Thursday, May 28

Build review: 1/144 Takom's P1000 Landkreuzer Ratte & Maus –‘From little things, big things grow’

Takom have been really busy – they are getting very active in the model scene with lots of great unique releases. None more so than what our man Clayton has built in our review today.  A super looking kit of the P-1000 Landkreuzer or “Ratte” + 2 Maus tanks, both in the same box in 1/144th scale. For when going incredibly XXX large is still possible on a normal sized workbench. Let’s see what he thought of the kit…

Build review:
P-1000  Ratte & 2 x Maus kit
Takom Models
1:144th scale
Code#: 3001
Price: $45
Available from Takom’s Distributors Worldwide
Model by Clayton Ockerby

Initial designs of the “Landkreuzer” were first presented mid 1942 by Krupp. The tank was planned to be 1000 metric tonnes, making it the heaviest tank ever built (weighing 188 tonnes). It was to be armed with naval artillery and armoured with 250mm of hardened steel.
Adolf Hitler had expressed great interest in the development of the tank, and was actually the one who named the project the ‘Ratte’. His enthusiasm was later quelled due to the predicted destruction of roads and bridges if it were to travel on them. Further challenges for a vehicle this size where it’s general vulnerability to enemy aircraft and artillery. The project was cancelled in early 1943 with no prototype tank ever being built.

Not that the thinking behind this was so mental as it seems - Battleship turrets were used in land pillboxes during the war and they would have been used on these tanks.

Battery Ørland in Norway which was originally the C turret on the Gneisenau

I remember first seeing this vehicle in a documentary on the History Channel. The program was based around Hitler’s super-weapons.  I watched in awe at the computer generated scenes they’d produced for the show, and thought to myself I would love to build this machine one day.
So it would seem that Takom heard my wishes and have come to the party with this, slightly left of centre, armour release.
Upon opening the box it is quite mind blowing how big this thing was going to be. In reality it would have been 35 metres long, so even at 1/144 it is quite a big model. It is even bigger that most 1/35 armour.

At first glance it is going to be a very straight forward build. The kit comes over only a few simply molded sprues with a basic set of photo etch rails. The kit also comes with a couple of Maus’s (or would that be Mice??). I love the inclusion of these smaller tanks as it will help to set the scale of the Ratte.
Given this beast never actually was made, it is a nice touch that there are a number of suggested camouflage schemes for it included by the good people at AMMO.  
Given the scale of the kit, 1/144, there is only so much detail they can include in an off the shelf kit, so my initial feelings are the basic build and moulded detail are all appropriate for a model such as this.

A very simplified wheel assembly is really all that is required, so it was nice to see Takom didn’t overcomplicate this part of the model. Most of it will hardly be seen.
The top half of the tank is moulded in one piece. Here you see a few odds and ends fitted to the main piece. All very simple.
The instructions suggest to fit the two anti-aircraft guns at the rear of the tank, however the kit comes with four sets of these guns.  I have seen some people adding more AA stations to the tank, but I have decided to stick with the two.
Again, very simple assembly of the turret. The barrels are just fixed in place with the pins on the moulding sitting in a moulded collar on the turret. They are very sloppy and tend not to stay pointing where you want them to.  A poly cap system may have been better in this kit. I ended up stuffing Blu-tack up in under the barrel to try and keep it from going limp.
I couldn’t help myself, I had to build the twin Maus kits also...
The detail was overall good, but I felt the moulding in the wheel section could have been improved on. I am probably nitpicking, and with some careful painting it will be easy to overcome.

White undercoat and some light preshading.
The link and length tracks are now attached to the wheels. I could only use a certain number of these links because I simply couldn’t squeeze any more on. From memory I used one less than the instructions called for.  Most of the tracks will be hidden once the model is together so I didn’t get too bogged down with this part of the build.
Wheels and underside attached.  The model received an undercoat of AMMO – Dark Yellow Primer. I decided to choose my own path with the camouflage scheme on this one. How often do you get the opportunity to essentially do whatever you want?
I took inspiration from the disruptive lines seen in the German battleships and paired that with the late war colours being seen on the German vehicle at the time.  It was a bit of a leap of faith, but I have a plan and just went about it one step at a time.
The model then received a treatment of AMMO colour Dunkelgelb ’44 (MIG-011). This colour is from the ‘Late War German Colour Set’. The colour depicts a late war Dark Yellow.  I selectively sprayed this colour allowing some of the original primer coat to show through as shadow.
The fun part! The model was now masked up, ready for the next colour. Resedagrün (MIG004) was used as the core colour.  Shades and highlights were subtly mixed through this colour and set down through the airbrush.
More masking and a layer of Schokobrun (MIG015) with dark and light points sprayed for variation.
Masks removed and the pattern reveals itself. Always exciting removing the masks.
Without forgetting the Maus…. A base layer of Schokobrun and Resedagrün were sprayed. A basic Blu-tak mask is then set to define the camouflage lines. Dunkelgelb is then set down. I wanted to do something bold and slightly different for this camouflage. Not sure how I will be using this model in my display yet so I didn’t waste too much time on this.
Both vehicles received an overall filter using ‘Tan for Tri colour Camo’. The filter helps to unify the colours and warm everything up.  A panel line wash was also done using a thinned mix of Abteilung Shadow Brown.
Post shading of the panels was now done with a heavily thinned mix of Schokobrun and black. Because the model is so big and lacks fine detail, I felt I needed to add some visual interest by creating some wear and panel lines.
A treatment of Light Dust and Europe Earth from the AMMO range is now added.  The pigments are mixed with white spirit and added to the model. Working this way can be difficult because you never can tell how the effect will look until it has dried.   The stage in this image will still require some cleaning up.
A mix on the same pigment is now added to the tracks.  
 The high points were then sparked up by buffing Gun Metal pigment with a cotton bud.
To add some interest to the model I added some really fine chipping by dabbing a sponge with a lightened mix for the Dunkelgelb. The process was then repeated using a darker colour to represent older and deeper chipping.

Because the model is 1/144, caution is required at this point because painting chips too large and out of scale will just look silly.
Back to the turret.  Small dots of white and sienna oil paint are randomly added to the surfaces. A flat brush moistened with white spirit is now used to drag the oils down the model and blend them in with the base colours.
After the blending is finished, the turret get a clear varnish and the decal is added.
The turret is fitted to the main body of the model.  Dunkegelb ad Dunkelgrau are mixed together and a thinned mix is dusted on parts of the turret to help tie the model together.
The PE rails… I started by drilling out the suggested holes for the railing to fit in.
I felt the rails were a really important part of this model because they would be a piece of fine detail on essentially, a house brick on tracks. The rails were sprayed in a dark grey and clipped from the fret.

I had issues lining the railing up with the drilled holes, and when I did I still found that some of the legs in the railing didn’t touch the surface of the tank. I’m only talking micro measurements, but attaching these was a pain in the neck. I don’t know how the ship builders do it! I tried using superglue, but had no luck with it. I ended up using a PVA white glue I had and it seemed to do the trick.

The rails took up a huge chunk of time, but I think without them the model would lack a bit of punch. 
Here you see the rails in place. There is a bit of glue mess there and they are far from perfect, but they had to be there. I am hoping with the matte coats start going down some of the glue marks will be hidden.
The thing with this tank is it was going to be massive. I felt the best way to illustrate its’ size was to pose it next to one of the smallest tanks of the time and place a couple of figures on it.  I came across this little Panzer 1 model from F-Toys. As luck would have it, it also came with some figures.

Figure painting the 144th scale figures was interesting, but was detailed enough to illustrate the scale of the Ratte.
Here you see just how tiny the Panzer 1 model is. The detail on such a tiny kit was really quite good and was the perfect complement to the Ratte display I had in mind..
A couple of coats of ALCLAD flat and a few touch ups here and there and I was calling this one done.

When I first saw this model announced I was really excited. Again, Takom have come up with something truly unique and really interesting. It immediately grabbed my attention and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.   
..and next to one of the Maus tanks supplied in the kit.
The model is a little oversimplified in parts, but that is a matter of opinion.  In the end, this model is about the painting and display more than it is the construction. The only real challenge in the kit was the photo etch rails, but really that is splitting hairs again. The fine lines and delicate detail of the railing adds that touch of realism and subtly to the otherwise lumbering, squarish lump of a tank. They definitely add something special to the kit. 

 In detail - notice the scale of this thing next to the figures on the rear deck..
This is a painters’ kit. It really is a blank canvas for you to put your own spin on. Given the tank was never built, the fun here is building up your own scheme which no one can question.

And a walk around of this massive "what if?" machine
The challenge you will have with this kit when displaying it will be convincing people it is 1/144 and not 1/72 or even a 1/35 scale kit.  It is that big. to help I have made a lovely lazer engraved  plinth for the tank - with a comparison to the Pz.I on top and named it ‘From little things, big things grow’
Would the Ratte have been a success if it had made the battlefield? I guess we will never know, but what I can say is the Ratte in 1/144 scale from Takom is a real winner in my books. I am loving what Takom are doing for our hobby.

Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to Takom for sending us this kit to build - it is now available from Takom’s Distributors
Thanks to Mig's AMMO brand of paints for sending us the Late war camo to use on this tank as well
See more of Clayton’s modelling on his website or his Facebook page