Dragon models 1/35th scale Maus

By: Stuart Beatson

Having recently been bitten by the armour bug I was cruising the hobby shop for my next project when I saw the re-release of the 1/35 scale Maus by Dragon. The Maus was what you could call a Panzer '46 project which progressed beyond the drawing board with 2 actually being built, but the war ended before they could see action.

The design was very impressive from an engineering stand point but totally impractical, and given the nature of air power in 1945 it would not have lasted long had it been deployed as a conventional armoured vehicle. I was keen however to do an in service version of this armoured monster so I had to come up with a plausible what if scenario. The Maus did not have a great range nor was it extremely quick however it mounted a 128mm cannon and had in excess of 200mm of frontal armour so any deployment of this beast would have been best around a static defense.

I was rummaging around my spares box one day when I came across night fighting gear from an Panther kit. It was at that point I had what you would call a Eureka moment, a night fighting Maus!

With the idea in place the build was started with the rather complex running gear which the Maus used. It was designed by Porsche and consisted of two wheels mounted on a bogie style arrangement and there were six bogies on each side of the tank. Each of the bogies and the wheels had flash and prominent injector marks which required cleaning and filling, quite a tedious task. When completed the bogies were assembled as per the instructions and then glued onto the lower hull.

The section making up the top of the hull had a rather prominent bow which I could not get rid of without damaging the detail. I got around it by cutting four even lengths of sprue and glued them to the lower hull as supports for the top deck. When the upper hull was glued to the lower hull the supports straightened out the top deck and had the added bonus of strengthening the whole hull assembly.

One disappointing thing about the kit was the lack of any form of etched brass for the rather large grills in the top of the hull. I had to paint the interior of the hull black to hide the fact that you could see straight through the grills. I added to the front of the hull a machine gun as some form of self defense would have been required from infantry. In addition I also added tool racks, tools and other paraphernalia that you usually see on tanks in service.

The fuel tank mounted on the back was probably the most time consuming assembly of all. It came in four pieces and when assembled there was a dirty great seam down the centre of it, which had to be removed without damaging any of the raised detail. Once the rest of the various bits and pieces were added to the hull the side skirts were glued in place.

The turret assembly was pretty quick as there were not many parts, I did however make some guards for the periscope sites from scraps of etched brass. I toyed with the idea of getting an aluminium barrel to replace the kit barrel but the fit of the kit barrel ended up being pretty good so I didn't bother.

I planned to have a night vision scope for the driver and the commander so I went about making the fixtures to mount the night vision gear. For the driver a small platform was bent up from scrap plastic and the scope and light were mounted. For the commander it was pretty much a case of mounting the scope to the periscope on the turret and fixing the light to a piece of scrap plastic which was glued to the top of the periscope. Wiring for the night vision gear and the forward head lights was added from fuse wire

The whole model was given a base coat of dark grey; the base coat was then lightened with neutral grey and sprayed on to high light the raised areas. The tracks were painted, assembled and then glued on. This part of assembling armour kits I have yet to master and it was completed only after a lot of expletives.

Given that this tank would be hiding in woods in preparation to lay an ambush, I thought that the camouflage should reflect a forest at night. I took some hints from my father in-law, as he is a landscape artist; the way he paints trees gave me ideas on how to approach the camouflage effect I wanted. I first sprayed using thinned down neutral grey, tree trunks and branches on the lower hull which I carried onto the turret. To simulate the trees leaves, blotches were sprayed on the turret, the airbrush was then pulled back and a light mist was sprayed over the blotches to lessen the effect and to give the impression of many trees with interlinking branches and leaves. A thinned down mixture of black was used to give depth to the branches and trunks on both the hull and the turret. I was not sure how this effect would come out, but on seeing the final result I was very happy with the overall look. The crosses from the decal sheet were put onto the kit before the process of dirtying began.

Given the weight of this tank it would have not stayed clean long, so I decided to apply mud liberally to the lower hull, running gear and tracks. This was achieved by mixing Gyprock (dry wall) putty with brown paint and water until I achieved the constancy of mud. This was then applied with an old paint brush. When dry a coat light brown was misted on to give the effect of dried mud. The rest of the model was dirtied up with pastels.

This kit was a pleasure to build although it had a few problems with flash and injector pin marks overall the fit was good and it was relatively easy to assemble. Building the Maus has inspired me to continue with armour kits as a nice break from the usual Sci-Fi and Aircraft.