DML 1/144 Leopold Railway Gun

This one is a very old build. I bought it at least ten years ago; it seemed like a saner option than buying the 1/35 version made by Dragon. (Not to mention a cheaper one.) The subject is one of those atavistic, yet mind-blowing things of the Second World War: a gigantic gun that is mounted onto a railway carriage. Tactical and operational mobility is almost zero; and good luck if you want to turn the gun 20 degrees. It’s useful if you want to lob shell after shell on a faraway target, if your target is large enough, and stationary enough. (They had to build the railroad tracks usually before the deployment of the gun, and it does take time. The rate of fire was also somewhat low; a couple of shells every day. Additionally, you have to factor in the wear and tear on the gun; the lining had to be changed quite frequently, which also lowered the strategic value of these weapons.) But to be fair if you want to cause damage and kill, you just use bombers. It’s cheaper and more flexible. (If you really must cause damage and kill, of course. For one, I prefer these things in 1/144 scale.) The non-plus ultra of this insanity was the Dora railway gun; a the largest gun ever built, with an average rate of fire of two shells per day. I do have it somewhere in 1/144, waiting to be built. It’s a huge model even in this scale, by the way. The 1/35 scale model of this thing is over two meters long by the way…

Back to the 1/144 Panzer Korps. As I said before, these kits are amazing; small gems in fact. I should have bought all I could when they were still in production, and were readily available. This is the gun in all its glory. The detail is astonishingly sharp and very, very good; some 1/72 models could hang their heads in shame looking at this level of detail. And you get photoetched parts, of course. And a metal barrel. Everything nicely pre-packaged, waiting for you to start. The build was amazing. (As a personal note: I still remember watching the Wedding crashers with my girlfriend while I was building it. It’s strange how things like this associate themselves with the model…) The build was a joy. The only challenging part was to glue together the railway sections, and fill in the seams so that they don’t stand out. (The surface is really rough, so I had to try to make the surface of the filler look similarly rough. In other words: it was not a difficult build.) The PE really does enhance this little gun. There is a crew provided, but I decided very early on not to include the little dudes. I usually don’t add figures to my models, because no matter how well they are done (and I cannot paint them well enough) they look artificial, and ruin the illusion of the model for me. We are getting into philosophy here, but let me explain it quickly. I think we all accept that a scale model is a representative 3D image of the real thing, and only that. It does not try to be the tank in a smaller scale. This is why we accept heavier weathering on models than on the real tanks; we accept that it is not a direct, smaller copy, but only the representation of the real vehicle. Kind of like a technical drawing, or a painting, and as such it overemphasizes certain things. By adding a lot of scratches, dust and dirt we show that this tank had a story, it was used. Adding a crew changes the model; it makes it a bit toy-like for me. (We’re not discussing dioramas, of course. Dioramas tell a story, which is a different matter altogether.) So, back to the model at hand. In the background you can see a 1/72 DML T-34/76, and a 1/72 DML Mi-28 Havoc… The first layer of paint was black, of course, and then successive layers of lighter and lighter German gray. Because the scale is so small, the final color should be really light. The Leopold only looks dark on these photos because of the gloss coat applied.   A flat coat makes it look much lighter. It also seals the decals. Filters applied using oil paints. Mostly white, burnt umber and blue, applied using the dot method. I did not want to overdo the weathering (after all, you would not be seeing any scratches and rust from a distance that corresponds this scale), but a little fading, some discoloration due to rain does make the model feel more “real”.     A little size comparison: 1/35 Stug IV, 1/144 Leopold, Thor, JgdPanther and some Hetzer-based howitzer whose name I forgot. (Apologies for that.)  

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