1:72 Panzerkampfwagen E-100 Ausf. D, "652" of the German XXXIX. Panzerkorps; Ratingen (Germany), summer 1946 (Whif/Modelcollect kit conversion with ModelTrans parts)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the model, the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The Panzerkampfwagen E-100, also known as Gerät 383 and TG-01, was a German super-heavy tank design developed towards the end of World War II. It was proposed to be the basis for a heavy artillery system, an anti-aircraft vehicle, and a heavy tank destroyer.
The basic design was ordered by the Waffenamt as a parallel development to Porsche's heavy tank design "Maus" in June 1943, but part of the new, standardized Entwicklung (E) series of vehicles, consisting of the E-5, E-10, E-25, E-50, E-75 and finally the E-100. The latter was the heaviest and biggest chassis of the family, which was meant to standardize as many components as possible.
In March 1944, Adlerwerke company from Frankfurt am Main submitted blueprint 021A38300 for a super-heavy tank called E-100, after the tank was proposed in April 1943 along with the other Entwicklung series vehicles. According to the blueprints, the tank would be armed with a both a 150 mm gun and a 75 mm gun in a huge turret.
Two types of engines were proposed: one was a 700 hp Maybach HL230, with a transmission and turning mechanism borrowed from the Tiger II. The estimated top speed was 23 km/h, and it was clear that this powerplant was utterly undersized for the E-100, which would be almost twice as heavy as the already underpowered Tiger II.
The second variant,l which was favored for serial production, would have a new, turbocharged 1200 hp Maybach HL 232 engine and a top speed estimated at 40 km/h. Other engines in the 1.000+ hp range were considered, too, e. g. modified Daimler Benz aircraft engines, or torpedo boat engines.
The design had removable side skirts and narrow transport tracks to make rail transport more viable. This design was very similar to the original 'Tiger-Maus' proposal, but had larger 900 mm diameter road wheels and a new spring based suspension rather than the original torsion bars. A new turret was designed, too, intended to be simpler and lighter than the massive Maus turret - effectively the E-100 was 40 tons lighter than the 188 ton Maus prototype.
Permission was given to produce the tank based on the potential use of the E-100 as a tank destroyer with either a 15 cm StuK L/63 or 17 cm StuK L/53 gun.
However, in July 1944 the development of super heavy tanks was halted, but work on the E-100 continued at a low priority and the outlook to produce a limited number of these massive vehicles for special purposes, using existing components.
The first prototype was completed in January 1945, and from the start several variants were slated for the limited serial production. Four battle tank variants were defined, differing basically through the turret designs and the armament. The first three variants A-C carried the 15 cm StuK as main armament, while the D variant was an interim solution that would carry the new 140mm PaK 46 L/50 cannon which was originally earmarked for the tank hunter variants of the E-75 and E-100 family.
However, since the dedicated E-100 tank hunter SPG "Krokodil" with a low, casemate-style hull was not ready yet in late 1945, it was decided to adapt the new and powerful gun with the already developed cannon mount in a turret.
The result was a battle tank/SPG hybrid with a huge, boxy turret on the E-100 standard chassis, which could be fully rotated by 360°. The turret's front offered excellent ballistic protection, but the tall and massive silhouette made the vehicle hard to conceal.
Designed only as a stopgap solution, only about 20 E-100 Ausf. D were produced in total. Having learnt the painful lesson of the heavy Elefant/Ferdinand SPG deployments, the E-100 Ausf. D was primarily and right from the start only used in defensive roles for strategically important locations, and not as a classic, highly mobile battle tank. Targets could be engaged at very high distances, and the PaK 46 L/60 was able to destroy heavy tanks like the heavily armored Soviet IS-3 with a single, head-on shot.
The PaK 46 L/60 was a very powerful weapon, and, like its predecessor, the 12.8 cm PaK 44 L/55, very accurate and deadly even at greater distances.
The gun was fed with two-piece ammunition, the projectile and cartridge making up separate pieces. Because of this, the gun could be fired using three different sized propellant charges; a light, medium and heavy charge. The light and medium charges were normally used when the gun was fulfilling the role of an artillery piece, where they would launch the ~32 kg projectiles to a muzzle velocity of 885 m/s and 940 m/s respectively.
The heavy charge was used when the gun was fulfilling its intended role as an anti-tank gun, where it fired a 35.4 kg APCBC-HE projectile (PzGr.46) at a muzzle velocity of 1,050 m/s. During practice, the estimated probability of a first round hit on a 2 m (6 ft 7 in) high, 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide target only dropped below 100 percent at ranges beyond 1,500 m (0.93 mi), to 95–97 percent at 2,000 m (1.24 mi) and 85–87 percent at 3,000 m (1.8 mi), depending on ammunition type. Recorded combat performance was lower, but still over 80 percent at 1,500 m, in the 60s at 2,500 m and the 40s at 3,000 m. Penetration of armoured plate inclined at 30 degrees was 242 and 192 mm (9.5 and 7.5 in) at 100 m (110 yd) and 2,000 m (1.2 mi) respectively for the armour-piercing shell.
In order to take on smaller, lightly armored targets, an MK 103 30 mm machine cannon (firing 425 RPM and having an effective range of up to 5.700m was mounted co-axially, as well as a light MG 34. Another light machine gun was added in a ball mount in the turret's rear, in order to defend the loading hatches against infantry attacks. Another, manually operated machine gun was mounted on the commander's cupola against aircraft and close soft targets.
Aiming of the main weapons was improved by a built-in stereoscopic rangefinder — using twin matching armored blisters, one on each turret side. A "Sperber/FG 1250" night vision scope on the commander's cupola, together with a 30cm infrared searchlight with range of 600m.
Some of the vehicles where deployed in the upper Rhine and Ruhrgebiet area, while others were used in the defense of Berlin against the Red Army, and most of the time only one of two of these heavy tanks were allocated to units in which other, more agile vehicles could support and defend them.
Nevertheless, like all E-100 tank variants, the Ausf. D variant suffered from a general lack of mobility, so that it was not easy to field it or change position after a shot. While the heavy armor could absorb a lot of hits and punishment, many of these tanks had to be abandoned or destroyed by their crews since they could not be saved from advancing enemy forces.
Another general weakness of the whole E-100 series was the massive fuel consumption of the HL 232 engine:: with 10l per km (2,35 mpg) the tank had very short legs (only 120 km/75 ml with internal fuel) and not suited at all for dynamic combat situations which involved quick advances or tactical position changes . Even in stationary use, its effectiveness was highly limited.
Another flaw, specific to the D variant, was its tall and heavy turret. The layout resulted in a very high center of gravity, so that the turret bearing and its hydraulic traverse mechanism was frequently over-stressed. If the crew would not pay attention to the tank's orientation and the underground conditions, the turret would easily get stuck - another reason while many of these super-heavy tanks were lost in action without direct enemy involvement.
Weight: 140 tonnes (154 short tons; 138 long tons)
Length (overall): 10.44 m (34 ft 2.4 in)
Width: 4.48 m (14 ft 8 in)
Height: 3.29 m (10 ft 10 in)
Suspension: Belleville washer coil spring
Crew: 6 (Commander, Driver, Radio Operator, Gunner, 2x Loader)
Hull front: 150–200 mm (5.9–7.9 in)
Hull sides and rear: 120–150 mm (4.7–5.9in)
Hull top: 40 mm (1.6 in)
Hull bottom: 40–80 mm (1.6–3.1 in)
Turret front: 200 mm (7.9 in)
Turret sides & rear: 80–150 mm (3.1–5.9 in)
Turret top: 40 mm (1.6 in)
1x turbocharged Maybach HL232 V12 gasoline engine with 1.200 hp
Maximum road speed: 40 km/h (25 mph)
Sustained road speed: 36 km/h (22 mph)
Cross country speed: 14 to 20 km/h (8.7 to 12.4 mph)
Power/weight: 8,57 hp/ton
Range on raod: 120 km (74 mi)
Range cross counrty: 85 km (53 mi)
1x 140mm (5.51 in) PaK 46 L/60 with 55 rounds
1x co-axial 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 103 machine cannon with 100 rounds
3x 7.92 mm MG34 (1x co-axial with main gun, 1x in ball mount in the turret's back side
and 1x anti aircraft gun on top of the commander's cupola) with a total of 5,850 rounds
The kit and its assembly:
This is an “in between” project, which I tackled on short notice while waiting for parts for another project. I am not a big fan of the huge E-100 tank, but I was given a surplus chassis from a friend who had bought a ModelCollect 12.8mm twin flak on an E-100 chassis in 1:72 – only for the gun, because this combo was less expensive than the flak alone (available separately). Since he had no use for the turret-less E-100 chassis I gladly took it.
It was the perfect occasion to invest and try an aftermarket conversion set from the German company Model Trans/Silesian Models, based in Essen, which offers a wide range of resin conversion sets for tanks and other military vehicles – including some Heer ’46 conversions/whiffs.
The turret for the fictional “E-100 Ausf. D” is one of these, and I like it for its bizarre, KW-2-esque style. The turret, certainly adapted from the Jagdpanther/E-100 tank hunter hull, looks impressive, even though it features some fishy details like the inward-canted rear wall or the rear of the turret overlapping the engine opening. But, hell, it’s a whiffy design, and the “cheese wedge” look of the turret certainly turns heads.
The turret set consists only of two massive resin parts, the turret itself and the barrel. The cast is excellent (no bubbles, almost no flash, crisp detail and clean surfaces; only the barrel had to be cleaned up a little), and I assume that the parts were moulded after parts from other ModelCollect kit parts.
Some missing parts like the hatch for the commander cupola or the Sperber infrared sight can be taken from the E-100 kit (even if it comes without a turret). Gaps between the barrel and the gun's mount were filled with paper tissue soaked with thinned white glue, imitating a leather of cloth shroud.
The pieces go together well and the turret base also matches perfectly the turret ring in the E-100 hull.
The E-100 kit itself is more challenging, though. While it is basically of simple construction, the sheer size of the parts and the fact that the hull consists of separate floor, side and rear walls and the upper deck, makes assembly a bit complicated. The fact that the floor and the side walls were slightly twisted did not help either. While everything went together well, I had to use putty in order to close some seams and bridge small gaps. Nothing dramatic, but modelers should be wary.
Mounting the wheels is not easy - esp. the sprocket wheel in the front and even more the idelr wheel at the rear have a very complicated and flimsy construction with a very thin and short locator pin. The PVC tracks also turned out to be too short, unfortunately I found this out I had painted and weathered them. Thankfully the massive side skirts help hiding the gaps, since I could not mount the tracks under any tension.
A nice solution are the separate side skirts and the complete engine compartment with separate hatches, a nicely detailed engine block and exhaust manifold as well as coolers.
I’ve built the E-100 hull OOB and left away the PE parts on purpose, since the mess of cutting them out or mounting them to the hull (e. g. microscopic lugs or a grate for the air intakes that are so dense that any paint applied by brush would immediately clog and ruin them) would IMHO not really improve the kit.
Painting and markings:
I wanted a fictional paint scheme for this one – no standard Hinterhalt camouflage tones, but still with a German feel. The inspiration for this green/grey scheme was lent from the Ma.K./Maschinenkrieger/ZbV3000 model universe, where many vehicles/mecha carry a pseudo-German scheme, some inspired by WWII Luftwaffe aircraft.
For the E-100 I adapted one of the Ma.K. designs and used Luftwaffe tones: the pale tone is RLM02 (the base is Revell’s 45, modern RAL 7003, which is slightly more olive green than the original grey), while the dark patches are German Panzergrau (Humbrol 67, modern RAL 7024, and actually a tone from early WWII). The latter turned out to appear very dark, due to the strong contrast to the RLM02, so that the scheme unintentionally reminds a lot of the late-war Allied “Mickey Mouse” scheme in olive drab and black? This was later slightly mended through the addition of RLM74 during the weathering process (see below), but the similarity remains, and once the kit became more and more complete the whole thing started looking like a modern German Bundeswehr Panzerhaubitze 2000?
In order to create an improvised and worn look, the camouflage was applied only thinly over an overall base coat with Humbrol 70 (Brick Red), which looks very much like stretched late war primer with which many tanks left the factories, to be camouflaged by the units in the field.
As a small color detail the barrel’s front end received a different scheme in Dunkelgelb (Revell 16, from below, kind of counter-shading against the sky) and Red Brown (Humbrol 160) from above, simulating a replacement part.
Once the basic camouflage had been applied, the kit was weathered with a highly thinned wash of dark brown, grey and black acrylic paint. Once dry the major surfaces were lightly wet-sanded, revealing more of the underlying red primer. Next, details and areas were highlighted through dry-brushing with true RLM02 (Humbrol 247) and RLM74 (Humbrol 245). After the application of the few marking decals, the whole kit received another dry brushing treatment, this time with Revell 75 (Hellgrau) and Humbrol 72 (Khaki drill). Some rust traces were painted with thinned sienna red acrylic artist paint.
Matt acrylic varnish (Italeri) was used to seal the kit, and once the (also weathered) PVC tracks and the side skirts had been mounted, the lower hull received a treatment with grey/beige/brown pigments, simulation dust and mud residue.
A relatively quick build, realized in less than a week, and some (minor) challenges. What a huge vehicle the E-100 has been – but what a waste of effort, resources and tactical limitations due to the vehicle’s sheer size and weight. Looks impressive, though, esp. when you place this hulk next to a “normal” tank…
In the end I am not really convinced of my paint scheme idea, but I ran with it since I wanted something different from the obvious German late war standard scheme.