60cm Mörser "Karl"
Gerät 040
Dragon Kit No. 6179

1/35th Scale
In Box Review by Terry Ashley

There has been much hype over the plethora of Karl kits announced by no less than three manufacturers, although it appears that Trumpeter have put their kit on the backburner leaving Dragon and Tristar to battle it out for Karl supremacy.

The first of these kits to arrive is that from Dragon and it represents the late model Karl-Geraet 040 Nr. V & VI but on a quick examination of the kit contents the words “over simplification” and “basic” spring to mind, given the quality and finesse of the recent Dragon Panthers and Horisse kits this kit is a big let down and not in the same ballpark as these kits.

The Kit:
The kit has 210 main parts and a further 186 for the running gear and tracks for a total of 396 plastic parts in light grey plastic, two small springs, a short length of brass rod and a small decal sheet. The initial production kits also include a turned aluminium 60cm shell.

Given this is a huge vehicle and the Dragon Hornisse (kit No.6165) has 383 parts, the newly released Nashorn (kit No.6166) has 357 plus another 240 for the tracks and the Tamiya FAMO has 402 parts and another 195 track links, I think you get some idea of the simplification.

Starting for the ground up, the lower hull is a large tub measuring 310mm long, 55mm wide and 35mm deep, additional panels are added at each end with some details and locating holes for the ladders etc. The lower hull is all welded on the real Karl but there are no weld seams on the kit parts. The suspension arms are moulded integrally in the raised firing position meaning you have some serious surgery to do if you wish to build the kit in travel mode. The torsion bar suspension should be offset from right to left as with all other German torsion bar suspensions but is not, the axles are even on both sides. There are also many bolt heads missing from the lower hull sides but you do get 11 pin ejector marks per side in amongst the suspension arms.


The link and length track is basic and lacks many details which could easily be incorporated as they are large links, especially the end pin details on each link which isn’t there. Each link has pin ejector marks on the inside of and each link should have a hole in the guide tooth which they do not.

The upper hull section is one large piece and lacks the weld seams that should be there, the four large lifting brackets on each corner are incorrect as they should be hollow between the two supports and not filled in as on the kit parts.
Included in the upper hull are a driver’s position and engine intakes and covers. The driver’s compartment has the seat, gear levers and instrument panel with engraved details, these aren’t bad and fill out the compartment nicely but there are other details like bolt detail on the rear wall missing. As the only option in the kit is the firing position the compartment would have its armoured top cover in place anyway so all this detail is a waste of time.
The grill work on the circular engine intake doesn't have the finer mesh cover (I'm sure an etched metal set will remedy this) while the other engine cover details are again very basic.

The hand rails along the hull walkways are commendably thin and the walkways have rudimentary tread plate pattern included with engraved and raised details, there are also some other smaller parts which are nicely done like the large elevation hand wheels and link rods on the trunnion sides.

The exhausts have the short pipes and lack the long pipes that fit along the hull sides needed for “Loki” but are correct for “Ziu”.

The large mortar trunnions have details that are very basic and lack definition, all the bolt heads present are undersized and there are many more not there that should be, especially along the upper surfaces of the trunnions.
From photographs of the disassembled “Loki” (subject of the decal sheet) in the Jentz “Karl-Geraet” book the trunnions should be a completely different shape and size with different bracing and other details. Apart from this there are six pin ejector marks on each trunnion face right in the middle of the bolt head details; these would prove a challenge to remove.
The rest of the details on the breech and recoil system are again very basic with some important details missing, the large bolts on the front section above and below the barrel and on the lower section with the elevation gear again lack important details which could be easily incorporated in this large size. The elevation gear itself (part D3) is also very basic and lacks detail, there should be indentations around the cut outs and the teeth are not prominent enough, again with parts this size these omissions are obvious.

The barrel and muzzle are in two halves each meaning there is the inside seam line to eliminate, inside the barrel end is an attempt at rifling, but the ribs are parallel with the barrel and look pretty unconvincing.

The large loading tray assembly behind the recoil system is fairly comprehensive with more details than some other sections but unfortunately the bolt head detail is again undersized and the cut out holes are the wrong shape. The inclusion if the aluminium 60cm shell in the initial kits is a bonus as there is not one in plastic, I am not sure how many kits will include the metal round.

Yes there is white "Loki" markings on the sheet
Markings are provided for “Ziu VI” in three colour camouflage and “Loki V” in overall panzer grey from 1943. Note that “Loki” was converted to mount the 54cm barrel in September 1944 and should also feature long exhaust pipes along the hull sides not included in the kit as mentioned above.

The instruction sheet is the “normal” line drawing exploded view type and is far easier to follow that those annoying photograph type instructions in other recent Dragon kits.

It may seem I have been over critical of the kit, but as I mentioned earlier comparing this kit to the recent excellent kits from Dragon shows a step backwards in details and finesse and the comments above are plainly obvious when looking at the kit parts.
In all a very basic rendition of the Karl with simplified details everywhere as well as many details missing that you would think should be included with the pieces being so large with others completely wrong such as the suspension axles not offset as they should be.
Let me clarify these comments, if you were to open the box and build the kit as is you will get an impressive looking model, but on comparing the parts to photographs and reference data the errors and simplifications jump out at you, basically the choice is yours.

One might say that as three companies announced this kit Dragon have rushed this to get it on the market first, but giving them the benefit of the doubt it could be they kept this large kit simple to appeal to other than the dedicated modeller, I guess the final decision will be when we see the other kits?

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
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"Bertha's Big Brother Karl-Geraet (60 & 54cm)"
by Thomas L. Jentz
ISBN 0-9708407-2-1

AFV Modeller Magazine
Issue No.12
Detailed buildup of the Dragon Karl
with usefull details

German Heavy Mortars
Schiffer Military History Vol.39
ISBN 0-88740-322-0
Allied & Axis No.9
Ampersand Publishing


Page created 20 February 2003

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