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The Great Panjandrum in 1/72...

...a resin kit from Den Bels Models
DenBels_GreatPanjandrum (1).JPG

The Great Panjandrum was the code name for an explosive device designed by the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development (DMWD), a part of the Admiralty during WW2. It was designed to meet a requirement for an explosive device to breach a hole in a beach defence wall, as part of the preparations for the invasion of the Atlantic Wall, for D-Day. Designed with twin 10ft diameter wheels, and a central cylinder which would have contained over 1 ton of high explosive, it was intended to be launched from a landing craft, run up the beach, and explode against the wall. For men to have tried to get such a large quantity of explosive up a defended beach would have meant certain death, so a mechanised option was considered a good option. Prototypes were built in Leytonstone, in North London, and taken under cover of darkness to the beach at Westward Ho in Devon for testing. The treads were 1ft wide and the contraption was propelled by cordite rockets fitted to the wheels on both sides. Despite efforts to improve the design, none of the prototypes worked properly, and there is quite a famous bit of film showing the final test, when it went out of control, toppled over, and loosed rockets which then careered across the beach, forcing observers to leave, along with one of their dogs! It was never deployed.
The design reminds me of a plaything from my childhood, the Cotton Reel Tank, using an old wooden cotton reel, an elastic band, a slice of wax candle and a couple of matchsticks. I had hours of fun making and playing with those when I was a youngster.
The resin kit has just 3 parts: the two wheels and the central drum. All have quite substantial casting feeds which need to be carefully removed, without damaging the delicate parts themselves. The two wheels I found were slightly warped, though this was quickly and easily fixed by immersing them in very hot water and straightening them out on a flat surface. Then run under cold water, which fixes the softened resin in the corrected shape, ready for assembly. Use a sharp craft knife to remove any resin flash from the castings (there was just a little, so easily done) and use superglue for assembly. The built model was then given a coat of primer, from a spray can, and then a coat of British Green, again using a Tank Spray colour from The Plastic Soldier Company. The only detail to be painted on is a white stripe and a white arrow on either end of the central drum. These are shown on the assembly diagram.  Nice and simple to do and a really interesting and unusual subject.

I got mine at On Track in February 2020 and they are available online through the Black Lion Decals website.


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