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Dragon 1/35 scale 60cm Mörser "Karl"

Kit: No. 6179
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Dragon, imported by Dragon Models USA, 1315 John Reed Court, City of Industry, CA 91745, 866-365-8721, www.dragonmodelsusa.com
Price: $69.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 390 parts (4 cast metal), decals
Pros: Good detail overall, easy to assemble for such a large model
Cons: Hard to clean ejector pin marks on lower hull, omitted detail on gun cradle, decals incomplete, errors in instructions

The idea behind the heavy mortar was to "reduce" large fortifications, such as those found in France's Maginot Line. These guns sat idle during the Battle of France, but their capability to fire a two-ton-plus shell through eight feet of reinforced concrete eventually made them useful. These powerful mortars went into action against the fortifications of Brest, Sevastopol, and Warsaw.

The kit's large box yields 12 light gray sprues plus two steel springs, a steel tube, and a turned-aluminum projectile. The instructions feature 20 assembly steps, a parts map, and a paint and marking guide. Decals provide markings for two vehicles, one in panzer gray, and one in a late-war camouflage scheme, but there aren't enough vehicle identification numerals. The real mortars were marked on the breech, receiver, and both ends of the vehicle.

Building the many wheel and track assemblies for the lower hull was time-consuming, but overall fit was excellent. I needed filler for the many ejector-pin marks on the lower hull sides and the inside surfaces of the track links. Be careful assembling the drive sprockets G5 and G6; they can be put on the wrong way.

The instructions for constructing the tracks are vague, showing the long and short links already assembled. Also not mentioned in the instructions is the need for parts E6 through E9 for the front and back tow shackles to be installed. Dragon didn't provide blackout headlights or a horn; you may want add them from your spares box.

Building the upper hull went smoothly, except that parts E20 and E21 are reversed in the assembly diagram. Because some locations were hard to get at, I painted the upper hull and parts C21, B5, B6, B7, and B8 before assembly. Rivet detail on the gun cradle is sparse compared to photographs. The rifling inside the gun barrel halves is neat, but it was hard to clean up the inside seam.

I chose the three-color late-war paint scheme as seen in a photograph of mortar "Ziu" outside Warsaw. I used Testor Model Master panzer olivgrün, panzer dunkelgelb, and Floquil's rust. Late war photographs of mortars Ziu, Thor, and Loki show heavy overspray of the green/brown over the yellow. The kit decals were printed in register and went down well over an overcoat of Future floor polish.

My reference was the Allied-Axis publication The Photo Journal of the Second World War Volume 9, researched and captioned by Patrick Stansell. This book has a sequence of photos of this vehicle being loaded and fired, along with a few early war photos.

The finished model scales well to the measurements in Encyclopedia of German Tanks by Peter Chamberlain and Hilary L. Doyle. I spent 34 hours completing this model, a third of it on tracks and wheels. The finished results are impressive, and Dragon's Karl Mörser will satisfy many artillery buffs.

- Tom Foti

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