICM

Catalogue # 35364
Available for around £38.00

 

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The Tiger II is a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B, often shortened to Tiger B. The ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz. 182. It is also known under the informal name Königstiger (the German name for the Bengal tiger), often translated literally as Royal Tiger, or somewhat incorrectly as King Tiger by Allied soldiers, especially by American forces. The Tiger II was the successor to the Tiger I, combining the latter's thick armour with the armour sloping used on the Panther medium tank. The tank weighed almost 70 tonnes and was protected by 100 to 185 mm (3.9 to 7.3 in) of armour to the front. It was armed with the long barrelled 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 anti-tank cannon. The chassis was also the basis for the Jagdtiger turretless tank destroyer. The Tiger II was issued to heavy tank battalions of the Army and the Waffen-SS. It was first used in combat with 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion during the Allied Invasion of Normandy on 11 July 1944, on the Eastern Front. The first unit to be outfitted with Tiger IIs was the 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion, which by 1 September 1944 listed 25 Tiger IIs operational.

Henschel won the design contract, and all Tiger IIs were produced by the firm. Two turret designs were used in production vehicles. The initial design is often misleadingly called the "Porsche" turret due to the belief that it was designed by Porsche for their prototype; in fact, it was the initial Krupp design for both prototypes. This turret had a rounded front and steeply sloped sides, with a difficult-to-manufacture curved bulge on the turret's left side to accommodate the commander's cupola. Fifty early turrets were mounted to Henschel's hull and used in action. The more common "production" turret, sometimes called the "Henschel" turret, was simplified with a significantly thicker flat face, no shot trap (created by the curved face of the earlier turret), and less-steeply sloped sides, which prevented the need for a bulge for the commander's cupola and added additional room for ammunition storage. The Tiger II was developed late in the war and built in relatively small numbers. Orders were placed for 1,500 Tiger IIs — slightly more than the 1,347 Tiger I tanks produced — but production was severely disrupted by Allied bombing raids. Among others, five raids between 22 September and 7 October 1944 destroyed 95 percent of the floor area of the Henschel plant. It is estimated that this caused the loss in production of some 657 Tiger IIs. Only 492 units were produced: one in 1943, 379 in 1944, and 112 in 1945. Full production ran from mid-1944 to the end of the war.
Extract from Wikipedia

 

The kit
This box is about the same depth as many other ICM kits that I’ve seen and handled recently, but it covers a larger footprint, with the box being quite wide. As is standard with ICM kits, the box itself if a rigid, corrugated type with a fold open lid which is locked into place with tongues and a tab. On top of this, the attractive and glossy lid shows a really good artwork of a King Tiger head-on, with its turret turned slightly sideways. I always think a good artwork sets the stall out for a kit. When I was a kid, it was the picture on the box that always grabbed my attention first.

Inside the box, a total of TWENTY-TWO sprues are included, moulded in either light grey or black styrene. All of these are packed into two re-sealable clear sleeves. One sprue (A) is actually bisected into 3, to allow the parts to fit in the sleeve, and I have included those sections in the sprue count. Three sprues are simply the upper hull, lower hull bottom, and the new barrel that is specific to this release. In the bottom of the box is a 36-page A4 manual, a single fret of PE parts, and a small decal sheet. There are over 700 plastic parts in this kit, plus the 11 PE parts, so this will be welcome challenge in comparison with the previous ICM release of this kit which didn’t have an interior. That previous incarnation also had the dreaded vinyl tracks, but this new release has separate track links.

Simply for ease of reference, here are all sprues and PE in this release, along with notes on how many are included.

 

Sprue A
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Sprue B
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Sprue C
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Sprue D (x4)
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Sprue E
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Sprue F (x4)
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Sprue G
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Sprue H (x2)
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Sprue K
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Sprue L
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Sprue M
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Sprue N
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Sprue P
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Photo Etch
DSC08144.JPG

 

Construction of this model begins with the interior of the Henschel turret. Now, I by no means think that whilst this kit claims to have a full interior, that it does actually have that. What I do think ICM has created here is a very good representation of the main elements of a full interior, but there are omissions that I can see, with my rather limited subject knowledge in this area. I recently purchased David Parker’s excellent book on the 1/16 King Tiger, and although David did super-detail his large-scale kit, it does highlight a few basic omissions in the ICM kit, such as the wooden roller that assists with ammunition loading, the side inner armour plates that flank the ammunition stowage area, and the TzF9B monocular scope. Having said that, ICM’s kit provides an admirable point from which to begin a similar, if somewhat less hard-core journey. The main elements within the turret are indeed there, such as the detailed loading block, main gun recuperator/recoil mechanism, 8.8cm ammunition racks, gunner and loader seats, etc.

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This kit has a new barrel too, and whilst the old one is still in situ on sprue E, it’s not to be used. Sprue G provides you with the part to be used. This is moulded as a single piece except for the muzzle brake and rear section. There is a faint seam on the barrel itself too.

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What is unusual about this model is the breakdown of the lower and upper hull. The upper hull is moulded with fenders in situ. Detail is very good with excellent weld seams, fasteners and bolts, plus the engine intake cooling intakes. It might have been an idea to have had extra open panel choices here to show off the interior, but the engine access panel is a separate part. As for clean-up, all there is to remove is the remains of the small moulding sprue that is located in the turret ring area.

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What is unusual about the lower hull floor is that the sides are moulded separately, whereas the rear plate is included in the floor moulding. The underside of the hull has superbly moulded access panels, and the interior detail ties nicely to those ports and also has the small standoffs for the torsion bars to sit upon.

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The Henschel turret is also nicely depicted and is moulded with the front section as a separate part, whereas the rear of the turret is in situ, minus the escape hatch. Again, weld seams are depicted with finesse, and the rear plate depiction is excellent, with the keyed joint. Hatches and cupola are separate. Something that this kit doesn’t have is clear parts, so any periscope details won’t have that proper glass appearance. A plastic grey plastic periscope ring is to be inserted within the cupola instead. Ideally, this will need painting black and then a high gloss to simulate the glass.

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You will notice another unusual engineering quirk in this kit, in that the swing arms are separate to the torsion bars, and these seems to be glued between the two hull sides, with the swing arms also being glued into position at a later stage of construction. So, unlike the likes of Rye Field Model, where you can have the choice of working torsion bars and articulated wheels, with this model, you aren’t given that option. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make these work as you may want. Looking at the parts, I think it’s feasible.

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Inside the hull, ICM has supplied the modeller with a very busy interior which you may still need to check out against reference for its level of completeness, but however, this area is still crammed with details. The rear hull has the Maybach engine, fuel tanks etc. all nicely detailed, and the intake fans are supplied in PE. All you need to do is to twist the fan blades into position and install them. Quite a nice touch. A detailed bulkhead separates the engine from the rest of the hull.

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Crew areas in this tank are nicely appointed, with transmission, drive and brake units all included, but there do seem to be some omissions, such as the radio set that took such a prominent position when looking at David Parker’s excellent book on his 1/16 build.

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No braided copper wire is provided in this kit for external cables. These are moulded in plastic. Also quite unusual are the various pioneer tools having their clasps moulded in plastic, despite the kit containing PE parts for other areas. It would have been good to have seen these are photo-etch parts.

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I’m pretty sure the tracks aren’t workable, but they do look easy enough to build. This appears to be something that needs to be done in stages also. Four sprues of black plastic contain all the parts for this.

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A single decal sheet provides all you need for the four schemes on offer here. This is well printed, being nice and thin and with solid colour and minimum carrier film. Everything is also in register. The schemes are:

  • Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf.B, s.Pz.Abt. Feldherrnhalle, Hungary, March 1945
  • Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf.B, s.Pz.Abt. 503, Danzig, March 1945
  • Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf.B, s.Pz.Abt. 501, Ardennes, December 1944
  • Pz.Kpfw. VI Ausf.B, Stab/s.Pz.Abt. 501, Ardennes, December 1944

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A 36-page A4 instruction manual details the build over a total of 155 construction sequences, with paint references given for Revell and Tamiya paints. The illustrations are in line drawing format and are easy to follow. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity at all. The kit looks fairly easy to build despite the 700+ parts. A parts map is given at the front of the manual, showing those components not for use in this release. The last two glossy pages are given over to the colour schemes.

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Conclusion
Whilst I really do like this release, there are other ways of creating a 1/35 King Tiger with a full interior, such as the Meng kit which requires their own aftermarket interior set, or with the Takom kit that has the interior included, they are both going to cost you more than this release. That could be up to twice the cost of the ICM kit. If you don’t want to include anything extra to what this kit offers, or you’re happy to do some scratch-building (and relish the extra challenges), then this could well be the kit for you. For a kit that can be bought for £38 (and I have seen it for around £5 less than that), then ICM’s kit represents good value for money and will build up into a very detailed model. The lack of any clear parts is a little disappointing too, especially when ICM has gone to the trouble of creating quite a nice addition to the armour market. In all though, this is a very reasonable release and could really provide the basis for an excellent rendition of the King Tiger.

Recommended

My sincere thanks to ICM for providing this kit for review.

 

 

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