The 12.8 Flak 40 was a heavy anti aircraft gun in service with the Luftwaffe during Second World War.
It was developed by Rheinmetall Borsig during 1937 and due to its weight it was employed only in fixed placements or railways.
The twin mount derivation was mainly intended for the Flak Towers, and used also to protect docks like Hamburg. It consisted on two mirrored guns side by side, and were installed on the corners of the tower.
It delivered an impressive firepower that certainly threatened Allied bombers, as each individual gun was able to fire up to 10 12.8cm shell per minute.
Considering that each cartridge weighted 45 kg, it is normal that the system required a crew of 22 men to be operated.
At the end of the war, there were still 34 active guns
The box is pretty big but is not cramped with sprues, which is a good thing as it allows for some crushing without breaking anything. Inside you can find six sprues with parts, an hexagonal base, the instruction booklet, two poly caps (be careful because they can be easily lost), a small photo etch fret and decals.
Each sprue is individually wrapped in a bag, which can be opened and closed again thanks to an adhesive flap. And the letters identifying them are big and hollow, which is way easier to see than the traditional system.
Inside the sprue, the parts are numbered sequentially, so part 23 is right after part 22.
All in all, the first impression is excellent.
Once you start working, the plastic is a bit soft. While this has the advantage of less breakages when cutting parts, you must be extremely careful when using the file because it can be damaged quite easily.
Do not expect to increase your spare box with this kit: a single poly cap is he only part that will not be used. Given the size of the kit, the number of parts is quite reasonable, without unnecessary breakouts.
The instructions are a large booklet, with CAD drawings in black and white. They are clear and with additional views or zoom when needed. I have changed the order of several steps but this is mostly a matter of personal preferences.
There is also a colour sheet with the paint profiles.
The first 15 steps are for building one of the guns, starting with the barrel. Parts have some flash that must be removed. For most of them it is quite easy, but has to be done.
I would happily use an aftermarket barrel, as each one is made of 5 pieces, each one with at least four attachment points to the runner. Considering that they are round parts, the chances to damage it are really high. Plus it is always hard to glue the halves with a perfect seam.Note that I will be referring only to parts number the first time they are encountered, and as they are mirrored for the other gun, they will usually suffer from the same issues.
I opted for assembling first the two sections of the barrel and the cradle, and join them. After that I added the rest of the parts, as any problem sliding the barrel on the cradle would be harder to solve if smaller parts are already glued around.
Parts E1 and E4, apart from being slightly warped in 2 dimensions, have a very poor fit leaving a prominent seam both inside and outside, and it would be hard to cover if the rest of parts (E10, E20, E44) are in place so I glued both halves, filled the seam and then attached these parts. It meant that the knobs of E20 and E44 had to be removed.
E10 had several marks that should be removed because they will be seen once installed, and they are on a difficult place to access so I had to use a blurr and the power drill.
The breech has a rod for reinforcing the sides while casting the kit that has to be removed. It may seem obvious but it is good to be aware. Later on it would be more difficult. Inside the breech, take care with part E39 because although it seems symmetrical, it is not: it has a subtle funnel shape of so it fits only in one way, the smallest side pointing inwards. Test the breech block D13 to ensure you are putting it where it goes.
Breech block D13 has a seam all around, unless you wan to show it open most of it will be hidden. However, on the external part there is a real mark so take care not to remove it!
And the list goes on. Unfortunately a lot of parts have a poor fit. I will not list them all here, if you are building the gun you will see them. I prefer to offer a couple of general tips and mention only the noteworthy ones:
First, dry-fit everything. This is usually a good advice for any kit but in this case it is a must. You will note that you need to trim, adjust and fill quite often.
Second, do not be afraid to remove the guide pins. Often they did not allow the parts to sit correctly, if you get rid of them you are free to position the parts where needed.
Finally, check often also the alignment of parts and subassemblies, as it will affect to subsequent steps.
For example, D10 and D12 need to be straight so later on D8 will sit correctly over them.
D17 and E24 are better glued together with the rest of the mechanism on step 14, as it will be easier to keep them all connected and straight.
The load tray needs some work, and for me the instructions were not very clear about where each part goes. Comparing it with photos, I noticed that E55 and E56 are rods, connected by a strip of metal, and the shape of E52 is not correct.
As for the elevation cylinders, I prefer to attach each outer part to its supports and then (step 35) slide the inner ones inside the outers.
Steps 16 to 30 are more or less the same for the other gun, a slightly boring task as you have to adjust, file and fill everything again.
Once the guns are finished it is time to work on the base. Apart from the usual fit problems, which are less than for the guns, everything goes fine. Although the gearwheels C4 have guiding knobs, ensure they are aligned as they will affect the position of the guns. Note also that despite it may sound strange, yes, the poly cap goes in one side only and the other one is not used.
The electric engine F55 and F56 have a prominent seam than has to be removed. Again for me it was easier to first attach the mechanisms box F56-F59 to the wall A3 and afterwards add the electric engine. The photoetch parts are quite thin and delicate, but go perfectly on their places. I curved them first around a drill bit (3,5mm)
Same seam warning for the main parts of the fuse setter unit, E8 and E9. Note that the tiny cylinders to be cut from the runner C on step 46 are stop bumpers for the loading tray, therefore to ensure they are correctly positioned it is better to attach this tray and see where does it fall over the arm, putting the stoppers under it.
Despite the instructions order, I found easier to attach first the left wall, as it fixes in place the shaft for the gearwheels. Then the left gun, the centre piece, right gun and finally right wall. Then I added the base with all big parts attached and finally the fuse setters, seats and side-walks should be glued.
These side-walks and their steps have a photo etch mesh that, despite all fitting issues with the plastic parts, do fit perfectly.
Finally, the left seat does not go where indicated but farther to the front. Not only it is inaccurate but it does not have room either to be there.
So ends the basic build of the kit.
At this point I took the kit, still without fuse setters, seats and side-walks for easier manipulation, and compared it to my references to see what could be improved. I was able to identify many small details, none of big importance but I enjoyed this stage, adding my personal touch.
Despite its short production, there were several differences between guns. Seems that for some reason Takom did not use the one preserved in USA (which used to be at Aberdeen Proving Ground) as reference. And it was a good decision, as several features of this gun cannot be commonly seen on Flakturme units.
But this is the best reference for detailing, thanks to the walkarounds available. So I first looked for all details and then checked them against wartime photos. This resulted in allocating my notes to one of these groups:
- Details that were confirmed on wartime photos.
- Details that could not be confirmed but are likely to be there
- Details that are only rarely seen.
As it would be quite difficult to model an specific gun other than Aberdeen’s one, I just used a mix of groups 1 and 2 with the most common features.
Due to my lack of technical vocabulary, instead of writing long explanations I think it will be better if you check my additions directly on the model photos. I trust they are clear enough.
The model has not big omissions, only a good number of cables are missing. In fact, there should be more but I have not enough references to see where they come from and go.
This is a great kit of a very original subject.
There are a lot of details I love, from the hollow letters on sprues to the reasonable part count or how many attachment points are located to be hidden when the part is mounted. The research was also correct, providing a model without important faults. However it seems to be a gap somewhere between the drawing boards/CAD screens and the plastic production, because the fit of the real kit is quite poor. There are gaps to be filled, parts misaligned, incorrect angles on parts joints... It takes much more work than should be necessary.
All in all, I would recommend this model, with above warnings about fitting.