Skoda 30.5cm M1916 Siege Howitzer
Available from Takom’s Distributors Worldwide
Available from Takom’s Distributors Worldwide
Development of this weapon began in 1906, when the Austro-Hungarian high command had the desire to develop a weapon capable of penetrating the concrete fortresses being built in Belgium and Italy. Four years after work had begun on the weapon the first round was fired in 1910.
It’s armour-piercing shell tipped the scales at around 384 kg and was able to penetrate 2 metres of reinforced concrete at a range of almost 6kms. After a few refinements to the initial design through 1911 an order for 24 of these guns was placed by the Minister of War, Moritz von Laufenberg.
The weapon proved to be extremely successful and became a real linchpin in the battle plans of WW1. It played the role that the heavy bombers would later go on to play in WW2, beating the opposition into submission.
In 1916 the length of the barrel was extended to provide the M1916 version of this gun, the one reflected in this Takom kit.
By the end of the war, 51 of these guns had been manufactured. In 1918, at the end of the war these weapons were distributed amongst the allies as the spoils of war. Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, as well as Romania, Italy and Hungary divided up the captured weapons and went about training to use them for their own defence.
AT the outbreak of the Second World War, Germany seized 17 of the guns from Czechoslovakia, along with one used for artillery instruction in Austria. After refurbishing them they went on to use them against Poland, France and the Soviet Union as well as for the defense of Germany.
The weapon gained infamy after its devastating effect by the German forces when they used 16 of them against the Crimean fortress during the Siege of Sevastopol in 1942.
So here we are again, Takom releasing something different, left of centre and quite unique. When I first saw the box art I was quite excited at the prospect of having a go at this one. I knew nothing of the subject or it’s history. I just liked the look of it’s old fashioned lumbering lines and the sheer presence of the thing.
The kit sprues:
The kit builds up from parts found on 3 sprues. Also included in the box is the usual Takom style instructions, nicely presented and reasonably simple in nature as well as a couple of colour schemes researched and rendered by the team at AMMO by Mig Jimenez.
Construction starts with some of the smaller pieces in the kit. Here you see the bolts that will sit on top of the main structure of the mortar.
I found using a piece of Blutac handy for locating these tiny parts so as not to make a mess with any excess glue.
You may also note that the 2 halves of the gun assembly didn’t join overly well. This will need some attention later.
The gun barrel is moulded in one piece and sits nicely in the previous assembly. The rifling moulded on the inside of the barrel is very tidy. I have read on some forums that a shortcoming of the kit is that the moulding doesn’t travel the length of the barrel, however I didn’t see that posing too much of a problem.
Some fit issues here for the components on the underside of the barrel. Again this will need some attention.
The left hand wall of the gun with the sights and handles attached. I would have liked a better understanding of the relation of the gun position to the way the sight should be sitting. There was a fair amount of movement on the location of these pieces, so some reference would have been handy. I took my best guess at it and moved on.
The right hand side was assembled in a similar fashion and had less detail than the left.
The base assembly is very basic. Detail was a little light on but from what I can gather these bases were sunk into the ground when in position, so in reality most of this structure would never be seen. That said the shackles located around the corners of the base are all moulded into it. It would have been nice to have these as parts that could be moved or altered in some way.
The ammunition cart and shells are now assembled. Again the fit isn’t perfect, especially in the 2 halves of the trolley. There will need to be some sanding and filling again.
The main gun has now been assembled fitting the left and right sides to the gun’s base plate. The gun is wedged between the two walls and has a certain amount of lateral movement.
The gun structure is then fitted to the base. I included that beautiful little figure from Stalingrad Miniatures to give a sense of scale to the gun.
The patching begins…
A few more minor elements are attached to the model. Again there are a number of fit issues. Not drastic, but a touch bothersome.
Also note where the pole dropping from the adjustment crank sits. There is a moulded section in the base plate that looks like it should be housing that pole. It isn’t like it is even close though, and with no reference photos I am just going to have to assume the real thing looks like this and move past it. Not sure if this is an error, but I have my suspicions. The instructions also indicate that the way it has been moulded is correct.
Primed and started to sand some seams and join lines.
After studying as many pictures I could find of this weapon, it was here that I found an inaccuracy in the kit. I kind of wish I hadn’t found it because I am sure no one would have ever known, but unfortunately, once I had seen it I couldn’t ignore it.
I sourced a set of nuts and bolts from Plus Model and went about adding some bolts to the kit. As you can see, the images aren’t entirely clear as to exactly what they looked like, but there is no doubting they are there, so I took an educated guess at the size, style and placement of the additional bolts.
Bolts on! The model is now given an all over cover of Dunkelgelb and then lightened with Dunkelgelb aus ’44 from the AMMO range of late war German colours.
I had actually been playing around with paints on this kit during the build and was probably a little lazy in not cleaning it all up before putting this coat down. As luck would have it though the layers of paint left underneath the yellow gave an interesting effect that I really liked. You can see the texture in the barrel section. In reality these guns were repainted many times depending on when and where they were used. The model I am building was captured by the Allies in Zweibrucken, Germany in April 1945. It had been repainted in the lighter tone of the Dunkegelb.
A rough wash was given all over. She looks a little messy here but I will come back and clean this up somewhat and future weathering will mask a lot of this anyway. It is really just to set some panel lines up.
Shadows and wear lines were created using a mix of dark brown and black paint. The effect was then tied together using an all over filter I had in the shelf from SIN Industries. To add further interest I then added touches of thinned Dunkelgelb ’44 from the MIG range of paints.
Using AK Interactive True Metal I painted the inner part of the barrel and picked out some edges on the model. The silver is probably a little bright at the moment, but I will address that later. You may notice that there are a few handles and pieces missing in this pic. The plastic seems to be very soft and is prone to breaking in a number of weak spots. A little more care was required obviously. You can also see here the little cart that comes in the kit has been assembled. The fit wasn’t the best and some sanding was required.
Not entirely happy with the True Metal stage I went about softening the effect with some lighter tones of the Dunkelgelb. Once satisfied with the duller appearance I did another oil wash using Abt215 Flesh Shadow.
A few pieces that got knocked off during the handling were reattached and the model received an all over Flat clear (Alclad)
A little more shading was applied with the airbrush using a paint colour called ‘Dark Tracks’.
With no colour references noted for the ammunition or the cart. I took a guess at what the colours might be. To add further interest I sprayed one with a white band and the other with a yellow. I used the hairspray technique on these to simulate some chipping on those colours. I have absolutely no information to lead me to believe this is actually what they looked like.
This is an interesting subject with an interesting history. The kit itself is pretty basic and is not without it’s shortcomings. Detail was a bit old fashioned in places but very tidy in others. There were fit issues also, but nothing that couldn’t be corrected or hidden. The kit was adequate enough to make a reasonable model. The highlight of this kit is the subject itself. It fills a void in the modeling market and Takom should be congratulated for their forward thinking and willingness to take a risk on a kit like this.
It is my plan to ultimately build a little vignette with this one. I am planning to replicate a captured 30.5 cm howitzer in a camouflaged positioned alongside the road near Zweibrucken, Germany in April 1945 as per this image
I have included a figure with these finished build pictures. The figure is from the Dragon Allied Force ETO figure set and the head is from Hornet. I think the figure is an important inclusion on a kit like this to purely give the viewer a sense of scale around the subject.
So again, well done to Takom for having the courage to present the market with something new and unique.
Thanks to the guys at Takom for sending this kit for us to build – It is available from Takom’s Distributors Worldwide
To see more of Clayton’s work go to www.theworkbench.com.au or his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/workbenchhobbies