Trumpeter 1/16 King Tiger

KIT #: 00910
PRICE: $300.00
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Donald Zhou
NOTES: Huge large scale of this famous tank. Some glaring missing pieces and ammo rack problems.


There is already a lot been said about this tank so to make a long story short, this tank was actually already in development in 1936, with a competitor product being given to Porsche in 1937. The biggest differences are the turret, suspension, drive units etc. The armor was eventually set at 25-185mm. Main armament is the famous “88”, in this case, KWK-43 L/71, which features a longer barrel than the 88 in the Tiger I with two MG-34 machine guns, one co-axle, the other mounted in the bow. It was powered by a V-12 Maybach HL 230 P30 gasoline engine producing 690 HP though a Maybach OLVAR EG 40 12 16 B transmission with 8 forward and 4 reverse speeds. Top speed was 25 MPH on smooth road although it never ever topped that speed in real life.

The biggest interesting thing about the Tiger II, or King Tiger as it was known (KonigsTiger in German) was its two different turret design. Mistakenly called the “Proshce” turret (as denoted in the kit itself), this turret was actually a Krupp designed prototype except Dr. Ferdinand Porsche was so sure it will enter production, that he produced 50 of them right off the bat (hence why it was so associated with him). This was eventually turned down for the Henschel “production” variant because the “Porsche” version featured a round face like the Panther, which featured a deadly shot trap beneath the curve and a hard to produce side “Bulge” to accommodate the commander’s cupola. The Henschel “production” version had a smooth flat face slightly tilted and a less slanted side, eliminating the “cupola bulge”. Still, the 50 produced “Porsche” turrets were added to Henschel’s hull, producing 50 so called “Porsche” King Tigers.

The first combat experience for the new tank was July 11th 1944 during Battle of the Normandy. The most famous operation conducted by this tank was during Battle of the Bulge. Pictures of these tanks, with Fallschimerjagers on top storming past burned American vehicle became synonymous with that operation.

Overall, the King Tiger was an imposing and deadly weapon. It’s massive, long barreled “88” could and at will, penetrate any known Allied tanks from ranges as far as 1.6 KM or around 16,000 yards away while it’s frontal armor, as thick as 185mm from up front and sloped, could defeat any known Allied weapon except the legendary 122mm Soviet gun in the JS-2/3, the British 76.2mm firing the APDS (Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot) round and the American 90mm firing the HVAP (High Velocity Armor Piercing, a tungsten carbide round).

However, despite its power, the King Tiger had some really teething problems that caused its crew some real serious headaches. The biggest problem, shared with the Tiger and Panther, was its engine and transmission, which was designed to power smaller and less weighty tanks. With a full up loaded weight of as much as 72 tons, 2 more than the M1-A2 Abram SEP, It’s horsepower was anemic at 690HP (in comparison, all versions of the M1 had a turbine engine developing 1500HP). Even though the top speed was around 25MPH on smooth roads, in reality it never achieved that speed due to the fact the crew will risk serious engine and transmission breakdown and/or fires. And even if treated carefully, mechanical problems plagued the tank throughout its career, especially the early version, where some of them spent more time in the fixer yards than in the field. During the Battle of the Bulge, only a few King Tigers were actually knocked out, usually by air power. Those that were not abandoned due to fuel starvation were either destroyed by its own crew or abandoned due to one mechanical problem or another. Overall, the tank came too late to have any meaningful effect on the war. Production total varies due to the state of affairs Germany was under at that time, various figures put total production anywhere from 330 to 490.


Ok….That is one BBBIIIIGGGG box! And one heavy box too! It weighs about as much as my 1/200th Missouri kit. To help deal with the box unwieldy size and weight, a handle was provided on top. Good since I bought this thing in China, where it stayed for the past four years and only showed up recently! One thing you can say about Trumpeter, they pack their stuff nice and tight. Despite three weeks onboard a boat across the Pacific and getting tossed around by various handlers (Just how big is the box? So big they didn’t even bother to pack it inside another box!), some you can bet not too gentle, going through customs, etc. it came out nary a scratch! Good job Trumpeter!

Upon opening it so many moons ago, one is taken away into, “WTF HAD I JUST GOTTEN MYSELF INTO!” land. Just to let you guys know, this is actually a combination of two earlier 1/16th scale King Tiger kits released by Trumpeter, one is Henschel turret, the other Porsche turret. Those were limited run kits with only something like 2500 kits produced for each version. This version, Trumpeter combined both the Porsche and Henschel turrets into one box. However, as you can guess, you win some, you lose some. The clear turret and hull are missing. These are not that missed though since I have a pretty good idea on how to display the interiors (AKA, not gluing the hull and leave the turret movable). The other things though, are missed, especially the metal wheels and sprockets. However, a set of good Zimmerit tools is included, which should be useful for all manner of German projects.

The big box is divided into at least five section. The turrets are held inside their own boxes, so are the tracks and photo etch etc. The rest of the sections holds god know how many sprues. Overall, there are over 1850 parts….Don’t even try to count them, just believe them and that’s discounting how many photo-etch parts. After you pull out all the sprues, good luck trying to get them all in there again!

The reason why for the many parts is that this tank contain all, and I mean ALL the interiors for both the hull and turret. Up front there is the transmission, drive and radio/machine gun operator stations with radios and drive levers. Middle contains the battery, ammo racks etc, behind, you are in it now, fuel tanks, radiators, and a comprehensive Maybach engine with god knows how many parts rounds it out. All of this sits on top of working torsion bar suspensions. Same goes for the turret. All three crew stations are accounted for, same with the ammo rack in the back and a great looking 88 KWK 43 L/71. This is carried through to the exterior, where everything is accounted for also, including photo-etched grills, great looking hatches, tow cables etc…..However, this is why this is so puzzling, despite the great details, some are totally missing. These include: All machine gun ammo pouches, all periscopes, and this one is especially odd and infuriating just because the rest of the kit is so good, now, the kit provide a full complement of 68 88mm rounds, with different ammos to boot! The bottom caps are provided in photo-etch. For some reason, and this is one of the Trumpeter famous brain farts, only 48 base caps are provided! Leaving 20 with empty, hollowed out shells! WTF moment that is a WTF moment….

The other brain fart is the hull ammo rack holders. Unfortunately, this problem was known for the earlier separate turret kits and it seems this problem was not corrected for this one either. Namely, the racks back, the angle is too slanted and does not conform to the hull. This means the tips juts way out into the turret hole. This results in after assembling, the turret will not fit and will not go down into the hole. The fix is easy though. Just cut up the racks, place the back end onto the hull and using the ammos as a guide, carefully assemble the racks back together. Easy, but still somewhat mind numbing. Fortunately, there are quite a few aftermarket companies that offer not only ammo rack replacements, but all the missing items and then some!

Assembling begin with the road wheels, suspensions and drive train. This goes inside and outside since the suspension works and a full interior is included. Then the hull interior bits starts and this will go through at least half of the instruction book (yes, it’s an instruction BOOK, not guide). First comes some fiddly bits, the engine compartment and the forward drive and radio compartment, then it’s onto the engine, fuel tanks, radiators etc. As may be imagined, each of these are a project onto its own, especially the nice Maybach engine. Now, the fuel connectors, lines and hose are also included as flexible vinyl. Now, I do know not everyone like vinyl but I like it since Trumpeter’s accept paints well and does not melt plastics (I have a Trumpeter ME-262 and the wheels have been on there for the past 6 years now). Then more fiddly bits including batteries, radios, connector rods, jerry can rack and the can itself and floor boards rounds out the inside of the hull.

Then comes the hull exterior and tracks. Now the tracks are plastic (metal ones gone. Sigh). With all the German “KittieKat” series, the tracks features a “male” and a “female” part. These tracks in this case, are connected by two metal pins. I was leery at first but it seems with the previous kits, it works out quite well and quite movable when done.

Then comes the ammo racks. Again, due to Trumpeter mind farts, either get replacement parts or cut up the racks and then assemble them yourself. The ammo itself come into three versions, what looks like the regular armor piercing round, a high-explosive round, and an APCBC (Armor Piercing Capped, Ballistic Capped). Again, due to another brain fart, you need to get the extra base blast caps for the last 20 shells or so…

After God knows how many steps, we come to the turret. Before even begin, you must decide what turret to build, Henschel or Porsche (denoted as “King Tiger-H” or “King Tiger-P” in the instruction book). As expected you can only make one (although you can make a facsimile of the Porsche turret if you chose to build the Henschel). First turret top, with inside of commander cupola air fan vent extra machine gun barrels etc. Then it’s exterior with hatches, hooks for spare tracks (spare tracks are included) before we finally comes to the bottom with the floor, cracks, jacks, seats, stations, and the 88mm breech. Overall, this is a very tight station with an operable spring loaded 88mm recoil system. Then it’s on to the turret ammo racks. A tip. Due to several severe turret losses (Where the turret was blown sky high), orders eventually came down not to put any ammo inside the turret. Then the barrel, and the muzzle brake is assembled and slid into the turret.

Ten markings are included, seven for Henschel turret, three for Porsche turret. And as I’ve mentioned, a set of zimmerit tools are included since all Porsche turret King Tigers carried them.



After dragging self back up again, I have to say despite some WTF moment and problems induced by Trumpeter famous brain gas, this is one awesome and out of the ball park, seriously good, absolutely gigantic (running out of adjectives here) and will keep you seriously interested and provided you work at it, get the necessary aftermarket parts (namely, spare bottom blast caps, ammo pouches and periscopes. The ammo racks are optional), it will turn into one hell of a showstopper and contest winner!  For me, I was planning originally to buy it, put it on E-Bay and sell it after a few years…But now that I got it back after 4 years…..I’ve changed my mind….Ima gonna build it! It will take a few years, not only because of the complexity (But it’s not hard….Just too many parts and too many steps) but because I also got a few other project before it (namely that USS Missouri….Hrmmm…Maybe a good idea to do two of them at once. Lose interest in one, move to the other). It will become the show piece in my German armor collection!

P.S. Ohh, just how big is this son of a gun? The turret is bigger than the entire 1/35th scale of the same tank!

P.S.S: As may be expected, this kit is not cheap by any means. Now, I got it in China and since Trumpeter (specifically, Wasan Plastic Company) is a Chinese company, there is practically no shipment, distribution fees and import tax. But even then, it cost me the equivalent of $200 to buy it. Current asking price range from $250-$320 here but again, despite some mind numbing brain gas problems, if you got the money, go get it! It will be such a worthwhile project you’ll be glad you’ve plunked down that much money!

Donald Zhou

July 2015

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