The "Köningstiger", the most feared tank from the Second World War. Weighing a staggering 68,5 tonnes with armored plates of 180mm thick and a 88mm gun, it would domminate the battlefield of armored vehicles until the end of the war.
While shopping for items related to my BK-117 project, I came across this massive kit, a limited edition of the King Tiger with a Porsche turret. Some quick research revealed that only 800 were made of this kit and coming with both a clear and plastic version, I simply couldn't resist letting this one go. It will be the biggest model I have ever build, being 550mm long and almost 200mm wide (excluding the gun).
Kit by Trumpeter
This project started on 12 July 2015 and was finished on [...]
Photos of this project can be found here:
For the war effortSumburgh, UK, 2017
With the Spitfire finally finished, I’m back full time working on the King Tiger. And the progress has been huge, so much that a lot of the parts are ready for painting when I come back from work in 2 weeks. But we’ll get to that later in the update, let’s start with a quick overview of what’s new since April:
The project has been waiting on the shelves for quite some time, over half a year now. So, when I finally got back to it, I started with the hatches, as these were the first things in my hands. I recently bought myself the ABER upgrade set, which includes details for the rear hatch and a few other bits that go on the turret. I don’t think I’ll be using all of it, but taking the useful bits off it and combine them with the kit parts to achieve the best result. As you might recall from previous updates, I added a chain to the loading hatch (rear of the turret) but it looked so awful that I removed it again. Instead I bought a cheap necklace at a local shop and used the chain, which had the perfect size. The next problem was where to attach the other end to, as there’s nothing moulded on the kit parts. The Aber set provides something for this, but it comes in 6 separate bits and is very fiddly. Good thing I got my new tool, which is a Dremel torch and liquid soldering paste. But dumb me discovered that the torch came without gas (hint, always read the small print) and made it useless for the time being. So, I opted to use a standard lighter to heat up the paste to solder it all together. It took multiple attempts to get it done, but eventually I managed to put all the bits together and got it looking somewhat like the real thing. It was then glued to the hatch and the chain attached to it. This pretty much now completes the hatch, and the only thing left is the cord to pull it back up, but that will be added once it’s glued into position onto the turret. The gunner’s hatch was already put together but still needed the piston to be added on the inside of the turret, which keeps the hatch in the open position.
Over time it seemed the glue hadn’t really done its job and the zimmerit sheets I’d previously glued on started to come off. Determined to make sure this wouldn’t happen again, I put everything back on with CA glue this time, using generous amounts all around. This seems to have done the job a lot better, and there’s no way it’ll be coming off again. The sheets were added all over the turret and gaps were subsequently filled with perfect plastic putty. I must admit, this stuff is a lot easier to use than the normal putty I use, mainly because of the thin tip, which allows for precision application. The only downside of using pre-shaped zimmerit sheets is that it’s all perfectly shaped. But let’s be honest, we’re building a tank here, one that was well used during the later stages of the war, so of course there should be damage to the coat. So, out came the hobby knife and I started chopping and cutting my way around, trying to achieve a realistic look while keeping the overall appearance in the back of my head. Not an easy task, as this model is so big it’s easy to get carried away. I still want to go back and do a bit of final detailing using the Dremel, but that will have to wait until I’m back. With all the above done, I glued the external details in place. These included the hooks for spare tracks, aiming sights and the gunner’s hatch.
With the outside of the turret now mostly completed, I focused my attention to the inside. A lot of the parts had been put in previously, but there was still plenty left to do. I began by adding the remaining kit parts, which included the piston for the gunner’s hatch, the binocular stand and the wheel to open/close the commander’s hatch. I then punched some nuts from a plastic sheet and added these to the parts that needed it. With all the plastic bits in place, I began looking at photos and tried to find a way to add all the wiring and where it had to go. Now the problem is that I’m building the Porsche version, of which there aren’t many photos. The amazing build by David Parker provides a lot of guidance, but in this section, it’s not very helpful to me. Instead I tried to apply logics and routed the wires around the edges as much as possible. I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but I think the overall appearance is quite convincing. For the gunner to get out of the tank, he would have to pull himself up through the hatch. Unfortunately, the grab handles are missing from the kit and I had to make these from some wiring, which was glued in place and detailed with welds afterwards. Another thing that’s different between the Porsche and Henschel are the ammo rack in the turret. David spends a lot of time having to correct the kit parts for his build, but having had a long hard look at the few photos of the Porsche interior, it appears to me that Trumpeter got it right and provided the kit with the correct looking shelves. So, with a big smile on my face, I put them all together and glued them into place inside the turret. It’s starting to get very crowded in here and that’s even without the ammo shells in there… Before I left this bit of the tank to rest, I added more wiring to the base of the turret, which will be connected to the basked once attached. These were made of brass- and lead wire, all varying in thickness. Connectors and locking hooks were made using putty. Finally, was the addition of a few boxes to the side of the turret, which held equipment for the MG gun and the gunner’s headset when not in use.
Let’s be honest, a tank was designed to shoot things and how is it going to achieve this without any ammo? Exactly, time to polish up some of those massive rounds and get them ready for paint. When the model will be finished, I plan to have it loaded with roughly 40 shells. That’s a lot of sanding as each one of them is attached to the sprue by 4 tabs, let alone the massive seem line that runs along the full length on both sides. To avoid getting fed up with this tedious job, I’ve decided to do them in small batches. Only problem is that the turret will be receiving about 15 of them, so it still took me a good hour or so to get them done. Once they were sanded smooth, I glued the PE to the bottom of each one. Once painted they’ll receive the decals and weathering before being placed in the racks.
One of the things that took a lot of my patience last time I worked on the model was the MG gun, which is fitted in the front of the hull. It’s not a great part straight from the kit and requires quite a lot of work to make it look realistic. I previously replaced the barrel with a brass turned version, which really looks the part. But there’s a lot more to do, especially on the framework that holds the ammo bags. None of this is included in the kit and must be made from scratch. Using styrene sheet, I constructed the rail and added the ammo bags. I then made the sides from plastic card as well, for the spent rounds to be collected in an empty pouch. A lot of work which took a long time and patience, but overall, I’m pleased with the result. It might not be a 100% exact, but I challenge you to show me where I’ve gone wrong. The remaining bits were added to the whole lot and the mini-model is now ready for paint. I suggest you have a look at the photos, as it’s difficult to describe all the work done to it.
I had a strong need to work on something simple and big after the above, and shifted to the back of the tank. The zimmerit was added to the back plate and subsequent damage was applied to the sheet. A few small items were added before I began working on the big parts, namely the exhaust stack and armour blocks. The covers in the kit are supplied as a thing plastic shape, but in real life they were cast from a solid piece of steel. To achieve the correct look, I filled the inside with modelling clay and shaped it to fit the exhaust stack. After hardening for 24 hours I applied a coat of Mr. Surfacer to the outside using a brush in a dabbing motion. As the paint dries, which goes quickly as it’s a lacquer-based product, you get a nice looking cast-iron effect, much like the real thing. The same technique was applied to the exhaust, be it in a slightly subtler way to represent heat and rust effects later when we get to the painting stage.
Eventually you run out of big parts and will have to move back to the smaller stuff. Although the gun is still a massive item in this model, it comprises of many smaller components, of which a lot needed some additional detailing. I began with the easy job by adding wiring to the gun. Using thick lead wire, I recreated the compressed air line, which is missing from the kit. This will later be connected to the basked, along with all the other wires from the turret. The next item on the list that really needed some work was the MG gun. Just as the one down in the front of the tank, this one received a new brass barrel from Aber. Luckily a lot of the kit parts were useable and looked a lot like the real thing. Once it was all put together, I removed the buttstock of the gun and replaced it with a styrene rod, as these would have been taken off to fit inside the tank. I shifted my attention to the other side of the gun, where you can find the range-finder used by the commander. I replaced the whole thing with a resin version created by David Parker (AFV) and adjusted various parts to fit the Porsche turret, as all his items are designed for the slightly larger Henschel turret. I achieved this by simply cutting off a corner of the supporting plate, which will hardly be visible in the end anyway. Once painted I’ll glue all the smaller subassemblies in place, but I’ve dry-fitted all of them to make sure it all aligns.
Back down to the lower section of the tank, where the hull roof required some additional work. I added the details to the ring around the turret basked, which would have been bolted to the hull roof. It is difficult to see how many the Porsche variant had, but I’ve gone with a logic layout, evenly spacing them out around the ring. I think it looks very good and with the basked mounted it’ll be a tough job to see them. Wiring was added as well along the edge of the roof. This runs from the radio set all the way down to the antenna, located at the back of the tank. I had to come up with an idea for the vent, which is located in the front between the driver and radio-operator hatches, as it was cut in half. In the end, I opted to close the piece with some plastic sheet, as if it was cut in half, too. It looks a bit odd maybe, but once the paint is on it’ll make more sense. The front of the vent was enhanced with a PE roster, taken from the U-Boat project.
And so, we arrive at the most dreaded part of this update, the ammo racks. Sadly, most of the racks proved by AFV in resin have warped. So, they require quite a bit of work to make them fit. For this I’m using a few shells to force the resin into the correct position before gluing plastic strips to the bottom and rear of them, as they would have had in real life. Bolts are added to enhance the detail and kit parts are used for the middle support strut, as these are the same. Something that takes a lot of time but doesn’t have a lot to show for it. So far, I’ve only managed to do the front ones and the left rear, with still 3 more to be done. But like the shells, I’ll do them in between other jobs to keep myself motivated.
This must have easily been my biggest update in a while, but we have finally reached the end. If you’re still reading, I’m impressed, you must really be interested in this project. Thank you. With all the above, we’ve almost reached another time-lapse update, just 2 more hours to go. Next time we’ll be working on the remaining ammo racks and hopefully start to apply some paint to the beast. The lower hull will be enhanced with zimmerit and with a bit of luck we’ll be able to start merging the turret with the lower hull. Exiting times ahead!
A real update?!Sumburgh, UK, 2017
Before I start writing to you about the latest on this build, I owe you a big apology for the enormous gap in updates. As you may know, I have moved house a few months ago and had to rebuild my modelling cave from scratch. This resulted in preventing me from doing any work on my models and caused a big delay in the overall progress. However, the new cave is finally complete and I am ready to get back to work on the King Tiger. For those interested in my new (and old) model cave, have a look at the special page I’ve created for it. It has photos of all my model caves, starting in the USA all the way up to the latest one in the new house.
So, with the formalities now out of the way, let’s get started with this update and get you back in the loop on what’s going on with the King Tiger. Currently the build is a little all over the place, with me working on various items throughout the kit. Work has been done in the front, the hull and upper turret. Let’s start with the front MG gun and radio system.
The kit guns are decently moulded, but the barrel could do with an upgrade. So I’ve invested in a few brass turned barrels to replace all three of them. Because this particular one is located in the front, I had to remove the butt-stock and replaced it with a styrene rod, to which the stock would be attached if in use. I then assembled the system in which the gun is mounted, but forgot to take photos of it. They’ll be online with the next update, as I still have a little detailing work to do on them.
I moved on and gathered the courage to start the new PE radio rack by David Parker over at AFV. The set is absolutely superb, but my poor skills in handling PE haven’t done it any justice. I recently ordered soldering paste and a blowtorch, so I might have to try this PE thing again once it gets here. But for now it’ll have to be put together using CA glue and styrene. I elected to make a hybrid out of the new parts and a few of the old kit parts, in an attempt to reduce the workload slightly. Don’t think it turned out that way, but overall I’m quite pleased with the result for the time being. Once I get to super detail it with wiring and such, I might have to redo a few bits to make it look the way I want it.
Having spent quite a bit of time on the front office, I moved my attention to the rear of the tank and did some work on the engine hatch and covers. I added the PE mesh to the armoured covers, leaving one of them off which I might bend to add a little damage to it or decide to leave it off completely. I’m not entirely sure yet. The engine hatch itself required a lot of work in order to look something like the real thing. I began by filling the ejector pins with putty and sanded it all smooth. I then placed styrene rods on the inside, which will lift the covers a little, allowing air to pass underneath. A styrene sheet was glued on top before adding the dome-shaped covers on top, representing the thickness of the armoured covers. On the inside I added a ring of styrene, which is basically the bottom of the assembly and is also the part that was welded onto the hatch to hold the entire assembly in place. The photo I’ve uploaded doesn’t show the welding details yet, but will be visible in future uploads.
The gap on the inside of the hull surrounding the turret ring was covered by cutting out a ring from styrene sheet and glued in place. I still have to add details to this ring, but just the frustrations of making it in the first place made me push this job a little further down the line.
With most of the interior now coming together, I moved back to the front and added a few kit and resin parts to the radio rack. A few panels were made from scratch using styrene and spare parts as they were missing from both the kit and the aftermarket set by David Parker. I still have to add all the wiring, but I’ll do this once I’m sure it fits and I’ve painted the whole assembly.
I decided that it was time to tackle a very laborious and boring job, namely the ammo shells. There’s quite a few of them fitted to this machine, and although I won’t be adding all of them, there’s still plenty left to do. I began by cutting the useful bits of the resin upgrade set, as they’d warped pretty badly during production (also an aftermarket upgrade by David). Using a combination of resin and kit parts, it put the ammo racks together. I then added thin strips of styrene that were present in the real machine as well to space them correctly, using a few shells to measure it all out. Most of them were straight forward, although two needed some modification, as they would otherwise block the view of the interior. I cut them in strategic places allowing viewers to still look inside once the model is complete.
The same problem existed with the support struts for the upper hull, which span the full width of the tank. Initially I had envisioned a wavy pattern to make it more playful, but in the end went for a more straight approach as I felt it suited the model better. Again styrene strips were used to add welding blocks to the struts, which will receive welding details once painted and fitted to the machine.
And that’s pretty much were we are now. A lot left to do, but the list is definitely getting smaller. With all the work going in, we’re not too far off another time-lapse either, only a couple hours of building needed. Hopefully I’ll have another update soon, especially now that the Spitfire is nearly complete and I can focus on this build again before starting a new one. So until then, please enjoy the new photos and let me know what you think.
Many parts become oneSumburgh, UK, 2016
Updates on a regular basis…. Yeah right.
I did manage to get a lot of work done actually, but there’s not much to show for it. Why’s that you might think? Well, it’s because I put together roughly 50-60 small parts to form one bigger part. Most of the work went into weathering all these parts and getting them ready for assembly. Once dry I glued them into place, which eventually led to a completed turret basket. I think the best option would be to have the photos speak for themselves, which can be found in the gallery as usual.
A bit of work was done on the turret itself, with various items glued to the roof and another sheet of zimmerit being added to the outside. I also glued the hatch that sits above the driver and radio-operator which allows maintenance crews to remove the gearbox. It’s been cut in half to match the opening I’ve created in the hull. Resin parts were added to the actual exit hatch for the right side and will be added later. It still needs a bit of work to fit perfectly, but this will come once the upper hull is in place.
Focus than switched to the rear section. I’ve sprayed the radiators and finished the fan assembly. Although they’re not entirely correct for the King Tiger (they’re based on the Panther), the change required wasn’t worth it to me as they’ll be mostly hidden from sight anyway. Besides, I’m yet to find the person to tell me what’s wrong with them. Are you that person…? With the radiators and fans painted, I glued them into place and weathered the whole bit to match the rest of the engine components. Little work is left here with just adding a few details here and there and finish the final look with some pigments.
And that’s about it for now. Like I said before, have a look at the photos, which tell a lot more than those few words above. Now that I’m building two models at the same time (King Tiger and the Spitfire), I will be swapping between them on a monthly basis. So updates on both will also be slightly slower, but hopefully every other month. Thanks for your dedication in following these builds and I look forward to hear your comments!
The upper officeSumburgh, UK, 2016
I’m still alive… Although it’s been so quiet on this blog you might think otherwise. Having focused primarily on finishing the F-16 before the deadline, the King Tiger has progressed very slowly. Over the last couple of months (though mostly during the last few weeks) I’ve managed to do the following:
- Add welds to the turret
- Filling gun with lead
- Finished driver's seat
- First sheet of zimmerit
- Started on the turret basket
- Painted various parts of the basket
- Build a stand for turret
Now that I’ve cut open the turret, I will have to add a lot of details to the inside of it. This consists primarily of adding welds and wires, and a few other small bits. I started by gluing a few pieces in place, mostly around the commander’s hatch. Once these were in, I added the welds using the putty and a syringe technique as described in my previous post. All the major welds are now done inside, only a few small ones left to do.
I’ve been thinking about the following problem for a little while now, and trying to come up with a solution to this problem. I’m talking about the heavy gun barrel and how I can counter balance it to prevent the turret from falling off and the gun pointing downwards all the time. I placed the barrel assembly on a scale and tried to get the center of gravity on the turret mounts by adding lead inside the gun assembly itself. Turns out I needed roughly 75 grams to get it all balanced. I then added a thin sheet of styrene to seal off the gun before pouring in the load pellets mixed with PVA glue to create a solid lump. This was then left to dry for a few days. I’m still debating whether to put lead into a few shells in the back of the turret to counter the whole gun assembly and prevent the turret from falling over. But that’s something I’ll have to figure out once it’s all done and fitted to the tank.
Although (most of) the hull is complete, I still had to do the driver’s seat. With a piece of wood and some nails, I tried to make a small jig to bend the springs, but after 4 attempts, I slightly altered the design of the wavy-type springs and went with coils instead. Although it’s slightly wrong, I don’t’ think anyone will notice when looking at it. A compromise I was willing to take.
With all this work on the inside, I shifted my focus to the outside for a bit and wanted to try some of the zimmerit sheets. They’re basically thin sheets of resin that you glue onto the exterior of the tank to resemble a coat of zimmerit. The thin resin is easy to cut with a knife or scissors and already shaped correctly for each part of the tank. I started with the rear hatch of the turret and then glued on the right side (closed side). I needed a lot of clamps to keep it in place, and still requires a bit of trimming along the edges. But this will be done once all the sheets are on and I have a better idea of what needs to be adjusted. The set also comes with a few resin replacement parts, such like the rear hatch and gun armour to fit to the front of the turret.
The next logical step (at least in my mind) would be to start work on the turret basket. This is where most of the crew would be working and houses the gun mechanism as well. A very complex system of many different parts that required a bit of work to make them fit properly. Although I was planning on adding quite a bit of details to it, having put it all together and placed in inside the tank, most will be hidden from view completely. So I decided not to and simply add details there where they’ll be seen. I added a cover to the floor of the basked with styrene sheet that fits around the PTO driveshaft and used copper wire to create the wiring for the firing mechanism. A few other small details like bolts and welds were added, too.
With all the sub-assemblies now done, it was time for some paint. Having learned from my previous mistake, I started by spraying all parts with Mr. Surfacer to act as a primer. This stuff is so easy to work with and is probably the best primer I’ve ever used. After a few minutes of drying I sprayed the hull red primer onto the basket itself before following with black on various parts and seats. I then let this dry for 48 hours (mainly because I went to work during this period) before masking the basket and spraying the ivory white paint. Being very comfortable with spraying matt colours, I still seem to struggle with gloss paint. The paint is watery (even with minimal thinning) and seems to run everywhere where I don’t want it. With a few thin layers in successive order, I’m reasonably happy with the result and once it’s dry I will follow with a matt varnish to kill the gloss (reason for using gloss is because it’s the only version I could get of the correct colour).
I also build a stand for the turret to sit on during construction to allow for the lower hanging basket once glued into position. This allows me to add all the small bits and the gun as well before placing the whole construction onto the lower hull of the tank.
And that’s where we are now. Once all the parts are painted I will add the final details and decals before putting it all together and call the basket complete. After all this I quickly put the main parts together and went to see if it actually fits in my display cabinet. Seems I’ve gotten my measurements right, thankfully.
Thanks for following and hopefully I will be able to post updates on a more regular basis now.
Assembly and more paintSumburgh, UK, 2016
A lot has happened during the past month and the Tiger is slowly coming together. But still far from finished. Since the last update I’ve done the following:
- Added decals to the firewall
- Weathering of the front hull section
- Assembling parts in front of the hull
- Enhanced the hot air extractor tube for the gearbox
- Radio-operator seat and area enhanced
- Painted the first few MG ammo pouches
- Constructed, painted and fitted the gyrocompass
- Power unit for the compass build, painted and fitted
- Adjusted the tracks to get the correct slack
- Lots of work on the turret (rear hatch, commander’s hatch, and zimmerit)
- A lot of welds have been added to various parts
- Redesigned the cut-out section of the turret
First up was adding some decals to the firewall. A few decals were taken from the kit, as well as from the AFV Modeller sheet and the BK-117 project. With the decals added I sprayed all of the lower hull with matt varnish to remove the gloss look of the ivory paint. Not sure why, but I still seem to have a bit of glare around the decals, making them a bit too obvious being decals and not writing. Anyway, I’ll hopefully be able to reduce this with a bit of weathering later on.
The front of the hull section has received most of the work lately. With all the parts now painted and ready for weathering and be fitted in the tank, I started by focussing my work on the hull floor. I used various Flory washes (dark dirt, grime and black) and combined these to make a wash which would offer me different tones at random. With a big brush I applied the wash around the gearbox area, brakes, suspension and other places I thought would get dirty with leaks and oil stains. As this was drying, I added a few different tones of brown pigment to the mix to create dirt around the driver’s and radio-operator’s seat areas. With the wash now almost dry, I sprinkled the pigment around the same area to add a bit more of a 3D effect to it all. With all of this dry, it gave me a matt finish. Yet as we all know, oil tends to have a wet-look to it. So I used gloss varnish and dabbed it around randomly to create this wet-look effect of oil stains that haven’t dried up yet. The process was then repeated for all the parts that were going to be fitted in the front of the hull.
With all the weathering done, it was time to add all the parts together and start bringing the tank to life. I worked my way from the back to the front, with the fuel tanks and batteries going in first. The steering housing was next and slotted in place with little problem. Before placing the gearbox, I added the drive chain sections to the turret power convertor and gearbox. The assembly was then placed into position on glued to the floor and engine in the back. The connection between the gearbox and steering housing needed a bit of filling, but I eventually solved the gap issue by moving the gearbox inside the cover a bit and re-glue it. Now that the main items were in place, I could focus on the small parts for the driver. I added levers, pedals, a floorboard, handbrake lever, breathing tube, flashlight, and the steering wheel itself. The seat isn’t finished yet and will be fitted later. With all this in place, it starts to become very cramped in there and I’m starting to wonder how someone could live in there, especially during battle.
An item that needed some extra work before being able to become part of the tank was the hot air extractor tube for the gearbox. This will be added to the back of the gearbox, but is missing its distinctive welds. I added these using PVA glue and a cocktail stick. Once dry I painted the item in the hull red like the rest and applied a bit of pigment for weathering. It was then glued in place.
The seat for the radio-operator is moulded as a simple piece of plastic, which needed a lot of work to match the real thing. I cut the plastic seat off completely and closed the gap with a piece of styrene sheet. Once the glue had dried I mixed some modelling clay and started shaping it based on photos of the real seat. After some shaping and reshaping until I was happy, I painted the seat black and the rest of the frame hull red before weathering using pigments again. I made sure everything had plenty of time to dry before fitting it into the tank. The box behind the radio-operator also received some work in the form of adding some L-shaped strips to form a rectangular in which a box with MG parts will fit later. This was then painted and weathered as before and glued in place. The junction box behind it was painted and detailed using a silver gel pen. A lot easier to control than a brush. The back support was added and various boxed with spare parts for the MG gun too.
With the right side almost finished, I moved back to the left side and began work on the MG ammo pouches. I decided to only add 2 to the rail and set the scenario in which the others have already been used. The pouches were painted with a brush in a tan colour with a black lit before weathered with a wash. The wash was then toned down using a moist cotton bud until I was happy before gluing them in place with CA. Normal Tamiya glue didn´t work as the pouches are a resin cast. A bit of scratching was achieved using a silver/metallic pencil.
Up next was the gyrocompass which is fitted right in front of the driver. This was a multiple part resin cast item which I got from AFV Modeller. The hole in the back was drilled out to fit wiring later before being painted black. All my black is actually anthracite to avoid using pure black colours. I placed the decal on the main part and once this dried I glued the front section on top of it. In order to recreate the glass, I laid the part flat and added a generous amount of PVA glue. This then dried completely clear and gave me the look I was after. The assembly was glued in place after weathering and the wires attached.
The gyrocompass has a separate power unit which is another resin part I got from AFV Modeller. (The site is run by David Parker, well known within the modelling society for his King Tiger build). As with the compass, I drilled the holes in preparation of the wires before painting it black. Highlights were achieved using a metallic pen and the decals were taken from the BK-117 project (I wasn’t going to use these anyway since I’ve got 4 sets of them and they happen to be in German too). I placed it on the supporting rack and wired it up using 0.5 mm electrical wire.
After all this I needed a little break from the front section and had a look at the tracks. I’ve read a lot about them being too long, so I wanted to see how much work this was going to take. I placed all the road wheels on the suspensions and placed the sprocket wheel at the front. As with the real machine, I then ‘drove’ the tank over it while dragging the tracks around. I turns out I will have to remove 2 links in order to get the right look. I reversed the process to remove the tracks before cutting them to size. The tracks will be put aside for now until a later stage where they’ll be painted and fitted to the tank.
I moved my focus to the top section of the tank and did some work on the turret. I wanted to see how the new zimmerit sheets look like once in place and began working on the rear of the turret. The armoured plates were glued in place and the resin replacement part was fitted and glued into place. I decided to leave the rear hatch open, since it will add to my diorama, but also allow for extra light to enter the model. The hatch isn’t too badly detailed in itself, but could use some extra work. The locking mechanism is moulded in the closed position, so this had to be rebuild from scratch since the hatch would be in the open position. I cut off the handles and drilled out the blocks before replacing the missing parts with plastic rods. Small holes of 1 mm were drilled and the new handles were glued in the open position. The new assembly is actually fully workable and allows me to place it in both the open and locked position. I initially made a chain by twisting copper wire using an electric drill, but after being pointed in a different direction I removed this again. It will be replaced with a miniature chain from a German company called “Steba” once it arrives hopefully later this month. Really worth having a look at for all your miniature modelling requirements (find their catalogue here).
With the rear hatch now almost complete (I’m waiting on an Aber set to get the rest done) I had a look at the commander’s hatch. Trumpeter has moulded the periscopes as part of the upper ring, but I’ll be replacing them with clear resin parts, so they had to be cut out. I used a knife to get a rough cut before using the sanding sticks to achieve a smooth finish. With the periscopes removed I glued the armoured covers in place and added the ring which will hold the AA MG gun. The mechanism for opening the actual hatch was slightly modified and glued in the open position. As mentioned before, I´ll be opening as many hatches as possible to maximize the amount of light entering the model.
A colleague of mine at work gave me a syringe which I could try for creating welds. The syringe is normally used to draw blood and has a hollow tip of around 1mm in diameter. I cut the tip to about a quarter of its length and placed some white putty in the reservoir. Taking quite a bit of pressure, it does allow me to precisely add the putty where I want it. I gave it a go and started applying the putty around the periscope armoured plates. I then used a tool with a round head (can’t remember what they’re called) to create the welding look. Not perfect yet, but I’m starting to learn how to use it and as the photos might show, the welds are starting to look better each time. With some putty left in the syringe, I added welds to the gun as well before cleaning it all.
Since I wasn’t entirely happy with the way my cut-outs looked, I had a brief discussion with my dad who gave me some good ideas. Though slightly deviating from the original plan, I followed the contours of the turret and cut the front bit away too. As with the rest, I left a 6mm edge all the way around which was achieved using a Dremel and sanding sticks. The gap between the two plastic plates will be filled with putty later on and thus create the armour thickness like I’ve done with the rest of the cut.
That’s it for now, lots more planned for the near future. I’ll be working on the F-16 now as well, since it arrived today and has a deadline for its completion, so progress may be a bit slower than it has been for the last few weeks. Thanks for watching!
Paint, lots of itSumburgh, UK, 2016
With so much work going into the F-16 project to get it finished in time, the King Tiger has been going a bit slow. But despite that, I think I’ve made some decent progress of the last couple of weeks. A short list of the things I’ve done:
- Adding the driver’s floorboard
- Weathering the engine bay and fitting the engine
- Working on the new fan boxes and firewall
- Adding gallons of paint
- Detail painting
A vital part from the driver’s side is the floorboard for his feet to rest on, but this is missing from the model. Based on photos I made this from scratch. I purchased a few sheets of styrene with a tread plate pattern to match the rest of the vehicle. Firstly I made a template from paper before cutting it from styrene. By gently heating it, I was able to bend it to shape to fit over the wheel axels and framework. This was then glued on top of a piece of styrene tube to get the correct height. The only thing left to do is add 4 bolts, made from thin styrene sheet with a punch set. Once that’s done I’ll be able to paint and add it to the model.
Before I would paint the lower bit, I needed to sort the top half out, as it didn’t fit nicely at all. Since I’ve added the extra padding on the sides to match the real armour thickness, the seam between the sides and top half showed a massive gap. So it was back to square one and remove the extra padding. This wasn’t as easy as I hoped, as it was glued down with extra thin and bonded extremely well. After a lot of cutting with a knife and cursing, let alone almost cutting my finger a few millimeters shorter, I managed to remove both sides without too much damage to the upper hull. Now that this was gone, the sides fitted a lot better already, but still leaving a gap. This was the result of a poor fit at the front of the part, where it would slide into the lower half. I started by sanding down this bit, but took me way too long. I decided to apply some more force and out came the Dremel. After some serious grinding the parts fitted nicely. A quick swipe with a sanding stick to make it look somewhat decent and I was happy. That’s the fit between the lower and upper hull sorted. Eventually I’ll add a thin sheet of plastic underneath the sides to make it all smooth and straight, but that will come later.
Now that the fit was sorted, I needed to decide whether to paint the front half, or fit the engine first to allow me to fit the rear wall. This would then allow me to bend the sides straight before painting, which would probably result in extra surface tension and paint cracking. So I decided to fit the engine first. This meant that I would have to weather the engine bay first. I used the Flory wash ‘dark dirt’ and generously applied it to the firewalls. Once dry I used kitchen towel and cotton buds to tone it down until I achieved the desired look. I then followed with pigment and added rust, black, and brown to break the red and recreate some oil leaks and such. Having never used the wash before, I was quite happy with the result. It’s a good area to practice, since most of it will be hidden from sight anyway. With the weathering done it was time to fit the engine. With an average of 10 head-scratches and curse words per minute, I finally was able to “force” the engine in place. I finally understood why people were saying it is a poor and difficult fit to get it in place. Damn…. I think after about 20 minutes the engine was in and I could glue it in place. The poor fit resulted in bending of the firewalls, which were forced back to their correct position with heavy tools and clamps. I made sure that everything was still reachable before gluing the rear wall in place. A lot of glue and bending of the lower hull was required to get a nice fit, but eventually I succeeded. In hindsight I should have used a mask, as the glue fumes got to my head a bit. Think I finally understand what it feels like to be high.
Up next was reshaping the cooling fans, as they’ll be visible in the final model. First I drilled holes in the lips attached to the top of the fan, which were hooks to allow removal of the boxes. With the holes now drilled, I sanded the part down to match the size of the filters which are fitted to the sides. Using photos a reference, I cut styrene sheets to size and glued them to fans to form a box. Having kept the original firewall hose fittings in my spare parts box, I was able to salvage the connector fittings and added them to the fan boxes. With a large amount of time spent of the first box, I opted to enhance the right side only slightly to the areas that will be seen. I’ll leave the right side covered, so the only bit you can see is through the engine bay and firewall. I glued a short foot to the bottom of the box to achieve the correct height and added the hose connectors to the newly formed box.
With all this work done to the rear section, it was nice to finally get the paint down. I started off with a new type of primer which I’d never used before (stupid, stupid, stupid). No problems with putting it down. Next was the first layer of paint, the hull red primer colour. Again, no problems putting it down and the airbrush did a great job. At this point I ran into a problem, as I didn’t have the correct colour for the top half. The early King Tigers had an ivory white paint applied to the top half, which included all vehicles with a Porsche turret. I didn’t have this colour, so back to the shopping site to order some. The only paint I could find that matched what I was looking for came in gloss, which is okay, but not perfect. Anyway, I went for it and bought a jar. The gloss is easily overcome with a coat of matt varnish later on. The new paint arrived a couple of days later and I was eager to get going with it. As easy the red colour went on, as difficult this one was. It eventually took me 4 coats of this stuff in order to get a nice solid finish. So far so good, right. The time came to remove the masking tape and see what the red and ivory combination looked like. Disaster…! It turns out that my new primer doesn’t like enamel pains. As soon as I removed the tape, most of the red paint came with it! An absolute nightmare! After counting to 10 (or perhaps a bit further), I tossed the primer in the bin, rubbish stuff. Next up was coming up with an idea to restore the damage. Part of the ivory paint had come off as well, since it was sprayed on top of the primer red. I decided to use a brush and reapply the red primer colour, even where it removed the ivory paint. I figured a bit of paint damage and wear seems possible, especially in the fighting compartment where empty shell casings would bounce around and a lot of movement takes place during shooting. With a brush I applied the paint in a dabbing motion, trying to blend it in with the still remaining paint. I think it turned out pretty well actually, and in hindsight I’m pretty pleased with what happened. Perhaps not as it should have been, but a bit of personal artistic creativity is never wrong, right? After all, it’s my model.
I also painted most of the parts that belong in the front of the hull, such as the gearbox and oil reservoir. Before I’m able to fit these to the model, I’ll have to glue the wheel axels in place, which were painted as well in anthracite black. I’ve detail painted them with a small brush using various paints before giving them a wash (combination of grime and dark dirt). I picked up a very handy tip a while ago, and added scratches using a pencil. A lot easier to use and control than a brush. With all the details added these parts are now ready to be fitted to the model. Last but not least a lot of effort went into painting the items mounted on the rear firewall.
The next step will be to add a few decals to the firewall and spray the lower hull with a matt varnish in order to get rid of the glossy look of the ivory paint. Once that’s done I’ll fit all the parts and hopefully be able to add details like wiring and weathering to it. But that’s something for the next update.
Hope you’re enjoying the build and new photos. I’ve also edited and uploaded the second part of the time-lapse videos, which can be found on my YouTube channel, found here. (I’ve got some problems uploading it to my website, hopefully I’ll have this sorted shortly). Until next time!
Big model, big updateSumburgh, UK, 2015
It’s been a while since my last update on the King Tiger project, mainly because I’ve been building the F-16, which took longer than anticipated. Despite the slight setback, we’re back in business now! And there’s a long list of things I’ve done to follow.
The engine was the first thing I continued working on. I’ve added the exhaust, carburettors and a lot of scratch build piping. The last was done because it would enhance the detail and reality of the whole engine, but also because quite a few plastic pipes broke during clean up. To prevent myself from spending too many hours on this, I decided to only add detail to the parts you can actually see. That means the piping is added to the top but not the bottom parts, and the same will be done with painting and weathering later on. Once the engine itself was put together, I finished the fans that go on top and put together a few other items that will be part of the engine assembly later on. Before painting, I wanted to be sure it still fits, so after a lot of wiggling and gently forcing it in place, the engine fitted in the space between the firewalls. Next up was painting the engine and its components. I started with a primer followed by a layer of black. I then tried my new buffable paint and painted the top half with it. This paint is special in a way that you can “buff” it, i.e. rub it with a cloth, to create a metallic effect. I’ve never used this before but the result is really good and makes the engine look almost real! Once I was happy with the amount of metallic shine, I painted the pipes and all the other details in various colours before starting the weathering process using pigments and washes. I don’t want to weather the engine (and most of the interior) too much as these tanks were relatively young compared to other tanks during the war. My subject for instance was only a year old. Now that the engine was finished it was time to move on to the firewalls.
The firewalls are very accurately represented, if you’re building a panther tank. Sadly I wasn’t so I had to change a few things. The most obvious part was the connecting panel that links the engine and cooling fans together. I cut the old parts out and build a new one from scratch using plastic sheets and strips. Most of that will be done later on because it’s part of the cooling fan, which will be build later on.
To make sure I would be happy with the sections I want to cut out before actually cutting them, I decided to put the tank somewhat together to get an idea of the final look once completed. Basically I’ll have most of the side cut out and a lot of the hatches open around the engine. That way you can see most if not all of the interior as well as the exterior. Not entirely sure yet of what the final diorama surroundings will look like, besides that it will be a snow scenery.
It seems not just the firewalls are based on the panther in this kit, the same goes for the fuel tanks and cooling fans. So I’ve changed these to match the King Tiger. The fuel tanks were made of a single tank, thus requiring me to fill the gap between the two tanks that came with the kit. I used plastic strips to roughly fill it before finishing it off with putty. Once sanded, the tank was fitted with straps that would have kept it in place in the real machine. Then the process was repeated for the right side tank. The fans are actually pretty good, although the adjustable opening vanes will need some work. In regards to the fans, all I did was flatten one of the radiators with putty. For some reason they used two different types in the real machine, so now mine does too.
Before cutting the plastic hull and stopping myself from making any changes, I put as many completed parts as I could inside the model to see what it will look like with everything in place. The clear cover is really helping with this since it allows me to simply change things until I’m satisfied, only thing I’m not sure about is the amount of light I’ll eventually have because the clear is letting through a lot more than the grey plastic will. But I’m pretty happy with the way I have it now, so the next step will be to transfer this to the plastic version and start cutting.
After sniffing glue for so long, it was time for something stronger and I began spraying the wheels. Since the wheels will be put together, I won’t be able to paint the insides anymore, so I had to do this before gluing them. After debating which colour to go for, I sprayed them dark tan yellow before finishing off with a dirty brown wash to weather them. I’m very happy with the result, although you can’t really see much of it anymore.
By now I put most of the interior parts that didn’t require adjusting together, so it was time to cut the grey plastic hull. I transferred the layout from the clear version using masking tape and once I was happy with that, I took out the dremel and started cutting. Once the rough outline was done, I finished the openings by sanding it all nice and smooth using different types of sanding sticks.
Now that I cut out the openings in the hull, it became apparent that the thickness was nowhere near the actual armoured plates it would have had in real life. So after measuring and converting figures to my scale, I added plastic sheets on the inside of the hull around the openings to recreate the thickness. I then filled any gaps with putty before sanding it smooth. These edges will eventually be painted in a dark red colour I think to highlight the fact that the hull is actually cut open and not resembling the real thing (a bit like you see when they open up a vehicle or engine in a museum).
Getting addicted to the smell of paint I began spraying the engine compartment and all it’s associated parts in the standard brown/red primer colour the Germans used for their vehicles during the war. This will be further enhanced by washes and weathering once I’ve sprayed the rest of the interior as well. But for now it’ll be covered up with kitchen towel while I finish the interior parts.
To give myself a little break from the lower half of the tank and get a feel for the actual size of it once completed, I began working on the gun assembly. It’s basically a large plastic puzzle with a massive aluminium pipe sticking out of it. Only then did I realize the massive size of this kit, simply enormous! Guess that explains why I had to order a bespoke display cabinet for it, won’t fit in anything else… I cut all the parts from the sprues and cleaned them up. I managed to put a few parts together, but soon realized I needed to buy some different type of putty to recreate all the welds. So back to ebay and spending more cash on this kit. Starting to get pretty expensive…
With the gun on a hold, I had to look for something else that I could put together, and decided the turret ring could use some attention. The biggest problem with this, and I read a lot about it online, is the fact that the upper half of the tank doesn’t fit on the lower half. So, what to do? Well I started by gently sanding the inner ring of the turret floor to make it thinner. But after sanding for what seemed like hours (think it was close to 30 minutes) I decided that wasn’t working at all. When I tried fitting it again, I noticed the ring wasn’t even visible, no matter which way you looked at it. Which meant that in my frustrated state, I simply took out the dremel multi-tool and started cutting the whole thing away. Now it fits nicely.
In order to make the tank resemble a home for its crew, I went on the internet and started looking for photos of German soldiers and their families. I quickly found a couple of good looking ones and converted them to scale using Photoshop before printing them. I did the same to end up with a map of Hungary, which will be placed in the commander’s hands once the diorama is complete. I will also add a magazine and newspaper to add some realism to the model.
Another area that required quite some work is that of the driver. A lot has been done to the gearbox already, but the seat and throttle linkage were still far from good. The linkage was build from scratch using plastic strips to create a cover and linkage, while using metal rods for in between the parts. Although it’s not exactly the way it would have looked in real life, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Besides, most of it will be covered by a floor plate and seat anyway. The accelerator pedal was way too small and required one build from scratch as well. I used one of the resin feet from the commander to measure the size of it before constructing it from styrene sheets. With all the parts covering it once completed, you can hardly see it’s a little too big. Let’s just say the driver has heavy feet, requiring a sturdy pedal… The driver’s seat is made of two parts of plastic, which looks absolutely ridiculous and nowhere near the real thing. So after ditching them in the nearest bin, I made one from plastic tubes and recreated the seat cushions from putty. The only thing left to do is add the spring coils to the back, which will be made from copper wire later on.
The lower hull was put together like a jigsaw puzzle and would have had large torch cuts and weld seams on it. But the model didn’t really portrait these very well, so I cut 1mm trenches around the torch cuts before filling them with putty from a syringe, creating the weld seams. The torch cuts were made using a soldering iron with a thin tip and dragging them over the plastic very gently. A lightly sanded them afterwards to get a more scale effect.
The gearbox would have had a secondary acceleration pedal for the driver if he were seated on the raised chair, allowing him to look outside through the hatch. But this part was completely missing from the kit, so had to be build from scratch as well. Using photos from the real machine and the model build by David Parker, I used styrene sheets and strips to make the part myself. Once the pedal was complete, I also added another layer of the primer/sanding dust mix to get the cast iron effect. Once that was dry I enhanced the gearbox with a casting number, which is made of a decal with raised letters/numbers.
Another thing that was missing from the kit is the flashlight, located left of the driver’s seat behind the suspension. I made this using a piece of the weapons that came with the Hind model and added styrene covers to the top and bottom to seal the canister. The frame to hold it in place was also made of styrene and a brass strip to secure it.
The interior of the tank was filled with weapons and ammo. Besides the ammo shells for the gun, the rest is all missing. So I ordered ammo pouches online and weapons for the crew as well. These will be added later on once the interior is finished, but I did add a rail to hold the pouches on the driver’s side. It’s basically a u-shaped plastic strip glued in place with putty to resemble welding seams.
The King Tiger carried a lot of spare periscopes inside and these were positioned in special brackets mounted on the interior walls. The ones that came with the kit as part of the lower hull didn’t look right at all and I sanded them off early on. The new ones were made using a spare periscope to size it up and then put together using plastic strips.
The latest addition to the model is the new junction box I made by reshaping a different part (I think it was a box or something similar from a different kit) and added the wiring using copper wire that comes out the side. The box was actually moulded into the hull during the production process, but I didn’t like this one very much and removed it as I did with the periscope brackets.
And that’s it… for now. I’m back in business when it comes to building this amazing model and will receive my full attention until finished. So expect more blog updates and photos soon as I progress with the interior and start painting it all very soon. Until then, enjoy the photos that show you all the things mentioned above and as always, until next time!
Birth of the mighty beastSumburgh, UK, 2015
It may have taken a while, but the birth of the mighty beast has finally happened. A first in many ways; it’s my biggest project to date, and the first project to be filmed in a time-lapse. A huge undertaking that will take me a lot of time to complete. Let’s begin!
The first thing to do was to unpack the massive box it came in. I’ve never seen so many sprues come for a single box. Is all of it supposed to fit inside this model?! Once I’ve cut open all the bags I labeled each sprue with tape and the letter on it to ease in the organizing of parts. A very handy trick I picked up online. Once everything was opened and labeled I put them back in the box, ironically enough. I simply don’t have the space to have them all lay around on my desk, so they’re in a box underneath the table where I can easily access them when needed.
Work started on the lower hull, which was quickly modified by filling all the sink marks and sanding the parts that would receive detailing later on, such as the spare periscopes. The suspensions were added as well as the internal support structure, which will eventually be completely hidden from sight for the most part. I know this model will receive a lot of extra detailing and corrections to resemble the real thing, I’ll keep it to the things that are actually visible once finished. Otherwise there’s not ending to it and this project will take years to complete. Most of the detailing will be done to the gearbox assembly, driver- and radio operator area, engine, and turret.
According to the manual, you’re supposed to start with assembling all the wheels. With 18 wheels, each made up of 4 parts, this was quite the thing to start this model with. I marked all the wheels and cut them from the sprue, but they’re all in a box at the moment, as they’ll be finished later on when they’re needed. Although I might do a few wheels at a time to spread the boring work over a period. We’ll see how things work out.
The drive axels were next, the same amount of work, although only consisting of 3 parts this time. Due to the molding process, each piece came with a nice ridge on both sides where the molds came together during production. I scraped all of them off and assembled the pieces together. These will be painted black later on before being fitted to the model.
Up next was the gearbox assembly and steering housing. Not a bad fit at all, looks a lot like the real machine. But after a closer look and comparing it with reference material, I decided this needed work as well. I assembled most of the parts to see where it needed the most of work and whether it would actually be visible once completed. The gearbox used to be made of cast iron, so I managed to get the same look by mixing Mr. Surfacer (a primer type of paint) with the dust of sanded sprues. This was then applied to the parts, resulting in a rough finish, much like cast iron. Although I’m pretty happy with the result, I’ll probably give it another layer before painting to enhance the effect.
The gearbox housing needed the most work. So far I’ve cut parts out, added a strip which was used to keep it all together and fitted some of the levers. Still a lot to do, such as a gearlever, nuts and bolts, hooks for hoisting, and a few other bits and pieces.
I’ve also started working on the engine, which by now is actually almost ready for primer and paints. Not finished yet, but since most of it will be hidden from view, the detailing will mostly be done on the top part. The engine itself consists of almost 200 parts! The build itself is pretty straight forward, with a few things causing issues when fitted. Most of this was solved quickly before gluing them in place.
I want to be able to show the interior of the model. To do this, I’ll have to cut out a piece of the exterior hull, enabling you to look inside. I spend many hours debating what to cut out and what not. Eventually I came up with a design that allows you to see a lot of the inside, but also leave enough space for the outside details and finishing. I’ve used the clear covers and masked them with tape as they allow me to see inside without cutting anything. This will eventually be transferred to the solid plastic version, which is easier to work with.
Well, that’s it for now. Photos will be uploaded today as well, so don’t forget to have a look. And as always, until next time!
Bigger and BiggerEnschede, NL, 2014
Not being able to resist a limited edition like this, I started doing some research and quickly discovered that this would be a great model to build as a semi see-through. Combining both the clear and plastic versions should allow me to build a very accurate interior which can be seen by everyone, while still being able to add details to the outside of the tank. I will go for a winter version of the tank, based on the famous "Annelise" from the 503rd SS.Pz.Abt.
I've already found many aftermarket parts which will be of great use. Unfortunately it's hard to get good information since most tanks were lost during the war. However, there is a museum in Germany and in the UK who have a King Tiger on display. Looks like I'll be travaling around for a bit soon ;)
It will be a while before my next post on this page will come, as I have to build my BK-117 first. Photos will come later as well, but you can already see the size of the box on the photo on the left...