Wednesday, May 31

In boxed: WWII German Super Heavy Tank Maus V2 from Takom in 1/35th scale.

Takom has given us a shock again with their new release of not only one - but two Maus super heavy tanks in 35th scale. We have started construction on the "V2" turreted version of the tank, first of all, we thought that you would like to see what comes in the box before we build it.

WWII German Super Heavy Tank Maus V2 
from Takom
1/35th scale
Product Code# O2050
Three markings are included from AMMO
includes workable track links
Photo-Etch Parts included
Price: ¥5,520/ $50.78 USD/ €45.67 from HobbyLink Japan

Zwei Maus lose im Haus von Takom
We know that there is an older Cyberhobby kit of this massive machine and apparently a planned future version of the Maus with full interior from Trumpeter, but since that release, there has been more access to the only example of this tank - but now Takom is off the mark with their not only one but TWO new Maus kits in 35th scale. 

A little about this monster of a tank for those who don't know much about it: The SdKfz 205 Panzerkampfwagen VIII (PzKpfW VIII) "Maus": 
The heaviest tank ever to be constructed was Germany’s Panzer VIII. Its designers weren’t without a sense of humour – they named the 180-ton behemoth the "Maus" (Mouse). Had the Maus’ manufacturing plant not been bombed by the allies and subsequently overrun by the Soviets in 1945, the Germans would have built more than just the single fully operational prototype. The Maus was intended to punch holes through enemy defences in the manner of an immense "breakthrough tank", whilst taking almost no damage to any components or the crew inside.
The complete vehicle was 10.2 metres (33 ft 6 in) long, 3.71 metres (12 ft 2 in) wide and 3.63 metres (11.9 ft) high. Weighing 188 metric tons, the Maus's main armament was the Krupp-designed 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 gun, based on the 12.8 cm Pak 44 anti-tank field artillery piece also used in the casemate-type Jagdtiger tank destroyer, with a coaxial 75 mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun. The 128 mm gun was powerful enough to destroy all Allied armoured fighting vehicles previously in service, some at ranges exceeding 3,500 metres (3,800 yd)
The armour on the hull front was 220 millimetres (8.7 in) thick, the sides and rear of the hull were up to 190 millimetres (7.5 in). The turret armour was even thicker, the turret front was up to 240 millimetres (9.4 in) and the sides and rear 200 millimetres (7.9 in). The gun mantlet was 250 millimetres (9.8 in), and combined with the turret armour behind, the protection level at that section was even higher.
In fact, the Germans built TWO Maus tanks. One (V1) with, and the other, (V2) without a turret. These two underwent trials in late 1944.
Prototype V1
The first, turretless prototype (V1) was assembled by Alkett in December 1943. Tests started the same month, with a mock-up turret fitted of the same weight as the real turret. In June 1944 the production turret, with armament, was used for tests.
The Maus was too heavy to cross bridges. As a result, an alternative system was developed, where the Maus would instead ford the rivers it needed to cross. Due to its size, it could ford relatively deep streams, but for deeper ones, it was to submerge and drive across the river bottom. The solution required tanks to be paired up. One Maus would supply electrical power to the crossing vehicle via a cable until it reached the other side. The crew would receive air through a large snorkel, which was long enough for the tank to go 7.9 m (26 ft) under water.
Prototype V2 (this kit)
In March 1944 the second prototype, the V2, was delivered. It differed in many details from the V1 prototype. In mid-1944, the V2 prototype was fitted with a power plant and the first produced Maus turret. This turret was fitted with a 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 gun, a coaxial 75 mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun and a coaxial 7.92 mm MG 34. The V1 prototype was supposed to be fitted with the second produced turret, but this never happened.
By July 1944, Krupp was in the process of producing four more Maus hulls, but they were ordered to halt production and scrap these. Krupp stopped all work on it in August 1944. Meanwhile, the V2 prototype started tests in September 1944, fitted with a Daimler-Benz MB 517 diesel engine, new electric steering system and a Skoda Works designed running gear and tracks. There was also a special railroad carriage made just for transporting the Maus prototypes.
In Action:
The working Maus prototypes remained at Kummersdorf after being tested at Böblingen. Maus V2 was ordered to Wünsdorf to protect the OKH, probably V1 was ordered there, also, as a support for the V2 if it drove into mud or to help with driving through rivers (where it would have served as generator unit for V2). V2 ended at the Hindenburgplatz, in front of the bunker Maybach I, where it was destroyed by the Germans by placing charges in the engine and fighting compartments. Because it had ammunition stowed under the turret, it was damaged more extensively than V1, with the turret being more or less intact. Maus V1 did not reach this area.
Maus recovered by the Soviets,  blown up in a very sorry state in 1945
The turret close up:
 The Maus was so very heavy that it took six half-tracks pulling together were needed to move it:
Most Maus accounts say this turret was placed on the hull of the V1 Maus and taken to Kubinka to the tank proving grounds in Russia.
This is it on a rail car for transport back to Russia.
The only surviving Maus, we think made from a combination of the parts two different tanks, and with little or no interior remaining, is now on display at the Kubinka Museum in Russia Today with a  new paint job.
This kit, The WWII German Super Heavy Tank Maus V2 in 35th scale from Takom:
The box features some nice art as usual from takom. It is a regular sized box that you may well see with a King Tiger or Tiger sized tank. The box opens up to reveal a large near full turret amongst sixteen sprues of that square looking grey plastic with the thick sprues Takom are using. the connection points are thin, however, and the removal was not a problem. The plastic inside has some seam marks to remove, but nothing problematic, and all of the ejector marks are in hidden places. Nice engineering work on the plastic then...
The instructions:
A simple set of instructions for only twelve steps of construction comes with this kit. The usual style from takom, being black and white and simple steps. Nothing jammed in here and they are easy to follow. The devil is in the details, however, as several of these steps involve you making multiples of objects, the suspension units for instance on Step  2:  These are in twelves and twenty-fours. Together with the tracks, there is a lot of repetition early on in this kit.
While we are still looking at the instructions, there are three full-colour full-page profiles in "what -if" versions provided by AMMO with of course their own paints listed as colours. These are a good starting point, and as this is a tank that never really went into full-blown production, the mind boggles at the freedom the modeller has in creating their own colour scheme. 
Popular will the be the red oxide scheme and the "Octopus" camo style from the box art, there are many ways this kit could be shown off by a modeller once completed - partially destroyed or in working order on a late war/ "'46" battlefield. If you had twelve or so half-tracks you could even show it being towed you could show off the real version being recovered.
There is a small decal sheet provided in this kit that features the hammer and sickle of the Maus that was actually applied by the Germans in the hope that any leaked picture that was obtained by the US or British espionage services would think this was a Soviet tank - crazy logic huh?
There is one sheet of photo etched brass in the kit. The lack of this is heartening and totally sensible, as everything visible on the kit is pretty chunky looking. The larger parts in photo etch are engine deck grills.
Ok, on to the plastic - we will go through this kit sprue by sprue before we get building the model.

Sprue F (X3) the tracks - these are large plates are the internal connection parts of the Maus track. There are three of these sprues, with a fair few connecting points on each so a lot of repetition, although Takom has made these points to a minimum size each.
A close up shows the tiny 2mm ejector pin mark in all of these - however you need not worry about them as they are completely hidden inside the track mechanism.
Sprue G (X3) the trackpads - these large pads are slightly different to the V1 tracks, and there are three sprues again filled with these babies. 
 These do need glue to be secured, however, they are fully workable once secured together.
Combined, there are four parts to each of the workable tracks. These are BIG in 35th scale, and the good thing about the way they have been made is that they are very pliable and workable once constructed. The instructions call fo 155 tracks on each side, however, if you are inclined you only need make the bottom row of tacks as the massive steel side skirts hide the top level of tracks. The choice is up to you - but these were not a "grind" to make at all...
Sprue W (X2) These are the middle road wheels and Running gear. Again, these are slightly different to the V1 version's wheels. They are meant to be attached to the suspension in a workable turning way. Though this is kind of a gimmick for most modellers,, it is the quality of the wheels we are interested in.
In close-up, you can see the many wheels are attached at four points which are easily removable without worry of damaging the exposed surfaces. It is a lot of repetition, of course unlike the tracks, but these need to be made up completely as the several suspension units under the Maus need to be present.
Sprue T (X2) contains the many suspension arms for the running gear. Two sprues full of these little blighters. This sprue also houses the drive sprocket and return wheel of the running gear.
 A close up of all of the parts on the sprue shows the smart ( but many)  places the parts are attached to the hull. Also, the nice bolts that attached to all of these wheels in 35th scale. again a lot of repetition in this early phase of the build, but the engineers of this kit tried hard to mike it easy for us.
Sprue E (X2) has the last of the running gear. The pivot suspension arms are here along with the pins and caps for the wheels. nothing too interesting, but some of these caps will be on display on the bottom row of the tank when completed.
 In closer detail...
Sprue D - This sprue houses the top engine deck of the tank. You can see here the rough rolled steel texture of the steel on the plastic here- not too much or too little.
 On this sprue also is the engine grilles and the internal ribbing (if you like) that holds the structure together. These are simply for the kit's rigidity and not used on the real vehicle.
Sprue S - This sprue houses the two main slabs of side skirts. Huge, and massively thickly armoured on the original tank, and here all in one place. The huge removable fuel tanks are here to be strapped to the back of the tank, and present also is the big, thick, rear plate of the tank.
As these side skirts were not really able to be removed without a heavy work facility or cranes to remove them. Certainly, these were not flexible or bendable like the thin armoured skirts on just say a panther or PZ.IV. Again present is a pitted steel on these plates and welding replication on the joints, great to see here in just the right detail.
 The guard for in front of the driver's hatch is here on the V2 version of this tank, notice the weld seams?
 You can see the pitted steel effect of the rolled steel on the rear plate. Wels seams again present. The two large tanks are supplied in halves down the centre. Unfortunately, you will have to be but-clenchingly careful removing these from the sprues.
Sprue U - The last sprue contains a few of the parts that people will really look at, the long 128mm gun barrel, the gun mantlet and several other internal and smaller areas of attention along with the front deck of the hull and turret ring.
 The front deck and glacis plate again give us some rolled steel replication on the surfaces, really impressive, and the open or closed recess for the hatch for the driver.
 The mantlet if a large cat part on the real thing, and here again the cast surface is great. The bolts are sharply edged and the many complicated angles on the mantlet and smaller (pee-shooter) gun is here on the sprue.
 The main armament of the 128mm gun is here - unfortunately, cast in two halves, delicate glueing is called for, some will go for a metal gun, but if you are careful you will have a decent boomstick.
 The last few inches (mm's here) of the inside of the gun I noticed have a rifling like effect - not many will notice this, but it is a sign the makers of the kit care about the end product.
The largest part of this kit is the lower hull. It all sits on this, and although a lot of it is unseen - it is the base of this massive tank. It's not small - and it is kind of curved. Although this is mostly unseen when the kit is finished.
The sockets for the front wheels are a good help to correct placement are the rear of the hull - location is easy with the slots provided here. Again welding seams and rolled steel is here in plastic form.
Last and not least - is the really big difference between this and the other version of takom's Maus - the turret. The two top hatches are able to be posed open via the hatch covers which slide ot the sie - the rear pistol port is also able to be left open. There is no interior though, so you had better put a tanker in there! 

The angled cheeks are seen in a front on aspect.
 The reverse view of the top of the turret, weld seams and the texture of the steel is visible here again.
 A close-up of the rear of the turret shows these details in more closer vision.
There it is - the largest tank most of us will make in 35th scale. Simple to make, and although a bit repetitive in the initial stages of the build, it is not painful in the parts that you have to make which is nice.

The Dragon kit needed to be updated, and although that kit is still ok, this is simpler and to my eye, a kit with better surface detail than that kit. as for the upcoming Trumpeter kit with the interior - well to me that seems a bit dubious as there is no real reference to go from, and a tank that size with a full interior - it will be a LOT of fo work - This kit is just enough  work to me. It's already half made on my bench  - the build guide will come next week.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit to us to review and to build. Keep your eyes on the news here at TMN or the Takom Website for part two of the review - the build, coming very soon.