by: Gavin Turner [ ]
Originally published on:
The Grille 30 “Bear” was a “paper panzer” design from Germany in WW2. The vehicle was to have comprised the Skoda 30.5 cm (GRW) L/16 mortar mounted in a fixed casemate on an adapted Tiger II hull. The engine was moved and mounted nearer the front of the vehicle to make space for the fighting compartment in the rear. To my knowledge none of these vehicles were ever completed, but some part built hulls which could have been for this vehicle were found at the end of WW2 by the Allied forces.
The kit comes in a top opening box with some very nice box art showing a theoretical scene of a Grille 30 in Berlin. Kit length is advertised as 244.8 mm and width is 105.4 mm with the kit comprising 310 pieces. The box contains 7 plastic sprues, individually moulded lower and upper hulls, a small PE fret, brass wire for the tow cables, a very simple decal sheet and vinyl tracks.
Overall moulding quality was good, but sprue B especially had some minor flash and heavy mould seams in places which made clean-up of these parts a little tedious compared to other parts of the kit. No sink marks or other defects were found on the plastic. Photo etch parts are of the usual Trumpeter standard, being protected by clear film on both sides of the fret.
Since this is a “paper panzer”, the only decals included are two large balkenkreuz, but these are of a high quality.
The inclusion of vinyl tracks is a bit of a disappointment, although slightly warped (and therefore requiring some straightening before use), the detail on them is not bad and the injection stubs on the inside faces are not too obtrusive and should be easily hidden.
The inclusion of brass wire for the tow cables is a nice feature and gives these parts a nice realistic appearance on the finished model.
The kit instructions were the usual black and white Trumpeter booklet style. I came across no part numbering or incongruous positioning arrows in the instructions which made construction simple and straightforward.
Also included is Trumpeters customary full colour painting and marking guide. Colour call outs are in Mr Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol. Marking guide in the kit is for a three-tone vehicle.
Assembly starts with the underside recoil stabiliser plate. I assume this was a deployable plate to help stop all the gun’s recoil being passed through the rear suspension system. The kit allows this part to be movable, which would allow the modeller to pose this how they wished, should they be including the model in a diorama or such. Parts fit throughout this step was good and no issues were encountered.
Step 2 builds up the rear hull plate and more parts of the recoil plate assembly which are present within the lower hull tub. The detail on the jack which is then mounted on the rear plate is excellent, a very nice rendition of this part. The jacking block also has very nice wood grain present.
A differing feature of this hull to that of the Tiger II is that the rearmost 4 axles would appear to have both torsion bars and leaf springs. One can surmise this could well have been a reinforcement to compensate for the massive recoil of the 30.5 cm mortar as this would be directed down through the rear of the vehicle.
Step 3 covers the installation of the suspension arms and inner run of road wheels. No poly caps are included in this kit, and the fit of the wheels on the axle stubs isn’t particularly tight.
Step 4 covers installation of the outer run of road wheels (different from the inner due to the extended “tube” on the rear of each wheel) and the separate hub caps. The drive sprockets are also installed at this stage, and are simply made up of two halves each.
Step 5 includes installation of more hub caps and the rear idler wheels and track tensioning mechanisms on the rear hull plate. The internal mount arms and mantlet/breech section get installed into the lower hull at this point. I found it necessary to slightly widen the holes in the mount arms with a hobby knife to allow the mantlet/breech section pegs to fit. Remember to not take too much out otherwise the fit will be too loose and the barrel will not stay elevated under its own friction.
Step 6 covers installation of the tracks, although most modellers will no doubt leave this step until the end, which should be simple enough as there are no side skirts on this vehicle, so the tracks could be added easily at the end of the build if wished.
Step 7 is simply the addition of the casemate front plate. No fit issues were found here.
Steps 8-10 cover the addition of the small details to the upper hull. These were all nicely detailed and fit well. The PE engine deck mesh was simple to install and fitted in place exactly. The upper hull fixed to the lower hull without the need for any filler.
Step 11 completes the build with the installation of the slide moulded barrel, a simple step. The barrel is keyed at the breech end to assist in alignment. Two shells are also included in this kit, should the modeller wish to use them.
A nicely detailed, straightforward kit of a unique subject, which might not be to everyone’s taste. Assembly was easy and quick and resulted in an imposing model. It’s a shame there were no individual link tracks in the kit as seems to be Trumpeters norm for modern kit offerings, as the vinyl tracks included were quite warped, but the brass wire and photo etched grills were welcome additions. It was also good to see the use of slide moulding for the main mortar barrel and the MG barrel as well. A recommended build for those who like they’re “paper panzers”.