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Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Henschel Turret Battle of the Bulge sPzAbt 501

DML 1/35 Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Henschel Turret "Battle of the Bulge sPzAbt 501" Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review April 2005 Manufacturer DML
Subject Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Henschel Turret Battle of the Bulge sPzAbt 501 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6254 Primary Media 808 parts (504 in grey styrene, 288 Magic Track links, 11 etched brass, 3 turned brass, 1 turned aluminum, 1 length steel wire)
Pros Another "pocket diorama" kit from DML with eight figures included; nicely done kit now offered with four different "ambush" paint schemes Cons Fourth version of this kit approaching overkill in the market; may impact sales of the last kit (Final Version)
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $31-$34

First Look

The Battle of the Bulge stands as the high water mark of the late war German army; even though some US intelligence analysts (see the first chapter of Charles B. McDonalds' "A Time for Trumpets" to see what happened) predicted the Germans would attack out of the Ardennes, few believed that they could do it. Considering their staging area was a part of western Germany called the Schneeifel, it is a wonder that they could stage as many men and as much material in that area as they did. It is even more amazing when one considers how many late model armored vehicles, such as the 68 metric ton Tiger II, were staged in what essentially is a heavily wooded mountainous area densely forested with coniferous trees. Even having been there, I for one am amazed at their achievement today.

While serving with the 3rd Armored Division in Frankfurt , Germany , I found out the basic secret as to how this could be done. The Germans had been logging the forests for hundreds of years, and in order to get up to get the trees and then get them back down, the mountains were riddled with hundreds of reinforced (corduroy type) roads and paths that would easily support the movement of heavy vehicles. (This was also a shock to my division commander, but that's a different story.)

The premier striking power of the German army in this attack came from the concentration of new production Tiger II heavy tanks, which at the time were the most powerful in the world and able to defeat any American or British vehicle on the battlefield. While their actual achievements did not live up to their billing (see the book " Battle of the Bulge – Then and Now" for how poor they really did) the shock value was quite high.

The Tiger II or "King Tiger" remains a popular modeling subject, and this is the fourth kit of the vehicle to be produced by DML. This is basically their Henschel version of the kit with newly cleaned up road wheels, an aluminum gun barrel, DML's new single-link pre-cut "Magic Track" (this track simply pops together and, while not truly working track, makes assembly literally a snap) and two sets of Fallschirmjaegers, #6113 and #6143, in one box. These latter sets account for 146 parts from the kit.

(While these figures look very good and come with late production weapons as well, as a side note it should be remembered most of these troops were not the true crack paratroops of early in the war but simply infantry in Fallschirmjaeger uniforms and kit. Most were recent conscripts and not the seasoned veterans of Belgium and Crete ; there are many documented accounts from US forces that many of them were simply slaughtered while still marching west.)

The kit also includes three turned brass 8.8 cm rounds with separate bases containing the headstamp data and grillwork for the engine deck, and a optional twisted wire cable for the tow cables vice the molded plastic ones.

The model comes with a large and colorful number jungle sheet for at least three companies of Tigers plus command tanks and other elements. The finishing options provide for four tanks: two from 2nd Company, one from 1st Company and one from the 3rd Company of schwere Panzerabteilung 501. All are in variations of the popular tri-color "ambush" paint scheme. The finishing options also show how the battalion was structured as well with a total of 39 tanks covered by marking data uncovered by DML researchers Hirohisa Takada and Minoru Igarashi.

Overall this should be a popular model and comes, like all recent DML releases, with a wealth of upgrades and "after-market" items. However, it could be confused with the previous kit #6232, Kingtiger Late Production w/New Pattern Track Ardennes 1944; it is not the same kit and has much easier track to assemble, which is a plus with most modelers.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.