Category Archives: 1/144

Going deep down- the world of 1/144 armor

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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.

 

I’ve built several of these kits in the past: a Leopold railroad gun, a
15 CM S.I.G 33/2 (SF) Auf Jagdpanzer 38(T) Hetzer, two Tiger Is, and a Jagdpanzer IV. I’ve also built Takom’s P1000 Ratte, and the two Maus tanks that came with it. Since the Maus was not featured here before, and it finally resurfaced from the storage box it’s been languishing until now, I thought I’ll give it some time in the spotlight.

All the display boxes were bought from Ebay; they are brilliant for small 1/72 or an average 1/144 armor model.

And since I was taking photos of older builds, I took some more of the Tiger Is; hopefully the macro lens brings out their details a bit better.

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Takom 1/144 P1000 Ratte Land cruiser

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 ones

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.

And the finished monster

With a 1/144 Tiger for scale

With the two included Maus tanks

And finally, how big is this thing?

Banana for scale

30th Post: a Teaser – Flyhawk Panzer II.J., Panzer I. F., Armory MS-1 (T-18) and the Tankom 1/144 Landkreuzer Ratte

This is the 30th post of this blog, and since I’d like to have regular readers, feedback, comments, and all that jazz, it is also an unashamed attempt for getting people to visit… There are several new and old builds waiting to be published in the draft section, but here are four amazing models I am reviewing for Armorama this month… and these three will also be featured in this blog. So… subscribe and keep coming back here already!

(If this does not work, I’ll be posting the third page from The Sun from now on.)

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.)