1:72 Sd.Kfz. 199/4 Flakpanzer E-100/88, vehicle «005» of the 1. FlaZug, s.Pz.Abt. 505; Spandau (Berlin/Germany), August 1946 (Whif/enhanced Modelcollect kit)

+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the model, the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!

Some background:
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 had been ordered by the Waffenamt as a parallel development to Porsche’s heavy tank design "Maus" in June 1943, but it was to become an integral 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 and production processes as possible.

In March 1944 the Adlerwerke company from Frankfurt am Main submitted blueprint 021A38300 for a super-heavy battle 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 engine, which was favored for serial production, was a new, turbocharged 1200 hp Maybach HL 232 engine that allowed an estimated top speed of 40 km/h on roads and a decent off-road performance, should the underground allow such an adventure. Other engines in the 1.000+ hp range were considered, too, e. g. modified Daimler Benz aircraft engines, or even torpedo boat powerplants.

The Adler design had a simple hull shape and featured removable side armor skirts and narrow transport tracks to make rail transport more viable. The running gear was very similar to the original ‘Tiger-Maus’ proposal but had larger 900 mm diameter road wheels and a new coil spring-based suspension rather than the original torsion bars. This greatly simplified the hull’s construction, avoiding openings and therefore weak structural spots, because the coil springs and their mounts remained outside of the hull. This design also made manufacturing much easier, and the simpler coil springs saved high-quality steel. A new turret was designed, too, intended to be simpler and lighter than the massive Maus turret. In the end, the E-100 was 40 tons lighter than the 188 t Maus prototype, and a much simpler and streamlined design.

In July 1944, through the worsening war situation and declining national resources, the development of any super heavy tanks was officially halted. However, work on the E-100 continued at a low priority and with the outlook to produce a limited number of these massive vehicles for special purposes, using existing components. With increasing panic among the military staff and a desperate search for “Wunderwaffen” that could eventually turn the Allied invasion, permission was granted in early 1945 to proceed with the E-100 project as the SdKfz. 193, with the intention to build the E-100 as a supplement to the E-50 and E-75 Einheitspanzer battle tanks, primarily in the role of a long-range tank destroyer with either a 15 cm StuK L/63 or a 17 cm StuK L/53 gun as main armament, and as a heavily armored defensive vehicle.

The first prototype of the basic battle tank version was quickly completed in March 1945, but 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 chassis was furthermore earmarked for E-100 tank hunters and assault guns like the "Krokodil" (the Sd.Kfz. 197) with a low, casemate-style hull. Some of these SPGs also had their internal layout changed, moving the rear engine into the middle of the hull for a bigger combat compartment at the rear, so that the long gun barrel would not hang over at the front. These vehicles received the designation suffix “(m)”, for “Mittelmotor” (middle engine).

After the first E-100 battle tanks had reached frontline units in December 1945, the new chassis was greenlighted as basis for super-heavy self-propelled artillery and anti-aircraft guns. Since these vehicles were not expected to operate directly in frontline fire and to save material and production time, the hull had its armor thickness reduced considerably, and this chassis variant was called the Sd.Kfz. 199. This led to several super-heavy SPAAGs that primarily differed in their superstructures, which included open, semi-armored and fully armored/closed weapon mounts.

The latter included the Sd.Kfz. 199/4, also called the Flakpanzer E-100/88. It carried a large, box-shaped turret with a crew of five and a twin-mount for a pair of coupled 88 mm Flak 43 anti-aircraft guns, the “Gerät 288”. This heavy weapon had originally been on the Marine’s drawing board for the anti-air defense of medium to large battleships since 1942, but the German fleet’s demise led to an adaptation of the coupled-weapon concept to the use on land. The huge and strong E-100 chassis eventually offered enough space to consider a self-propelled mount for a fully enclosed turret with this anti-aircraft weapon.
The Gerät 288 integrated two, originally independent guns into a massive, mutual mount, working on the Gast Gun principle developed by German engineer Karl Gast of the Vorwerk company in 1916: the firing action of one barrel operated the mechanism of the other, creating a reciprocal twin gun. This system required no external power source to operate but was instead powered by the recoiling of the floating barrels. This provided a much faster rate of fire for lower mechanical wear than a single-barrel weapon, and another benefit of this arrangement was that the recoil from one barrel was largely compensated for by the movement of the other one.

To expand range and ceiling beyond the standard Flak 43 gun the Gerät 288 featured extended gun barrels (80 gauge instead of the field weapon’s 72), which were manufactured in two pieces for easier production and replacement. With these, the guns achieved a muzzle velocity of 1,050 m/s (3,440 ft/s), giving them an effective ceiling of 11,500 meters (37,100 ft) and a maximum of 16,000 meters (52,400 ft). The 88 mm guns could also be used against ground targets and were, using dedicated armor-piercing rounds, able to penetrate ~240 mm (9.4 inches) of vertical hardened steel armor at 1,000 m (3,280 feet). This was enough to defeat the armor of almost any contemporary Allied tank from a relatively safe distance.

In the Sd.Kfz. 199/4’s massive turret, the heavy-duty hydraulic gun mount had an elevation between +70° and -5°. The Gerät 288’s combined rate of fire was up to 150 RPM, even though 120 RPM were more practical to limit structural stress and avoid jamming. Thanks to two magazines with 58 rounds each in the turret’s sides, continuous auto-fire was possible, as well as short bursts of two to five rounds per gun and single shots. The guns could also be fed manually by the loaders (one per gun from the inside). The magazines were normally loaded externally through hatches in the turret roof, but they could be accessed from the inside, too, and re-filled under armor cover from a further stock of 86 rounds that were stored in the SPAAG’s lower hull.

To improve target acquisition and fire control, the Gerät 288 was combined with a visual coincidence range finder and an integrated analogue targeting computer, a variant of the Kommandogerät (KDO) 40. In the Sd.Kfz. 199/4, this device was operated by a dedicated crew member who assisted the gunner and the commander.
This so-called Telemeter had already been introduced in 1941 to the field troops as a mobile guidance tool for stationary anti-aircraft units equipped with the 88 mm and 105 mm Flak. But it had so far – due to its size and bulk – only been deployed on an unarmored trailer and in the recent unarmed Sd.Kfz. 282 command vehicle. In the Sd.Kfz. 199/4’s turret the rangefinder’s optical bar had a reduced span of 240 cm (95 in), but fixed target reading was possible on distances from 3,000 to 20,000 m and aerial courses could be recorded at all levels of flight at a slant range between 4,000 and 18,000 m — enough for visual identification beyond a typical anti-aircraft group’s effective gun ranges and perfectly suitable for long range observation, too.
The Telemeter was mounted in the turret’s roof under armored fairings behind the Gerät 288 and its magazines. In combination with the Gerät 288, the KDO 40 replaced the traditional gun scope. Due to the weapon’s weight and bulk, all weapon orientation was carried out by means of hydraulic motors via a control column that were slaved to the gunner’s Kommandogerät, so that aiming and firing was semi-automatized. The gunner still had to use the Telemeter as an optical scope to find and pinpoint the target, but the device translated this, together with additional information like range, temperature or wind shear, into electrical input for the guns electro-hydraulic controls that automatically corrected the weapon’s orientation and triggered them with an appropriate lead at an ideal moment. This automatized process made especially the acquisition of new targets easier and sped the whole re-targeting process up.

In this form the Sd.Kfz. 199/4 was cleared for production in mid-1945, but initial field experience especially with the heavy and less mobile E-100 vehicles had shown that these were very vulnerable to foot soldier attacks with mines or carefully aimed RPGs. Originally, the whole Einheitspanzer family had been designed without light defensive weapons, but this turned out to be a lethal weakness. Therefore, many vehicles were retrofitted in the field and on the production lines with close-combat weapons like a 100 mm “Nahverteidigungswaffe” grenade launcher which fired SMi 35 leaping mines against approaching infantry. Other frequent upgrades were smoke mortars and remote-controlled machine gun mounts that could be manually directed and fired from the inside. There were even complete, motorized gun barbettes available like the “Schwere Waffenlafette 45” (Heavy weapon mount). The latter was a newly developed, modular weapon platform, originally designed as main armament for lightly armored infantry fighting vehicles like the Sd.Kfz. 251 where it was simply mounted onto the armored roof and replaced the former manually operated machine guns. However, since it was an autonomous, electrically driven system on a simple ring mount with a relatively small diameter, the Schwere Waffenlafette 45 could easily be installed anywhere else, e. g. on the turret of most heavy tanks or the roof of assault guns. It had three periscopes at its base that gave a hemispherical field of view, the central mirror was combined with a target scope for aiming the weapons. The barbette either replaced the commander’s cupola, or it was, if there was enough space, directly attached to the roof as an additional outlook. Due to ample space the latter was the typical configuration on board of the Sd.Kfz. 199/4. The barbette’s mount replaced an already existing ventilation opening and was added on the roof in the right rear quadrant, next to the commander’s cupola, and it was operated by one of the loaders.
This barbette could be rotated 360°, had an elevation between -10 and +80° and carried a magnifying periscope for observation and aiming. The weapons were installed in external, co-axial pods with light armor protection on both sides of the central carrier column. Typically, these were a 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 103 machine cannon with 60 rounds (typically explosive APCR rounds against soft targets, but armor-piercing rounds could be fired, too) and a rapid-firing MG 42 machine gun (with 1.200 rounds), but other weapons and combinations were possible. Like the weapons, all ammunition was carried externally, too, so that the crew had to leave the vehicle’s protection to re-arm the weapons or deal with mechanical problems.

With all this heavy and bulky equipment as well as a total stock of 202 88 mm rounds and a crew of seven the Sd.Kfz. 199/4 weighed – despite the chassis’ reduced armor thickness – more than 100 tons, so that its mobility and tactical value were sharply restricted, even though it was markedly better than the battle tanks with their all-up weight of 140 tons and more. Due to this limited usefulness and lack of resources, only a small number were built. Production numbers vary between 15 and 25 vehicles, some might have been created on the basis of refurbished Sd.Kfz. 193 battle tank hulls. Most of the time, the few Sd.Kfz. 199/4s were used as mobile command posts for anti-aircraft units that defended vital locations like headquarters or production sites around Berlin, so that the vehicle’s short legs did not matter much.

Specifications:
Crew: 7 (Commander, Gunner, Telemeter operator, 2x Loader, Driver, Radio Operator)
Weight: 108 tonnes (119 short tons)
Length: 8.86 m (29 ft), hull only
11.62 m (38 ft 1 in), overall with guns forward
Width: 3.96 m
4.48 m (14 ft 8 in) with armored side skirts mounted
Height: 3.29 m (10 ft 10 in)
3.92 m (12 ft 10 in) with Schwere Waffenlafette 45
Suspension: Belleville washer coil spring

Armor:
Hull front: 80 – 120 mm (3.2 – 4.7 in)
Hull sides and rear: 60 – 90 mm (2.4 – 3.5in)
Hull top: 40 mm (1.6 in)
Hull bottom: 40–80 mm (1.6–3.1 in)
Turret front: 140 mm (5.5 in)
Turret sides & rear: 60 – 90 mm (2.4 – 3.5in)
Turret top: 40 mm (1.6 in)

Engine:
1x turbocharged Maybach HL232 V12 gasoline engine with 1.200 hp

Performance:
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: 120 km (74 mi) on road
85 km (53 mi) cross country
Power/weight: 11.1 PS/tonne (10.1 hp/ton)

Armament:
2x 88mm (3.46 in) FlaK 43 L/80 in a Gerät 288 Zwilling mount, with a total of 202 rounds
1x Schwere Waffenlafette 45 with:
1x 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 103 machine cannon (60 RPG) and
1x 7.92 mm (0,312 in) MG 42 machine gun
6x 76 mm Wegmann smoke mortars

The kit and its assembly:
Another fictional German WWII/Heer ’46 SPAAG, and it’s a big one with a lot of SF appeal since it makes IMHO not much sense from a tactical point of view. However, this is whifworld, so it perfectly fits, and such paper project models seem to be very popular – even though I do not understand why many modelers build them in a style that I’d almost call “Steampunk”?

I had the ModelCollect E-100 twin-88 mm gun Flakpanzer kit stashed away since it came out in 2017, but never had the nerve and mojo so far to build it, because it is simply a huge tank with twin gun barrels. This changed, in the wake of other SPAAG builds, and was a quick and straightforward build. ModelCollect‘s E-100 kit is finely molded, but it has IMHO some issues. The biggest problem I found is the hull: you have to take (a lot of) care to make sure that the hull elements are properly aligned due to their sheer size. The problem is: all outer walls are standing free with no alignment reference, and I have the impression that the rear wall is too small, so that the roof does later not properly fit into the opening. An internal engine bay bulkhead that could be used as an alignment reference is missing locator pins, so that you are left to guess where to place it.

On the positive side: the kit comes with brass gun barrels and two small boards with PE parts, e. g. for louvres on the engine cover which hides a complete engine with a detailed motor block, radiators, dust filters, etc. This way, you can easily integrate the E-100 into a workshop diorama or a similar scene. There’s also a delicate PE mount for an infrared sight.

However, building troubles easily outweigh the kit’s hardware highlights. Mounting the wheels was not easy. The sprocket wheels at the front as well as the idler wheels at the rear have complicated and flimsy constructions with very thin and short pins that hold them – any tension on the vinyl track easily bends them! To improve stability, I drilled holes through these wheels’ attachment points and put a continuous metal axis through the hull. The (nicely detailed) vinyl tracks themselves are unfortunately molded in a sandy beige, and they turned out to be too short, so that they had to be carefully stretched to match the running gear before they were painted and mounted. This should really one of the final assembly steps.
But this is not the only problem zone, you stumble upon small bugs and nuisances everywhere, like missing holes on the idler wheels, poor fit on the turret parts that call for PSR or instructions that do not match the parts. And it is not helpful that different kinds of wheel halves on the same sprue are just designated ”Part 1” and “Part 2”. All these hiccups are not fatal, but the whole kit leaves a giddy (if not lousy) impression. It’s nothing for tank kit beginners, and since this is the second time that I have built one of these with several déjà vus, I am quite disappointed by the kit.

The kit was basically built OOB, but for a more science fiction-esque twist I added a close-range defense in the form of a (fictional) remote-controlled weapon mount on the turret roof. This is an aftermarket set from ModelTrans/Silesian Models, a resin-cast gun barbette that reminds of the early German “Marder” IFV’s main weapon. However, it made IMHO perfect sense for this behemoth because it would be very vulnerable to infantry attacks, and the huge turret offered enough space on the roof and inside to mount it.
Since I did not want to depict a vehicle during overhaul, the whole engine bay interior was left away and the space under the bonnet filled with foamed plastic and later painted black. PE grates from the OOB plate were used to block views into the bay further.

Another personal modification is the omittance of the bulky side skirts that cover most of the running gear and the tracks. They make IMHO sense on the heavy battle tank and maybe assault gun versions, but on the SPAAG they just add weight and use up resources. I left them away and replaced them with scratched alternatives, created from 0.5 mm styrene sheet and profiles, slightly dented at the edges for a more natural and worn look.
Because the E-100 kit lacks any equipment on the hull (well, if this heavy vehicle broke it would certainly have been abandoned – who’s salvage it!? Another weak point of thew whole concept), I added some resin storage boxes.

Painting and markings:
It took some time to decide how to paint this huge thing. Inspiration eventually came from the idea that it would probably have only been used to defend very important targets, most probably around or in Berlin, so that an urban environment and a suitable camouflage would make IMHO most sense.

I took some inspiration from the British “Berlin Brigade” urban camouflage (consisting of square fields in bluish grey, dark brown and white) and the German late-war simplified splinter schemes. Since the E-100’s bulk would be hard to conceal, esp. with rather small mottles, I rather concentrated on disrupting its outlines and blending it with buildings in the background. Such an urban/artificial environment calls for angular and horizontal lines and edges, but I did not want to make the paint scheme look too modern, like a pixel scheme. The vehicle would furthermore be painted with only limited resources at hand, or maybe just in the field, so that typical red primer would certainly show through, with camouflage added on top.

This led to an initial overall basis in RAL 3009 Oxidrot. This was applied from a rattle can and shaded with clouds of different similar tones like Humbrol 70 and 160, for an uneven look. On top of that I added a vertically aligned splinter scheme with thinned Panzergrau (RAL 7021, Humbrol 67) and Dunkelgelb (RAL 7028, Humbrol 83), with the primer showing through and leaving the inside of the running gear uncamouflaged. The horizontal surfaces remained Dunkelgelb. The twin gun barrels were painted in a slightly different fashion: their undersides became RAL 7028, for a low contrast against the sky when raised, and onto the upper surfaces in Oxidrot I added (only) Panzergrau mottles. The remote-controlled barbette was, as an “aftermarket piece” and to reduce its contrast against the sky, too, painted uniformly in Dunkelgelb, but in a different shade (Tamiya XF-60).
I considered adding small clusters of Hellgrau (RAL 7035, Humbrol 196) and Olivgrün (RAL 6003, Humbrol 86) here and there to break up the vehicles outlines, but found that this would look too superficial and “forced”, so that the scheme remained rather a splinter scheme.
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.

Tactical markings are minimal, just with Iron Crosses on the hull and a white tactical code on the turret flanks. As a unit code, the s.Pz.Abt. 505’s emblem, a charging knight on a horse, was added to the turret. The decals were protected with a thin coat of varnish before the next steps.

Details and edges were then highlighted through dry-brushing with Humbrol 70 (Brick Red) and 168 (RAF Hemp). Dust residues and some rust traces were painted with watercolors. These were also used to weather the (rather stiff) vinyl tracks, which were molded in a sand color and had to be totally painted – with an initial overall coat of acrylic black paint from the rattle can and later with grey and red brown acrylic artist paints, and some medium grey dry-brushing.

Matt acrylic varnish (Italeri) was used to seal the kit, and once the tracks had been mounted, the lower hull was dusted with grey/brown mineral pigments.

This one took some time to materialize. The E-100 kit fought my efforts to put it together constantly, and the conversions and add-ons – while not a major surgical intervention – took some time. Finding a credible camouflage concept for this hulk of a tank (a.k.a. rolling bunker with guns) was not easy either. But the idea of using the primer color as base with additional, somewhat digital camouflage on top looks credible and “works”. — e. 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.

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