Thomas M Nielsen
The first thing you need to do before starting a detailed build is to get your references straight. I took some of my Tiger books and started digging. I chose to go for the well known Kingtiger with turret number 222 from s.SS.Pz.Abt. 501.
It was photographed by a German propaganda photographer early in the campaign with 10 paratroopers on the back. It was later photographed by one or more American photographers after it ended its days in the city of Stavelot, very close to the city's bridge. On the American pictures the tank is in a sad state, most of the side skirts are missing and the same goes for most of the loose equipment. This is in strong contrast to the German pictures which shows a tank in prime condition.
I wanted to do a model that was close to the look of the tank on the American pictures but still in working order. My choice for this model fell on Tamiya's Ardennes Front Kingtiger as it is a great kit.
My references helped me to determine exactly what version 222 was. There are two tubes coming from the engine deck, going over the sides and running forward. These are new vent lines for the fuel tanks that were introduced in November 1944 because the number of interconnections between the fuel tanks had been reduced to cut leaks in the engine compartment. In addition, there is no jack mounted on the bottom of the rear plate and no jack block, but there is still a mounting for it. A last look confirms that 222 has the new cast mantlet and that nails it! This is a pure November production.
This also means that it could have been painted in a new scheme. It is clear from the pictures that it had the factory applied hard edged camo scheme. It's hard to see exactly what colours were used, but it is possible that red oxide primer could have been used in place of the normal chocolate brown. I chose to go for the red oxide primer as I think it looks fantastic, but it is also difficult to do properly as I would experience later.
Further research revealed that 222 was one of the 11 Tiger II that was transferred from s.Pz.Abt. 509 in preparation for operation 'Wacht am Rein' or 'Battle of the Bulge'. These received new turret numbers in solid yellow and not blue with a yellow outline which was otherwise normal for 2nd company panzers.
I already had the basic kit, but I still needed all the detailing bits. I chose to invest in Aber's PE set for the Tamiya Kingtiger, a new commanders cupola and mantlet from Mori, Archer fine transfers and Modelkasten workable tracks, I already had a set of Eduard side skirts that I chose to use for the few side skirts that would be on the finished model.
I started by assembling the two chassis halves, as many of the side skirts would be missing on the finished model, I put a lot of effort in making an invisible seem underneath the panniers.
Together with the Modelkasten tracks, comes a new set of attachment points for the side skirts. These are better than the ones molded on the kit, I therefore chose to remove the molded on attachment points. This also made it easier to sand the sides smooth after I had filled all holes for the loose equipment.
Both the holes for the jack mount and that for the headlight was filled the parts that would normally go there and the surplus plastic was then removed. A bit of Humbrol filler and some sanding removed all traces of the holes. The holes on the rear plate for loose equipment and mud guards was filled with Evergreen plastic rod, filler and sanded smooth.