During World War II, the German tank that was designated the Panzerkampfwagen VI-B Tiger II, or more commonly known as the “King Tiger” was a much feared weapon by Allied Forces, because of its powerful 88mm main gun and thick armor plate. Germany began development of this tank in February 1943, in order to counter the increasing threat of Russian tanks. During its development stage, both the Henschel and Porsche firms introduced rival prototypes that incorporated different turret configurations. The Porsche designed turret had a very distinctive shape, with a rounded front section and narrow shell, when compared to the rather angular Henschel offering. The turret frontal section armor was 100mm thick and 80mm for the side panels, and it mounted the Type 43 L71 88mm high velocity main gun. Power for this massive tank was from a Maybach HL230 P30 V-12 cylinder, liquid cooled engine developing 700 hp. Porsche had produced 50 turrets for their version of the tank prior to the official adoption of the Henschel model for mass production. Evaluation had revealed that the Porsche turret lacked armor thickness, and required complex tooling due to its rounded contour sculpturing. However, the superior performance of the tank allowed the completed Porsche turrets to be deployed to the front. When combined with the Henschel turret version, a total of less than 500 King Tiger tanks were ever available for combat.
This kit comes in a large tray and lid style box and contains six dark yellow sprues, the hull tub and upper body, both also moulded in dark yellow, and one black sprue that contains individual track links. Also included are two single length vinyl tracks, a sheet of decals, and a bag which contains a long bolt and nut, four vinyl polycaps, and a section of vinyl mesh.
The mouldings are the typical Tamiya quality which is to say that they are very good with no flash, and minimal clean up of mould seams. There are some injector marks to deal with but nothing that should detract from the kit overall. The detail is nice and sharp. It can be a little over simplified in places as is the Tamiya way, with some pieces being a little heavier than ideal but overall the finish is very good. The instructions are clear and easy to follow making assembly very easy.
The chassis consists of a single piece hull tub with individual parts for the suspension arms, which allows them to be easily articulated if desired to show the wheels passing over uneven surfaces. The tub has good detailing including the underside covers and the bumpstops. The roadwheels are each held on with separate hubs while the idlers and sprockets contain polycaps which allow them to be pushed into place and pulled off again, which makes removing the tracks for painting very easy. Again they all have very nice, sharp detail. The tracks, as mentioned, are single length vinyl “rubber band” style. Although they do look quite good they do lack the proper guide horns, being too short, and they lack the edge definition that you get with individual link tracks.
The upper hull is moulded as a single piece which when joined to the lower hull avoids one problem that afflicts many Tamiya kits, that being that this kit does not have open sponsons. The detailing is very nice and includes a three piece MG ball, periscopes for the driver and radio operator and seaparate hatches for the driver and radio operator, though these include no inner surface detail and if left in the open position there is no interior to be seen.
The hull includes some decent weld beads around the edges and small, recessed locator points for the mounting of the hull equipment so if you opt to leave any of this off, or change to aftermarket parts these will need to be filled. The tools are nicely done with moulded on clamps that could use a little fine detailing in the way of latches but are otherwise good. The cables are moulded plastic with all the mounting straps and cleaning rods also moulded as the same part.
Also included is a full sprue of individual track links, to be used as additional armour, togther with some slightly heavily moulded track hangers for mounting them to the sides of the turret.
The engine deck , grills and fan housings are moulded as part of the one piece upper hull. There is a separate engine hatch that can be positioned open if desired, although there is no real interior detail on it and four faint injector marks, plus of course no engine to be seen inside. A small sheet of vinyl mesh is included with which to form the wire mesh covers for the intke grills. This looks okay but the photo-etched sets look a lot better and can be picked up quite cheaply.
The turret is also one piece and includes the commander’s cupola moulded on, though the vision slots are left open. Like the upper hull this includes the major weld beads around the top edges. The commander’s hatch, loader’s hatch, and rear escape hatch can all be positioned open if wanted, though only the loader’s hatch includes internal detail, which is rather basic. There is a rudimentary interior for the turret which at least means if these are positioned open there is something inside to see. There is a choice between two styles of ventilator cover plus an optional MG34 with an anti-aircraft ring and mount.
A turret interior of sorts is provided in the form of the a reasonable representation of the gun breech, the loader’s and commander’s seats ( commander’s lower seat only ), and the shell racks in the rear of the turret. The shell racks are a bit thick and heavy and the gun breech and other detail is by no means highly detailed, nor comprehensive, but is sufficient for any “through the open hatch” views if this is built with the hatches open and figures in them.The aftermarket parts that I used, we’re Kirin Resin Zimmerit, Show Modeling photo etched set,and Tamiya’s individual link set for the King Tiger.