Great Wall Hobby 1/35 12.8 cm K44L/55 Anti-Tank Gun
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New mold kit|
The 12.8 cm Pak 44, (Panzerabwehrkanone) was a German anti-tank gun used during World War II. It was designed as a result of experiences on the Eastern front in 1943. The German army had encountered the Russian 122 mm guns and had issued a requirement for a similar weapon. Development initially concentrated on a field gun known as the Kanone K 44. However once heavier Russian armour such as the IS-2 started to appear the design requirements were altered to include an anti-armour role. Contrary to some claims this design had nothing in common with the 128 mm Flak gun.
The choice of 128 mm was made because of the availability of tooling due to the use of this caliber on naval weapons, design contracts being awarded to Rheinmetall Borsig and Krupp, the first prototype guns were delivered for testing in late 1944. After initial tests the Rheinmetall design was dropped and development continued with the Krupp design. However the service tests showed that a towed anti-tank gun weighing nearly 11 tonnes was impractical so the towed design was terminated.
In the anti-tank role it fired an armor-piercing capped projectile, capable of penetrating just over 200 millimetres (7.9 in) of armor at 1000 meters, and 148 millimetres (5.8 in) at 2,000 metres (2,200 yd) range. Although its short-range performance was similar to the 88 mm gun, the 128 maintained its performance over longer ranges.
Approximately 50 barrels and breeches were used on existing carriages. The weapon that used the ex-French GPF-T carriage was known as the K 81/1 while the K 81/2 used the ex-Russian carriage. Both of these designs were rushed, and were too heavy, making them cumbersome to deploy. In 1943 the design was started for a gun to mount on the Jagdtiger (Sd.Kfz. 186) and the Maus super-heavy tank was started using the Pak 44 as its starting point. This weapon of which approximately 100 were made was known both as the Pak 44 and Pak 80 / Pjk 80. Performance was identical to the initial design. The only difference between Pak 44 & K 44 were mode of operation the weapon itself was identical.
This is the first time I've seen this particular gun kitted and it is nice to see it available. Great Wall Hobby has done a very good job molding this one as it looks quite like a Dragon kit in terms of the quality of the molding. I did find a couple of sink areas on the thick carriage pieces and there are ejector pin marks on some pieces, but they are either easily removed or will probably be hidden once the kit is built.
Aside from the double sprue, all the others are individually bagged to keep the bits from being damaged in transit. The kit includes some metal springs and wire along with a small photo etch fret that is mostly used for brackets. Thesprings are used in the suspension while the wire is for the carriage brake lines.
The gun barrel is two pieces, though the forward half is a single casting with the aft section requiring the additional half piece. The kit does require some trimming and drilling to be able to complete, but it isn't anything major and is well within the abilities of an intermediate modeler. One can build this kit in either the firing or the travelling mode. A decision on this needs to be made fairly early in the build. I would have liked to have seen a totally articulated gun, but that isn't to be. One has to choose between two elevations, one of which is fairly flat.
Instructions are well drawn, but apparently there were a number of errors on it as there is a two page addendum sheet. One thing the main instructions missed was the 'firing position' final construction. The other changes have to be gleaned from the addendum as Great Wall didn't bother to indicate what parts of what steps were modified. A separate full color sheet is provided for overall painting. Typically for China originated armor kits, no color information is supplied for the building sequences. Color references are for Gunze, Tamiya and Vallejo colors. The lone option is Panzer Yellow with green and brown streaks.
Artillery fans are really going to be pleased with this one. It will fill a hole in the upper end of calibre sizes and make for a great model to put on your shelves.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your favorite shop or on-line retailer
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