ResiCast has made a very good name for itself with it's interesting and unique resin kits of subjects usually not done in styrene. These kits include artillery subjects, soft skin vehicles of both world wars, unique armored vehicles, figures, and useful diorama accessories.
The subject of this review is the World War I 8" Heavy Gun Mk. II & Limber, a kit that had been released a couple of years ago. These 8" heavy guns have an interesting backstory, being somewhat of a war emergency weapon pressed into service only due to great need. The gun tubes for these guns were made of obsolete naval gun barrels, and the several different marks of this series differed mainly in the gun carriage design.
With it's massive spoked wheels and squat gun tube, this is a very distinctive gun.
What's in the Box?
One thing that I've learned over the course of examining a fair number of ResiCast kits, is that Graham Sellars is determined to ensure his products get to the modeler in fine shape! Sturdy cardboard boxes, zip lock bags, and plenty of bubble wrap protect even the most delicate castings from transit damage. Needless to say, the contents of this kit were received in fine shape.
There's quite a bit inside the box!
As you see in the above photo, there's a mix of bagged ( smaller parts ) and un-bagged ( major component ) parts, along with a pair of nicely made photoetch frets, and a couple of lengths of white styrene rod. Also included is a 15 page photographic instruction booklet, printed in black and white.
Close examination of the bagged parts revealed a few parts with small air bubbles, very fine light flash, and a couple of larger parts ( the gun tube itself, and limber frame ) had some mold shift. Interestingly, a friend of mine who had also built this kit reported absolutely zero parts issues. Be that as it may, the minor issues that I encountered were easily dealt with in any case.
Building the 8 inch Gun
First, the usual disclaimer when working with resin kits; resin dust can be harmful, so protect your respiratory system! Wet sand to keep the dust down, use adequate ventilation and /or a dust mask. I assembled this kit with a mix of adhesives, including thick CA from Hobby Lobby, some of Dr. Mike's Lightning Bond ( a super thin CA that is just OUTSTANDING for it's quick setting time and secure grip ), some gel CA from UMM-USA, and good old two-part epoxy. You will also need a set of small drill bits.
This build begins with work on the gun tube, a really massive thing in 1/35 scale. The casting had a bit of mold shift, as can be seen in the photo below. Fortunately, it can be situated on the underside where it will not be visible. I did some work on it anyway, to reduce the off chance it might be seen.
Gun tube mold shift visible on right end of the tube.
You need to decide immediately on whether or not you want the gun breech open or closed. For visual interest, I chose opened up. The kit provides appropriate breech handles for either position. They are rather delicate, take care with removing them from the pour block and during clean-up.
Depicting the gun with the breech open will require drilling out the breech end of the tube, as well as squaring it off. I drilled into the tube to a depth of perhaps 3/8th inch, and then painted the hollowed out area flat black. The breech ring ( center part seen above ) fit perfectly.
Test fit of the gun's breech ring,
The instructions now has the builder begin preparing the gun trail for eventual mounting of the gun to it. The grab handles at the lead edge ( left end, as you view the photograph below ) of the gun trail / carriage can be carved off and replaced with photoetched handles.
The large casting for the trail had some air bubbles at the rear ( right side, as seen above ) end, not visible here. They were easily filled, just wanted to make note of that. The rest of the casting was fairly clean, only needing a bit of minor clean-up here and there. For a casting of this size, with all of the rivet or bolt head detail on it, it's really nicely done overall.
...and after ( for one of the handles anyway ). A simple, easy upgrade.
The further construction work on the gun tube mounts the upper and lower gun saddle and associated parts. Prior to mounting the lower saddle ( seen below, center ) to the gun tube, you must drill out the square protrusion on it with a 3mm drill bit, and fit a pin ( part A7, seen below ) that you've cut down to 3mm long to it. This pin connects up to a matching hole on the breech ring assembly.
Above- elevation gear, lower saddle, and connecting pin
Fit the breech ring to the gun tube, then slide the lower saddle into place, seating the connecting pin into it's recess. Above you see how the parts align, including the gun's elevation gear, and upper saddle that the recuperator cylinders mount to.
At this point, I couldn't resist test fitting the gun to it's mounts. All fit quite well.
After attaching the recuperator cylinders, you cut two approximately 10mm lengths of 1.2mm styrene rod to connect the cylinder ends and the corresponding two spots on the gun's breech ring. Take extreme care to align the recuperators ( just one part for both ) perfectly so that the rods are exactly straight between the cylinders and breech ring.
Please Note - some of these parts do not have much in the way of positive mount points. The builder will be doing a good amount of dry-fitting, intense studying of the instruction booklet's photographs, and then relying on his or her Mk I eyeball. Remember; CA debonder can be your friend...just sayin'.
As mentioned above, the breech can be depicted open or closed, the kit provides breech handles in either configuration.. For visual interest, I wanted to have the breech opened up.
Above, breech to the right ( a very nice casting ), center is the handle for depicting the breech open, and part A9 still on its casting block is the closed breech handle.
Above - views of the breech in place
With the gun tube and associated parts assembly complete, it's time to begin work on the gun trail /carriage. This includes adding the tow bar ( seen at the right end of the gun in the photo above ), and the step blocks ( parts A17 seen above ) to the trail The step blocks have crisp tread plate detail on the tops of them..
Please NOTE - the above several photographs show the wheel axles in place. The instructions call for their installation pretty early during the build, and this involves drilling a pair of 3.5mm holes into the carriage. I did so, but DID NOT CEMENT THE AXLES INTO PLACE. This was done to allow for axle - frame adjustment if needed when mounting the wheels. With wheels as massive as the ones on this gun, they need to be aligned perfectly. As it turned out, I did need the ability to adjust those axles to assist with proper wheel alignment.
Above, continuing on with assembly of various components of the gun trail..the gun tube elevation handwheel and gearbox are in place, as is the base for the gun's shell hoist ( between the step blocks mounted to the frame ).
You have a choice for the gun's brackets that the spikes fit into to move the rear of the gun trail, you can use the resin parts ( A12 ) or opt for the photoetched parts. The photoetch parts ( on ever side ) are each one piece with multiple 90 degree bends. These parts are easy to bend, and look very nice attached to the model.
There is a work platform which mounts to the front of the gun carriage, under the gun tube. The resin platform is mounted to the gun by means of a pair of photoetch brackets. The photoetched brackets have nice bend lines on them, making the bends easy to do.
The instructions have a template that is used to assist in forming the brackets, but for some reason , I didn't have much luck with forming the brackets using the template. I wound up getting better results doing the brackets by eye and trial and error. The brackets and platform look good once in place.
Above - a view of how the mounting brackets and platform mate up. The brackets were a little tricky to align, as well as to ensure that they both looked similar. This was a great patience building exercise.
Above - parts for the brakes, one on each side of the gun. You need to cut a 60mm length of styrene rod for each side from the kit supplied rod. These rods pass through brackets that are mounted on the frame ( seen below ) and attach to the brake housing assemblies. 1.10mm holes need to be drilled through the bake rod brackets to pass the rods through.
Above - a view of the brake rod passing through it' frame mounted bracket. While a bit blurry in the photo, you can see the pivot point / mount for the brake housing to the right of the axle, just under the elevation gearbox.
Above - test fitting the brake assembly. The brake housing to the left , as well as the rod isn't cemented in place yet, as the wheel must be in place to check the fit.
Note - most period photographs of these guns show the brakes removed from the guns while set up for action, but some DO show the brakes still in place. For visual interest, despite my eventually depicting this gun in an emplacement set up for action, I left the brakes mounted to the gun.
It's time to tackle the assembly of the wheels. These wheels are made up of several parts each; the tread surface, a pair of rims, a hub, an inner flange, an outer flange, and two photoetched spoke assemblies.
Above - the resin wheel treads, a little tricky tricky to remove from the casting blocks, take care! I found that the use of a razor saw, working my way carefully around the edge of the wheels removed them pretty cleanly from the the resin pour blocks. Just a little clean-up on the cut edges and the treads were ready to go.
Above - the photoetched spokes, two per wheel assembly
Assembly of the wheels is a bit tricky, but if you study the instruction photos closely, test fit often, and proceed with caution all will go together very nicely. The most difficult part of the wheel assemblies procedure is the fitting of the photoetched spokes. Some kind of jig would have been of huge assistance here, but as is, you must bend these spokes by eye. The centers of the spokes attach to the wheel hubs, and each spoke must be bent to mate up with a rim on the OPPOSITE side of the wheel. The wide spot at the end of each spoke is where the spoke attaches to the rim, and must be bent to mate up with it. Above, you see the photoetched spoke plates, with the bending of the one on the right in progress. The hubs can be seen just above the drill bit ( the hubs need to be drilled out for the axles ).
A second set of spokes mount in the same fashion, just from the opposite side of the wheel. The spokes sort of interleave with each other. The centers of the spoke that fits on the hub is keyed and fits on the hub in a way that when you assemble the spokes to the hubs, they will be spaced correctly ( see photo below ).
Once assembled, these massive wheels are really impressive, giving the gun a distinctive look.
Above - test fitting wheel and brake assembly alignment. You can see the brake block under the spoke at the 3 o'clock position.
You will need to drill out the bottom of the upper half of the shell hoist to fit onto the lower half. I did find a solitary broken kit part at this point, the hook piece that attaches to the hoist was broken, with the missing piece not in the kit packaging anywhere. As it is a small yet noticeable part, I had to make a replacement.
At long last, I finally found a use for my mini-anvil. I used a small hammer to form a hook from .8mm lead wire.
It took a couple of tries, but I finally got a hook that I liked made
With the shell hoist done, the only thing left to do on the gun was mounting the wheels. As mentioned above, leaving the axles un-cemented helped with getting proper alignment quite a bit. I used two part epoxy when mounting the wheels to allow some adjustment time. The gun was now finished, and it was time to move on to the limber.
Building the Limber
After building the gun, the construction of the limber was a breeze. The spoked wheels were one piece each, just requiring some clean-up of the flash between the spokes.
Above - all of the parts to assemble the gun's limber
The body of the limber ( tool box? ) has some air bubbles to be addressed, quickly taken care of.
The limber frame had a bit of mold shift or off-set (seen above), that took a bit of work to clean up. Additionally, there is quite a lot of resin to needing to be cleaned out from in between the frame's cross pieces. The areas where this excess resin is located is quite visible, so doing it neatly is a good idea
Limber frame and body mated up very well.
Above, you see the voids in the frame that needed to be cleaned out. From this point, it's just a matter of attaching the wheels and the tow bar to the limber and it's completed. It's a nice little piece all on it's own (see image below).
Additional odds and ends - the kit comes with a few extras, a 3 part shell cradle, 4 hand spikes for shifting the gun, 4 recoil control wedges ( 2 large, 2 small ) and a sponge end ( rod not included ) for mopping out the gun tube. These are all visible in the image below.
Painting and weathering the 8 inch gun and Limber
I began the painting process by pre-shading the entire gun and limber with flat black Vallejo Surface Primer. After lots of research on line to determine the correct color for the gun, it appeared that khaki was the best bet, so the base coat that I applied was good old Tamiya acrylic Khaki XF-49, feathering it a bit where I wanted the darker shadows to show. I then applied a post-shade by adding some Tamiya acrylic Dark Yellow XF-60 to the Khaki, and applying this to selected areas of the gun and limber. Pretty simple paint job!
I painted the tread areas of both the gun and limber using Ammo of Mig Dark Tracks A.Mig-0035. As the model was going to be depicted as being in use in an emplacement, I went fairly substantial with the weathering, starting with chipping done with Vallejo Model Color 70822, German Black Brown. I then followed up with washes and pigments until happy with the results.
Please note - shells, figure, pioneer tools, stowage on limber, and crates seen above are NOT a part of this kit
This kit while quite challenging at times, was very enjoyable to build and research. Due to it's resin and photoetch parts make-up, as well as a couple of challenging aspects of the build, this kit is probably best suited for advanced builders.
The Pros - ResiCast enjoys a well deserved great reputation for bringing modelers interesting and unique kit subjects. ResiCast also provides the builders of their kits with instructions that are more user friendly than those of most resin kits. Parts quality ranged from acceptable (in only a couple of instances) to very good, with detail being crisp and cleanly rendered. Parts fit was good. The amount of photoetch included in the kit was appropriate, and very well done.
The Cons - There aren't many. As noted above, in a couple of places during the build, there were parts that needed a bit of extra work to ready them for use. Parts placement in a couple of instances was slightly vague.
Fans of the big guns of the Great War need to have this gun in their battery!
Highly Recommended! (for advanced builders with resin / photoetch experience)
Sincere thanks to Graham Sellars / ResiCast for the review sample
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
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