Battle of Berlin (April 1945) T-34-85, King Tiger Kit
Thank you to Phil and to Bill for all the work that you do!
This ICM offering is a bundle of two of previous releases: the T-34-85 Soviet Medium Tank kit No. 35367 issued March, 2018 and the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.B. King Tiger with Henschel Turret kit No. 35363 released July, 2016. The kits are separately packaged. The King Tiger has eight light-gray crisply molded sprues and a set of vinyl tracks. The T-34-85 consists of five dark-green sprues, one clear sprue, a set of vinyl tracks and individually packaged body halves. Two decal sheets are provided. The King Tiger versions are: PzKpfw.IV Ausf.B s.Pz.Abt. Feldhernhalle, Hungary, March 1945; PzKpfw.IV Ausf.B s.Pz.Abt.
503, Danzig, March 1945; PzKpfw.IV Ausf.B s.Pz.Abt. 501, Ardennes, December 1944; and PzKpfw.IV Ausf.B Stab/s.Pz.Abt. 501, Ardennes, December 1944. The T-34-85 decals include: 7th Guard Tank Corps, Germany, Spring 1945; 7th Guard Mechanized Corps, Germany, Spring 1945; 4th Guard Tank Army, Germany, Spring 1945; and simply Germany, Spring 1945. The decals are appropriately thin, have excellent color register and transfer to the models easily.
The 24-page guide is easy to follow. Part and color call-outs are clearly identified as are parts that are not used during assembly. The last two pages have full-color painting guides.
Although this kit is overall truly excellent, there are a few drawbacks. There is option to display open hatches, there is little interior detail, and the wheels get ‘locked’ into a fixed position. For review purposes, I followed the painting steps for the interior—red-brown for the hull and white for the turret interior. Since the tank is not intended to show off the interior, painting could be omitted.
The main gun is two separate pieces, but this is a reasonable tradeoff considering the price of this kit compared to high-end kits. With careful sanding, you will barely tell the difference between it and a solid (brass) gun barrel.
Assembling the wheel axles is tricky. Per the instructions you first glue all 18 axles to the hull’s right-hand side. Next, you join all 18 to opposite side and then all of this to hull bottom. I took a different approach. I first joined the right side to the bottom. Next, I temporarily taped the left side rear corner in place, added the axles and used a tweezer to guide each into position. When completed, I cemented the left- hand side into place. I completed this step in only a few minutes. This is also a step that could be omitted since all of this is hidden from view when the model is finished.
The hull’s exterior and detail pieces build up very quickly. I changed one of the steps, however. I did not attach the front or rear fenders at this stage. Rather, I waited until the end after I had added the tracks. Tracks, especially vinyl ones, can be very hard to pull through confined spaces. Leaving the fenders off gave me much more room to work with, and I encourage you to try this as well.
Before gluing, painting or weathering the tracks, I strongly recommend you wash them with mild detergent to remove any mold release. This will help to ensure that your CA glue takes and bonds.
Painting and Finishing
I primed everything with Vallejo gray primer. The painting guide provides color numbers for Revell and Tamiya brands. I chose to use Mission Models paints RAL 6003 Olivgrun and RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb as well as Rotbraun. The interior is a custom mix. German tank interiors were not painted pure white but rather a creamy (not quite beige) white. I weathered using a variety of Vallejo washes, pigments and MIG products to show it as a King Tiger that has fought hard defending Berlin against the Russians.
This kit contains a 20-page with two full-color painting guides. It goes together very quickly—more quickly than the King Tiger--and the parts required very little clean-up. As with the Kiger Tiger model, it is not intended to show off its interior. Therefore, several steps could be omitted with no affect to the final outcome.
The top and bottom hull halves build up very nicely, however when you join them, there is a visible seem that runs across the front. You’ll want to address this since the real tank has to visible seam in this area. Unfortunately, there is another seam to deal with between the top and bottom turret halves. The gap is visible but not large. I consulted many reference photos of WWII T-34-85 tanks to see how the turret looked. Most of the turrets showed a significant weld line. Therefore, I did not eliminate the seam but rather I ‘treated’ it. I used Tamiya Thin Cement to soften the plastic slightly and then used the edge of a No. 11 blade to roughen up the seam. This worked quite well. It removed the gap and gave a fairly decent look of a weld line.
The whole interior is to be painted white. Since the model is not intended to be displayed with open hatches and you will not see the seats or rest of the interior, this could be omitted.
As with the King Tiger kit, the wheels are fixed into position. The vinyl tracks were pretty difficult to use. I fed them through the wheel tops and when attempting to bring them together without pulling too hard, they were at least a half to three quarters of an inch short. To deal with this, I removed the tracks and then gently stretched each repeatedly to make them ‘grow.’ Even after doing this, it was still very hard to glue them together. The possibility exists to make the whole track first and then loop it over all of the wheels. I attempted this and the tension was still such that the tracks came apart.
Painting and Finishing
After priming the entire model with Vallejo gray primer, I used Mission Models Russian Dark Olive Faded. I applied Vallejo washes, added a few scratch marks and a bit of dust.
All in all, this is an excellent kit and an outstanding bargain! I’ve built many Tiger tanks. Although this one does not have all the bells and whistles such as photo etches parts, solid brass gun barrel and individual track links, the quality is absolutely on par with other costly kits.
I highly recommend this kit! You get two excellent kits at a fantastic price. Although each has a few drawbacks (and what model kit doesn’t), the quality of each really does measure up to more costly kits on the market.
Thank you to ICM for providing this kit and for the honor to review it, and thank you to IPMS for the opportunity!