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In-Box Review
135
21cm Morser 18
Trumpeter #02314 German 21cm Morser 18
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by: Dave Shick [ ILLINI ]


Originally published on:
Armorama



Introduction

The Mörser 18 was designed to replace the World War I-era 21cm Mörser 16 (for 1916, the year of its introduction) which ironically was still in use at the start of World War II. The gun’s design was carried out in secret because of the restrictions of the Versailles Treaty, hence the designation 18.

The gun design itself was nothing innovative and imitated earlier designs. However, the carriage was likely the first production design using a dual-recoil system to increase accuracy and ease-of-use. The barrel recoiled normally in its cradle using the damping cylinder mounted above the barrel and attached to the breach. In addition, the whole top carriage (the barrel and its cradle) recoiled across the base or main part of the carriage. This required two cylinders mounted to the carriage frame and attached to the cradle. The system damped-out the recoil forces and made for a very steady firing platform. The same carriage technology was also used with the 17cm Kanone 18 in Mörserlafette and the 15cm Schnelladekanone C/28 in Mörserlafette.

The Mörser 18 was an enormous weapon, and had to be transported in two pieces: for travel the barrel was towed in its own trailer (one of the references provided below shows the assembly broken down for transport). The box art shows the weapon being transported intact behind what might be a SD.Kfz.8. However, this was only done over very short distances. One vehicle used for transport was a Mörserzugmittel (“medium mortar truck”). There is a 1/35 kit of this vehicle by CMK that I found on e-bay and ordered. I’ll post a review and pictures later.

The carriage also mounted an integral firing platform that was lowered to the ground when emplacing the gun. The wheels were then cranked up off the ground. A rear castor-wheel jack was used to raise the rear spade off the ground if the gun needed to be traversed more than the 16° allowed by the mount proper. The reference noted above actually shows a crew preparing to lift the rear of the whole unit in preparation for such an operation, or perhaps for attaching the limber.

Just over 700 of the pieces were completed by the end of the war, with none manufactured in 1942 when the emphasis was on the smaller 17cm Kanone 18 in Mörserlafette.

The kit

The kit comes in the standard open-top cardboard box with the sprues packaged together in pairs in sealed bags, and consists of over 400 parts including:

11 unique sprues with two duplicated for the usual suspension bits
Two large tires and two small tires
Two springs
Two copper tubes
One Photo Etch fret
Two carriage sides – wrapped in foam for protection

There are no clear parts, or decals.

Several parts are listed as unused. I would suggest removing these to the spares box before starting, so there’s no doubt when a sprue has been completed.

Instructions
The instructions consist of a 24 page booklet, with 25 steps. In general, the instructions are clear and well-illustrated. However, parts locations are indicated by arrows that lead from a part to its placement, and are sometimes misleading or ambiguous. I often found it necessary to look ahead to find an illustration that shows the part in place.

the Review

The kit parts are very well-detailed, and have virtually no flash or seam lines. However, as I understand is common with Trumpeter, there are many ejector pin marks, some in key places. The pictures show a couple of these. Unfortunately, I didn’t putty and sand some of them before assembling, making them difficult to hide. There a lots of VERY small parts in this kit, which adds to the detail, but makes for a very laborious build. So far, I haven’t lost any (the pictures show a few of these, relative to a dime),

the build

The build consists of three major subassemblies:

The carriage
The cradle and barrel
The limber.

The carriage is the largest and most-detailed assembly. It covers the first 14 steps (of 25) of the instructions, as well as Step 23. It is critical that at Step 3 the carriage is squared and not lopsided. There are some truly tiny bits that are added, not always easily. For example, I would suggest that the H20 pieces be added to pieces A1 and A21 when those are added to the carriage sides.

The instructions imply the gun can be built in either travel or combat mode, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The circular support can be stored in travel mode, but that’s as far s it goes. The instructions for the “cat walk” (see pictures) say travel mode, but are actually combat mode, with them perpendicular to the carriage, not vertical. In combat mode, the carriage is supported on the circular base, with three or four wheeled jacks allowing the whole unit to be rotated. There are only two of these jacks provided, one in travel mode (short) and the other in combat mode. Some scratch building is called for here.

The springs provided are a nice touch, but are a bit large, and don’t fit well. Looking at reference photos, they are more tightly coiled than the actual ones. Actual battle pictures also show these covered with a tubular canvas “sock” which probably was meant to avoid inserting arms and legs.

The cradle and barrel take only five steps. Some of the ejector marks show up here. There are lots of cranks and wheels attached to the cradle, which might best be left for the painting phase. Again, making sure this is square is critical, or the gun will point askew.

The limber is nice little kit unto itself. There’s some tricky PE bending here, with only a picture in the instructions to help.

painting & finishing

Pick your favorite monochrome German paint scheme. The instructions call for “dark yellow”, but most photographs seem to be grey. I used the dark yellow, because I have a ton of it.

Conclusion

Comparing various assemblies to the references mentioned below this appears to be a well researched and accurate representation of this interesting weapon. So far, this has been a fun and interesting build, due to the plethora of detailed bits.

References:

A.) Google provides lots of references for this subject, including many with actual in-comabat pictures.

B.) This book by Rossagraph was reviewed here on Armorama. Unfortunately, the gun shown at the Polish Military Museum is missing quite a few parts, and despite a new paint job, is in bad shape.

c.) Wikipedia shows a Morser located at the Fort Sill OK Field Artillery Museum which sports a very interesting camouflage design. I placed a query for anyone in the Ft. Sill area in the armor forum, and John (Tankrider) responded that he worked there. He took about 50 pictures, and posted them in a Picasa web album.
SUMMARY
Highs: Lots of little parts provide great detail, and mostly accurate representation of the Mörser .
Lows: Lots of little parts. Poor representation of combat mode, no real option for travel mode. Ejector pin marks in awkward places.
Verdict: A well detailed model of a very interesting subject. This should appeal to all WWII armor fans, especially artillery buffs.
Percentage Rating
75%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 02314
  Suggested Retail: $74.95 list; $52.60 paid
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: May 05, 2010
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 82.14%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 84.63%

Photos
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About Dave Shick (Illini)
FROM: CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES

Copyright ©2017 text by Dave Shick [ ILLINI ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

This is very well written and really informative review, Dave. I am really considering getting this kit and now that I've found a good review of it I may just take the plunge. Thanks for sharing! Rob
MAY 05, 2010 - 01:42 PM
Thanks for the review! I had the idea to build one of the both big guns, the "17cm Kanone 18" or the "21 cm Mörser 18". But that´s not sure. Also I have noticed, that both kits have a "small" error. The both "gangways" (I don´t know the name) are straight in the instructions... but in reality the rear part touch the ground. But this seems to be no problem, to fix that. I found a good build-log, and the builder had fixed the problem. But another error are the missing spades. There were 3 spade-sets... made up of 4 earth-spades each, a plate and a connection to the base. The smaller (1/72) Revell-kit has them. (sorry for my perhaps wrong english )
MAY 05, 2010 - 02:05 PM
Soren, could you share that log with us? Again, do you have photos you could share?
MAY 06, 2010 - 10:18 PM
A very good first review and I look forward to many more from you. Well done.
MAY 07, 2010 - 02:15 AM
Hi Dave Thanks for Your review which gave me a few points I should consider as soon as I'm going to build my 17 cm Kanone, which is essentially the same gun with the exception of the smaller caliber. I also read your introduction with interest, but I have some objections to make in respect of the used tractors. First, I don't know what You want with the Mörserzugmittel, basically a Skoda 35(t) without turret weighing less than ten tons which could therefore tow about the same load as the eight ton halftrack Sdkfz 7. The 21 cm Mörser was heavier than 22 tons assembled. As far as I can say that's why the Germans had at least one 18 ton Famo Halftrack in the heavy artillery batteries to move the three assembled guns of the Battery from the rearward assembly positions into the firing positions. The Sdkfz 7 were used for towing the gun tubes on their trolleys and the 12 ton Halftracks (Sdkfz. for towing the gun carriages. Of course You could tow an assembled Gun with three Sdkfz. 7 or with two Sdkfz. 8 but this was quite a delicate matter even for experienced drivers and nearly an impossible task while trying to pull a gun into position with a compsiton between 30 to 40 meters (about 90 to 120 feet) in length on heavy ground. I know, there were heavy batteries which used turretless 38 (t) tanks as prime movers for towing their 15 cm s FH 18 but that was an intermediate solution and the sFH 18 was a considerably lighter gun compared to the 21 cm Mörser. However, Your review helped me to discover a few important things like the thickness of the springs on the lower carriage and the number of the jacks needed to hoist the gun I didn't care about before. Cheers Arun Bauer
OCT 14, 2010 - 07:07 PM
I'm planning on building an artillery version of Tamiya's Famo so that I'll have an appropriate vehicle to tow the 21cm howitzer. Bit of a challenge getting the extra seats and rear stowage lockers, but hey that's part of this wild 'n wooley hobby!
DEC 29, 2016 - 04:16 PM
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