Dragon Hobby Expo 2006 Exclusive: Limited Edition German Sd. Kfz. 182 PzKpfw VI King Tiger Ausf. B Heavy Tank - Alfred Kurzmaul, Budapest, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"If the tank succeeds, then victory follows."
- Major-General Heinz Guderian, "Achtung Panzer!"
In January 1943, a new Tiger tank was ordered by the Waffenamt, this time with a turret large enough to mount the fearsome 8.8cm L/71 gun. Besides improving its tank killing capabilities, the new Tiger was also intended to be more survivable on the battlefield. To achieve this, the thickness of the frontal armor was increased to 150mm, while the side armor remained constant at 80mm. A wooden mock-up showing the immense size of the vehicle was displayed on October 20th, 1943 and immediately became the center of attention to all that saw it. Production of the vehicle began soon thereafter in November 1943 although the first 50 vehicles sported the Porsche turret with its curved front plate.
On December 6th, the Waffenamt deemed that the shot-trap formed by the turret be eliminated. This was achieved by Henschel re-designing the turret and gun mantlet, in such a manner as to decrease the frontal area while at the same time incorporating a bell-shaped mantlet. By March 1945, 489 Royal Tigers (a.k.a. Konigstigers or "King Tigers") had been produced. Apart from five vehicles issued to the Feldherrnhalle division, all of the Tiger II heavy tanks were assigned to independent schwere Panzer detachments due to the tank's staggering size and weight, as well as its relatively slow rate of maneuver.
This particular limited edition 1:72 scale replica of a German King Tiger is outfitted with a Henschel turret and was crewed by Alfred Kurzmaul, a luminary who was scheduled to attend Dragon Expo '07. Sold Out!
Length: 5-1/2 inches
Width: 2-1/4 inches
Release Date: June 2006
Original Issue Price: $49.99
Historical Account: "Pouring Fuel on the Fire" - At age 17, Alfred Kurzmaul volunteered for service in the Panzerwaffe so he could choose the branch he wanted to serve in. In the spring of 1941, he received his training as a gunner and loader, which was followed by special driver training for the Panzer III and Panzer IV. When his initial training period ended, he was posted to Panzer-Regiment 25 with the 7.Panzer-Division based at Erlangen.
Mr. Kurzmaul turned 19 on June 23, 1941, the day after Germany attacked the Soviet Union. His unit was transferred east in July where, as part of Panzer-Gruppe 3, it fought continuously in the Central Sector until being transferred back to France in May 1942 for rest and refitting.
During this time, Mr. Kurzmaul was reassigned to sPzAbt 502 for training on the new Tiger tank at Paderborn. He was then assigned to sPzAbt 503 and stayed with the unit until the end of the war except for a brief period of time in the spring of 1944 when he was transferred to Wunsdorf, south of Berlin, to participate in some driving tests being conducted on the Tiger I.
He returned to his unit in the fall of 1944 when it was re-equipped with the new Tiger II. In early October 1944, the unit was entrained and sent to Hungary where, under the command of SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Otto Skorzeny, 2. and 3.Kompanie took part in the occupation of the Burgberg castle, seat of the Hungarian Government, to ensure they would not capitulate to the Russians. After the successful conclusion to this operation, the unit was sent back to the Eastern Front where it continued to fight until the end of the war.
Just before the war ended, however, Mr. Kurzmaul became ill and was sent back to a hospital in Germany near his hometown. He was fortunate to still be there when the war ended.
Mr. Kurzmaul and his family emigrated to Canada in 1956 where they settled down in Montreal. After his retirement, he and his wife moved to Calgary to be close to their son and his family.