Academy surprised everyone with its newly tooled King Tiger, representing one of the vehicles rushed from the factory to defend the autobahn near Kassel, Germany, in May 1945.
The model is molded in light yellow plastic with the tracks molded in black. There is a small fret of photoetched metal for rear screens and some smaller details. The decal sheet includes generic numbers, circles for the “octopus” camouflage scheme, and two choices of uniform camouflage for the figures. All hatches are molded separately and feature interior detail. The gun breech is highly detailed, a boon if hatches are left open. Machine guns are molded with open barrels.
The fit of the turret components was poor, requiring filler to hide many gaps. The floor needs the most work to assemble properly. The flash suppressor is molded in multiple parts and difficult to fit; an aftermarket replacement would improve it greatly. I drilled Part G8 as shown in reference photos. The gun mantlet and end of the gun barrel were left off until after painting.
I had no fit issues with the multipiece lower hull tub, but make sure you test-fit the upper hull to keep it all square. I ignored the directions and assembled the entire hull before adding the rest of the components. I filled a gap between the glacis-plate components with quarter-round strip styrene; this also represents a weld bead missing from this area.
There is some play in the suspension arms, so even them up before gluing them. Each wheel has three parts. Paint the interior of the wheels before you glue the two wheels together. I glued the hubs (G9 and G6) to the wheels, allowing me to paint them off the model.
Using the Hobbytrax track jig, the link-and-length tracks were easy to assemble. I sanded the armored skirts to a more-scale thickness. The armored muffler guards (D18 and D19) were cast, so I stippled them with Mr. Surfacer 500 for texture. Before you glue the mesh screens PE1 and PE2 to the hull, round the ends (directions are unclear here). Any round object, such as a large nail, will help you get an even curve. I left off the front Bosch light, per reference photos.
The molding of the two figures is not up to modern standards; they took a lot of filler and filing. The tank commander’s cap had no brim; I gave it one from my parts box. Also, the headphones lacked the arm that connects them; I made one from strip styrene.
Decals of the complex uniform camouflage depict Waffen SS and army units. Their thickness makes them easy to place and trim. They went on glossy, but a coat of flat clear toned them down. There is no pattern for cutting them out; making your own paper pattern can cut waste.
The painting guide shows two late-war tanks, neither with markings. Researching the octopus scheme, I found a lot of controversy about what colors were used and even to which unit it belonged. Forums at
www.armorama.kitmaker.net and www.network54.com helped me decide how to paint this tank; I chose to follow the kit’s painting guide, which shows an alternative pattern where the skirts were removed (also seen in reference photos).
After applying Vallejo primer, I put down a 1:1 mix of Tamiya buff (XF-57) and dark yellow (XF-60). The dark green is Tamiya olive green (XF-58). This color was faded with AK Interactive olivgrün shadow (AK 171).
The octopus circle decals went down well over a coat of clear gloss with no silvering. I painted the tracks with a 1:1 mix of Tamiya flat black (XF-1 ) and red brown (XF-54). Mig and Vallejo washes and dry-brushing finished the weathering.
I was surprised that it took 45 hours to build this model, even though there are only 584 parts. The book Schwere Panzer in Detail, by Bruce Culver and Uwe Feist (Ryton, ISBN 978-0-9633824-9-8) was helpful.
Academy’s King Tiger looks the part. There is strong competition for this kit, but its relatively easy construction and minimal photoetched metal should appeal to those who do not want to build a model with 1,000 parts and multiple sheets of photoetched metal.
Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2013 FineScale Modeler.