German Superheavy Tank ‘Maus’

The Maus (Mouse) was one of Germany’s ‘paper panzers’ that actually got beyond the drawing board and made it to the prototype stage. A test vehicle (V1) was produced for eluviation in 1943, and in 1944 a second prototype (V2) was built, but this vehicle had many technical differences from the first most notably a full turret.

The real vehicle was a truly massive weighing in at 180 tons. The idea was to create a tank that was impervious to critical damage from any enemy tank of the time, while having armament powerful enough to destroy any tank at a great distance. Thus the production version of the Maus was to have 128mm KwK 44 L/55 gun, as it’s main weapon, with a coaxial 75mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun as secondary weapon! At the end of the war both V1 and V2 were captured by the Russians, but not before the Germans had tried to destroy them. A composite vehicle was ‘stitched’ together by the Soviet Army using the hull of V1 and the turret from V2. The vehicle was shipped back to the motherland for tests and evaluation. After the army were finished with it the Maus was sent to Kubinka Tank Museum where it can still be seen to this day. Kubinka’s exhibit has doubtless been Zvezda’s inspiration and reference for this their latest small scale kit.

This is a fascinating choice of subject and while it’s true that there are several renditions of this vehicle in 1/35 scale, I believe that this is the first time an all plastic kit of the Maus has been produced in 1/100 (15mm) scale.

The kit is presented in Zvezda’s now familiar format, box top show an artists impression of the vehicle sporting a three-colour camouflage scheme. The bottom of the box shows four views of the completed but unpainted model. Inside the box we find two bagged sprues of plastic parts, and a single A5 sheet of paper with easy to follow line art constructional diagrams. On the reverse is the usual mention of Zvezda’s own ‘Art of Tactic’ (www.art-of-tactic.com) wargame system in Russian and English text. No history of the vehicle is given.

 There are 18 separate components to this kit, well 19 if you include the ‘Art of Tactic’ marker flag (A2), which clips into a hole found underneath the hull. The kit parts are moulded in a light grey plastic with the only noticeable flash or mould lines found on the track runs. While on the subject of the tracks, it’s about now that I would normally be moaning about the lack of any detail on the track tread, and while I could still make the same observations for this kit, but I won’t! It doesn’t matter as much of the track is hidden from view. The road wheels are moulded as one with the track runs, which simplifies construction. Ironically the wheels do show some good detail, which as noted will mostly be hidden.

Construction is very simple, as you would expect from kit in this ‘snap fit’ series. All components fit together in a logical way, just take care to get the gun elevation mechanism parts (A3, A7, & A8) in the correct order and orientation. I had to take it all apart twice before I got it wright. My fault not the kit’s! I am sure that, with the possible exception of the external fuel tank (A14 & A15), the kit could be built without any glue, though I always end up using a little here and there.

The main 128mm gun barrel and secondary 75mm are joined together as one component by a ‘web’ of plastic (see accompanying image), not sure that this was a feature of the full-sized vehicle, or it may simply be that this is there to keep both barrels in the correct alignment. I left it in place for the purposes of this review, but I have since removed it after taking photos of my finished model. The two gun barrels can be made to elevate and depress, and the turret will rotate. The finished model has a bit of ‘heft’ to it, but you could add some lead weights to the inside of the hull if your model is destined for the wargaming table.

Despite the box top image showing the vehicle with a white turret number and Balkenkreuz markings, no decals are provided with the kit. For me this isn’t a deal breaker as aftermarket decals in 1/100 scale are readily available. The Plastic Soldier Company, for example, carries several options that would be suitable. As the Maus never achieved full mass production there is latitude for the modeller to use their imagination and finish the model in a number of ways.

To conclude, I have enjoyed building this model, and it’s fun to place it next to other Zvezda models in the same scale, like the Tiger 1 (item No 6256) and King Tiger (item No 6204). You really get an idea of just what a monster this tank was. Zvezda are to be commended for producing a model of this unique vehicle in 1/100 scale, and will hopefully be encouraged to produce some more ‘paper panzers’ in the future. An E75 or E100 would be much appreciated too, or how about one of the allied super-heavies like the American T-28 or the British Tortoise heavy assault tank (A39)? Either way wargamers and scale modellers alike will welcome this new Maus kit from Zvezda.

 I have seen this kit for as much £6.50, my review sample however, was purchased from The Plastic Soldier Company Ltd (www.theplasticsoldiercompany.co.uk) and at the time of writing cost £3.50 plus p&p, which I think represents good value for money. Recommended.

 

Product: Plastic kit

Ref: 6213

Scale: 1/100 (15mm)

Parts: 18

Price: Approx £3.50

Manufacturer: Zvezda

Website: www.zvezda.org.ru