Tamiya 1/35 King Tiger
KIT #: 35252
REVIEWER: Jack Bruno


 Being a longtime Modeler I often see all of these great kits come out and quietly lurk to pick up one on the cheap at a Contest Vendor Room.  The TAMIYA King Tiger has been out a long time and I recently picked up the ARDENNES VERSION at a show in Tennessee. The BONUS in this kit was the Motorcycle's and Figures that came along with it. However, I put those off to the side and just wanted to get my teeth in to this big bitch.  German Industry, despite the 8th Air Force and Bomber Command's efforts, was at it's height.  Production Models of this Tank were coming out in early 1944 using the Porsche Designed Turret. It was found that the Porsche Turret suffered a flaw in it's rounded features that created a trap shot that deflected low caliber shells right into the crew compartment where the armor was very thin.  In addition, despite not getting the contract yet, (he would not) Porsche started producing the turret. The Ministry decided go with the Henschel turret but to use the 50 Porsche examples anyway because of the time and materials used already. Most of these examples were used on the Western Front as the Invasion had not taken place yet and crew training could begin.

The Henschel designed turret was put into production and was simpler in design and manufacturing efficiency. It was also larger and added more weight to a vehicle that was already over 60 ton's, making it the largest Tank built in that timeframe.   I cannot tell you that the number of production units given were at anytime a success. The Tank suffered from being a mechanical nightmare with the same engine as a Panther and a unreliable transmission. Needless to mention that it consumed an ungodly amount of fuel at a time when fuel was critical.  It is said that for every King Tiger built, three Panthers or 5 Mark IV's could be built...........personally, I would have gone for the Mark IV's which would have given the Germans at least 3000 more Tanks to deal with the Allied Offensives on both Fronts. It would NOT have won the War for Germany, but it would have perhaps prolonged the outcome for other Weapons to come online.  The King Tiger is a most intimidating Vehicle. The massive frame mounting the 88 gun was deadly accurate and facing a numerically superior enemy had it's choice of targets. Used in a defensive roll it would hinder any advance except when facing air power in conjunction with ground forces. Thru out 1944 most of the Armor on the Western Front was hidden during the day because of roving bands of Fighter Bombers, such as the Thunderbolts and Typhoons that were having field days against ground forces of the Whermacht.  Even 8th Army P-51's, during long range escort duty were given orders to strafe all moving targets on the way back from Bombing missions into Germany. By that time Luftwaffe interdiction was useless. 

The King Tiger had the aura and look of a killer. It's legend among the Allied Tank Units is memorable and feared. The High point of it's career stems from the WACT AN RHINE Offensive on December 16th, 1944. Heavy Tank Units, most notably from Kampfgroup Pieper were assembled to spear point the drive to Antwerp. That was a very interesting campaign and better for the Germans that it never would have taken place, however we cannot change History.  There are a few examples of this Tank still around. One of the coolest being the vehicle that is in Le Glaze, Belgium. Units from Piepers Column stalled here and this tank was left after a breakdown. It rests where she died. Repainted and stripped of weapons (the 88 rendered useless) it serves as a memorial to those that fought.

No information was provided about what comes in the box. Ed


The TAMIYA King Tiger construction is about as easy as it gets unless you are eating a pizza at the same time.  I ordered a set of ALLIANCE etched grills for the vent screen, substituting for that wretched "netting" that is in the Kit. I also used a pair of TANK WORKSHOP resin one piece King Tiger Fuel Cells, that are installed from the bottom of the engine deck. I HATE looking into engine deck and seeing nothing where there should be something. I pre-painted these primer red after much filing and sanding to get to fit. The chassis was a dream with all of the wheel arms road wheels cleaned up for easy installation. Do not glue the Drive Wheels on and depending on your research...find out how many "teeth" your running gear had.........yes, they're differences. Other than the fuel cells/deck screens it was right out of the box. The Hull was cleaned up and most of the tools and cables left off until after painting. I did not glue the chasis and hull together as yet because I decided early on the use the FANTASTIC MAGIC TRACK, from a bitch kit I had from DRAGON.  While looking over the DRAGON kit I sought out better tool parts along with Periscopes for the Commanders cupola position. I must say that most of the time you can get superior replacement parts out of your extra parts box.  I don't know why, but ever since plastic individual track link came into being, I took to it like a fish in water. It really is easy and add's to the extreme realism of the model. These offerings were no different and I used the TESTORS Black Bottle Applicator Glue, which give you plenty of set up time. I waited about 15 minutes after a three quarter run was assembled and mounted them onto the running gear.....take your time and don't force the issue....and do not forget to give it the proper tension/sag...............make real sure your alignment is even and straight too.  During the rear plate construction I used liquid glue to stipple the exhaust. Planning ahead is always to your favor as this will be given a rust treatment using pigments and washes after the paint/weathering process. I might want to suggest that you leave the jack holder off until last. I knock mine off countless times. It just makes sense. On the front plate I used fine solder wire for the electrical leed for the head light. An often forgotten item of importance.  The tank is starting to take shape and more fun will begin as we now move to the Turret.

The King Tiger turret is massive to say the least....downright intimidating if you were the G.I. that had to run into one of these. Assembly is pretty fast with the gun breach a simple affair.  Time is needed with the seams from the gun barrel, but is a "matter of fact" affair to experienced modelers. Truthfully, I would go with the after-market barrel in the future. DRAGON's offerings do include it in the kit. Periscopes were added to the cupola, again from the DRAGON kit. I had to add a plastic strip to the vent located in the top right front position. No part is supplied for this. Measure, cut and glue and it was painted clear green during the final moments of completion. The best part of the turret is TAMIYA already gives you great weld seams along the turret top. I added some around the cupola from small strip. These details come out nice again during the wheathering process. All the little bits were added and the extra track hangers were given a makeover with the addition od green putty weld marks around each and every one. Tedious but well worth it. I wanted to do something different than anyone else so instead of the extra track I raided the parts box and retrieved a Helmut, netting from VERLINDEN and a Spare Wheel from a SdKfz. 251/1 to hand on the spare track holder. I had often seen pictures with either track or nothing, so I met it in the middle with a little sumtin' sumtin'. With all of this ready............it was off to the paint shop.
A friend of mine noticed that my armor was alwayz dark and brooding and suggest that I lighten them up a little with different shades. I admit, it was something that I thought of too after my SdKfz 251/1 a few months prior to this build. So, I purchased a new GREX TRG with Compressor in March after retiring my old faithful Paasche H airbrush. (I still use it for overall primer coats) I had seen a demo in Mufreesboro last October and talked to the Rep (Bryant Dunbar) again in January in Chattanooga, my new home. WOW!!! So this is what it's like in the modern age!  I love this set.  Anyway, in a departure from my usual routine, I gave the Tiger an overall coat of Dark Primer Red.  TAMIYA Hull Red was used straight from the bottle with a little TAMIYA thinner.....about ten percent.  I let all this dry about four hours and took the GREX out and started with the VALLEJO Tank Aces colors.....the buff color like yellow first.......by freehand, I used the Splinter Blotched pale green and an off color reddish brown.....and got up close and used my imagination for the pattern....all in one sitting with just a Distilled Water cleaning before every color.  This was unheard of for me....the new GREX compressor stopped every time it was not in use and it made things just sooooo smooth, not to mention the trigger action of the air brush itself. I was getting lines I never got before and really enjoyed this eminencely.  I let it sit and cure and the next day, armed with my T-GREX (my name for it) I sprayed lightened up versions of the same Buff/Green/Brown into the centers of the pattern to give depth. (this process I call: Johnny Depth) With all that out of the way I started on the Chasis and used an earth brown VALLEJO color getting the tracks and road wheels. I was careful to use the same color in the painting of the Base, so this was put off to the side.  A nice MISTING coat of FUTURE followed and after it dried it was time to do my Dick Van Dyke Brown wash....only not as heavy this time.......I mixed a new bottle of this using the old TESTORS Liquid empty glue bottle.....filled it 90% with Turpentine and put a medium sized sliver of WINDSOR-NEWTON Van Dyke Brown (hence, the Dick) and mixed/shook it up REALLY good. 
Using one of those brushes with the long soft bristles I applied a soft wash using capillary action doing most of the work. I repeated this application several times as I built up the wash till it was very pleasing....well, to me anyway, I do get out but this is SPECIAL.  Over a period of a few days I repeated the wash on the road wheels by tipping the tank on either side, careful not to let the wash dry in a muddled up appearance. PATIENCE is the key here and this gave me time to start the base (I'll cover THAT next just not to deviate from the Tiger). Corrections can be made by dipping a Q-Tip in the terp and softly rubbing the offending place that you went a little heavy on. I also use this technique to add streaks.    After it was all to my liking I let it dry and sprayed (misted) several coats of VALLEJO Matte (clear) and it just sorta POPPED out at me. Very Dull and I loved it.  I broke out my pigments and TAMIYA Thinner and went to work applying heavy dust/earth/mud build up on the running gear and sponsons.......road wheels too, but just don't over do it. Again, PATIENCE. Using a eye dropper I slowly dropped a small amount of TAMIYA thinner in the area's of built up pig ness. When this dry's, after about a few hours, you can see how realistically you have built-up earth and mud where it's supposed to be and the appropriate color. You can also use washes to intensify the tone/appearance.  BELIEVE me, your not there yet...........I took out my silver pencil (ART STORE) and ribbed it on the teeth of the drive wheel and DON'TOVER DO IT, along areas of the track and road wheels where the metal on metal would rub it clear of paint. I had decided to mount my Beast on a street corner a while ago and in an abandon state. So I needed to be careful about this as grim/dirt and a wee bit of rust would soon have it's effect. When I got it to my liking I applied VALLEJO periscope color to the scope's and sealed that with TAMIYA Clear gloss.  On to the tools. In order to REALLY make you kit POP at you, these must be done well.........and use your imagination. First, I took the fire extinguisher and brought it from the INTERIOR of the Tank and mounted it on the outside, hence the RED color.......we can do that, we be modelers....for the wood handles of the tools I did a dark grey, using POLLYSCALE DK Grey and started with TAMIYA BUFF for the wood. When the Buff was dry, I applied a small bit of Burnt Umber Oil Paint and dragged it in one direction give it a wood grain effect, which is exactly like I wanted. This was hand sealed with VALLEJO Matte clear when it dried a day. The Cables were given the DK Grey paint and I sealed those as well, the same as the tools and went over the high points with the silver pencil given it a metallic sheen. Again, what I wanted.  These all got a light wash of their own using the Dick Van Dyke wash.  When I wanted this to dry I place it in a vice so that I could give the underneath a was too.........this I applied heavy because after all, it was the bottom. And a point here. If you are serious in competing at Shows as I once was, you must pay attention to the bottom. It's part of the Model, so don't think that Judges, like myself, don't look there......sometimes attention to detail is the difference.
 When this part was finished another misting of flat sealed the bottom and just a few steps to go.  The bow machine gun was added and I might consider after-market next time. I just go for the perforated look, but I'm happy with this too. A little pencil gave it a metal look I wanted.  Looking at the Tiger without the base yet I gave the tracks and earth build up another pigment application. I was likin' this. I also took out my oils and started to pin point some areas to bring out rain streaks and highlights.  This came out well and it sure smelled good, too ;)
 The Base started out as a Cheese Plate in real life, but it eventually ended up at the local Goodwill and my gurlzz saved it for me........I told the guyzz at the Meeting that it was real wood milled from a burnt out Log from Germany........as usual, they bought it.  I masked off the area where the cheese would be........don't start...........and applied CELLUCLAY mixed with water and white glue.  It went on with no problems and I used the Tracks from the kit to press in the mixture to give me tracks.....heavy tracks because this was, after all representing a 70 ton tank.  on one of the ends I had this old TAMIYA street lamp that I finally found a use for.  Put that on and talk about a BLAST from the past....opened my ARMOR RESEARCH 88 Gun Shell Boxes, in white metal.  I threw in a PANZERFAUST for good measure. I let this dry for three days before I painted it......I started work on another project because, after all, I'M RETIRED!!!!
On the Third day I carefully sprayed the same red brown VALLEJO color of brown that I used on the chasis and wheels/tracks..........I added two more browns to bust it up for depth and added some pigments too. The accessories were already painted and the whole thing glossed with FUTURE in misting coats. After about an hour I gave it a sludge wash of Dick Brown it really was looking nice. The Lamppost was beat up, painted, washed and pigmented too......when dry a final few misting's of flat coat did the whole scene  justice. Off came the masking tape and an oil wash of the wood area of the base was applied. I let it dry overnight and another sealer coat of flat and it was finished except for putting white glue under parts of the track and mounting it on the base.
Something of a Battle I always seem to have with fellow modelers, so...........it has ALWAYZ been MY style to have my pieces viewed in either moving off, coming on, or hanging off the side vignette setting.  This is MY style.........I am a Modeler and that's the way I like it. I never got into the HAVE TOO perfectly center a static object.  It's funny but I see more and more of this being done at the Shows that I've been too recently. 
I had a ball doing this little project of a BIG Tank and it took me shorter than I expected, roughly a two week project. During the idle drying times I started other projects that I'm just as excited about.  (Swedish S/ZWI/Panzer III Ausf N and a JS IIIm just to mention).   I got a little long winded in this one but I hope you enjoyed.  I have a Meeting with the Huns tonight and were gonna sack a Village of Virgins...............Cheers and HAVE FUN......BECAUSE YOU CAN!!!!!

Jack Bruno

October 2013

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