This is a 35th scale cast resin conversion set intended to be assembled with several donor plastic kits for construction of Porsche’s initial VK45.02 (P) V, Typ 180 chassis prototype with Krupp’s long 88 cm Kw.K. L/71 gun turret.
Late in 1941 both Porsche and Krupp were heavily involved as the first team in the process of designing a tank to utilize the long 8.8 cm gun. Porsche was tasked with the designing of the chassis and Krupp for the designing of the turret. Porsche believed that the chassis for the VK45.01 (P), their failed contender for the Tiger I series program, could easily be modified and adopted over to mount the turret being designed by Krupp for the 8.8 cm gun. Porsche proposed two sloped armor modified chassis versions, one with turret mounted to the front (Vorne), and the second one mounted to the rear (Hinten), with the former being chosen for series production.
NOTE - This vendors partial designation of ‘type 180 motor ‘Hinten’ on the box art, which is partially correct in that the motors are mounted in the rear for this version, should not be confused with the official Porsche designation of ‘Typ 180’ for this vehicle version. Porsche had initiated 5 different motor design versions for the VK45.02 (P) vehicle with two of the motor combinations using electric motor drives - Typ 180, and the three other motor combination versions using Voith II hydraulic drives – Typ 181. The correct designation given to this project, as of March 23, 1942, by Wa Pruef 6 with the Porsche motor and drive train combination for this vehicle is VK45.02 (P), Typ 180 as per the Jentz & Doyle references listed below.
Plans were then set for the installation of turrets with the 8.8 cm Kw.K. 43/2 L/71 gun starting with the 101st Pz.Kpfw.VI – VK-45.01 (P). Negating a contract for a trial series vehicle, contracts for procurement to fabricate the needed components and for series production assembly of 100 VK45.01 (P2) vehicles were awarded by February 1942. The contracts stipulated that the first six VK45.01 (P2), Typ 180 vehicles with turrets for the 8.8 cm Kw.K. L/71 gun be assembled and operational for scheduled delivery by November 1942. However, due to problems with the Porsche designed engines and suspension the contracts for the series production program of the 100 vehicles were repealed on 3 November 1942. This project would again be revived but for only three vehicles, the subject of which could be found here:
VK45.02 (P) Vorne ‘Tiger P2’ review
The already fabricated and welded 50 turret bodies by Krupp, with roughly 16 of these first turret bodies fabricated with a large hole on the left hand side for the view port, were eventually excised over for use on the initial Henschel Tiger H2-Series (Tiger Ausf.B - Tiger II) program, hence the inaccurately identified Porsche produced turret. And the 90 Porsche Typ 180 lower hull assemblies from the failed VK45.01 (P) Tiger I program were eventually modified for use on the Ferdinand series produced vehicle. At least 6 of these vehicles were being produced but never completed as contenders for the later Tiger Ausf.B - Tiger II program, no known photographs have ever surfaced of this / these vehicle(s) to date other than a few official pencil line drawings and documents that verify its existence.
The Conversion Set
The kit consists of 50 cast resin parts with the upper hull being the largest piece. The casting and detail is very clean but there is some flash on the openings in the hull tub that needs to be cleaned away. The remaining 49 pieces are as follows, these include the hulls deck ventilation grills, engine deck hatches, front lower and chassis rear plates, three piece fenders (each side), lower hull front and rear side extensions, machine gun mount, engine deck air filter and ventilator housings, antenna mount, track storage bracket set, turret pistol ports and view port hatch and drivers periscope housing. A majority of the cast resin pieces are almost bubble free on my example but with a few warped parts that could easily be straightened in hot water or with a blow dryer. The few bubble holes that are there can easily be filled with either super glue or Mr. Surfacer.
The vendor has even captured the uneven but smooth rolled steel texture on the upper hulls glacis plate and sides. The rest of the plates are smooth as are the side armor extensions on the upper deck sides. The example on my glacis plate is slightly warped and will need to be sanded flat which will compromise the realistic texture but that can be added using Mr. Surfacer.
There are three pages of black and white assembly line drawings with photographs to aid in identifying where and which parts are to be used for either of the recommended lower hull with running gear and turret donor kits with written text in Japanese printed on B-size paper. Even if you don’t read Japanese, like me, the drawings are self-explanatory and modelers with enough assembly experience building mixed media kits under the belt should not have a problem.
Other than the cast resin parts and paper instructions there is nothing else included in this conversion set.
The Conversion Kit and Donor Kits:
The conversion set consists only of the upper hull along with parts for use on the turret, upper and lower hull. These parts are designed for assembly using several of this vendor recommended donor kits to complete the vehicle. The recommended parts to be used for the lower chassis and running gear are the Italeri or Dragon Ferdinand kits. And for the turret and main gun you are advised to use either the Tamiya or Dragon early Tiger II kits with the ‘Porsche’ turret. With the initial purchase price of this conversion set and the two added donor kits you’re looking at a very expensive and time consuming venture.
If you are truly interested in creating this vehicle as accurately as possible then this is the set for you. This is the only correct upper chassis for creating the VK45.02 (P) where the vendor captured all of the features and armor plate angles on the upper hull as per the text in the Jentz & Doyle references. Although the entire rear upper deck parts including the ventilation grills and hatches are not on any known drawings to date, in my humble opinion, they are the best interpretation as per the Jentz & Doyle text produced on any kit, resin or plastic and possibly providing the most reasonable solution for designing the turret body high above the upper deck with an exposed turret ring.
References used for this review:
Germanys Tiger Tanks, VK45.02 to Tiger II
; Schiffer, by Thomas L. Jentz & Hilary L. Doyle
Paper Panzers; Panzer Tracks No. 20-1
; by Thomas L. Jentz & Hilary L. Doyle
Note: This conversion set first appeared in 2006 and is getting harder to find. It is still listed on the vendors website. I can't find anyone carrying the product, I bought my example from Rainbow Ten late last year but they are now out of business. Hobbylink Japan is also no longer carrying any of their products. As time permits I will be posting a build log using this conversion set.