Monday, August 3

Construction review – Takom’s 35th scale Krupp 21cm Mörser put together..

Andrew Moore opens his account here at TMN in very impressive style. This talented modeller shows us just what to expect when putting together Takom’s new 32th scale Krupp 21cm Mörser 10/16 “2-in-1” kit. See what he though and how it looks built up in today’s review.
Krupp 21cm Mörser 10/16 “2-in-1”
Kit no. #2032
1/35th scale
Price: ¥4,230/ USD $34.14/ €31.07

Takom have really been busy on the WWI front of late. After bringing us a couple of St. Chamonds along with a series of Mark IV's in various genders, they moved on to German artillery with the big Skoda siege howitzers and to this list they've now added the Krupp 21cm Mörser.
Although technically a howitzer, the Germans referred to it as a mortar (Mörser) and it entered service with the Imperial German Army in 1915, providing a replacement for earlier guns that were lacking recoil systems.
These could be devastating weapons having an effective range up to 10km and could fire 114kg (256lb) high explosive shells. They saw heavy use at Verdun and the Somme during 1916.
The kit arrived in a surprisingly small box but there were plenty of parts inside on the four light grey sprues. As well as the styrene, two small photo etch (PE) sheets are included along with four poly-caps, a small decal sheet, the instruction manual and a nice fold-out painting guide. This is one of Takom's 2-in-1 boxings and allows you to build either the early 10 version or the later 16, the principal difference being the longer barrel on the 16.
So, let’s have a closer look at exactly what you get.

Sprue A features the wheels along with parts of the gun mount and also the large gun shield.
Takom have supplied two pairs of wheels, one plain rimmed set, and one pair with the mounting belts for the wheel pads moulded in place. This may look a little simplistic but, with the wheel pads attached, the final effect should be very realistic.
There's some nice rivet detail on the wheels but they are missing the prominent retaining pin on the hub. A bit of wire or plastic rod will soon sort out that problem.

For the most part the mouldings are very clean but there are a few inconveniently placed ejector pin marks here and there, most noticeably on the rear of the gun screen.
These will need filling and sanding smooth as this area is on full show on the finished model.

Takom have even added a small casting number on the gun mount although you may wish to replace these with a different number if you're working from a specific reference.

Sprue B has most of the parts for the box trail and spade tail.
Lots of nuts, bolts and rivets on these parts – for me, the best bits of these early 20th century subjects.

The bulk of parts on sprue C are small detail parts for the gun and mount.
There was a little bit of damage on this sprue as the two handles on part 31 (rear of the breech) had been bent over in the box.
A bit of work with tweezers and liquid cement got them back into shape though.

Sprue D's got more detail parts plus the two barrels and the track pads. The barrels had both been twisted round to lie flat in the box but, fortunately, this hadn't damaged the parts in any way.
Finally we've got the two small PE sheets, the smaller one being an amendment to the main sheet. This was presumably a late correction as the replacement part is not mentioned in the building sequence or shown on the parts map at the front of the manual. The part in question is a small frame that attaches to the side of the box trail and should be substituted for the original, incorrect, part 7 on the main PE sheet.
The decal sheet only has a couple of markings for a gun captured by Canadian forces at Vimy Ridge in 1917.
The instruction manual is in Takom's usual landscape format with clear 3D style build steps.
For this release, Takom have continued their recent trend of teaming up with AMMO from Mig Jimenez to provide the marking options. Here you get no less than seven full colour, five-view schemes on a fold out pamphlet, three for the early 10 model and four for the later 16.

The Build

So, with the box content covered, let’s get down to building. The construction starts with the main box trail which is built up from a single central frame to which detailed side panels were attached.
The fit here is generally excellent as long as all the mating surfaces are cleaned up. The only problem area was the cross frame (part A13) which sits at an angle inside the main frame and was a little too short, leaving a gap at the top.
If you're feeling fastidious, you could cut a strip of plastic card to fill the gap. I've recently had my fastidiousness surgically removed so I decided to leave it as it was.

I did, however, think that the bolts on the axle mounting plate were a little flat so I sliced them off and added something a little chunkier from a Meng bolt set.
...and after
Predictably enough, these are all but invisible with the wheels in place but hey, that's modelling.

A Hold & Fold Bug aided the folding of the two PE frames although it's a simple enough piece to shape by hand.
The individual PE fillets were added once the main frame was glued to the box trail.
Another strip of PE adds some nice rivet detail to the top of the towing arm. This needs to be carefully bent to the shape of the arm.
Although the instructions tell you to glue the towing arm to the brackets that attach it to the trail, with a little care, the arm can remain free which does help when it comes to painting.
The rear of the box trail features two cylindrical brackets highlighted in the photo below. The ones supplied by Takom are a bit on the chunky side to say the least.
I decided it would be worthwhile taking some time to improve these parts a little. To start with, the end of the bracket was cut at an angle with a razor saw.
Once that was done, I drilled out the bracket with increasing sized drill bits until the side walls were closer to a scale thickness. A round file finished the job and a spot of Tamiya Extra Thin cement was brushed round the hole to remove any scarf and dust from the drilling and filing.
For 10 minutes work, the extra refinement of the parts adds a lot to the look of the model for a minimum of effort.
Once completed, the box trail makes a nice, sturdy little construction. The gun and wheels can easily be added after painting.
The loading cradle was built up on top of the trail and held in place with masking tape until the glue had dried. That way I could remove the cradle for painting and simply pop it back at the end.
Takom have moulded two slots in the spade tail to attach the two tubular struts that span the tail. In reality the struts were flattened at the ends and riveted to the tail. To represent this, I filled the slots with plastic strip before adding the struts, finishing it off with a couple of styrene rivets.
Next up we've got the wheels and their accompanying track pads and I had hoped the pads would clip on and remain articulated but, unfortunately, they must be glued in place. No matter, they're still well detailed and look the part when fitted. Just remember when fitting to glue them hanging down with gravity. In my case, I decided to leave them separate for painting.
As I mentioned before, the wheels could do with the missing retaining pins added as these are quite prominent on the real thing. I drilled out the hubs with a 0.6mm drill bit then made up the pins from 0.6 and 0.8 metal tube and a small disc of styrene.
I have a pet peeve with manufacturers who use 20 parts to make a sub assembly when 2 would do just as well. Takom clearly think the same way as the main body of the gun and its support are built up from just four parts but the end result is a very well detailed and accurate representation.
The join on the underside of the gun left a heavily indented seam that was difficult to fill and sand due to the raised lips either side. In the end I simply skinned the area with thin plastic card leaving a smooth, seamless surface.
The instructions recommend fitting the recoil pistons before the rear of the breech block is added but I decided to fit them later as there is a large seam where the halves of the breech block join which would be inaccessible with the pistons in place. Once the seam was filled, the pistons were added.
The one thing I wasn't looking forward too was fitting the PE rifling to inside of the barrel. To help the process I annealed the PE first by heating the part in a gas flame then let it cool. This softened the metal and helped it to roll without creasing.
I rolled the sheet round a pen handle that was slightly larger than the diameter of the barrel then, after realising I'd rolled it with the rifling facing outwards, flattened it out and tried again.
With attempt number 2, I managed to get the rifling the right way round, but after inserting the rolled up PE into the barrel, it became clear that it was slightly too long with the ends overlapping. Also, the leading edge of the sheet wasn't sitting flush with the end of the barrel.
It seemed to be about two grooves too long so, after removing the sheet from the barrel and slicing off the required amount from one end, I went ahead with attempt number 3. This time the ends butted up with no overlap but the edge was still not flush with the barrel end. I decided to stick it in as it was and, once the glue had set, I sliced the protruding section flush with the end of the barrel using a fresh blade. A quick buff with a fine sanding stick removed any rough edges and the rifling was finally done.
With the barrel installed, the gun, barring a few small details, was complete. This is the shorter barrel for the early 1910 model.
The gun support has a couple of brackets at the front which have been moulded solid. In reality, these held a retaining pin which locked the gun in place for transit. It was a simple job to drill through the brackets and add the pin from copper wire.
While I was working on the support, I added a couple of missing bolts to the frame.
The main gun assembly has two small hooks attached on the sides. Sadly, both had snapped on the sprue probably due to the sprue flexing. To be honest, they would have been difficult to remove without damage anyway. I replaced them with more copper wire.
Unfortunately, they weren't the only broken parts. One of the two forward support struts for the gun shield snapped as I was removing it from the sprue.
In fairness, this was probably as much down to my cack-handedness as anything, but the parts are very fragile and great care is needed when removing and cleaning them. Probably a razor saw would be best for this operation. In the end, I decided to remove the struts altogether and simply glue the end bracket to the gun and add the strut from wire after final assembly.

The connection rod for the gun elevation control is also a very delicate part and, again, great care is needed when removing the part from the sprue and cleaning up any mould lines.
As I wanted to keep the gun shield separate for painting, I found it easier to attach the main support struts to the shield itself rather than the gun assembly as the instructions recommend. This way, the shield can simply slip over the gun and be secured once everything is painted.
So, with the gun shield done, the kit was complete and ready for a splash of colour. It's a bit of a cliché to say a model just “fell together” but in this case it really did. The fit was great, the detail was great and, apart from the couple of broken pieces, the build was a pleasure from start to finish. For anyone just getting in to WWI modelling, this is an ideal starter kit.
And now, for me, the best bit – painting and weathering – but that is in the next part of this article..
Andy Moore

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit for us to build and review – expect to see it painted up in another article soon here on TMN