This is an interesting part of the armor model world: the 1/144 kits by DLM. They are small little gems; it’s a shame that they disappeared from the market. If you have a chance, grab as many as you can. The presentation, the level of detail, the ease of assembly are all just top-notch; these kits provide a nice break from the 1000+ part 1/35 monsters I sometimes get involved with. For this scale you still get moulded-on detail that rivals some 1/72 kits, and also PE, and slide moulded gun barrels with holes in the muzzle breaks. Thankfully you don’t get individual tracklinks.
One can only wonder what went through the minds of the people who designed, and more importantly, approved this project. I’m probably not far off to say that only someone, who plunged a whole planet into a global war for “living space”, could actually look at the plans, and say, yeah, I think it’s feasible.
While it’s very attractive to compare the endless oceans with the endless Steppes, the problem is that while a battleship worked on a sea, while it would not really be feasible on land. The Land Cruiser with its tremendous top speed and maintenance requirements would be a serious impediment to any force that would like to take Russia in a lightning strike. (It would probably never get to Moscow if you took the continental drift into the opposite direction into account.)
It really is not worth talking about the history of the P1000 too much; enough to say that someone actually came up with it in ’41, Hitler approved, and the whole planning process went ahead until ’43. It was not just someone doodling on the back of a napkin. They actually were serious about it.
The project was mercifully axed by Speer in ’43, although I suspect it earned him the nickname Albert “the PartyPooper” Speer in the Wolf’s Lair. To be honest, Speer probably did prolong the war by organizing Germany’s war production on the basis of rational thinking, which was lacking from the rest of the gang. This vehicle is the epitome of all that was wrong (if you take away genocide, and murderous wars, of course) with the Nazi leadership: all grand vision, no practicality. If they had built this lumbering beast, they would have had less steel to build air planes, assault guns and tanks; surely it would have been better for everyone involved. They would even have left a gigantic, cool looking playground for us. Even if it was built, and even if it worked as intended, it would have been highly unlikely that it would have ever fired a shot in anger, unless the front arrived to the factory before it was bombed by the Allied air forces. If we consider the technical issues even the Tiger I was struggling with (constant breakdowns, high maintenance requirements, low operational and tactical mobility), you can imagine what sort of challenges would have this monster meant for its operators. Say, you needed to fix a broken track. Or change one of the road wheels -from the inside row. Or simply get it moving –or change direction- without breaking anything in the automotive mechanism -or the surroundings. Not to mention I can’t imagine the amount of recoil the naval guns would have, but looking at how they had shaken the battleships they were mounted on, I’d think they would have seriously overstressed the suspension. And finally: this vehicle offers a hilariously oversized target for anything that can shoot; it’s pretty difficult to miss, in fact. While Hitler did like big guns (which makes you think if he was overcompensating for something), the fact remains: if you want to kill people, there are more practical ways; like a strategic bomber force, with which the Germans never really bothered with. (For which Great Britain is eternally grateful for them.)
Tankcom has made a risky move to issue a 1/144 model of this paper-panzer, but at least they made it clear on the cover that it’s not an actual, “serious” project. On the cover art we can see several Maus superheavy tanks, the P1000 in its full glory, and a couple of Nazi UFOs in the background shooting lasers (and a V2 rocket for added dramatic effect).
The kit itself is really simple; the whole assembly takes about two hours. There’s a huge opportunity for scratchbuilders: the interior of the turret and the engines simply beg to be built into the model. Since I’m not good at these conversions, I just glued everything together. Interestingly the kit comes with some areal recognition marks, as if any German bomber pilot would have difficulties telling apart a German 1000ton tank from an Allied 1000ton tank. (It would probably have space for a helipad, too.)
Contents of the box
It’s so big, my lightbox is not large enough… I guess I got used to the 1/72 scale tanks, and not the 1/144 scale ships.
Putting it all together
The biggest issue during the build was the question of camouflage. I was pondering what sort of paintjob would this 4 storey vehicle get, and thought of the old-school battleship dazzle camos.
These patters were designed to break up a ship’s contours, and to make it harder for gunners to range the ship. This, of course, would not work very well on land, as it would be quite easy for a gunner to find an appropriate feature in the landscape to which he could set his sights. It remained a possibility, though.
The other option was to paint a scenic painting of some hills and forest, or a Bavarian village on the side.
In the end I chose bluish colors and bluish filters because the colors of objects tend to look greyish-bluish in the large distances, and lots of horisontal shapes so that it could “blend into” the terrain irreguralities. Since this vehicle is about the size of a four storey house, any sort of camoflage only has a chance to work from a significantly great distance (about 30-40 miles). The naval guns mounted on the vehicle make this distance a feasible engagement range, too. I’m not sure this is the perfect way to paint such a large vehicle (after all, I ignored the hazards Allied air power poses), but I’m happy with the results.
Begin the painting process… black primer (applied from a spray can), and some masking tape. The bloody tape refused to stick; I’ll have to get a stronger one.
Second layer of paint, second layer of masking tape.
After the third layer, the masks are removed… and tears are shed. It took some time to clean up the paintwork; the masking tape did not stick down, so paint did get underneath.
The roadwheels got all three colors applied to them.
After correcting the paintwork, I went on experimenting with filters. I used mainly bluish and yellowish filters pre-diluted; did not work with the oil-dot method. (Perhaps later I’ll give it a go.) I tried True Earth’s ageing/fading products as well with a small degree of success. So far I’ve figured out why they did not work previously: the surface has to be extremely matte.
Once I got sick of the filter work, I added some dust to the lower portions (although looking at the size of the vehicle, I’m not sure it should get dusty too much), ran a soft lead pencil around the edges to give it some metallic looks, and added a touch of rust. The monster is done.
I love these little guys. It’s a shame they are difficult to get, but Dragon’s 1/144 series of armor is just really, really nice. The detail is astonishingly crisp (many 1/72 kits have softer, worse detail), the assembly is simple… the best quick-and-dirty project you can ask for. In less than an hour you get two models built; a couple of hours more, and they’re ready.
I have built a couple of these kits over the years; the Jagdpanzer IV has been featured previously. (I built their Leopold Rail Gun, and the Karl Morser as well. All of them are excellent little models. If I can, I’ll get my hands on a couple of more.)
There’s not much to tell about the construction. The tanks are made up from 5-6 parts, most of which are already separate
d from their sprue, so you don’t even have cut them off. The only problem I found was with the photoetch engine grilles of the Afrika Korps version. (Yes, these models come with photoetch.) The molded-on air filter for the engine goes across the engine grilles, so it’s not possible to install the PE screens… which is kind of annoying. The other issue I found was that this very same tank is presented with steel-rimmed roadwheels -I think. In this scale it’s difficult to tell, but the other Tiger has definite grooves set onto the sides of the wheels, signifying the rubber tires. Since this was missing in the Afrika Korps Tiger, I assume it’s supposed to have the st
eal rimmed wheel setup. Which is historically incorrect. (Both Tiger I.’s are from the early series, which came with rubber tires.) The tracks are given as flexible bands; unfortunately one of them broke (the fit is really tight).
After an aborted attempt with a paintbrush, I did the painting steps along with other tanks to be able to rationalize the use of airbrush in such a small scale… It would have been a bit silly to fire up the compressor for two tiny models. Getting them
done on an assembly line, however, allowed me to get a nice finish on the paintjob in the simplest way possible. (It IS hard to achieve good results with paintbrushes. Not impossible, but hard.) The tools and cables were pained very carefully with the edge of a very thin paintbrush. I made sure the brush held only a very small amount of paint to make sure there would be no run-offs from the delicate details; this was a hybrid version of brush painting-drybrushing… the results are not perfect, but they would do.
The models were primed black, and then I used sand/tan, and German gray/tan to give them their final camo color. These colors need to be lightened significantly to account for the scale effect – I used tan for this purpose. (White is not ideal for lightening
a color; it makes colors look flat and plain.) Once the decals were dry I sprayed semi-matte varnish on the models to protect them. The only finicky thing to paint was the rubber tires of the road-wheels.
Weathering was done very lightly. Due to the scale of the models, subtlety was necessary. I used thin brownish paint to do pin washes, which did bring out the details nicely. The wash was light both in color and application; after all the panel lines would not be very much visible in this scale. (This is a matter of taste -and the purpose of the model. For example Warhammer 40k models usually go for the heavily accented panel lines to show contrast.) The same goes for the dust/mud. If you see apparent dust on the model, it would mean the real vehicle would have been probably covered by dust centimeters thick. I used a brush to layers of earth colored pigments dissolved in water onto the sides and top, and once dried, I used a stiff brush to remove most of it. Since I put these guys into display cases, I did not use any fixer. As a final touch I ran a soft leaded pencil over the raised details, rubbed it lightly against the surface of the mud guards; this gives a nice metallic sheen to the model. Paint chips and rust patches were not applied (as they should not be visible in this scale).
I got some tiny display cases on ebay, so keeping them safe from harm and dust is not a problem. The Afrika Korps Tiger got the cobblestone street base, and the gray Tiger got the grassy one. I added quite a lot of earth colored pigments to both base to make them look less artificial. (The green was especially plastic-like with the uniformly colored mud.) Unfortunately I don’t have my “proper” camera with me, so the photos are not the best; I’ll try to remedy this issue later. (I’m in the middle of moving residences.)