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Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945

DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945 Build Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2013 Manufacturer DML
Subject Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6662 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch, Turned Aluminum, Wire
Pros Beautiful engineering, great exterior detailing, full gun breech Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $58.95

Background

For the history of this subject, I am going to refer readers to my first-look article here.

The Project

This kit was interesting when it arrived here at the Cybermodeler labs because it was one of the first kits I'd seen released from DML associated with Japanese comic book character. Hasegawa has been reissuing many of their kits, their subjects being including in several anime series and more recently, we've seen DML and other kits in Platz boxings for a Japanese anime series called 'Girls und Panzers'. In this case, the kit interested me for several reasons: 1) Nicely engineered kit, so does it build as nice as it looks? 2) I wanted to do another set of tests with Italeri's line of acrylic paints under more complex conditions; 3) I have a set of J's Works King Tiger paint masks that I've really wanted to test fly; and 4) I want to have a little fun too. So let's get to work.

Construction

As most aircraft projects start in the cockpit, most armor kits start on the lower hull and this project is no exception. Assembly was according to the instructions and aside from taking a little extra time to file away the mold lines on the steel road wheels, this set of steps went together smoothly. I opted not to glue the return rollers until I assemble and install the track runs so I can adjust the sag/tension as needed.

Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945

The upper hull is next and here is where some careful planning is required. I installed the bow machine gun, forward crew hatches, engine cover and vent tops, but left off the pioneering tools and various fixtures as this point since we're going to be applying the masks for painting the tri-color camouflage.

Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945

I did opt to install the photo-etched grill works on the engine deck. The screens over the forward vents are not glued so I can paint them separately, otherwise we're going to see how well these masks and Italeri paints perform together on multimedia surfaces.

Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945

Here is the Henschel turret with the optional turned aluminum barrel and the nicely detailed main gun breech. Like the upper hull, I've left off the extra details that would obstruct the masking at this stage.

Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945

With the model washed clear of dust and remaining mold release agents, I shot the tank with Italeri's 4796AP Flat Panzer Dunkelgelb 1943. First a light coat for primer, then a full coat for a base coat. While I've shot this color before straight out of the bottle, it took a little extra air pressure on the airbrush to get a good flow with no issues. This time I thinned the Italeri acryic with about an 6:1 ratio of Tamiya acrylic thinner. You can see the results below.

Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945

A note on the Italeri paints so far: the first time I used them, they had recently arrived from MRC. A little time has lapsed and I noticed that the paint chemistry starts to separate on the shelf with a distinctive ring of green on one layer. I've seen similar things happen with most other paints, but I've never seen lime green in a bottle (unless it was really lime green of course). What is nice about these Italeri bottles is that the lid and opening on top are more than large enough for a battery powered paint mixer and the paint was integral once again with a quick mix.

I made a batch of the thinned yellow in an empty jar as an experiment, using what I needed for the primer coat, coming back the next day for the base coat, then coming back again a week later after a business trip to paint some edges and under the side skirts. As with the stock paint, the thinned mixture had separated a little but did not have any issues with the Tamiya thinner. The last coat was as good as the first.

Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945 Sd.Kfz.181 Kingtiger Henschel Turret 8th Tank Company, 1945

 

Note that the upper and lower hulls are not yet glued together to allow for assembling the track later, but you'll need the hull together to make use of the masks easier. With the Sandgelb base coat in place, I followed the pattern provided by J's Work and laid out the yellow masks. This protects the base coat from the next color - Panzer Olivgruen 1943. I found in retrospect that you need to apply a solid coat of green everywhere, even over the masks. In my insticts to not waste paint on masks, I missed a few edges as you can see in the photos.

After the green had cured a few hours, I applied the J's Work green masks and applied Panzer Schokobraun. I let this set up an hour before removing all of the masks. Like the green coat, I missed a few spots with the brown, but all of this falls into the 'lessons learned' category as I've never tried this sort of masking before.

The J's Work masks are dye-cut yellow 'Kabuki tape' sheets with the color codes printed on each pattern segment. They are fairly intuitive to apply, though I wasn't happy when I realized that the color profile instructions didn't show the pattern on the right side of the tank but you can see that it worked fine. Some of the sections of the masks are long and awkward to place, so I wound up cutting a number of them into sections to make them easier to maneuver (just like large decals).

The Italeri paints on plastic did not pull away when the masks were removed. They did pull off the photo-etch somewhat and came completely off the aluminum barrel. I primed the barrel with Tamiya fine primer and reapplied the Italeri green and yellow with much better adhesion. If you're using Italeri acrylics on multimedia kits, it would be best to apply a lacquer-based primer like the Tamiya type on any metal surfaces to provide better 'tooth' for the acrylics to adhere to.

At this point, it would be time to assemble and paint the track, install the runs on the tank, glue the hull halves together, add the smaller details, and begin touch-ups before embarking on the weathering process. I am stopping this project here as there are a few things I'd do differently and since I happen to have another set of J's Work Henschel Turret King Tiger masks and another King Tiger, I am opting for a 'do-over'.

Conclusion

The DML kit fit and detailing is great. I didn't expect any challenges nor did I find any. This project was primarily a test of the Italeri paints and the J's Work masks. The masks were a success and any difficulties that I may have encountered were simply my unfamiliarity with the product. I am happy with these results and hence the reason for the do-over. The Italeri paints also performed well though I have a few thoughts for their use:

  • Use a paint mixer - this not only brings the paint chemistry back together but it also get the fluid back to a consistent viscosity
  • The Italeri paints are too high in viscosity for straight into the airbrush use, these should be thinned as described above for good and consistent results
  • I would consider priming the entire model whether it is multimedia or not

The hard edges of the paint boundaries provided by these masks makes for an impressive result. When the completed model is subjected to weathering, this will dull-down the colors but still retain the hard edges. After this experience, I can hardly wait to try out some of the J's Work aircraft masks!

My sincere thanks to DML for this review kit, MRC for the paint samples, and J's Work for the masks!

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