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Hetzer Kit

Academy 1/35 King Tiger Ausf.B 'Henschel Turret' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2013 Manufacturer Academy
Subject King Tiger Ausf.B 'Henschel Turret' Scale 1/35
Kit Number 13229 Primary Media Styrene, photo-etch
Pros Nice looking kit, simple build Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $68.95

First Look

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The Sd.Kfz.182 Königstiger would be the last tank series to reach production and combat operations before the end of the war. The design was an evolutionary development of the Tiger I featuring thicker armor than the Tiger I while also incorporating the sloped surfaces of the Panther series for more effective protection. The main gun was the 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 which provided the already formidable 88mm projectile with even greater muzzle velocity. While impressive in specification, the vehicle had its faults which included reliability and production quality, both of which suffered from the continuous allied bombing of Germany's production capabilities.

Look what arrived at the Cybermodeler Online labs today - Academy's new 1/35 Tiger II kit. To be honest, I was a bit surprised to see Academy take this subject on given that DML has released so many variations of this subject that I would expect modelers to be somewhat overwhelmed by now.

Looking a little closer however, I see a bit more attention to a difference in engineering philosophy. Where the DML kits tend to offer lots of details, some of which are so small as to be difficult to get off the sprue trees intact, Academy took a different approach to avoid over-engineering the kit. Let's take a look:

Unlike most armor kits, construction here starts in the turret. The interior of the turret has details inside. The main gun assembly is a detailed affair complete with boresight telescope on one side and coaxial machine gun on the other. The breech detailing is nicely done and will look good through the open hatches.

Periscopes are provided most of the crew positions though these are not clear parts. Actually this isn't a bad thing since you'll want to use some of the Alclad colors for replicating different types of periscope coatings.

The commander's cupola has 360 degree periscopes as well as a gun ring for his machine gun.

Next up is the upper hull and there is a good selection of pioneering tools and positionable engine deck hatches to install. Since there is no engine compartment provided in this kit (nor in the DML kit), you can glue it closed or add an aftermarket engine compartment.

The lower hull is quite interesting as the suspension is torsion bar just like the real vehicle and is replicated nicely here. There is a bulkhead to divide the engine compartment off from the crew compartment, but all of that great suspension detail will be visible. No other interior details such as crew seating, driver's or bow gunner's stations, interior stowage, etc., are provided but this kit is laid out for you to add aftermarket details should you choose.

The tracks are different. They aren't individual track links like DML nor are they rubber band tracks. These are more like the track segments used by ESCI to make assembly easier while not compromising on detail where the tracks articulate around the drive sprockets and return rollers.

Two optional figures are included in the kit - one is a tank commander and the other an infantry soldier on foot. Take a look at the decals - there are two color camouflage colors provided for the figure uniforms using the same technique provided for the ACU camouflage patterns for the two figures in Academy's RQ-7 Raven kit. In addition, the disruptive smoke rings for the hull camouflage are also provided as decals. Nice!

This is another nice looking kit that provides what should be an easier build than the DML kit while not really compromising on details. Since I have a set of J's Work Camouflage Paint Masks for the Henschel Tiger II, I'll have to try them on this kit and see how all of this comes together. Stay tuned!

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!

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