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60cm Morser Karl



S u m m a r y

Stock Number and Description Dragon Models Limited 1/35 Scale 39-45 Series 10th Anniversary Series Kit No. 6179
Media and Contents: 390 parts (386 in light grey styrene, 2 steel springs, 1 turned aluminum projectile, 1 steel axle)
Price: MSRP USD$69.00 (available for USD$62.97 from Squadron.com)
Scale: 1/35
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: first injected molded kit of this vehicle in this scale; very nicely done and includes the more popular "link and length" track system; half the price of resin or composite versions of this vehicle
Disadvantages: only builds the 60 cm version of the vehicle; some minor shortcuts in production; some may wish for a turned barrel (see comments)
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all German and artillery fans


Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

Dragon's 1/35 scale Morser Karl may be ordered online from Squadron.com


F i r s t L o o k


The Germans and French have always had diametrically opposed views of artillery. The Germans always thought that if one round could do the job right the first time, get a bigger gun. The French concept was a lot of little rounds fired very fast can do the same job. Both got their test during WWI, and both sides found the wisdom and folly of their choices. The French found that their concept was a sure winner as an infantry killer, but the Germans found that their concept was a fortress cracker and excellent suppression weapon.

When the Germans began to rearm for WWII, they still saw a need for fortress crackers. But the one drawback to their WWI version, the 42 cm "Big Bertha", was that it was very slow and very hard to maneuver due to its huge size and the number of loads it had to travel in. They therefore took its new progeny, a 60 cm ultraheavy mortar dubbed Geraet (Equipment) 040, and put it on a specially designed self-propelled chassis. While the complete weapon still went around 124 metric tons in firing order, at least it only need to be broken into two components for movement and could position itself once it arrived in its firing position. One prototype and five production guns were built.

Later, while the 600mm projectile was found to be perfect for eliminating pesky Soviet defenders a block at a time, it was too short-ranged and the guns were always in danger of simple enemy counterbattery fire. As a result, a smaller 54 cm barrel was designed which gave the weapon a 50% increase in effective range while still throwing a nearly 3,000 pound projectile.

The guns were all given names, just as with the German superheavy railway guns: Adam (I), Eve (II), Thor (III), Odin (VI), Loki (V) and Ziu (VI). Eve and Loki were captured by US forces in 1945.

This is a stunning vehicle in size and concept, and has been done in 1/72 scale as a plastic kit and by several manufacturers as a resin or combination kit. Now, in honor of its 10th Anniversary, Dragon Models has released a very impressive kit of this monster.

First off, it does not come in a normal model box but rather in a heavy cardboard crate. The model box is so large that unpacking the review sample literally made my granddaughter's day with its size and the amount of excelsior used to protect it! The box has a two-sided cardboard sleeve with the traditional excellent Ron Volstad artwork on both sides.

Once inside, the kit is essentially a typical Dragon affair but on steroids. The hull alone is a single-piece molding with all 22 road wheel axles molded in place and is over 31 cm long. There are unfortunately ejector pin marks right above each of the axle mounts, but they appear to be easy to remove; remember it's hard to get something this big and as rigid as it is out of the molds without some help.

The model comes with a complete running gear and to the sighs of relief of many modelers, this kit uses "link and length" track rather than complete single link assemblies. Alas, each shoe has two injection pin marks, but these are easily removed with a small file. The road wheels are all hollow backed, but considering the gun comes in the "down" position, the wheels are closely spaced, and there is little room above them, this is basically an inconsequential detail.

The actual gun mounts are big, but DML has tried to ensure that they do not wind up toy-like in the fashion of the old Renwal Atomic Cannon. The parts are assembled in structures so that they replicate the massive frames of the original and appear reasonably convincing when compared to photos. The rammer assembly is included and likewise is built up from smaller parts to create something that appears able to deal with a 5,400 pound shell.

The gun itself is MASSIVE and takes a lot more parts than I would have thought. Some may whine as the main gun tube is a two-part styrene assembly and not turned aluminum, but at the size of the tube it would either weigh six or seven ounces or cost more than the rest of the kit, so DML can't be blamed for its choice. The tube is surprise! rifled, so they did try to do it right and I give them credit for expediency over silliness.

The driver's position is supplied as well, but most modelers will probably just wish to use the cover (part B10) to conceal it. As this wasn't a full-up cross-country chassis, it's pretty spartan as well.

In order to help keep the massive breech in battery, the model uses two springs mounted inside the recoil carriage. The small steel axle mounts on the left upper side of the cradle, but appears to serve no strengthening function that I can see. The shell is a nice touch and is big, heavy and neatly turned.

The model comes with two options: an RLM gray scheme for "Loki" (Gun V) or a three-color camouflage scheme for "Ziu" (Gun VI).

At this time it is not known if DML will produce a tender vehicle with more projectiles, or offer the projectiles separately as Tamiya did for its Sturmtiger.

Overall this appears to be a really nicely done kit, and one which will keep the after-market folks busy with conversions and add-ons. Right now it can use (but does not need) an 80-wheel mobile barrel transport trailer, a 24-wheel carriage transport trailer, the railway carrier sections, the 54 cm barrel option, a Munitionswagen IV ammo carrier, more ammunition, crew figures, etched brass, markings for the other four guns everyone in the armor modeling fraternity should find something which will enhance this kit and make it a showstopper.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.

Review Copyright 2003 by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 23 February, 2003
Last updated 24 August, 2003

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