Layout of the Sprues:
- Sprue A - Cruciform base and extension legs
- Sprue A4 – Cruciform base top
- Sprue B – Parts for Travel carriages and bits for Cruciform base
- Sprue C x 2 – Parts for Travel carriages and bits for Cruciform base
- Sprue D – Shield and base parts of the Gun
- Sprue E – Plastic barrel and small parts of the gun
- Sprue WA – Shells and shell casings
- Photo Etch A – Shield
- Photo Etch B – More shield parts and ready round box
- Photo Etch C – Shell base
- Other Parts – Metal Barrel, metal tube, Rubber tires
Steps 1, 2, & 3 – Building of the Cruciform base
This is a basic construction with only two options. You can build the model in either firing mode or travel mode. I chose the travel mode. The only question I had on this option was what to do with the parts C45 and C46, the anchor stakes. Since nothing is shown stowed on the gun itself, I have to assume they were carried in the Halftrack that was pulling the gun. I painted this sub assembly and did some slight weathering.
Step 4 – Gun cradle
Here the build of the gun cradle is completed. I did leave off the gunner’s seat until I was ready to paint the completed gun; this was to keep from breaking off the piece. Since I was doing the gun in travel mode, I did not mount the gun site optics as these were only installed when the weapon was ready to use. However, this is not noted in the instructions. Some of the parts are designed to be movable. When assembling the brackets (Parts E14 & E15) you need to let them dry completely before attempting to “snap” the moveable part into the bracket. Here again, I painted and weathered this sub assembly before mating it to the gun and shield.
Step 5 – Gun breech
There were no major problems here other that Part E2. This has no locating pins or marks on the breech as to where it actually should go. I just eyeballed it as to where it went. This subassembly was also painted and weathered prior to the next step. In step 10 the instructions ask you to remove the side bolt and plate and replace it with PE B23. I decided to leave it in place because the plastic molding was very good and the PE piece would not necessarily be an improvement. However, it turns out that you have to remove the plastic molding as the small gun shield that is mounted on the gun base (both the plastic and PE versions) will not go over the molded plastic bolts. Therefore you should remove the plastic bolts and plate at this point while it is easier to hold and sand.
Step 6 – Mating of Gun base to the gun cradle and build of the ready round box.
In this step you need to make sure that you have painted parts E38 to your satisfaction prior to mating the gun base to the cradle as it will be very difficult to paint them after installation. The ready round box is Photo Etched and I soldered it to keep the edges together.
Steps 7 & 8 – Optional Photo Etched Shield
The outer portion of the shield has to be bent into shape. I tried to super glue the seams, but in hindsight I suggest that you solder the seams together. You will need to solder side shield part PEB12 to the front shield after you finish the front shield soldering. You need to be very careful when removing the spacer bolts (Part E29) as there are no spares and if you are not careful you will lose one or two. The 9 parts that make up the ready round box brackets is an exercise in futility. These parts are so small and require curved bends such that it is not worth the effort. Since they will be hidden underneath the box, I fashioned similar shaped brackets out of sheet plastic. I did not attach the part E32 brackets to the shield, but attached them to part E8 of the gun cradle. Since these are to be moveable, it is easier to attach them to the brace. Then when mating the shield to the gun cradle, let the part E32 bracket drop into the locating hole in the shield. I left off the ready round box and painted them separately, then attached the box to the shield.
Step 9 – Optional plastic shield.
This is the plastic version of the shield. The detail on this shield is well done and will not detract from the model. This step also mounts the gun cradle to the shield. The fit is good for both the plastic and PE shields.
Step 10 – Barrel and outer shield Assembly
This step completes the barrel, mounts it to the gun base and installs the outer shield. The barrel can be done in plastic or in turned aluminum. With either option you will need to assemble the outer tube with the PE B5 & 6 flanges. The fit between the tube and the PE flanges was loose. I tried to super glue them together, but ended up soldering them instead. The muzzle brake was a little disappointing as Dragon has perfected a method of molding that almost matches what the likes of ABER and other aftermarket folks have done. The Trumpeter muzzle brake is just two pieces glued together (remember to remove the seam) and attached to the end of the barrel. The barrel is attached to the gun base by a relatively small join area. I suggest that you use epoxy in this area to ensure no separation. The outer shield can be either a one piece plastic (Part D6) or a small assembly of PE and plastic bolts. This is where you mount the PE part B23 & 24 and attach to the side of the front portion of the gun base. After that is set you can slide the outer shield over these plates and glue it in place at the angle noted in the instructions. I finished painting the barrel and touched up any scratches on the shield and cradle.
Step 11 – Mounting the gun to the cruciform base in firing mode
If you are going to display the model in firing mode now is time to mate them together. If not, skip this step and proceed to Step 12.
Step 12 – This step builds two of the wheels. To make painting easier, leave off the rubber tires until after you have completed the painting and general weathering of these two subassemblies.
Step 13 – Builds two more wheels. The same painting tips for step 12 apply here.
Step 14 & 15 – Builds the forward carriage assembly. This is a kit in itself. Make sure you drill out the hole in part C43 otherwise you are just guessing where part B47 goes. I built the carriage assembly without the wheels so I could paint and weather the carriage. There are a lot of recessed areas that are hard to get to when the wheels are mounted, but you can easily see them.
Step 16 – Builds the rear carriage assembly. Again I left the wheels off for ease of painting.
Step 16A – Attach the wheels to the carriage assembly. The wheels are very specific as to where they go. Let the glue set for at least one day before proceeding to step 17
Step 17 – Mating the cruciform base to the carriage assembly. This is only required if building in the travel model. The base will mate with front carriage assembly with a very tight fit. I had to file down the receiving openings on the carriage to allow a snap fit. The plastic rib is very strong, but don’t overdo pressing together of the two pieces. Make sure you have the direction of the base correct, because once these two parts are mated, they won’t easily separate. Repeat for the trailing carriage assembly. Now you can mount the gun to the base. If you are in travel mode you will need to complete the travel lock and touch up any paint in that area.
There are no instructions to show what to do to set the gun up in firing mode. My observation is that the base would be attached to the gun with the legs extended and the leveling pads down with the anchor stakes in place.
The painting is an overall dark yellow and there were no decals.
Conclusion: The molding was good with no flash and the mold lines were well disguised or easy to remove. The skill level is intermediate to advanced. The two carriages require a lot of advance planning to get everything in place, painted and properly fitted. If you take your time the model can be really eye catching.
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