Tuesday, March 21

Andy finishes Meng Models 35th scale Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Henschel Turret with AK shades...

We have already seen an Inboxed article and a construction guide from Andy centred on MENG's new Kingtiger, now we see part three of the story, as he finishes the kit off in AK shades. See what he thought about the whole kit in today's story...

Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Henschel Turret
Manufacturer - Meng
Kit Number – Tyrannosaurus Series TS-031
1/35th Scale
Price - ¥3,200, £23 US$28, €26 from Hobbylink Japan
MENG Models Webpage
Pt I - Inboxed
Part II - Build Guide

Today: Pt. III: Painting and Weathering the 35th scale Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Henschel Turret
I'd really enjoyed the build of Meng's new 1/35 King Tiger, and I was looking forward to getting on to the painting stage. The kit has some very nice detailing and hopefully, that should all come to life when fully painted and weathered.
The first step was to strip the kit down into its sub-assemblies and give them all a wipe over with isopropyl alcohol to remove any grease and dust that might stop the paint adhering. In the build, I'd decided to glue the road wheels to the track runs, so the whole assemblies could be slid off the hull and painted separately. This would make painting a bit more tricky, but it was far easier than having to worry about mounting the tracks to the wheels at the end.
Once everything was clean and ready for paint, the whole thing was primed with AK Interactive grey primer. It took several thin applications to cover the dark red plastic, but the primer's quite forgiving and didn't obscure any of the fine details.
For the main camo colours, I used AK's German Late War Colours set (AK554). The kit's painting guide lists codes for the new Meng branded acrylics, but these are manufactured by AK, and are essentially the same as those in this set. These paints are quite thin and do need a few coats before the colour is fully built up. There are two shades of Dunkelgelb in the set, the Aus 44 DGI, and the paler DGIII. I went with the paler option, on the basis that it would allow for any darkening during the weathering process.
With the base yellow on, I added some shading and highlighting by mixing AK092 Cremeweiss and AK4007 Dark Buff into the Dunkelgelb. Much of this will get covered by the other camo colours, but it does help emphasise the shape and volume of the model.
Another step that can help give the model more definition is to paint any small details, such as bolt heads and grab handles in a paler colour, straight Cremeweiss in this case. Without this step many of these details won't show up that well once the washes are applied.
Time for the camo now, and again I used the colours from the AK Late War set. Like the Dunkelgelb, both the green and brown needed a few thin coats to get good coverage. I also mixed a little of the Dunkelgelb into both of the camo colours, which stops them from looking too contrasty against the base colour.
Next up were the ambush spots, which were applied with the same camo colours; yellow on the green and brown areas, and green on the yellow. The painting guide is next to useless for both this and the previous camo step, as the camo pattern is only shown in black and white, and with quite low-resolution printing. This is definitely one area where Meng could up their game and include full-colour painting guides, like so many other manufacturers do these days.

The decals were also added at this stage, after giving the turret a gloss coat. I was a little unsure as to how well they'd go down since Meng has switched from Cartograf decals to an unnamed Chinese printer. As it turned out, they settled down very well, with no silvering, although there is a slight registration problem which makes the white border on the numbers uneven.
That was the main camo painting finished but, before doing any of the detail painting, I added a filter, using AK076 NATO Tanks, to help unify the camo colours, and also to darken the base yellow a little more, as it was looking a bit pale up until now.
As an amusing aside, something I noticed after taking the previous shot, and turning the camera lights off... AK's labels have glow in the dark lettering. Probably everyone else already knew this, but I'd never seen it before, and it made me smile. It should come in handy if you decide to weather anything in the dark.
Now, anyone who knows me, or has seen any of my previous builds, will know that I'm one of the clumsiest people around. Very few builds get completed without me breaking something along the way, and this one was no exception. After staring out of the window, like a stunned rabbit, thinking 'Ooo look, it's raining', I turned back to the bench and managed to knock off both exhaust pipes from the hull.
After spending ten minutes on my knees, trying to find them amongst the assorted detritus scattered over the floor of my work room, I decided to pretend that this was actually all intentional. I could now re-mount the pipes later on in the build, after first weathering them separately.

You see!... you can convince yourself of anything if you try hard enough.

I drilled holes in the bottom of the pipes, and inserted short lengths of wire, which could later be inserted into similar holes in the lower part of the exhausts on the rear hull.
I now got the rest of the detail painting finished. The spare track links on the turret were base coated in AK722 Dark Tracks, after which I highlighted them with lighter brown tones. I didn't go mad with rust washes here, as these wouldn't be heavily rusted on an operational vehicle. 
I did add some subtle paint chipping to the track hangers, and other areas that would get some wear, with AK711Chipping Colour.
The metal parts of the onboard tools, and the tow cables were also picked out with 722 Dark Tracks. The barrel rods were each painted with slightly different wood tones to show a bit of variation and stop them looking like a single piece.
During the build, I'd added some wood grain texture to some of the tool handles with a knife blade. After they'd been painted in a suitable wood colour, the handles had a dark wash applied (AK263 Wood Wash in this case) to bring out the texture. This showed up better in some areas more than others. It didn't come out that strongly on the shovel handle, as that was hard to texture due to its thinness. I was quite pleased with the effect on the mallet handle, which left a reasonably good wood grain look.
The colour scheme I'd chosen for this build had a partial winter whitewash applied. Due again to the rather poor illustration in the instructions, it was hard to tell if this was supposed to represent a whitewash finish that had been selectively applied only to certain areas, or if it was meant to show a finish that had worn away due to the elements. I rather suspect it was meant to be the former, but I decided to give it a worn finish all the same. To that end it got a few coats of AK Worn Effects chipping fluid, followed by a light coat of matt white. I left the paint to dry for about ten minutes, then started to chip the finish with a stiff brush and warm water.
That left a nice finish, but it did look a little stark. A real worn whitewash would show faded areas and runs from rain and snow. To replicate this I used a new product for me; AK Washable Agent. This is a clear liquid, a small drop of which is added to regular acrylic paint to make a 'washable' paint. That's one that can be worn back by rubbing the paint with a damp brush, even after it's dried for a while. It won't give the same effect as regular hairspray style chipping, but it is great for worn and faded effects, and particularly for making runs and streaks. I used this to soften the effects of the chipped white, and to show residue of the whitewash in nooks and crannies all over the hull and turret.
That was the last of the painting finished, so I could now remove the masking tape that had been covering the lower edge of the sides where the skirts would have been fitted. I'd kept these covered as I didn't want the camo and whitewash to extend over that area, as they would both have been applied with the side skirts in place. I did toy with the idea of painting the exposed edge in red primer, but in the end decided to stick with the base yellow.
The whitewash finish was still looking a bit too bright at this point, so I thinned down some AK Winter Streaking Grime to the consistency of a filter, and applied it over the whole hull and turret. This knocked back the white and gave the whole thing a much more subtle used finish.
The strip where the skirts had been removed was given some chipping, followed by some streaks with oil paint. An intermittent line was painted along the top edge of the strip to show where dirt and grime would have accumulated behind the skirts.
The wheel/track assemblies had been primed along with the hull, then the wheels sprayed in the base yellow. Getting at the rear row of wheels was quite tricky, but that area is in shadow anyway, so any missed bits don't really show, and in any case could be covered up during the weathering.

To save any masking, the tracks were brush painted with AK Dark Tracks.
I started the weathering on the wheels with a generous application of AK Kursk Earth. This was daubed on quite randomly, with some area getting a heavier coat than others. A little of the wash was also splattered on by flicking it off the bristles of a stiff brush.
The dirt was intensified with a coat of Earth Effects. This was applied more sparingly that the Kursk Earth, but still kept random, varying the amount from one wheel to the next.
The last step was to add the darkest areas of mud and grease around the hubs and rims, using AK016 Fresh Mud. These finer applications of mud are best done with a small brush, literally painting the splatters on where you want them. It's also handy to use the thicker wash residue you find around the neck of the bottle, as this helps add more volume and texture to the mud.
Exactly the same process was used to build up layers of mud on the lower hull. Most of the area around the suspension arms won't be seen once the tracks are fitted, so you only need to concentrate on the upper areas.
The tracks themselves had a layer of various earth-toned pigments brushed liberally over the treads. The pigments were then fixed in place with drops of the same earth washes I'd used on the wheels and hull. I used the different wash colours quite randomly across the tracks to give some natural variation to the mud effect.
The last step on the tracks was to give the raised areas of the treads a rub over with graphite powder, then the completed track units were slid into place on the axles.
One last thing was to add the exhaust pipes that I'd, err... intentionally knocked off earlier. Before putting them back in place, I sponged on some dark rust tones to show where the paint would have burned off from the high temperatures of the pipes.
That's the Tiger essentially done, but there was one thing left to add, and that was the figure. As I mentioned in the in-box review, I really like to see a figure or two included with AFV kits, as they really help bring the model to life as well as give a better sense of scale, especially important on large subjects like this one.

I've just painted up one of the two included figures for this build and, although not up to the standard of aftermarket resin figures, the sculpt was very nice. He was base coated in black (step 1), after which I sprayed a dark grey from directly above the figure to act as a highlight on the uniform (step 2). A bit of extra shading and highlighting was then added by brush around the folds and wrinkles of the fabric (Step 3). Finally, the rest of the details were picked out in the appropriate colours (step 4), although again the instructions aren't much help here, simply listing black, flesh and silver for the figure, so you'll need to check some references for the detail painting.
So, with the commander in place in the turret, the build was finished. This has been a build that I've loved every step of the way. The construction was straight forward and, for the most part, the fit was among the best I've seen. The one exception to that was the difficulty in getting the track links to connect properly, but that could well have been my own mistake. The only other area of criticism would be the rather poor painting guide. Meng should really think about including full-colour guides in their future releases. Apart from those issues, this is a really high-quality kit.
The detailing is excellent and, while you could always add more, I think Meng have got the balance right, without making an overly complex kit. This is certainly a kit that even a beginner could get a great result from. The addition of the two figures is the icing on the cake, and something I wish more manufacturers would include.
A walk around of the completed kit close up in high detail...
If you're looking for a simple, straight from the box build that will give you a detailed and accurate Tiger II then, for me, this is no question the best option out there right now.

...Here she is in a larger walk around.
Lastly, a size comparison with the MENG Tortoise – a tank of comparable vintage, (and weight at 78 tons) but one that never saw production and action on the battlefield that I made a while ago - big huh?
Highly Recommended

Andy Moore

Pt I - Inboxed
Part II - Build Guide

Thanks to MENG Models for sending us these two – Look forward to Andy using them in his forthcoming build review...
The Paint set that Andy used is now available thru the AK Interactive website Thanks to them for sending it to Andy to use in bringing this kit to life