King Tiger (Porsche Turret)
Meng, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
B a c k g r o u n d
The Tiger II is 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 (the German name for the Bengal tiger), often translated literally as Royal Tiger, or somewhat incorrectly as King Tiger by Allied soldiers, especially by American forces
The Tiger II was the successor to the Tiger I, combining the latter's thick armour with the armour sloping used on the Panther medium tank. The tank weighed almost 70 tonnes, and was protected by 100 to 185 mm (3.9 to 7.3 in) of armour to the front. It was armed with the long barrelled 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 anti-tank cannon. The chassis was also the basis for the Jagdtiger turretless tank destroyer.
The Tiger II was issued to heavy tank battalions of the Army and the Waffen-SS. It was first used in combat with 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion during the Allied Invasion of Normandy on 11 July 1944; on the Eastern Front, the first unit to be outfitted with Tiger IIs was the 501st Heavy Panzer Battalion, which by 1 September 1944 listed 25 Tiger IIs operational.
Henschel won the design contract, and all Tiger IIs were produced by the firm. Two turret designs were used in production vehicles. The initial design is often misleadingly called the "Porsche" turret due to the belief that it was designed by Porsche for their prototype; in fact it was the initial Krupp design for both prototypes. This turret had a rounded front and steeply sloped sides, with a difficult-to-manufacture curved bulge on the turret's left side to accommodate the commander's cupola.
50 early turrets were mounted to Henschel's hull and used in action.*
F i r s t L o o k
Yes, I know it’s not really a Porsche-designed turret and that the Germans never called the vehicle a King Tiger, but the nomenclature is so common use these days that I will continue to call it a Porsche King Tiger!
Meng entered the King Tiger market late last year with their brand new 1:35 scale Henschel Turret Version. This was a very impressive kit with a high level of detail. Meng has now delivered their Porsche Turret King Tiger.
Thanks to the optional and spare parts in the box, you should be able to build most sub-types of the Porsche King Tiger.
The kit comprises 537 parts in dark yellow coloured plastic, 21 parts in clear, 13 photo-etched parts on two frets, 22 polythene caps and markings for three vehicles.
You can subtract a number of optional parts that apply to different variants, bringing the actual number of plastic parts used for the kit down to a very manageable total.
A suitably aged battle map of the Caen area is included as a bonus.
Engineering of Meng’s Porsche King Tiger is interesting. The framework of the turret permits different variants to be delivered via a common framework and two different port side panels.
Assembly starts with the running gear and lower hull. The road wheels, idler wheels and drive sprockets are attached via polythene caps, which should make painting the layered suspension arrangement easier.
The lower hull is a conventional one-piece tub with a separate rear plate. Suspension swing arms are separate and designed to be glued in place.
Tracks are link and length. The individual links are attached by just two points and there is no evidence of ejector pin circles or other imperfections. The tracks should be fast and easy to install. A jig is included to ensure that you will have a nice smooth sag at the front and rear of the upper run using the individual links. The links are a nice firm fit and are designed to be glued together.
Texture is good – notably the turret. It is shame that it will almost certainly be hidden by Zimmerit!
The turret crew and loader’s hatch plus the upper hull hatches may be posed open or closed.
The gun barrel is turned metal with a three-piece plastic muzzle brake.
Photo-etched covers are included for the engine deck grilles. The overlapping mesh effect is very convincing.
Clear parts are included for the vision blocks.
An external MG 34 machine gun is offered, plus an ammo belt and a detailed mount with spent shell bag.
Markings are supplied for three vehicles. Decals are well printed.
Meng has also released two optional upgrade sets, available separately:
Meng 1:35 King Tiger (Porsche Turret) Interior Set. Item No. SPS-062
Coinciding with the launch of their lovely 1:35 scale King Tiger (Porsche Turret), Meng has also released a number of accessories for this brand-new kit.
The first is a set that supplies a comprehensive interior. This adds around 670 additional plastic parts to the base kit. 32 photo-etched parts plus a decal sheet are also included.
Straight from the box, the kit supplies everything you need for a detailed exterior display model. This set adds a full interior, including driver and radio operator’s positions, the fighting compartment, suspension details, full turret interior, a detailed breech for the KwK 43 L/71 88mm gun; engine compartment, fuel tanks, radiator units, and stacks of ammunition and stowage.
A busy and perfectly printed decal sheet is included for instrument dials, stencil markings, ammunition markings and more.
The interior set will not be for the faint hearted, but the effort will deliver a fantastically detailed Porsche King Tiger inside and out.
This is a massive upgrade for the lovely new Meng 1:35 scale Porsche King Tiger.
King Tiger (Porsche Turret) Zimmerit Decals. Item No. SPS-062
Meng has also released a separate decal sheet with a single Zimmerit pattern for their 1:35 scale Porsche King Tiger kit.
Zimmerit was almost universal on these early King Tigers. This decal sheet will make the job much easier for those who are not confident with other options such as trowelling putty.
The decals are printed onto one sheet with the patterns in relief. Please note that you do not have to cut these out of the sheet – each decal is an individual decal with virtually no decal film surrounding the raised Zimmerit. Very clever.
Individual decals are supplied for all the various nooks and crannies of the turret, including the mantlet and tricky areas on the rear armour plate.
The pattern looks nicely raised on the sheet and should be quite visible on the model after painting. A subtle wash and dry brush will help further emphasise the Zimmerit pattern.
I recommend that you apply a primer coat plus gloss coat as a base for the Zimmerit decals.
This is without doubt the easiest way to apply Zimmerit to your Meng 1:35 scale Porsche King Tiger.
C o n c l u s i o n
Meng's 1:35 scale Porsche King Tiger is a high quality package. The level of detail is impressive, Meng has supplied a number of useful options yet basic construction of the hull and the turret does not look too daunting.
The link-and-length tracks, as well as the simple sprue attachments for the individual links will also save the modeller a great deal of clean-up and assembly time.
Although, at 537, the number of plastic parts might not be appropriate for the absolute beginner modeller, it is certainly manageable and the kit looks like it will be a straightforward build.
If you crave a full interior, you have the option to purchase the separate interior set, and if you are not confident with putty, the decal Zimmerit will be a fast and reliable option.
I really like this philosophy of starting with a good quality external display kit and providing upgrades – interior, workable running gear, Zimmerit etc – as separate options for more ambitious modellers.
This is a highly detailed kit with plenty of useful options and upgrades.
* Historical summary adapted from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_II
Thanks to Meng for the sample
Text and Images by Brett Green