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German 88mm Gun Flak36 (BT-013) 1:35


Mike

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German 88mm Gun Flak36 (BT-013)

1:35 Border Model via Albion Alloys

 

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The Flak36 originated as a requirement during WWI, when the initial batch of nascent anti-aircraft weapons were deemed to be of little use other than to give the occasional pilot or balloon rider a fright, so the German High Command began casting around for weapon with a larger calibre that would do more damage, even with a near miss.  Their defeat in WWI got in the way, but Rheinmetall were able to carry on surreptitiously using Bofors of Sweden, of whom they owned a significant portion, eventually settling on 88mm as their preferred calibre.  Initially designated as the Flak18, perhaps as a nod to their continuation of initial work, then renamed as the Flak36 with the addition of a factory fitted splinter shield.  One particular aspect of the design gave it an advantage over other anti-aircraft weapons of the time, as loading was accomplished by placing the next round in a tray before the previous round was fired, the recycled energy from which would eject the spent cartridge and load the new one from the tray, resulting in a high cyclical fire rate of between 15-20 rounds per minute with a good crew.  Coupling that with the accuracy and quality of engineering gave it the title of best in class in anti-aircraft artillery.  The rise of Hitler gave production an enormous boost, as he began openly re-arming Germany for war in contravention of the Versailles Treaty that he loathed so vehemently.

 

The type also benefited from the flexibility of its transport system, which could permit limited firing  of the weapon without removing the axle-bogies, and full set-up could be achieved in two and a half minutes from transit mode to firing mode, which made it very flexible, especially in emergencies.  The full set-up involved splaying out all four outriggers to stabilise the weapon after removing the transport axles, following which they would link up with their battery command, who would assist with laying targets, so that the battery of four guns would behave almost as one.  When the discovery of its effectiveness against armour was made, splinter shields were fitted to new builds to protect the crews from the retribution of their targets, and could also be retro-fitted to the older Flak18s that had been pressed into service away from air targets.  The Flak36 was superseded by the Flak37 predictably, which was fitted with improved targeting equipment and could better act as a unified part of a battery under the command of one target designator.  The replacement for the Flak37 improved the maximum altitude when attacking high-flying aircraft, using a longer cartridge to hold more propellant, and a longer barrel to increase the muzzle velocity in order to reach the required heights.  Over 12,000 of the almost identical Flak18/36/37s were built during the war, and they served in all theatres where the Nazis fought, gaining a fearsome reputation as a foe on land or air in the process.  To further enhance this reputation, the most feared German tanks also mounted a derivative of the 88mm cannon, such as the Tiger I and King Tiger.

 

 

The Kit

This is a brand-new tooling from Border Model, and the initial batch arrives in a limited-edition tin with separate friction-fit lid, and painted all over as if it was a card box.  If you miss out on the initial run, you might have to slum it with cardboard, whereas the tin can be used for storage long after you’ve finished building the kit.  It’s pleasingly compact to the cocoon the sprues, so doesn’t take up much space in the stash.  Inside the box are seventeen sprues in grey styrene for the gun, another linked series of spruelets for the included figures, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, four separate slide-moulded parts in grey styrene, eight flexible grey wheels, although the instructions only note four, the decal sheet, and a turned aluminium barrel, which might also be part of the limited edition aspect.  Sprues are bagged individually or in pairs to protect them from damage, and when removed the detail is excellent, which is great news because almost everything will be visible on the finished model, as fairings and cowlings aren’t a feature of artillery pieces, save for the splinter shield.  The instruction sheet is landscape A4, and is printed on glossy white paper, with colour profiles on the rear pages that have been penned for them by artists at AMMO, and uses their paint codes to describe the colours.  Inside the front cover is a brief history of the weapon, plus a few contemporary photos of the 88 in action, and one after action with a US GI standing idly by an abandoned unit.

 

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Construction begins with the removable axle-bogies, each of which begins with the single part that has the base and twin arches moulded-in, to which a myriad of parts are fixed above and below to create suspension and the other mechanisms to mate and detach the bogies from the outriggers, and several pioneer tools dotted around them both in duplicate, before they diverge into front and rear bogies with their specific fitments, such as seats, cable spools and other equipment.  Each outrigger is created from halves, adding the spikes through the ends in one direction or another to set the outriggers lower or higher against the floor.  Spare spikes are fitted along the sides, and a pivot for the side outriggers is made, allowing them to fold up for transport partway along their length.  With the four outriggers completed, they are placed on the base plate at the centre, then closed in by adding the top surface and the tapered pedestal above it.  Additional adjustment wheels and levers are fitted along with a few small structural elements between the outriggers, after which you need to choose whether to depict your 88 in firing or transport mode, attaching stays to the folded up side lengths to hold them at the correct angle.

 

The gun cradle floor has the breech block and surround fixed to one end, and has either the styrene barrel with rear insert and hollow muzzle installed, or two of the styrene parts replaced with the aluminium barrel, which will save some seam sanding, which no-one really likes if we’re honest.  The base of the cradle, top recuperator on an arch over the breech, and the elevator gear are fixed together, the parts differing depending on whether you are using the splinter shield on your model, and even between the two styles of shield on offer.  The barrel assembly is slotted through and rests on the cradle base, sliding a rod inside the recuperator cylinder, and adding the shell cradle along with another sprinkling of ancillary parts, and a choice of two lengths of rod onto the left side of the breech.

 

The trunnions are next, with a choice of details to each one with a host of small parts, seats, mechanical calculators, and wheels for the crew to spin around frantically.  The base of the gun is an angular box under the cradle that has another pair of recuperator cylinders that give the 88 its signature look, then it and the gun cradle are sandwiched between the trunnions, with a choice of three splinter shields the next option.  A diagram over the page shows how the extended sides can be deployed, as well as the PE parts for the vision slit, and the mounting brackets in the rear.  The initial choice between three shield is complicated by three instructions not being in English.  From top to bottom they are “Cut off the positioning bar”, “observe the opening”, and “Observe the gate”, for which you can thank the translate option that’s now available on modern iPhone photos.

 

The following page shows the gun assembly mating with the base, adding the travel lock to a weapon that’s ready to fire (odd), and how the axle-bogies are linked to the longitudinal outriggers, and this time they finished the translation, so we’re all good.  Each end of the two axles needs a twin wheel assembly, which is made up by creating four hubs from four parts each, then slipping two flexible tyres over the hubs, before they are slotted onto the axles.  There are also a couple of shell transport boxes that can hold three shells each, and are made up from five sides (one is L-shaped), plus handles on the ends, all of which are depicted as being wooden.  A pair of full wicker cases are also present, with just their ends to be added to finish them off, all of which is good fodder for a diorama, or an accompanying prime-mover that you may be building to go with it.

 

 

Figures

To strengthen the case for a diorama, there are six figures included in the box, all on their own sub-sprues, but supplied linked together, which was a link I quickly nipped off to make photography easier.  They are shown in the instructions on a single sheet, with each part shown as a different colour with its part number pointed out.  It makes for a colourful page, and the crew are divided up into different tasks, starting with a guy carrying the next shell to the gun while another loads one, a man with a notepad calculating something, a spotter that is holding a stereoscopic targeting device, a gunner sitting down with hands on the adjustment wheels, and finally a crew member with a pair of binoculars that could be looking over and down at the scribblings of the chap with the notepad.  Sculpting is excellent, and parts breakdown is standard apart from a few hands or fingers that have been moulded separately to obtain better detail.  They are all wearing standard stahlhelms, although the gentlemen with optical devices seems to know it’s going to rain soon, as they have wrinkled covers on their helmets.  The uniforms are erring toward winter or Eastern Front, as indicated by the box art, which shows a snowy scene.

 

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Markings

There are three options available on the decal sheet, with profiles created by AMMO using their own colour shades, and suggesting other possible paints and washes from their range that you could use to enhance your model.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1942-43
  • Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1942-43
  • Unidentified Unit, Eastern Front, 1944

 

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The decals are printed anonymously, and as they are all monochrome stencils except for a pair of Hakenkreuz, registration there is good, and the sheet overall has good clarity and colour density.  The carrier film is matt and cut closely to the printed areas, so should settle down well with your choice of decal fixer.

 

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Conclusion

It’s good to see a new tooling of this superb WWII anti-aircraft and general purpose artillery piece on the market, and the detail shown here is well up to modern standards, so should build into a creditable replica of the type with a little skill and some paintwork.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK in all good model shops.

Review sample courtesy of

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