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Building DML's
German Supertank Maus

 

By Evert Jan Foeth

 

For some reason I could not resist building this strange vehicle. It might be because of its impressive size, dwarfing even a Königs Tiger, or simply to have a unique prototype on my shelf. But one thing is clear; this vehicle is huge, weighting a massive 188 tons! The Maus is protected with heavy armoured plates, up to 180mm thick. The Maus is a remarkably 'empty' vehicle; no external storage, and almost no detail to be seen. This speeds up construction of DML's model, which is of the quality we have come to expect over the years. There are but a few minor omissions on Dragons part, which can be added without much trouble.

I used two references:

  • Maus, by Walder Trojca, issued by Wydawnicto Militaria. A Polish publication, with some nice 1/35 drawings and many photographs. A major drawback is that it is written in Polish, but sometimes photographs are accompanied by English captions.
  • Waffenrevue, numbers 20 and 108

For this vehicle I bought two aftermarket products:

  • Verlinden No1053 Maus engine & transmission compartments
  • Rubio 128mm barrel

Construction

I will follow Dragons instructions step by step.

Step one
Here we are required to build the wheels and suspension system, and consist of the bulk of the work, together with the tracks (step 4). There is quite some cleaning required, as Maus has 48 roadwheels. I removed two bolts of each D9 part, as these were obstructing the wheels from proper alignment. These bolts are invisible after construction, so you need not worry about that. You should worry about the two sinkholes in each roadwheel. I only puttied half of them, the other half is facing the inside of the vehicle, although puttying a quarter will also suffice; the inner roadwheels can hardly be seen on the model.

I made some track in advance, to use as a guidance to align the bogeys, as almost all parts of the bogey can still rotate before the glue has set. The reason Dragon chose to have them 'workable' is quite unclear to me, the track is certainly not moveable after completion.

Step two
The lower hull was warped several degrees along it's longitudinal axis in my kit. The lower hull is made from quite thick plastic, and I tried to bend it straight in vain. I therefore cut the part in 5 pieces. I made a smaller lower hull from 1.5mm styrene and carefully added the 5 pieces back on to it, with several transverse stiffeners for extra strength.

The sideplates actually have a towing eye at the rear of the vehicle, one of the two more major things Dragon forgot. These were made from 1.5mm styrene. The towing eyes in front of the vehicle received a welding seem, made from putty. The sideplate has the correct shape, but here the eyes themselves are missing, and need to be drilled.

I finished Step three before I fitted the bogeys to the hull (Side skirts to upper hull). I fitted upper and lower hull, and then glued the bogeys to the lower hull only, and added a piece of track to make sure all bogeys were aligned. I put the model aside to dry for a few hours before continuing.

Step three
The upper hull needs some extra detail and correcting. At this point I ignored the instructions and already glued the side skirts (E1/E2) to the upper hull. Although the sideskirts are fitted with welding seams, the upper hull is not, and needs many of them too. As can be seen here, there is a welding seem along the entire side skirt, connecting it to the hull.

These welds were made in the following way: I drew a line with my pencil where the seams needed to go. With a 1mm millerhead and my automatic drill, I engraved a shallow line, by pulling the miller along a ruler. I then used a 0.3mm millerhead, and one by one, engraved the small lines perpendicular to the welding direction, to simulate that rough effect of crude welding. After all welds were done, I used the same miller to simulate the edges of the armour plates, which were cut with a torch, by engraving thin lines. You may want to take some time for this. The weldings on the turret were of a better quality, and only a few welds were redone, to be sure that all of them would look the same after painting.

I then smeared all non-horizontal sides with a thick layer of Tamiya putty, which I removed after a few minutes. The result is a rough finish. I also treated the turret sides in the same manner.

Connecting pins of the bogeys pierce the side skirts, and small disks were added. These must be very thin, and should be hardly noticeable. They can be seen on certain pictures of the Maus during trials, but they are really there!

On the front fender, two small lifting eyes were fitted.

Next, the engine cover was removed, to fit VP's engine compartment. Be careful with the cover, because Verlinden's replacement is, as always, too small. The engine cover needs some refinement. There are 4 supports for part E3.The outer supports are way too thick, and are to be replaced with supports as thick as the inner ones. Be careful with the grill as you remove these supports. The new supports need two lifting eyes. This might also be a good time to cut up part E3, which is actually a 3-part steel shell-deflector. The parts of E3 that need to be placed on the hull part need a reinforcing support too, made from styrene. A small welding seem from putty completed this part.

On the inner side of the upper hull, a mesh was applied to each open panel. I used some spare Tamiya mesh wire, but an etch-set has been recently released, although these parts can hardly be seen. I you do not wish to use the PE set, make sure to glue the mesh at a 45° angle.

You need to drill 4 extra boltholes around the driver's hatch as shown in figure ???. I inserted a small bolt (Histored Hexagonal Punch&Die set smallest bolt) in each of the boltholes in the upper hull. I do not have a photograph to back this up, but it seemed the logical thing to do.

We now arrive at Dragons Second 'major' omission; the antenna mounts. I have no photographs of them, and they were copied from a Tiger tank. I gave the headlights a new support and added wires. These should go from the back of the lights, through the two gutters to the small holes next to the driver's periscope.

The rest of the parts can now, be fitted. I thinned down parts E24 a little.

Step four
A second evening filling program: the track. This was the more irritating part. I made a few sets consisting of 2 to 3 links (With one link I mean one part D2 and one part D3) already glued in shape to fit the sprocket and idler wheel. Parts D1 were assembled previously to aid aligning the bogeys. Although Dragon thinks that the 6 D1 parts are enough to cover the bogeys, I had to add another link. This is the troubling part: I did not have enough parts to make a complete track. This problem was easily solved: I omitted the upper halve of the track completely. It can be seen if you peek under her skirt, but I know a real gentleman won't.

But before gluing the tracks on the lower hull, I painted all tracks and lower hull. The roadwheels, idler wheel and sprocket got a black rim, drybrushed black/silver to simulate worn paint off.

This subassembly was washed and drybrushed, as described in the Painting part, and is now partly finished.

Step Five
The PE set will replace E21, but I advice sanding that part down a little, as it is made from thick steel plate; nothing on this vehicle is done subtle! Parts E11 and E18 received some bolts, as did the upper hull. According to the polish book, the fuel tank is being strapped with a band, which I made of lead foil. A brass wire was used to model the fuel hose, as shown on the polish drawings, but a photograph in a book on rare German vehicles later showed me it was a little more complex. I do not have this photograph.

Each D7 part should be backed up will a small square steel part.

Step Six
The main gun disappeared in my great circular archive for disposal, and a Rubio 128mm Jagdtiger barrel replaced it. If you compare this barrel with DML's try, you'll notice you'll have to cut a large piece from your Rubio barrel, only the tapered piece can be seen afterwards. Don't cry, just saw a piece off your costly barrel. If you don't, part F10 won't fit.

I discarded E8 and made a better version from styrene. As you can see above, you'll need a second strip. The handles on part F5 were replaced by brass wire, and a small VP tow chain was added.

Step seven
Nothing special happens at step seven, I only drilled open part F6 and the machine-gun port left of the main gun in the turret.

Step eight
Although the sideskirts are already assembled, you now need to glue the lower and upper hulls together. I also painted the lower hull, and to minimize contamination I airbrushed the upper hull before assembly. The gaps were puttied, and the last welding seems running over both parts were added

Painting

During it's existence, the Maus has appeared both completely in German yellow, and in yellow with brown/green camouflage. I have not seen any picture of the Maus with markings on her, thus my vehicle has none.

Lower hull color
I mixed Tamiya XF59 Desert Yellow with XF64 Red Brown and XF1 Flat black to a very dirty brown depressing color. The entire lower hull and tracks were painted this way. This was given a heavy Burned Umber wash and a few Humbrol 72 Khaki Drill drybrush runs. The roadwheels received a black rim, drybrushed with a black/silver mixture.

Upper hull and drybrushing
The upper hull and turret were first sprayed Tamiya XF60 Dark Yellow. I then sprayed a net of lines with the above mentioned mixture on every edge of the vehicle, a little more at the bottom of the side skirts to let these two color blend in a little. The effect is horrible, but I've learned to keep faith. These colors stand out quite clearly. The vehicle was washed several times in Burned Umber, using Windsor & Newton oils. For the wash, I thin the oils down to the consistency of water, and with a flat brush, I add it to the vehicle. The wash should be transparent, but enough paint to darken the base coat. The paint is very thin, and might run down the vehicle, so wash each side in turns. Extra paint was added in all welding seems, to make them more pronounced.

Then the laborious task of drybrushing started. The entire vehicle was drybrushed as a whole, including the already painted lower hull. I started with plain Humbrol 72 Khaki Drill. In the following 4 drybrush runs, I added increasingly more Humbrol 63 Yellow. After this, more white was added in 3 extra drybrush runs. I finished drybrushing with almost pure white with a little chrome, to give the effect of worn-down paint.

I added a little black with my airbrush at the muzzle ends, and exhausts.

The tracks were washed with a heavy Black/Burned Umber mixture, and together with the muzzle-ends, drybrushed with a black/silver mixture.

Oil stains are pure Burned Sienna oils.

Verlinden parts
The badly fitting and warped VP parts were first airbrushed white, and the engine is Dark Green. If this is the correct color is unknown to me, as Verlinden is as generous with information as ever. Next time, I will not use the parts. They can be fitted after the vehicle is complete, but you should make some guiding plastic strips, to ease position. I inserted the parts just before connecting the upper and lower hull.

Conclusion

Dragon's Maus is a good model, which can be detailed with some small extras. It sure does look nice between the other tanks, making everybody ask if it is really in the same scale as the rest of your models.

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