Flakpanzer VIII Maus
Vespid Models, 1/72 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus (Mouse) was a German World War II super-heavy tank completed in late 1944. It is the heaviest fully enclosed armoured fighting vehicle ever built. Five were ordered, but only two hulls and one turret were completed, the turret being attached, before the testing grounds were captured by advancing Soviet military forces.
These two prototypes underwent trials in late 1944. The complete vehicle was 10.2 metres (33 ft 6 in) long, 3.71 metres (12 ft 2 in) wide and 3.63 metres (11.9 ft) high. Weighing 188 metric tons, the Maus's main armament was the Krupp-designed 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 gun, based on the 12.8 cm Pak 44 anti-tank field artillery piece also used in the casemate-type Jagdtiger tank destroyer, with a coaxial 75 mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun. The 128 mm gun was powerful enough to destroy all Allied armoured fighting vehicles then in service, some at ranges exceeding 3,500 metres (2.2 mi).
The principal problem in the design of the Maus was developing an engine and drivetrain that was powerful enough to adequately propel the tank, yet small enough to fit inside it — as it was meant to use the same sort of "hybrid drive", using an internal-combustion engine to operate an electric generator to power its tracks with electric motor units, much as its Porsche-designed predecessors, the VK 3001 (P), VK 4501 (P), and Elefant had.
The drive train was electrical, designed to provide a maximum speed of 20 kilometres per hour and a minimum speed of 1.5 kilometres per hour. However, during actual field testing, the maximum speed achieved on hard surfaces was 13 kilometres per hour with full motor field, and by weakening the motor field to a minimum, a top speed of 22 kilometres per hour (14 mph) was achieved.
The vehicle's weight made it unable to use most bridges, instead it was intended to ford to a depth of 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) or submerge up to a depth of 8 metres (26 ft 3 in) and use a snorkel to cross rivers.
The Maus was intended to punch holes through enemy defences in the manner of an immense "breakthrough tank", while taking almost no damage to any components. *
One of the earliest reference books that I bought in the 1970s dismissed the Maus briefly as “technically interesting but tactically useless”!
Vespid Models is a new model company from China. Their two debut offerings, released simultaneously in the middle of 2020, were a 1/72 scale Maus V2 and a British Comet tank.
Vespid has now added a Flakpanzer VIII Maus to their lineup.
Vespid Models’ 1/72 scale Flakpanzer VIII Maus is packed into a sturdy top opening box. The kit comprises 166 parts in medium grey coloured plastic, two turned metal gun barrels, seven photo-etched parts and markings for a number of hypothetical operational Maus tanks. The two prototypes lacked any official markings, so of course these may be built from the box too.
The difference between the initial Maus and this new kit is the turret.
One new sprue plus a separate turret shell accommodate the changes.
The Commander's hatch and the loading hatch in the rear of the turret are moulded separately so you can pose them open or closed.
Moulding quality is excellent and the surface textures are just gorgeous. Detail is outstanding too.
Surface textures comprise raised and recessed details plus beautifully rendered torch cuts and weld beads.
The sheer size of the vehicle means that this 1/72 scale model is around the same size as a 1/35 scale light tank, so you won’t have any problem handling tiny parts.
The majority of the parts are dedicated to the running gear. Assembly starts with the 48 road wheels making up 24 bogie trucks. These are attached in pairs to 12 mounts, which in turn are glued to the lower hull then eventually trapped between the hull and the massive armoured skirts.
Link and length tracks are supplied with nine individual links, four short lengths and long straight upper and lower runs. Detail on the outer and inner surfaces of the tracks are crisp and intricate. Without external reference, these would easily pass for 1:35 scale or even bigger.
The full run of tracks is supplied but the top run will be completely hidden by the armoured skirts, so it is up to you whether you fit all the track parts.
Most of the hull and turret detail is moulded in place, but the crew hatches and shot deflectors are separate parts.
Photo-etched parts are supplied for the engine deck mesh. These are fitted from the inside of the hull.
A big fuel drum is also included, This is cleverly moulded as two cylinders, so you won’t have any length-wise join seams to clean up.
The two 8.8 cm FLAK barrels are both supplied in turned metal.
The Flakpanzer variant is entirely hypothetical, but that means you can have some fun with camouflage and markings. The decal sheet is in register and colours look good. This is exactly the same decal sheet as was included in the initial Maus release but as all markings are hypothetical, it doesn't really matter!
The Flakpanzer variant is entirely hypothetical, but that means you can have some fun with camouflage and markings.
Vespid’s 1/72 scale Flakpanzer VIII Maus continues this company's impressive portfolio of kits.
Detail is excellent, moulding quality is world class and surface textures would pass for a much larger scale.
This will be welcomed by Paper Panzer fans and small scale modellers in general.
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