Being an armor guy since I got back into modeling 7 years ago has given me the chance work on some really great kits over the years. However I was feeling a little stagnent as of late, and felt I needed a new challenge. Enter Great Wall Hobby and their two new anti-tank guns, the Rheinmetall 12.8cm L55 and the Krupp 12.8cm Pak 44. The moment I saw both I knew I had to build them.
The Krupp gun drew my attention first, as it really looks the part of an intimidating bruser. This build is right out of the box with no after-market or scratch building done on this kit. I am submitting this build as an after thought, because I have seen so very few completed. The images are only of the finished model, but I will attempt to underline the build and finishing process as best as possible.
The build commenced with the assembly of the cruciform for the gun. The mating of the upper and lower peices are of no concern, as they glue together and conform very nicely. You will need to apply some Tamiya putty to some of the lower areas to smooth things out. The kit is designed so that the swing out cruciform arms can be installed later if so desired. The model was built in no less than 13 sub-assemblies for ease of painting and final assembly.
I next focused on the gun carriage itself. Again, the fitting of the parts was good with very little clean-up. The slide for the gun and breech block needed to be filled where the two halves were joined. This was done with Tamiya putty, and wet sanded progressively with finer and finer saning sticks till a smooth surface was achieved.
I next started work on the swing out arms of the gun. These provided a bit more of a challenge because of the location points between the two halves. There is a prominent (what I think) weld seam that runs the length of the arms. These are a vital look of the gun but are really hard not to destroy during the construction and sanding process. So I chose to remove them entirely and make new ones out of streached sprue from the kit. They were carfully secured in place with Tamiya thin cement.
There is a lever arm on the cruciform. This is very delicate in nature. I chose to leave this off during construction for fear of breaking it. I next assembled and fit the limber crank arms onto the cruciform. Each crankarm mechanisim comes with a PE housing to be attached to it. I aneeled it to make it fit easier over the housing. I then secured it with 5 min epoxy and taped it down while the epoxy cured.
Tackling the limbers became my next focus. These are mini-kits unto themselves, and very detailed.
It is very important to follow the instructions to the letter during this part of the build, as the ''blown-up'' drawings can be somewhat confusing at times. Pivot arms must be placed in the proper alignment for the limbers to be either in the travel or firing position.
My advice is to dry fit as much as possible during this part of the build, as you want to be sure of a proper fit. Once I was comfortable with the over all fit of both limbers I secured them with Tamiya thin cement.
The road wheels remained off for painting, and to detail the inner wheel hub and brakes. some Mr. Maskol was used to cover the area of the wheel I was going to glue later.
I next assembled the crank arms and housings for the limbers. These went together with no problems at all, and secured very nicely to the cruciform. There is a small peice of photo etch that needs to be secured to the housing for detail. I used 5 min epoxy and held it down with a thin strip of Tamiya tape.
With all the cruciform arms in place, I dry fitted the round ''foot pads'' for the monster. By scribing the height of each and numbering them on the bottom i was able to place them in their correct position once it came time to glue them in place. This ensured a level platform with all four feet touching my table.
Assembly of the fire controls, elevation wheels and gun sights went off without a hitch too. There are some tricky parts to lineup on the right side of the the gun cradle . My guess is these were the hydrolic drives to elevate and rotate the massive gun. These parts are very thin and delicate, and great care must be taken to remove them from the sprue.
The Big Gun
Next in line was the business end of this kit, the massive gun, and its workings. The turned barrel and muzzle break supplied with the kit are very nice. Maybe someone will actually one day mill a breech block from aluminum??? Hmm, an idea???
From the outset I intended to leave the barrel off until the very last, because of its awkwardness in handling the kit during construction. I sprayed the barrel with automotive primer, which ''bites'' into the metal alot better than any hobby based metal primer. And its cheap too. Setting the barrel aside for drying. I focused on the breech block.
Unfortunatly I encountered quite a few sink holes on this multiple part peice. Filler was required, so I went back to the trusted Tamiya putty. I applied multiple coats of putty with varing degrees of wet sanding inbetween each application. This was done with finner and finner sanding sticks, and sponges. The final result yeilded no fewer than 4 apllications of putty when it was all said and done. But as you can see in the photos, the work was well worth it.
Once dry after a few days I primed it with Tamiya matt mixed with a bit of their gloss. Then when dry after 24hrs I hit it with two thin coats of Alcalad ''steel''. This would provide the basis of ny detailing and weathering at a later stage. But more impotantly it protected the work I did to achieve the smooth milled steel look.
The slide for the breech block received the same treatment. All known sink holes and seams were eliminated in the same manner.
The Gun Cradle
The gun cradle final assembly involved many fine parts, that needed to be aligned and handled carefully. All the parts lined up as needed, extra care was taken with regards to the mount for the gun sight, as it had to line up with the open slot in the shield.
I attached the hydraulic tubes for the gun's elevation to the cradle. I sanded smooth the male part of the cyliders and also used the Alcalad steel paint on them to good effect. But forget about actually using the evelvators to keep the gun in any unique position. The turned barrel is just too heavy for this.
Lastly, I needed to line up the gun shield with the mounts on the cradle. I placed the shield on the cradle exactly how it would fit once secured. I then took one of the mounting brackets and glued it to the shield. The same was done with the other side. I then had time to insert the oppisite ends to the mounts on the cradle. I taped them there for a few hours and then popped off the brackets from the cradle .
What I had now was the brackets attached to the shield once the painting was done. By not having the shield on during the painting process leaves more room for painting and detail work on the rest of the gun and cradle.
Painting and Weathering
With all my sub-assemblies complete it was time to hit it with the primer coat. For this I like to use Tamiya Dark Sea gray. It's not black, but I feel leaves a better base for which to work with and find building flaws.
The only parts that were painted black were the road wheels and rims of the limbers. The road wheels on this gun are very cool looking, and huge! I used my dremel tool at low speed to chip the rubber from the tires, since these were solid in nature and would chip easy due to the 11 ton combat weight of this gun.
Each sub-assembly received multiple thin coats of the sea grey until all areas were covered with a good base. I then allowed the peices to sit for 48 hrs before committing them to the final paint finish. For the specific look I wanted I needed three colors. Tamiya Feild Grey (xf-65) for the base color. Tamiya dark yellow (xf-60) amd Tamiya (xf-64) red brown.
I shot the color full strength onto the peices at first. Applying two coats to all surfaces, again allowing 24hrs drytime in between coats. The next application involed the toning down of the color by applying some color modulation to highlight some of the lighter aeras of the gun . Obvious areas here were the gun shield, parts of the cruciform and road wheels. To tone down the xf-65 I used Tamiya flat white.
Being a late war scenario, I was looking for something a little different regarding the possible camoflage of such a big gun . As a German soldier, how would I best use camoflage paint on such a big gun. I thought that breaking up its lines with , well lines might serve well.
I set my Iwata eclipse to a fine tolerance for applying these thin lines on the gun. I wanted them to look to scale, and I think i achieved this. I temporaroly placed the barrel of the gun in place and noted where the lines would run from the barrel to the shield. I then removed the barrel and started the camo scheme on it.
I placed the now painted barrel on a clean paper towel , held the barrel at an angle with some grips at the end and slowly rotated the back as I sprayed, keeping the muzzle break on its side rolling along until I conncted the camo line. This was first done with the yellow, and then with the red brown . I proceeded to the point where I had to install the barrel.
The painting stopped for the evening. I focused on the breech once again . With the all steel look a little too much for my liking, I decided to show a distressed paint job on the breech in the form of the tried and true ''hairspray'' technique. I gave the breech block a generous coat of fine hairspray, alowed it to dry a little. I then shot the breech block with the xf-65. After giving it 15 min or so, I took a stiff brush and started to rub away the paint a little. Being a late war weapon, I did not want to over do it on the wear & tear. I should note that I masked off the loading area of the breech which would remain polished at all times. Graphite was used to enhance the polished steel look on this part of the breech. I also kept the end part of the slide for the breech polished steel, just for some contrast. I now gave both parts a good coat of Humbrol matt coat to seal it up. This works very well to avoid finger prints and such and is a very durable finish.
It was now time to mate the gun with the breech block on the cradle. For securing the gun to the slide and the breech block I used 5 min epoxy for both. To clean up the epoxy that seaped out the edges I used isopropal alchohol and a q-tip. It doesn't attack the paint, because of the humbrel coat I applied beforehand. It is impervious to the alchohol. I now allowed the epoxy to really set up, and left the model for 24 hrs just to be overly safe. The shild was held in place temporaroly for the finishing camo scheme.
With the barrel now secured in its place I continued the camo finish on the barrel and shield. The alternate color lines on the barrel were continued on either side of the shield to achieve the desired effect.
Once the shield was dry I removed it from the cradle and started the weathering process. This began with a highly thinned burnt umber wash over all surfaces. I allowed each application to dry 24hrs. Now I varied the intensity of the washes. With darker aplications to more diry ares of the gun like the slide are for the breech, the gun cradle itself, and parts of the cruciform, limber and road wheels. The idea is to show or highlight various tones and details of the model.
The barrel, shield and tops of the cruciform only received two washes, while the darker areas received up to four.
With all these washes now dry I started my pin washing and detailing of the cradle, cruciform and gun. I prefer to mix my own concoction of lamp black, raw sienna and burnt umber to detail the nooks and crannies of this model.
I concentrate on one area at a time. I first give it a good soaking with a clean flat brush dipped in clean white spirits thinner. Now I begin the detailed pin wash on all the fine parts. The process is a bit laborious but well worth the time and effort.
By now things are really beginning to stand out on this exellent kit. The moulding detail really comes through.
The pin wash detail continued on the the cruciform and limber parts. The limber parts received a heavier amount because of the moving parts a grease that would be associated with it. The cruciform areas that were heavily pin washed were the mount for the gun cradle and any moving parts that would need lubrication.
My next step in the weathering process was to use different dots of artist oils and blendthem into the model in certain areas. I concentrated on the gun shield, the barrel and cruciform. I used yellow orcha, burnt sienna, white, a little blue, and yellow. I used a clean brush soaked in white spirits and blended the colors in. Using more white and burnt sienna dots, i now dragged them down in a verticle fashion on the barrel, shield and verticle parts of the cruciform to mimick rain stains. The effect worked quite well, although it is hard to tell in the photographs.
With all my weathering done and the magic 24hrs of dry time passed I gave the whole model another generous coat of Humbrol matt finish to seal up the work. Ggoing back to the foot pads described earlier in my article. I decided to leave them a raw steel with no paint . They were panted gloss black and then painted with the Alcalad steel finish. Once dry I used mig pigments new rust on them in certain areas and sealed this work with mig pigment fixer. I now attached them to their coresponding areas of the cruciform with a little 5 min epoxy and allowed the weight of the model to hold them in place while they cured.
I then painted the gun sighting equipent flat black and high lighted certain areas with graphite. I then carefully installed the sight onto the cradle and lined it up with the vision slot in the shield . I used graphite on certain areas of wear, but kept in mind it wouldn't have seen alot of action.
A little more dusting on the lower cruciform and parts of the shield were done too . They were all fixed in place with mig pigment fixer. Last but not least, the shield was now a fixed to the cradle and a little black pigment was dusted onto the muzzle brake.
With model now complete, I finally sat back to actually look it over. My final conclusion. It's an exellent build and proved to be alot of fun and a challenge all at the same time. While the kit is a little high in price for some, I would definately recommend it to anyone looking for a different challenge . It's also an obscure subject which is nice too .
I hope you enjoyed my first article for Missing-Lynx - stay tuned for my next one of the Dragon Flak 37 late war 88 in a winter scheme ''splinter'' camo.
I would like to thank my freind Tom Morgan for all the pictures he took of my gun.
Images and Text by Rob Schaepe