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Grille

Trumpeter 1/35 German Geschützwagen Tiger Grille 21/210mm Mortar 18/1 L/31 Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2010 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject German Geschützwagen Tiger Grille 21/210mm Mortar 18/1 L/31 Scale 1/35
Kit Number 1540 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nicely detailed kit of this unique late-war mortar concept Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $139.95

First Look

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The Germans were adapting a variety of combat vehicles into support vehicles. In the early days of the war, the Czech-built LT-38 was widely employed as a platform for artillery, anti-tank weapons, etc. As the war progressed, the role of weapons platform befell upon other main battle tanks that were obsolete. It didn't take long for the logistics trains to get stretched to the point where supplying parts for old and new tanks was becoming a problem, so the weapons designers began using the hulls of current and soon-to-be deployed tanks in order to provide greater parts commonality and ease the logistics trail.

One such design was the Grille series of gun platforms based upon the hull of the Tiger II tank. This particular chassis was not only in-step with the deployment of the Tiger II into service, the large platform allowed for larger guns to be mounted without exceeding the mobility and stability of the chassis. In one case, designers created a self-propelled mortar system based on this Tiger II hull and armed with a 21cm L31 mortar.

Trumpeter has released another interesting German World War II weapons system that almost made it into service. This is the Grille (Cricket) based upon the Tiger II chassis and armed with a 21cm mortar. You'll note that the retail price is a bit higher than many of its recent armor releases, but then you'll see just how much plastic is inside the box!

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 15 sprue trees plus a separately packaged lower hull, one set of vinyl tracks, and one fret of photo-etched parts. According to the specs, this kit is comprised of 592 parts, 14 of which are not used in this variant.

So what is special about this Tiger II-based release? This is the first kit that features a full interior from driver's compartment to engine compartment. You can show off this vehicle with everything unbuttoned. What's more, the mortar is designed to be posed separately as this vehicle was supposed to be able to dismount its main weapon for fixed position fires should the need arise.

Construction begins with the suspension and road wheels, and you'll be making 22 sets of road wheels plus drive sprockets and return rollers. When the suspension and road wheels are completed, you'll flip the hull over and start the installation of the floor plates and mounting rails for the mortar.

The kit provides a highly detailed engine and transmission. The transmission is mounted in the driver's compartment and interconnects to the engine on the other side of the firewall behind the driver. The engine compartment is complete with radiator fans and other nice detailing which will be visible with the access hatches open.

The rear of the chassis receives more details for the mortar mounting and deployment rails. The side-armored enclosure is hinged to allow the shell to also be opened up. The kit provides some working hinges that will need to be assembled with care to prevent them from being glued together incorrectly.

Note that the instructions do not show you how to open up the separately molded driver and engine access hatches. You might want to study these instructions so you can plan in advance on how this beast will be displayed and build accordingly.

The remainder of the focus is on the mortar and its mount. Note that the kit provides options for having the mortar mounted in the hull or on a separately provided rotating base. As with the interior of this kit, the mortar itself does not lack for detailing.

With all of the details in this hull, I can't help but wonder if Trumpeter is planning a super-detailed Tiger II series in our future. Given all of the Panzer IV hull variants that have been produced to date, it is a foregone conclusion that we'll be seeing some highly detailed Panzer IV tanks in the future as well. If you don't want to wait on Trumpeter to release a Tiger II tank and you're going to build this kit with the driver and engine compartment closed up, you can rob these interior parts to super-detail a DML Tiger II. However you want to build it, this will be an eye-catching armor addition to your cannon-cocker collection.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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