King Tiger Late Production Sd.Kfz.182 2 in 1
The Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf.B, also known as Tiger B, Tiger II, King Tiger, Königstiger or Royal Tiger, was the heaviest and arguably the most powerful tank to see combat service in World War 2 (though it was eclipsed in weight by its tank destroyer derivative, the Jagdtiger). At 69.8 metric tons, the Tiger Ausf.B was significantly heavier than the Soviet IS-2 and US M26 at 46 tons each. Armed with an 8.8cm KwK 43 L/71 main gun and with armor up to 185mm thick, it presented a serious threat to any opposing armored vehicle.
Initial design work began as early as August 1942, and resulted in the Porsche Type 180 which, due to technical difficulties, was canceled in November of that year. Around that time, Henschel produced their own design, which was subsequently reworked in early 1943 to incorporate as many features as possible from the M.A.N.-designed Panther II. The first prototype was delivered in December 1943 but only small numbers were manufactured until mid-1944. Production continued until March 1945 when Henschel's Kassel plant was overrun by Allied forces.
The Tiger Ausf.B was fitted with two different turret designs:
- The first 50 production examples carried a turret with a rounded front face, designed and built by Krupp for the Porsche VK45.02(P) prototype. These turrets were manufactured even though the VK45.02(P) was subsequently not selected for production. In order not to waste the turrets, they were mounted on the first 50 Henschel-designed hulls. They are commonly but incorrectly referred to as 'Porsche turrets'.
- The 51st and subsequent production examples carried a different turret with a flat front face and saukopf mantlet, also designed by Krupp but built by both Krupp and Wegmann. Officially known as the serien-turm (series production turret), these turrets are frequently, but also incorrectly, termed 'Henschel turrets'.
The Tiger Ausf.B was armed with an 8.8cm KwK 43 L/71 gun developed by Krupp. Using the Pz.Gr.40/43 Armor Piercing Composite Rigid (APCR) round, which fired a 7.9kg projectile at 1,130m/s, it was capable of penetrating 193mm of armor inclined at 30 degrees from the vertical, at 1000m. However, stocks of tungsten required for the core of the projectile were becoming severely depleted by late 1944 and the more common round was the Pz.Gr.43 Armor Piercing Ballistic Cap - High Explosive (APBC-HE), which fired a 10.4kg projectile at 1,000m/s and was capable of penetrating 165mm of armor inclined at 30 degrees from the vertical, at 1000m.
Vehicles fitted with the Porsche turret carried 78 rounds of ammunition, while vehicles with the Henschel turret carried 84 rounds, though there are accounts of crews carrying up to 8 extra rounds stashed wherever space permitted. Ammunition was a mix of Pz.Gr.39/43 APBC-HE (Armor Piercing Ballistic Cap - High Explosive), Pz.Gr.40/43 APCR (Armor Piercing Composite Rigid), Pz.Gr.39/3 HEAT (High Explosive Anti-Tank), and Spgr.43 HE (High Explosive), though the most common types were the APBC-HE and HE rounds. All types of rounds were single-piece rounds that combined propellant and projectile into a single unit.
The first 200 production examples used a monobloc (one-piece) gun barrel. However, later examples used a two-piece barrel which simplified the process of replacing the barrel, as well as reducing the cost. The two-piece barrel was introduced in March 1944.
The Tiger Ausf.B also carried two 7.92mm MG34 machine guns; one in the turret mounted coaxially with the main armament, and the second in a ball mount in the glacis plate, manned by the radio operator. The vehicle carried 5,850 rounds for the machine guns in 150-round belts.
The vehicle featured sloped armor up to 185mm thick on the turret front, which was inclined at 10 degrees from the vertical. The glacis plate was 150mm thick at 50 degrees from the vertical, and the lower front hull plate was 100mm thick at the same angle. The turret sides and rear on the Serien-turm turret were 80mm thick at 21 degrees. The rear of the hull was also 80mm thick, sloped outwards at 30 degrees. On early vehicles, the hull floor was 40mm thick on its forward section and 25mm at the rear, though later vehicles had the hull plate formed from 40mm thick armor throughout. The vehicle's thinnest armor was 25mm on the bottoms of the sponsons.
However, one must take into account the quality of the armor plate and not just its thickness. By mid-1944, German industry was experiencing significant shortages of numerous metals used in armor plate, among them manganese and molybdenum, which are used to improve resiliency. The lack of these elements made the armor blade more brittle, and Soviet testing in the late summer of 1944 found that a Tiger Ausf.B's armor could be cracked and welds shattered even by HE rounds from the 122mm D-25T gun mounted in the IS-2.
The first 250 Tiger Ausf.Bs were powered by a 12-cylinder, 23-liter, Maybach HL 230 TRM P30 gasoline engine. The engine was capable of 600hp at 2,600rpm, but was governed to 2,500rpm. From vehicle 251 onwards, this engine was replaced by the 23.88-liter HL 230 TRM P45 engine, which delivered 690hp at 3,000rpm. This resulted in a power-to-weight ratio of 8.97 hp/ton, compared to the IS-2's 13 hp/ton. Field reports also frequently cite weaknesses in the vehicle's transmission and final drives.
The lack of power limited the top speed to 38kph under optimum conditions. This was significantly reduced when off-road, to 15-20kph. The Tiger Ausf.B carried 860 liters of gasoline which gave it a maximum operational range of 170km. This meant that fuel consumption was approximately 5 liters per kilometer. Given the difficult fuel supply situation in Germany in 1944/45, this caused significant logistical problems for units equipped with the Tiger Ausf.B.
Sources vary as to the exact number of Tiger Ausf.Bs manufactured, with numbers between 474 and 489 being quoted. Jentz and Doyle used chassis serial numbers to determine that 459 vehicles were manufactured, though not necessarily delivered, by the end of February 1945. A further 30 were accepted by the Waffenamt in March. This brings the total to 489 which, subtracting the two prototypes, agrees with Horst Scheibert's total of 487.
A number of improvements were proposed for the Tiger Ausf.B, one of which was to mount a 10.5cm KwK L/68 in place of the 8.8cm weapon. While proposed by Krupp, Wa Prüf 6 (the section of the Army Weapons Dept responsible for armored vehicles) did not support the idea since the weapon itself had not been approved for use by the army.
Tiger Ausf.Bs were typically issued to Heer and Waffen-SS schweres Panzer Abteilungen (Heavy Tank Battalions) which were independent units deployed at Army level, though they were often attached to divisions or corps for specific operations. Each battalion was nominally equipped with 45 tanks. Three tanks equipped the battalion headquarters, with the remainder being divided into three companies of 14 tanks each. Each company command had two tanks, with the remaining 12 being split into three platoons of four.
TAKOM has expanded their range of King Tiger kits with 2130 King Tiger Late Production 2 in 1. The '2 in 1' refers to the inclusion of additional parts for a 10.5cm KwK L/68, stereoscopic range finder, infra-red night vision devices, new engine access hatch and updated secondary armament to build a 'what if' July 1945 version if you wish.
This kit is essentially a reissue of the Ammo by Mig King Tiger 2 in 1 Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B. Henschel Turret, which was produced by Takom but marketed under the Ammo by Mig label.
Unlike several of their previous King Tiger kits, this one does not include an interior, though various parts from the previous kits with interiors are repurposed in this kit.
The kit comes in TAKOM's usual brick shaped box, packed with 474 parts on 10 sprues, with the upper hull, lower hull and turret shell separate (but included in the 474 parts). The parts are molded in TAKOM's usual grey styrene. The kit also includes an additional clear sprue with 13 parts, a photo-etch sprue with 14 parts, and two jigs to assist in assembling the tracks.
Sprue A contains wheels, running gear and some miscellaneous parts such as the tow hooks. Note that this sprue also contains the 9-tooth drive sprockets which are not used in this kit. There are two such sprues in the kit.
Sprue B contains the track skirts, driver's compartment roof plate and hatches, engine deck parts, final drives, tow cables and some hull parts. There is one such sprue in the kit.
Sprue C contains the turret base, roof, front plate and mantlet, 8.8cm gun barrel (which is molded as a single piece) and frames for the forward radiator air intake grilles, which are not used in this kit. You get one such sprue in the kit.
Sprue D contains the commander's cupola, turret hatches and fittings. There is one such sprue in the kit.
Sprue G contains the track-changing cable (which is not used in this kit), mud guards, tools and numerous other parts. There is one such sprue in the kit.
Sprue H contains new parts for this kit, including the 18-tooth drive sprockets, late pattern driver's and radio operator's hatches, armor plates for the radiator intake grilles, post-war engine compartment roof plate and three-piece engine access hatch, proposed 10.5cm gun, proposed stereoscopic range finder, etc. There is one such sprue in the kit.
Sprue J contains the commander's AA machine gun, new fuel vent pipes and parts for the infrared night sights. There is one such sprue in the kit.
Sprue K contains the link-and-length tracks. The guide teeth are molded integrally with each track link. There are two such sprues in the kit.
The kit includes two jigs to assist in assembling the tracks.
Sprue S contains the rear hull plate, turret front plate, armored covers for the springs that counterbalanced the turret rear hatch, and a number of unused parts. There is one such sprue in the kit.
Sprue Z contains clear parts for the periscopes. There is one such sprue in the kit.
The kit includes a small etched brass fret for the radiator fan grilles, lifting hooks for the driver's compartment roof plate, and handles for the tool clamps.
The kit provides the upper hull, lower hull and turret shell as separate parts.
Since TAKOM has repurposed a number of sprues from its earlier King Tiger kits, there are numerous parts, such as the torsion bars on Sprue A, that are unused.
The standard of molding is good with crisp detail, faint mold seams and no flash on any of the parts.
The instructions are comprised of a 15-page booklet with four additional pages in full color describing the painting and marking options. Assembly is divided into 33 steps though a number of these are 'double' steps where you choose one or the other step depending on whether you are modeling a 'real' 1945 vehicle or a hypothetical vehicle with the 10.5cm gun, IR gear etc.
The 'late production' label is borne out by several features in the kit:
- Single-link Kgs 73/800/152 tracks, which were introduced in March 1945, along with 18-toothed drive sprockets
- Lack of a jack and jack base block, omitted in November 1944.
- Driver's and radio operator's hatches with two locks each, introduced in November 1944.
- Four fuel vent pipes, introduced in October 1944.
- Armored cap over the engine compartment vent, introduced in November 1944.
- Metal covers over the radiator intake grilles, which were tested on Fgst.280404 in January 1945 but were apparently not adopted for series production.
- Simplified external tool stowage.
- Armored guards for the torsion bars that counterbalanced the turret rear hatch, introduced in August 1944.
- 40mm thick loader's hatch introduced in July 1944.
- Mounts for six track links, in two columns of three, on each side of the turret.
- Mounting loops for attaching foliage as camouflage on the turret sides, introduced in March 1945.
- Pilze sockets to mount a 2-ton crane, introduced in June 1944.
- Revised cupola that was bolted in place, introduced in August 1944.
- A 'post' mount for the AA machine gun on the commander's cupola, rather than the earlier ring mount, introduced in March 1945.
A number of kit parts represent features that were proposed but never introduced to Tiger Ausf.B production, such as:
- Three-piece engine access hatch.
- Revised radiator intake grilles.
- IR night sights for the commander.
- 10.5cm KwK L/68 gun.
- Stereoscopic range finder.
Paint schemes and markings are included for 8 different vehicles. The instructions do not give any unit information on these vehicles. According to Jentz, only 30 vehicles were accepted by WaA in March. Tigers in Combat Vol. 2 gives the unit allocations for March:
- s.SS-Pz.Abt.502 received 4 between March 2 and 6.
- s.Pz.Abt.Feldherrnhalle received 5 on March 16
- s.Pz.Abt.506 received 13, exact date not recorded.
- s.Pz.Abt.507 received 4 on March 9 and a further 11 on March 22.
- s.Pz.Abt.510 received 6 on March 16.
- s.Pz.Abt.511 received received 7 (another source says 8) on March 31.
Note that the total is greater than the 30 accepted in March, so it's likely that some vehicles were accepted in February but only issued to units in March.
The marking options in the kit are:
- Paderborn, Germany 1945 in dunkelgelb over dunkelgrün on the hull and turret, with rotbraun running gear. The vehicle is unnumbered, with only balkenkeuze on the turret sides. This vehicle may represent one from s.Pz.Abt.507, which fought in the Paderborn area at the end of March.
- Hamm, Germany 1945 in soft-edged three-color dunkelgelb, rotbraun and dunkelgrün camouflage, with a dunkelgrau gun barrel. The vehicle carries the number '304' in yellow, aft of balkenkreuze on the turret sides.
- Köln, Germany 1945 in hard-edged three-color 'ambush' camouflage scheme of schokobraun and olivgrün over dunkelgelb. The vehicle carries the tactical number '421' in blue outlined with yellow. The number indicates a vehicle of 4./ Kompanie, whereas most abteilungen had only 3 companies. One notable exception was s.Pz.Abt.506.
- Henschel Factory, Kassel, Germany 1945 in overall rotbraun with a dunkelgrau gun barrel. The vehicle carries 'N.5 235' on the hull and turret, and '43' in a square on each side of the mantlet.
- Wildau, Germany 1945 in a hard-edged scheme of rotbraun stripes with resedagrün edges over a dunkelgelb base. This vehicle includes the IR gear and three-piece engine hatch, so is presumably one of the 'what if' variants.
- Görlitz, Germany 1945 in a soft-edged 'ambush' scheme of resedagrün and schokobraun over a dunkelgelb base, with a dunkelgrau gun barrel. This vehicle also includes the IR gear and three-piece engine hatch, so is presumably one of the 'what if' variants.
- Salzburg, Austria 1945 in a soft-edged 'octopus' scheme of schokobraun over polizeigrün on the hull and turret, with dunkelgelb running gear. This vehicle also includes the IR gear and three-piece engine hatch, so is presumably one of the 'what if' variants.
- Kassel, Germany 1945 in a hard-edged two-color scheme of dunkelgelb over rotbraun, with a dunkelgrau gun barrel. This vehicle also includes the IR gear and three-piece engine hatch, so is presumably one of the 'what if' variants.
Paint references are given for the Ammo by Mig range.
My only criticism of the kit is the lack of any unit identification details for the four 'real' marking options. To be fair however, photographs of March 1945 production Tiger Ausf.Bs are extremely rare.
The following books may be useful when building this kit:
- Germany's Tiger Tanks - VK45.02 to Tiger II: Design, Production & Modifications, Thomas L. Jentz & Hilary L. Doyle, Schiffer Military History 1997
- Tigers in Combat Volume 1, Wolfgang Schneider, Stackpole Books 2004
- Tigers in Combat Volume 2, Wolfgang Schneider, Stackpole Books 2005
Highly Recommended for Intermediate to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to TAKOM for this review kit.
Reviewed by Neil Stokes
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