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23Jul/180

Bolt Action King Tiger with Zimmerit plastic kit

The King Tiger is in a couple of variants available at Warlord Games, with the plastic kit in cooperation with Italeri being the youngest incarnation of the German heavy battle tank.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

The King Tiger, or sometimes called Royal Tiger, has the internal designation of Sd.Kfz. 182 or Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf. B Tiger II. Ausführung B and Tiger II showing it as a derivate of the Tiger I tank, but improved with sloped armour that made more use of the thick armour plates of the Tiger tanks. After initial problems with the reliability, it proved to be a remarkable battle tank towards the very last month of the war. The Tiger II was the pinnacle of the heavy tank series that actually got into production, unlike the Panzer VII Löwe or Panzer VIII Maus that never really left the drawing board (or in case of the Maus just had some mock-ups or prototypes).

The Tiger II first saw service in summer of 1944, at the Invasion of Normandy by the Allies, and was issued to the Wehrmacht as well as to the Waffen-SS heavy tank battalions. A total number of just below 500 units was produced until March '45, of these the first 50 were issued with the Porsche turret due to bottlenecks in production of the Henschel turret. Both turrets are part of this plastic kit, and they are armed with the 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 anti-tank cannon. The Tiger II used the same Maybach petrol engine as the Panther did, which caused the heavy tank to be underpowered, like many similar classified tanks from World War two were. This lead to a very high fuel consumption and high wear and tear on the transmission. For that reason, many of the Tiger II tank that were damaged or destroyed in the war, weren't necessarily kills, but were given up and / or destroyed by their crews after running out of fuel or broke down.

Some of the King Tigers had Zimmerit applied to their hull. Zimmerit is a paste that was added on top of the armour plates, to make it difficult for magnetic mines to stick to the tanks. It was a rigged coat that was applied by hand using a toothed throwel, resulting in an uneven surface. Zimmerit was developed in 1943 and the use was stopped promptly in September 1944, as there were rumours that it would catch fire in battle. Therefore only the earlier Tiger II tank models would wear Zimmerit coating. So it is more likely to see a Tiger II with Porsche turret with Zimmerit, than one with Henschel turret.

There is only one working example of the Tiger II around and it can be seen in the tank museum of Saumur. Other surviving vehicles (non-functional) are exhibit among other locations at Bovington, Kubinka, Fort Benning and Munster. The Swiss military museum Full-Reuenthal is currently restoring a Tiger II with Henschel turret.

As mentioned above this plastic kit provided by Warlord Games is produced by Italeri and is made from grey hard plastic in 28mm scale. The price tag is at 24 GBP for the single vehicle kit, or 60 GBP for the platoon of 3 tanks. The plastic kit covers three sprues, a decal sheet, stat cards, damage markers and a coloured instruction leaflet, including some camouflage patterns. As mentioned above, this kit covers a Tiger II with Zimmerit, optional track guards and a Henschel and Porsche turret.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

This kit contains 3 sprues and the cast is done quite well, very little mould lines and proper use of the frame.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

Assembly starts as usual with the tracks. These are quite broad as you can see. The Tiger tracks needed to be that wide to support the heavy weight of the tank.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

Track sections are added along with the back armour plate to the hull. Additional lead weights can be added in that step.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

If you're going to use the Porsche Turret, you need to drill out holes for the parts to fit in. Other than that the tools, sights and hatches are added to the upper hull. The hatches can be build either open or closed, in case you want to add a driver or mg gunner.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

The board mg is added from the inside, it is important to do this before the upper hull is added to the chassis.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

The remaining parts for the engine cover are added (here are two caps available), along with the turret ring protectors if you're using the Porsche turret.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

After the upper hull is added to the chassis, you can glue the sides to the chassis as well. Prepare the cut outs for the track guards, if you want to use them.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

As the track guards were often removed or lost during in the field, I modified the sides to look more battle worn. Simply cut them with a hobby knife in the pieces you want to use.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

At the rear the parts for the exhausts are added, along with the towing hooks and the remaining track guards / "mud flaps".

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

I prefer the Henschel turret over the Porsche turret and started with the gun. The cannon can be elevated if you don't glue part 56 to 41.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

On both turrets the commanders hatch can be build either open or closed, and there is an optional tank commander with this kit.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

The complete build Tiger II with Zimmerit and Henschel Turret.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

There are enough parts to almost completely build the Porsche turret. Just the hatch is missing.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

A side by side comparison of the resin kit next to the plastic kit. Both with Henschel turret, just the plastic kit with the Zimmerit coating. And in the third picture a comparison with the Tiger I and Panther, all three Italeri kits, all three with Zimmerit coating.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

And I even managed to get some paint on the Tiger II, this is a winter camouflage for use during the Battle of the Bulge. The first winter after the Tiger II were deployed to the Western front.

Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit Bolt Action - King Tiger with Zimmerit

Conclusion
Very well casted and straight forward build with this kit. Covering both turret options is a very nice addition to the Tiger II kit. But at 24 GBP it is 20% more expensive than the IS-2 and that one even covers 8 infantry models on top. It is a solid kit and the price is still lower than the resin tanks. But depending on what you're looking for, you might be better off with the resin kits, as there are Porsche and Henschel variants without Zimmerit available and one with Zimmerit, that looks more realistic compared with this plastic kit.

I am not quite sure why the German late war tanks by Italeri all have Zimmerit. It was only used for a bit over a year and was usually applied by hand. So it has an irregular and rugged finish. Something you can capture great with a resin kit, but not really with a plastic kit, or at least not how they did it with the Tiger, Panther and Tiger II, as it is clean, too clean for my taste. Would have loved the plastic kits to be regular tanks with either the resin ones covering Zimmerit or thin sheets of resin to apply to the sides to show the Zimmerit coating. If you're crafty enough, it would improve the final look if you scratch off a bit of the Zimmerit texture on some parts, to the show the crumbled coating, as you can see it on Wikipedia.

There were no known field conversions or other variants of the Tiger II, only a Befehlspanzervariant that had a couple of rounds of ammo less and used that space for additional radio equipment. The Jagdtiger is based upon the Tiger II chassis and available as a resin kit among others by Warlord Games. Building the E-Type series based on this kit would mean a lot of work, and wouldn't be recommendable due to the build of the tracks / rollers and the Zimmerit coating.

I don't mean to the too harsh with this résumé, this is not a bad kit, not at all, it has a proper fit and all, but releasing the Tiger II in plastic had so much (more) potential, that wasn't used. For example depending on how you cut the sprues, they could have done something similar fantastic like they did with the Pz 38(t) and the Marder III, using the Chassis for a Jagdtiger as well.

Bolt Action is a brand of Warlord Games.

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

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