Pz.Kpfw.VI Ausf.B Tiger II
Tiger II is the common name of 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 (German for "Bengal tiger"), often mistranslated as King Tiger or Royal Tiger by Allied soldiers.
The Tiger II was the successor of the Tiger I, combining the latter's thick armor with the armor sloping used on the Panther medium tank. The tank weighed almost seventy metric tons, was protected by 100 to 180 mm (3.9 to 7.1 in) of armor to the front, and was armed with the long barreled 8.8 cm Kampfwagenkanone 43 L/71 gun. The chassis was also the basis for the Jagdtiger turretless tank destroyer.
The Tiger II was issued to heavy tank battalions of the Army (Schwere Heerespanzerabteilung – abbreviated s.H.Pz.Abt) and the Waffen-SS (s.SS.Pz.Abt). It was first used in combat with s.H.Pz.Abt. 503 during the Normandy campaign on 11 July 1944; on the Eastern Front the first unit to be outfitted with Tiger IIs was the s.H.Pz.Abt. 501 which by 1 September 1944 listed 25 Tiger IIs operational. (excerpt from Wikipedia)
Opening the Box
This kit is the Academy kit with the Eduard brand name attached to it. All of the parts come in their own separate plastic bag. The basic color of the plastic is tan and the track sprues black. There were no clear parts, which was disappointing because all of the periscopes in the commander’s cupola and the driver and gunner’s hatches were solid tan and difficult to paint clear green. The directions were printed in color on glossy paper, 16 pages long. The kit has three different color schemes – one for tiger tanks in Belgium, and two for tanks in Germany. All are 1945 color schemes.
While the directions were written on quality paper, the quality of the instructions were mixed. Sometimes they were extremely vague, not telling the builder exactly where the part went or how deep to place the part, other times they were fine.
The Lower Chassis and Running Gear
The assembly of the lower chassis was a disaster. First of all, there were pin marks in the road wheel that could not be removed without destroying the detail around them. Once the road wheels were put together, the torsion bar suspension was added. This turned out to be more problematic than the pin marks because it didn’t fit. All of the torsion bars on one side of the tank had to be cut so that they would fit. This immediately caused a huge number of alignment issues with the road wheels that could not be fixed; thank God for wide tracks. It is my personal opinion that the drive sprocket wheel pin is also too small for what it must do to hold the tracks in place.
The Main Deck
The upper hull is where everything happens. All of the tools are attached in some fashion here and lots of photo etch is attached as well. Locations for the tools were fair, with some very clear and some very vague where they’re supposed to be mounted. However the biggest problem was when I attached the front hull into the grooves to mate it with the lower hull and the rear hull was still 3/8” – ½” above the rear plate. Lots of clamps, superglue and muscle had to be used to get the upper hull to mate with the lower hull in some resemblance of alignment. This drove a secondary problem that was not immediately noticed. The rear vertical hull plate was not in alignment with the rear of the hull. This was another alignment problem with the hull as a whole. The photo etched grills and other pieces went down on the hull nicely and were a perfect fit. This detail may camouflage the other upper hull issues from being noticed.
The turret has the option of having the three hatches opened or closed. I chose to close them as there was a weak interior. However this may have been an oversight because most of the additional photo etch set goes to adding the PE to the inside of the three hatches. This seems to me to be a waste of both detail and time for something that you really can’t see. The main cannon was suitably detailed, as was the coaxial machine gun. However the instructions failed in two areas. The first area was the exact location of where to place the machine gun. The second was how deep to insert the machine gun once you figured out where to place it. If you put it in too deep, you break off the machine gun barrel when you move the mantle. If you put it in too shallow, you can’t see it.
The commander’s cupola was extremely detailed, but a suggestion to Eduard would be to make the vision blocks out of clear plastic.
I thought the tracks were outstanding. They are link-to-length tracks that allow the proper amount of sag and go together extremely easy. This was probably one of the easiest areas of the tank to put together (this is normally one of the most dreaded areas of building the tank).
Painting and Finish
The color scheme I chose included no markings – just the camouflaged tank. I found this one interesting because, while it was the standard German late-war three color pattern, I’ve seen very few tanks with no markings. I used all Tamiya paints to paint this tank and you’ll understand why in a minute. I primed the completed tank with Tamiya light gray primer and allowed it to dry for 24 hours. I learned a few models back when I read an on-line posting about painting with Tamiya colors that if you take 50 percent Tamiya paint and 50 percent Tamiya lacquer thinner, mix it and shoot it on the model, the front will be dry to the touch before you finish the back. This turned out to be the case with this tank and made painting this tank a faster process (if you like Tamiya paints).
Painting and Finishing the Track
The tracks were painted and weathered in the same way the hull was with two exceptions. First I used Model Master Track Brown and the mix was cut with regular lacquer thinner. The cut was 50/50.
Filters, Pin Wash, Road Dust and Final Assembly
Filtering was done next with a coat of Winsor and newton brown, yellow, and 3 or 4 other colors I decided looked good. After letting the wash sit and then streaking it down, I added a pin wash to the wheels, some screws, and the odds and sods to make it look a little better. I added all the extra parts and tools that were waiting to go on or fell off. Then a dusting of mig and Vallejo and Doc O’brians dust finished it off. I prefer the Vallejo the best and doc O’Brian’s second.
The Pz.Kpfw. VI was one of the most iconic tanks of World War II. This kit does have a lot if issues and problems, but in the end and with a good fight, you can win. It is after all only plastic, right? So if you are in the mood for fighting, this kit is it. I would only recommend this kit to more experienced modelers who are willing to put forth the time and energy for a good outcome
I would like to thank Eduard for providing this kit for review, and thank IPMS/USA for giving me the opportunity to review it.