Saturday, 14 July 2018

MENG Model Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger with Henschel Turret [WIP - Zimmerit Decals]

For a supposedly straight forward step in the MENG King Tiger assembly process, the application of zimmerit water slide decals proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. This was largely due to the a slight difference in the property of MENG Model decals versus ones that I'm used to. It turned out the zimmerit decals, at least the ones I got, didn't need to be soaked in water for long (just seconds in fact) before it started to detach from the decal sheet. Previously with Bandai and Tamiya water slide decals, I had tended to soak the decals in the water just a bit longer.     

MENG Model King Tiger work-in-progress: Application of zimmerit decals

So why did this seemingly innocuous characteristic of MENG Model's water slide decals cause me problems? Well, one thing that happens when you soak a decal too long in water is that it becomes too soft to manipulate properly. This issue is further complicated when the decal itself is extremely small in size. It makes for hair-pulling moments especially when the said tiny decal folds in on itself. Initially, this happened to me a few times cuasing fairly disastrous results. Needless to say, some decals were badly torn. Thankfully though, I can attribute their condition to being battle-damaged!     

Custom Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger Zimmerit Decals by MENG Model
MENG Model's zimmerit decals are of the water slide variety

To compound the problem, it become near impossible to place an over-softened tiny decal onto small surface areas such as the edges of the rear turret hatch (see second picture below). That I had even managed to salvage parts of the tiny decal is already in itself a small miracle. 

Zimmerit decals were applied around all four sides of the King Tiger turret
Small surface areas made it difficult for the zimmerit decals to adhere to the sides of the rear hatch
Square-shaped hole in the zimmerit decal on the turret's side was cut out using a hobby knife
Another decal i.e. the 'charging knight' emblem will be placed within the square-shaped hole

After learning from my initial experiences I then made sure I didn't soak any of the decals in the water for too long. But it's highly likely I overcompensated. It turns out that I didn't soak for long enough, a particular decal meant for the machine gun port on a rounded surface area on the King Tiger's front glacis (see below). Essentially this made it very difficult for the flat decal to conform to the machine gun port's curved surface area. As such I damaged the decal quite significantly, again. And similar to this first incident, I will be passing off the torn decal as being battle-damaged. 

Putting the zimmerit decal on the rounded surface of the glacis machine gun port proved challenging ...
... thus causing minor damage to the decal around the machine gun port aka 'battle damage'

Meanwhile, there is also a tendency for the edges of the zimmerit decals to peel after it has dried. I noticed this tends to happen at edges that, through normal handling, came under constant friction e.g. palm of your hand brushing against a particular corner of the hull. One way of mitigating this problem is was to apply a very thin layer superglue underneath the decal on the said corner. 

Large and flat surface areas proved easiest on which to apply the zimmerit decals
Closeup of zimmerit decal on the King Tiger's lower glacis
Zimmerit decals have to be aligned carefully with indentations onto which the pioneer tools will attach

So would I recommend the use of these zimmerit water slide decals? Despite all the issues I had encountered, the answer is a qualified yes. Custom ready-to-use decals are rather pricey, costing up to one third of the model kit's price. But they can be a time-saver especially on larger surface areas. An alternative would be to apply a thin coat of putty and sculpt the zimmerit yourself. This is arguably a more cost effective albeit time consuming method. What I plan to do in the next project that requires a zimmerit coating is to try sculpting it in order to determine which method suits me best.

Zimmerit decal on the rear hull armor before external parts are glued onto it

Having applied zimmerit decals on the King Tiger's hull, the assembly process can now resume. And it's the next few steps that are most daunting to me. I'm not talking about attaching the rear hull armor parts, which should be easy enough to do. What vexes me, and the main inertial force resisting quick progress on this project, is the assembly of the link and length tracks. I'm not a fan of such tracks because they've to be glued to the road wheels before painting. Personally I prefer painting the tracks separately before attaching them to the wheels. So I've that to (not) look forward to. Well, that's it from me for this week. Thanks for checking out the post. Do stay well, and be happy!

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14 comments:

  1. A great looking Sdkfz...so far!

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    1. ... and there is a long, long way to go!

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  2. Fantastic project! Waiting for more :)

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    1. With this King Tiger there is so much more to come assembly wise!

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  3. Great progress , looking forward to the next steps !
    Greetings

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    1. Thanks for following my progress Mario!

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  4. Thank you for the review on the decals.
    I must admit I hardly use them and prefer to paint details instead. But looking at what you've done with the tank I can see this would take ages to do by hand.

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    1. On the King Tiger, I think you're right and it would indeed take ages to complete. But perhaps ... I'm just guessing here ... for more 'boxy' AFVs such as the Elefant it might be easier to sculpt. That's one to try in the future , I guess.

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  5. They do look very good despite sound very fiddly to use.

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    1. It being fiddly is down to my own fault I guess. Overall, they still saved time :)

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  6. I have no words to praise your dedication and patience. I would need months of therapy if I ever tried to do that!

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    1. Ha ha ha ... sometimes I feel like I've a sadistic desire to punish myself with hard to build/paint projects ... that is until it's finished and I forget all the pain I endured :)

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  7. That Zimmerit does look quite convincing already. As ever I‘m envious of your patience for such fiddly detail work.

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    1. Patience is a relative thing especially when it involves a lot of hair pulling and cursing ... XD

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