GPM Pz Kpfw VIb King Tiger

Discussion in 'First Impressions Kit Reviews' started by charliec, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. charliec

    charliec Active Member

    Jan 19, 2004
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    Model: Pz Kpfw VIb Konigstiger (Porsche turret)
    Publisher: GPM 14/98
    Scale: 1:25
    Format: A4 booklet
    Designer: Not known

    The Konigstiger was designed as a replacement for the Tiger I. It was a completely new design altough it shared some design features with the Panther. A few hundred were built in 1944-45 and although it was underpowered and suffered engine and transmission reliability problems it was highly effective when it was running. Its 88mm L/71 gun was capable of destroying most opposing tanks (except perhaps for the Russian IS-2) at very long ranges.

    GPM has produced a fair number of AFV hits over the years - most of these kits were no better than their contemporaries. The 1998 publishing date suggests that this model will be an improvement over the earlier offerings without the complexity of recent kits. In general this expectation is met. This is a big AFV model - the cover says it's 40cm by 15 cm by 15cm ( 16" x 6" x 6" ).

    Fourteen pages of A4 cardstock, 2 pages of frames, 1 1/2 pages of vehicle history and instructions(in Polish) and 2 1/2 pages of construction diagrams. There are also 2 pages of photo instructions and a page of photos of the completed model. The model has no interior except for an optional modelled engine. The engine hatch appears to be the only one which is openable. The traditional Polish 1mm card box is used as the frame.

    Print quality is excellent and the art work is very good - there is a representation of Zimmerit coating which looks pretty effective as well as some light weathering on the hull.

    There's no attribution of the model to any particular unit but since it has the Porsche turret it must be one of the first 50 King Tigers built. All later King Tigers had a different turret because the Porsche turret was found to have a shot trap which deflected rounds down onto the hull top. Some of the early King Tigers were deployed in France in 1944 so this model may represent one of these. The camouflage colours look about right for mid-1944 - dark yellow base coat with red-brown/ dark green camouflage stripes.

    <<Update 16/9/04 - After a bit of digging on the Web it looks as though this model represents a Kingtiger of s.Pz.Abt. 503 (heavy tank battalion)(1st company). This unit was attached to the 21st Panzer Division during the Normandy campaign. The unit symbol can be found at: >>

    The King Tiger had a similar suspension to the Tiger and Panther - multiple interleaved road wheels with torsion bar suspension. The modelling of the multiple roadwheels appears reasonable without being outstanding. The tracks are modelled as 2 bands without an option to build the track form individual links. The inside (upper) parts of the track is coloured a somewhat strange pink-grey colour - I think it's intended to represent rust on the track. However manganese steel from which track links are forged from rusts to a dark brown colour - it might pay to scan and recolour these parts.

    The hull is modelled in fine detail - the engine deck looks accurately modelled - the instructions suggest using mesh to represent the trash screens over the air inlets. The model photos show something like insect screen mesh - this is too coarse - tulle or similar would be better. The inspection and access plates on the hull bottom are modelled - this is unusual for a model of this age.

    The modelled gun barrel doesn't seem to be able to elevate which is a bit disappointing. There is an attempt at an external MG42 on the turret top. I think this would be better replaced by the recent free model of the MG42 by Jim Nunn. There is an upper body model of the tank commander - this could be safely discarded.

    This model would suffer in comparison to Halinski's Panther but if an interior model is not required it isn't too far short of Halinski in terms of external detail. I think the GPM model represents a credible attempt to externally model the King Tiger without the extreme detail of recent models.

    Instructions: B+ (good construction diagrams but limited in scope)
    Paper quality: A
    Level of detail: B+ (more internal detail would be nice)
    Printing quality: A (fine lines and accurate colour registration)
    Artwork: A (light weathering, Zimmerit)
    Value for money: B+ (lot cheaper than Halinski)
    Skill level: The large number of small parts might be a bit much for a beginner.
  2. pashlispaht

    pashlispaht Member

    Sep 6, 2004
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    I have actually built this model and I was asked to provide a few comments. This was my first armor model (after quite a lot of experience building aircraft). I thought it was quite detailed; for example the nuts on the drive wheels are included. When built, these are barely larger than the head of a pin. A few things I noticed that anyone building this model should be aware of - The upper hull sides are not backed by any cardboard, and as a result the hull top has no support. Add in the big hole in the center of the hull top for the turret and you have a recipe for sagging. Anyone building this should add stiffeners to keep the top from sagging, otherwise the turret will not be able to rotate. Another problem that I have noticed and I suspect is a problem with armor models in general is the the weight of the model and the effect this has upon the suspension. I originally built this model as per directions, but the axles almost immediately broke off of the suspension arms. This was due to poor design in my opinion, with a minimal surface area for glue to adhere to. I completely rebuilt this section, making a solid roll of paper and butt-glued it to the suspension arm. That fixed the problem of the axles breaking off the arms, but revealed another problem. Now the arms themselves were seperating from the hull. In my opinion, the underlying problem is the weight of armor models in general, and I have seen quite a few comments from other modelers about ways to fix this. I took a sledgehammer approach, and built my own "torsion bars" out of brass rod. I cut a groove in the back of the suspension arm, and drilled holes in the hull and anchored the arms in the other side. The rod now goes through the axles, the suspension arms, and through the hull and is anchored in the opposite side of the hull. This fixed the problem once and for all. It has been over a year since I built this model, and I have had no relapses! One strange thing I noticed about this model is that the barrel does not elevate, and there is no provision for this. I also modified the tracks to function. The design of this model is fairly easily modified. The tracks are of the "belt" design and they engage the drive wheels very well. The drive wheels were modified to spin by using an axle through the hull, and I designed it so that the wheels would not come off of the axle. The track had to be scored to allow it to make the tight curves, and to sag properly onto the tops of the roadwheels. Well, these are a few of my observations on this kit. Everything on this kit went together very well, like a Halinski model would. But a word of warning though. This is a very labor intensive model, and the modeler should have a lot of patience and be prepared for a lengthy build time. It took me over two months of work every day to complete it. Hope this review is of use to anyone contemplating building this kit!