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Soar Art 35.5cm M1 super heavy howitzer gun

RELATED TOPICS: MILITARY
FSMWB1116_SoarArt_M1_howitzer_box
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Eight years ago, Soar Art surprised the modeling world with the release of a 1/35 scale Dora rail gun. The Hong Kong company recently followed up with another obscure German artillery piece, the 35.5cm Haubitze M1.

Developed by Rheinmetall before WWII, the massive gun could propel a 1,268-pound concrete-piercing shell 22,800 yards once every four minutes. Fewer than 10 were produced; they were used during the Battle of France, Operation Barbarossa, Sevastopol, Leningrad, and the Warsaw Uprising.

The kit’s moldings show crisp detail, but flash, sink marks, and numerous ejector-pin marks mar many surfaces. Most are easily fixed. Be aware that the brittle plastic is easily broken if too much force is applied during construction.

Mixed bag describes the instructions. The diagrams are clear, but there are mistakes throughout, including mislabeled parts and pieces showing up in diagrams without having been shown being attached; Howitzer is even misspelled on the cover! Study the steps carefully to be sure you don’t miss anything.

Construction started with the front and rear platforms and the upper and lower carriages. I painted the interior of the carriages Tamiya NATO black (XF-69) before attaching the upper parts because those areas would be difficult to reach later. Curiously, each carriage has locators for internal bulkheads and gears to be attached — but none are provided. A step (Part A27) broke as I removed it from the sprue, so I replaced it with brass rod.

In Step 19, parts M8 and M9 suddenly appear in place. They should be attached in Step 16.

A touch of filler fixed the join between the gun receiver halves (parts C7 and C8). Use caution assembling the recoil piston between the breech and main body of the gun (H9 and H11). They are reversed; the flat spot on each part should match the flat spot on the cover (Part K3).
 
The two sections of the gun should be movable if you glue the recoil bars to C6 and not C3. I glued the parts in full recoil because it looked cool, and leaving it workable opened seams on the body.

The 11.5" gun barrel comes in halves with a long seam that was hard to remove without sanding a side flat. The directions show rifling, but none is present. I broke one of the hyraulic cylinder mounts (parts H21) trying to snap them in place after the model was assembled. I recommend adding them before painting, then adding the hydraulic cylinder after painting. I left off the vinyl hydraulic covers; they didn’t look good compressed.

The directions do not show rigging the crane, but Step 37 shows it with a cable not included in the kit.

The ladders assembled easily, but keep the upper and lower halves together to be sure they align on the gun. The walkways proved challenging, with numerous ejector-pin marks underneath each that are difficult to eliminate.
 
There is only one choice of color for the gun: gray. Soar Art Workshop’s Facebook page had pictures of the finished model that were helpful for detail painting.
Online chatter claims that the bases are inaccurate, but I wasn’t able to confirm it from the few pictures I found.

I spent much of the 36 hours it took to build the gun removing ejector-pin marks and surface imperfections, but enjoyed the process nonetheless. It would be good for anyone who has built a couple of models.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2016 issue.

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