For such a big kit as Takom's new full interior King Tiger in 35th scale we brought out the big guns. Today it is Andy's turn to take on this extensive kit in an intricate cut-away model. We know the best way to eat an elephant is one piece at a time, so along those lines, we have Part I of the build guide in today's news...
Build Guide: Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Henschel Turret w/Zimmerit – “Abt.505”
Individual track links
Hatches can be built open and closed
Decals for 2 variants inside
Individual track links
Hatches can be built open and closed
Decals for 2 variants inside
Price - ¥7,520 • $64 • £53 • €61 from Hobbylink Japan
Tiger Tales - Build Guide Pt. 1
Takom's new King Tiger with full interior caused a bit of a stir when it was first announced to the modelling community (that's us, folks), and I was really looking forward to getting stuck in to see if it lived up to the hype. It's quite a complex kit, and a little pre-planning is always a good idea, so...
One really messy workbench: check!
A choice of sharp, pointy tools: check!
A selection of AMMO paints: check!
A complete lack of knowledge about WWII German armour: check!
Oh, and of course, one huge pile of plastic: check!
Let the build begin...
The first step in the instructions is to add the internal ribs to the floor of the main hull. Before doing that, I needed to check whether the numerous ejector pin marks on the hull floor would need filling. After checking ahead in the instructions, and a few dry fits, it was clear that Takom had placed these very carefully so they would all be covered later in the build. Good news for me, as I hate filling and sanding pin marks.
The only ones I was unsure about where the two on the front hull plate. This area is partially covered by the gearbox/drive assembly, but I decided to fill these marks just in case they remained visible. As it turned out this wasn't really necessary, as they were covered for the most part, but better safe than sorry.
With those pin marks taken care of, I could add the ribs to the floor. These stop short of the hull sides to allow the inner sidewalls to slide into place and Takom has engineered the fit of all these parts very well but, in my case, I wanted to install the sidewalls after painting, and needed a bit of wiggle room. I sliced about 0.5mm from each end of the ribs to allow the sidewalls to drop in more easily.
The sidewalls themselves need quite a bit of detailing adding before they're ready to install. One thing I did notice during the build is that Takom seems to have reduced the size of the sprue gates compared to some of their earlier releases making the parts easier to remove, and requiring less clean up. Maybe it's my imagination but the plastic seems to have changed too, being a little softer and easier to cut, with less chance of splintering. All in all the parts were very nice to work with.
While you're adding all these small details, you'll find yourself jumping around the sprues a lot, as the parts are spread out over several of them. It's a good idea to clear a bit of space on your workbench so you can keep all the sprues to hand.
With the sidewalls temporarily slotted into place, you can start to see how detailed the interior is going to be, and there's still a lot of it to add. So far, the fit has been near perfect, and it seems like Takom has given a lot of thought to the engineering of this kit.
It was at this point that I decided that covering all this detail would be a real shame so this build will be done as a cut-away. How easy that turns out to be we will see, but for now, I can build and paint the interior in the knowledge that all the hard work won't be wasted when the upper hull is added.
If like me you want to paint the interior in sub-assemblies, you'll need to think about the construction sequence and think ahead to see which parts you need to install, and which can be kept separate. This hatch in the floor, for example, isn't added until step 9 in the instructions, but I added it earlier on so I could paint the inner floor before adding the side walls and other interior details.
The driver's control sticks and foot pedals were also added at this stage. The linkage that runs across the floor from the driver's controls had a pin on the end that should connect to a hole in the right-hand sidewall. I sliced this pin off so it wouldn't interfere when the sidewall was installed after painting.
At this point, I'd already added as many parts as some complete kits have, and I needed to start getting some paint on before any more construction was done. The gearbox, side walls, drivers and radio operators seats were kept separate, and any mounting points that needed to be kept paint free were masked off. Despite the complexity, all these sub-assemblies slot together very easily.
For this build, I'll be using AMMO's new paint sets designed specifically for these Takom King Tiger kits. There are two sets available, one with the interior colours and one for the exterior camo shades. Together they give you all the main colours you'll need for the build.
The base coats went down very nicely over a coat of AMMO primer. I prefer to thin AMMO paints and primers with Gunze Self Levelling thinner, which makes them spray very smoothly and gives them a lot of resilience to the later weathering stages. One of the strengths of AMMO paints is their colour density, which means you can build up a good solid colour without having to put multiple layers on and risk losing fine detail.
I'm probably the least qualified person to talk about colour accuracy but, to my highly untrained eye, both the Cremeweiss and Rotbraun look spot on. The Cremeweiss, in particular, was very impressive, covering the grey primer easily without needing a heavy build up of paint.
Takom don't provide any colour call-outs for the interior in the instruction manual. Instead, they've supplied a separate A4 sheet showing full-colour CAD illustrations of the interior with accompanying paint codes. This method works very well for the most part and being able to see the whole interior in full colour helps massively compared to just labelling the parts with a colour code in the instructions. On the other hand, it can be a bit of a guessing game as to the colour of some of the smaller details, such as those on the fighting compartment firewall, as these areas aren't shown in detail, and only the basic colours are listed.
The painting guide recommends straight matt black for the driver's and radio operator's seats, but I prefer not to use pure black as it tends to look too stark. Instead, I painted the seats with a very dark brown followed by a dry brush with a tan colour to bring out the moulded texture.
As well as painting the interior in sub-assemblies, I also started the weathering process while I'd still got the parts separate. The bulk of the initial weathering was done with just two washes, Engine Grime (A.Mig-1407) and Streaking Grime (A.Mig-1203), which were brushed on around the details, then blended to soften the edges leaving a finish that looked used but not excessively dirty.
The same two washes were used in the same manner for the hull floor. In addition, the washes were speckled over the surface by flicking the bristles of a brush. This helps break up the finish, and gives the appearance of small drops of oil and dirt. In addition, the driver's controls and foot pedals were given a rub with graphite powder to show where the paint would have worn away.
The medical box that sits behind the radio operator needs a decal adding which has to sit either side of the central retaining strap. Takom have printed the decal as a single piece, so you'll need to cut a strip from the centre of the decal, then place the two halves either side of the strap.
The remaining parts were then attached to the sidewalls, after which some further weathering was added in the form of a light dust wash around the areas where the crew would move around.
The sidewalls and seats were now finally installed, and at this point, the interior is really starting to come to life. There's still a lot more to add yet.
Before adding any further interior details, the torsion bars need to be installed, as they pass under many of the internal structures, and would be hard to locate if they were added later. Takom have moulded small tabs on the ends of the bars which sit into corresponding slots on the hull sides. These will ensure all the axles line up correctly, and the tank will sit flat. If you want to place the model on a terrain base, you'd only need to slice these tabs off and the wheels could be angled as required to conform to the groundwork.
The torsion bars were sprayed dark grey, leaving the outer axle part unpainted at this stage. They're installed by passing the bars through the holes in the sides of the hull, threading them through the various internal frames, and into holes on the opposite inner hull side. The only thing to remember is to get the two axle lengths in the correct order, alternating between the long and short versions. There's a clear diagram in the instruction manual that shows the correct order.
Getting the ends of the torsion bars to seat into the holes in the opposite hull sides can be tricky, especially where that hole is obscured by the internal fittings. In those cases, I snipped a few mm's from the ends of the bars which made fitting much easier. The ends can't be seen once in place so having them a little short doesn't show.
With the torsion bars in place, the other sub-assemblies I'd painted earlier can be fitted. Some more weathering was added by rubbing dry pigments here and there to add to the dusty look. You really start to get an impression of just how cramped and claustrophobic it must have been inside these things, despite their outward size. For the record, there's already 108 parts gone into the build to get to this stage.
The two dial decals for the instrument panel are slightly too large to sit cleanly in the bezels, and I had to use some setting fluid to get them to lay down. They do add a nice detail to the driver's compartment. I'll be building this straight from the box but, if you wanted, you could really go to town here adding cabling and headsets for the radio. You just need to balance it with how much you'll see on the finished model.
The instructions recommend fitting the firewall to the hull, before adding the two engine compartment bulkheads later in the build. I thought doing it that way would complicate painting, so I attached the two bulkheads to the firewall so I could paint them all together, then drop the complete section into the hull.
With the engine side of the firewall sprayed in Rotbraun, the fighting compartment side was detail painted and weathered in the same way as the rest of the interior. The lower half of the firewall should probably be in Rotbraun too but, as it's completely covered in the final build, I left it all in Cremeweiss.
So that's the bulk of the fighting compartment built, painted and weathered. I've really enjoyed the build up to this point. It's felt like real modelling. Like you're assembling a complex structure from many small components, which of course is exactly what you are doing. The fact that everything has gone together so well has made the whole process a pleasure too.
Coming up in part 2 we'll get the engine built up and installed, add the shells to the interior and start looking at actually cutting away some of the upper hull, so you'll be able to see all this detail on the final build.
available from Takom’s Distributors Worldwide. Thanks to them for sending this kit to build & review.
Also thanks to AMMO for sending the painting and weathering materials used in this build...