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Production Modifications

Panzerkampfwagen VI B King Tiger Sd.Kfz. 182

For most German tanks during World War II, modifications to the initial design were frequently introduced during production runs to improve overall performance, simpify manufaturing, or in response to material shortages. The aim of this page is to provide useful information to tank modellers and enthusiasts, on key official changes that affected its external appearance. Illustrations wll be provided where available. It is not intended to be exhaustive and does not include the numerous changes to the interior and internal components as well as unofficial modifications made by crews in the field. The modifications are listed roughly in the order in which they occurred headed by the component most affected. Approximate dates are given where they are known.

Porsche Vs Henschel Turret

50 turrets with curve top and sides of the Porsche design were already in production before it was rejected in favour of the Henschel design. These 50 turrets were fitted to the Henschel chassis for the first 50 KingTigers. The more angular with flat slopped surfaces Henschel turret was installed from June 1944.
Main Gun The original main 88mm gun consisted of a one piece monobloc gun tube. This was replaced from May 1944 by a two piece sectional gun tube that was easier to produce and maintain.
Gun Sight The binocular gun sight was replaced by a monocular gun sighting telescope in May 1944. This rersulted in only one aperture on the left of the gun mantlet instead of two.
Spare Track linksBrackets for hanging spare tracks links were welded fore and aft on both turret sides from July 1944. They were retrofitted to existing King Tigers from November of that year.
Camouflage Paint Schemes

From August 1944, all King Tigers were painted with a standardised camouflage pattern at the factory. This new scheme is now commonly known as the Ambush pattern and consisted of patches of olive green and red brown over the dark yellow base coat. From September 1944, the dark yellow was no longer applied as the base coat but as patches same as for olive green and red brown. From December 1944, a base coat of dark green was applied and a camouflage pattern with sharp contours was applied using read brown and dark yelow prior to delivery.

Prior to this, all King Tigers were delivered with a dark yellow base coat over the red primer undercoat and Zimmerit and each individual unit applied its own camouflage colour and pattern in the field.

Internal Painting To simplify production, from August 1944 the inside of King Tigers were no longer painted an ivory colour but left with the red primer undercoat.
Zimmerit Coating Due to a rumour that the Zimmerit caught fire from shell hits that could result in the lost of the tank even if the shell did not penetrate, all King Tigers from mid-September onwards were not coated with Zimmerit. Crew in thefield were also ordered not to apply Zimmerit to tank delivered without the coating. Though the rumour were proved unfounded during tests, the orders to drop Zimmerit were never rescinded.
Armoured Cover for Deep Fording Air IntakeFrom mid-september, all King Tigers leaving the factory has a circular armour plate bolted over the deep fording air intake vent to prevent shell splinters from penetarting the fuel tank mounted directly below thisopening. This modification was also retrofitted to all existing King Tigers.
JackFrom October 1944, King Tigers were delivered without the jack mounted. The brackets for the jack were also dropped.
Gun Sight Aperture GuardFrom January 1945, an inverted U-shape guard was welded on above the gun sight aperture to prevent rain water from fouling the gun sight.
New Single-Link TracksFrom March 1945, new King Tigers were delivered with a new set of single-link tracks driven by new 18 tooth sprockets.

A total of around 500 King Tigers were produced from January 1944 to March 1945. 3 prototypes were produced prior and one of them is an exhibit at Bovington Tank Museum.

Do you find this useful? Is there anything you would like to add? Email us your comments.

See also: WW II German Tanks WW II German Tanks WW II Allies Tanks WW II German Tanks Heavy Tank Battalions Dragon 1/144 Can.Do Tanks SS Panzer Divisions SS Panzer Divisions Army Panzer Divisions WW II German Tanks German Tank Useful Information WW II German Tanks

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