|MENG King Tiger work-in-progress: Upper hull armor attached with miscellaneous details|
To achieve finer details that molded parts could not, the square and round-shaped grilles came in the form of photo-etched parts. Apart from being careful when cutting these off the sprue, it was pretty straightforward working with the photo-etched grilles as there wasn't any bending or shaping required (this came later). Meanwhile, the tow cables comprised the molded plastic variety. In comparison on the T-55A Russian medium tank I worked on previously, a simple mesh was used to simulate the engine deck grilles while its tow cables made from out of a sewing thread/string.
|Step 14: Attaching the King Tiger engine cooling vent covers/grilles and tow cable|
My doubts about the instructions being not 100% accurate is unfortunately slowly being confirmed. It is inaccurate not in a major way but enough to slow down proceedings unnecessarily. For you see, in the previous post I had left something out - the number of links actually used to assemble the tracks never tallied with the number called for in the instructions. I wrote this off as a minor oversight but discrepancies have resurfaced again. The latest involved the driver's compartment hatches (parts D1 and D2) seems to have been mixed up in the instructions so I used D1 in place of D2 and vice versa.
|Step 15: Assembly of the engine deck and driver compartment hatches|
In a reoccurring issue, tiny parts in the form of handles for the driver compartment hatches and a rounded grille for the engine deck as well as minuscule hooks for both proved to be a handful (see above). I've broken my fair share of tiny handles or lost them when they've 'pinged' across the room. Luckily MENG sometimes provide extra backup handles in such emergencies. And while the hooks were less fragile than the handles they were far easier to lose due to their relatively smaller size. Lastly the rounded grille seemed almost easy to work with in comparison to the handles and hooks.
|Step 16: Attaching engine deck and driver's compartment hatches as well as tow cable and misc. tools|
With the engine deck and driver's compartment hatches assembled, there remained the left side tow cable and pioneers tools. These required no assembly but were difficult to prep because of their fragility. Once cleaned, the tow cable and pioneer tools together with the drivers compartment and ending deck were glued onto the King Tiger's upper hull at the side and top.
|Step 17: Attaching pioneer tools onto the top and right side of the upper hull|
Inaccuracies in the instructions happened again one more time. Worse still, this time around the repercussions would've been bad if I had not taken the time to assess the instructions before diving in. To understand the issue here, it should be noted that the trapezium-shaped grille had two different kind of textures on either side. Long story short, it's my believe - based on my research - that the instruction has mixed up parts W7 in place of W10 and vice versa. However, this is just my take on Step 18 (see below) of the assembly process and not a definitive final word on the subject.
|Step 18: Assembly of more photo-etched grilles for the engine cooling vent covers|
|Step 19: Attaching grilles, more pioneer tools and miscellaneous upper hull parts|
You would think I would've learned by now that being impatient during the assembly process never ends well. Ahh well. For some unfathomable reason be it a loss of concentration or a misplaced overconfidence I could quickly complete the presumably simple Step 20. After all, I only had to glue the upper hull to the lower hull. How hard could that be! To spare you the boring details, the end result was a gap of about one millimeter or so on the front glacis when there should've been none. It seems trivial but it bugged me enough that I had to fixed it using Vallejo plastic putty (see below).
|Step 20: Combining the upper and lower hulls; and using Vallejo plastic putty to fix the resulting gap|
So far, almost each step of the assembly process has thrown up its own little unwanted surprise. For someone used to the quick assembly of miniature figurines, the comparatively longer drawn out affair for AFV (armored fighting vehicle) model kits is rewarding in its own masochistic way. To a modeller, the sense of accomplishment is higher before even a drop of paint has been applied. Not everyone's cup of tea granted. But I've found it to be rewarding despite the occasional setbacks. And as long as the brain keeps churning out dopamine for every completed step, the project continues!