Author Topic: 1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 'Sturmelefant', PzStuMrKp 1001; Ahrweiler, Mar. 1945  (Read 533 times)

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Offline Dizzyfugu

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1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr



Some background:
The idea for a heavy infantry support vehicle capable of demolishing heavily defended buildings or fortified areas with a single shot came out of the experiences of the heavy urban fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942. At the time, the Wehrmacht had only the Sturm-Infanteriegeschütz 33B available for destroying buildings, a Sturmgeschütz III variant armed with a 15 cm sIG 33 heavy infantry gun. Twelve of them were lost in the fighting at Stalingrad. Its successor, the Sturmpanzer IV, also known by Allies as Brummbär, was in production from early 1943. This was essentially an improved version of the earlier design, mounting the same gun on the Panzer IV chassis with greatly improved armour protection.

While greatly improved compared to the earlier models, by this time infantry anti-tank weapons were improving dramatically, too, and the Wehrmacht still saw a need for a similar, but more heavily armoured and armed vehicle. Therefore, a decision was made to create a new vehicle based on the Tiger tank and arm it with a 210 mm howitzer. However, this weapon turned out not to be available at the time and was therefore replaced by a 380 mm rocket launcher, which was adapted from a Kriegsmarine depth charge launcher.

The 380 mm Raketen-Werfer 61 L/5.4 was a breech-loading barrel, which fired a short-range, rocket-propelled projectile roughly 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) long. The gun itself existed in two iterations at the time. One, the RaG 43 (Raketenabschuss-Gerät 43), was a ship-mounted anti-aircraft weapon used for firing a cable-spooled parachute-anchor creating a hazard for aircraft. The second, the RTG 38 (Raketen Tauch-Geschoss 38), was a land-based system, originally planned for use in coastal installations by the Kriegsmarine firing depth-charges against submarines with a range of about 3.000 m. For use in a vehicle, the RTG 38 was to find use as a demolition gun and had to be modified for that role. This modification work was carried out by Rheinmetall at their Sommerda works.

The design of the rocket system caused some problems. Modified for use in a vehicle, the recoil from the modified rocket-mortar was enormous, about 40-tonnes, and this meant that only a heavy chassis could be used to mount the gun. The hot rocket exhaust could not be vented into the fighting compartment nor could the barrel withstand the pressure if the gasses were not vented. Therefore, a ring of ventilation shafts was put around the barrel which channeled the exhaust and gave the weapon something of a pepperbox appearance.

The shells for the weapon were extremely heavy, far too heavy for a man to load manually. As a result, each of them had to be carried by means of a ceiling-mounted trolley from their rack to a roller-mounted tray at the breech. Once on the tray, four soldiers could then push it into the breech to load it. The whole process took 10 minutes per shot from loading, aiming, elevating and, finally, to firing.
There were a variety of rocket-assisted round types with a weight of up to 376 kg (829 lb), and a maximum range of up to 6,000 m (20,000 ft), which either contained a high explosive charge of 125 kg (276 lb) or a shaped charge for use against fortifications, which could penetrate up to 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) of reinforced concrete. The stated range of the former was 5,650 m (6,180 yd). A normal charge first accelerated the projectile to 45 m/s (150 ft/s) to leave the short, rifled barrel, the 40 kg (88 lb) rocket charge then boosted this to about 250 m/s (820 ft/s).


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


In September 1943 plans were made for Krupp to fabricate new Tiger I armored hulls for the Sturmtiger. The Tiger I hulls were to be sent to Henschel for chassis assembly and then to Alkett, where the superstructures would be mounted. The first prototype was ready and presented in October 1943. By May 1944, the Sturmtiger prototype had been kept busy with trials and firing tests for the development of range tables, but production had still not started yet and the concept was likely to be scrapped. Rather than ditch the idea though, orders were given that, instead of interrupting the production of the Tiger I, the Sturmtigers would be built on the chassis of Tiger I tanks which had already been in action and suffered serious damage. Twelve superstructures and RW 61 weapons were prepared and mounted on rebuilt Tiger I chassis. However, by August 1944 the dire need for this kind of vehicle led to the adaptation of another chassis to the 380 mm Sturmmörser: the SdKfz. 184, better known as “Ferdinand” (after its designer’s forename) and later, in an upgraded version, “Elefant”.

The Elefant (German for "elephant") was actually a heavy tank destroyer and the result of mismanagement and poor planning: Porsche GmbH had manufactured about 100 chassis for their unsuccessful proposal for the Tiger I tank, the so-called "Porsche Tiger". Both the successful Henschel proposal and the Porsche design used the same Krupp-designed turret—the Henschel design had its turret more-or-less centrally located on its hull, while the Porsche design placed the turret much closer to the front of the superstructure. Since the competing Henschel Tiger design was chosen for production, the Porsche chassis were no longer required for the Tiger tank project, and Porsche was left with 100 unfinished heavy tank hulls.
It was therefore decided that the Porsche chassis were to be used as the basis of a new heavy tank hunter, the Ferdinand, mounting Krupp's newly developed 88 mm (3.5 in) Panzerjägerkanone 43/2 (PaK 43) anti-tank gun with a new, long L71 barrel. This precise long-range weapon was intended to destroy enemy tanks before they came within their own range of effective fire, but in order to mount the very long and heavy weapon on the Porsche hull, its layout had to be completely redesigned.

Porsche’s SdKfz. 184’s unusual petrol-electric transmission made it much easier to relocate the engines than would be the case on a mechanical-transmission vehicle, since the engines could be mounted anywhere, and only the length of the power cables needed to be altered, as opposed to re-designing the driveshafts and locating the engines for the easiest routing of power shafts to the gearbox. Without the forward-mounted turret of the Porsche Tiger prototype, the twin engines were relocated to the front, where the turret had been, leaving room ahead of them for the driver and radio operator. As the engines were placed in the middle, the driver and the radio operator were isolated from the rest of the crew and could be addressed only by intercom. The now empty rear half of the hull was covered with a heavily armored, full five-sided casemate with slightly sloped upper faces and armored solid roof, and turned into a crew compartment, mounting a single 8.8 cm Pak 43 cannon in the forward face of the casemate.


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


From this readily available basis, the SdKfz. 184/1 was hurriedly developed. It differed from the tank hunter primarily through its new casemate that held the 380 mm Raketenwerfer. Since the SdKfz. 184/1 was intended for use in urban areas in close range street fighting, it needed to be heavily armoured to survive. Its front plate had a greater slope than the Ferdinand while the sides were more vertical and the roof was flat. Its sloped (at 47° from vertical) frontal casemate armor was 150 mm (5.9 in) thick, while its superstructure side and rear plates had a strength of 82 mm (3.2 in). The SdKfz.184/1 also received add-on armor of 100 mm thickness, bolted to the hull’s original vertical front plates, increasing the thickness to 200 mm but adding 5 tons of weight. All these measures pushed the weight of the vehicle up from the Ferdinand’s already bulky 65 t to 75 t, limiting the vehicle’s manoeuvrability even further. Located at the rear of the loading hatch was a Nahverteidigungswaffe launcher which was used for close defense against infantry with SMi 35 anti-personnel mines, even though smoke grenades or signal flares could be fired with the device in all directions, too. For close-range defense, a 7.92 mm MG 34 machine gun was carried in a ball mount in the front plate, an addition that was introduced to the Elefant tank hunters, too, after the SdKfz. 184 had during its initial deployments turned out to be very vulnerable to infantry attacks.

Due to the size of the RW 61 and the bulkiness of the ammunition, only fourteen rounds could be carried internally, of which one was already loaded, with another stored in the loading tray, and the rest were carried in two storage racks, leaving only little space for the crew of four in the rear compartment. To help with the loading of ammunition into the vehicle, a loading crane was fitted at the rear of the superstructure next to the loading hatch on the roof.
Due to the internal limits and the tactical nature of the vehicle, it was intended that each SdKfz. 184/1 (as well as each Sturmtiger) would be accompanied by an ammunition carrier, typically based on the Panzer IV chassis, but the lack of resources did not make this possible. There were even plans to build a dedicated, heavily armored ammunition carrier on the Tiger I chassis, but only one such carrier was completed and tested, it never reached production status.

By the time the first RW 61 carriers had become available, Germany had lost the initiative, with the Wehrmacht being almost exclusively on the defensive rather than the offensive, and this new tactical situation significantly weakened the value of both Sturmtiger and Sturmelefant, how the SdKfz 184/1 was semi-officially baptized. Nevertheless, three new Panzer companies were raised to operate the Sturmpanzer types: Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanien (PzStuMrKp) ("Armored Assault Mortar Company") 1000, 1001 and 1002. These originally were supposed to be equipped with fourteen vehicles each, but this figure was later reduced to four each, divided into two platoons, consisting of mixed vehicle types – whatever was available and operational.


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


PzStuMrKp 1000 was raised on 13 August 1944 and fought during the Warsaw Uprising with two vehicles, as did the prototype in a separate action, which may have been the only time the Sturmtiger was used in its intended role. PzStuMrKp 1001 and 1002 followed in September and October. Both PzStuMrKp 1000 and 1001 served during the Ardennes Offensive, with a total of four Sturmtiger and three Sturmelefanten.
After this offensive, the Sturmpanzer were used in the defence of Germany, mainly on the Western Front. During the battle for the bridge at Remagen, German forces mobilized Sturmmörserkompanie 1000 and 1001 (with a total of 7 vehicles, five Sturmtiger and two Sturmelefanten) to take part in the battle. The tanks were originally tasked with using their mortars against the bridge itself, though it was discovered that they lacked the accuracy needed to hit the bridge and cause significant damage with precise hits to vital structures. During this action, one of the Sturmtigers in Sturmmörserkompanie 1001 near Düren and Euskirchen allegedly hit a group of stationary Shermans tanks in a village with a 380mm round, resulting in nearly all the Shermans being put out of action and their crews killed or wounded - the only recorded tank-on-tank combat a Sturmtiger was ever engaged in. After the bridge fell to the Allies, Sturmmörserkompanie 1000 and 1001 were tasked with bombardment of Allied forces to cover the German retreat, as opposed to the bunker busting for which they had originally been designed for. None was actually destroyed through enemy fire, but many vehicles had to be given up due to mechanical failures or the lack of fuel. Most were blown up by their crews, but a few fell into allied hands in an operational state.

Total production numbers of the SdKfz. 184/1 are uncertain but, being an emergency product and based on a limited chassis supply, the number of vehicles that left the Nibelungenwerke in Austria was no more than ten – also because the tank hunter conversion had top priority and the exotic RW 61 launcher was in very limited supply. As a consequence, only a total of 18 Sturmtiger had been finished by December 1945 and put into service, too. However, the 380 mm Raketen-Werfer 61 remained in production and was in early 1946 adapted to the new Einheitspanzer E-50/75 chassis.




Specifications:
    Crew: Six (driver, radio operator/machine gunner in the front cabin,
              commander, gunner, 2× loader in the casemate section)
    Weight: 75 tons
    Length: 7,05 m (23 ft 1½ in)
    Width: 3,38 m  (11 ft 1 in)
    Height w/o crane: 3,02 m (9 ft 10¾ in)
    Ground clearance: 1ft 6¾ in (48 cm)
    Climbing: 2 ft 6½ in (78 cm)
    Fording depth: 3 ft 3¼ (1m)
    Trench crossing: 8 ft 7 ¾ in (2,64 m)
    Suspension: Longitudinal torsion-bar
    Fuel capacity: 1.050 liters

Armour:
    62 to 200 mm (2.44 to 7.87 in)

Performance:
    30 km/h (19 mph) on road
    15 km/h (10 miles per hour () off road
    Operational range: 150 km (93 mi) on road
                                       90 km (56 mi) cross-country
    Power/weight: 8 hp/ton

Engine:
    2× Maybach HL120 TRM petrol engines with 300 PS (246 hp, 221 kW) each, powering…
    2× Siemens-Schuckert D1495a 500 Volt electric engines with 320 PS (316 hp, 230 kW) each 

Transmission:
    Electric

Armament:
    1x 380 mm RW 61 rocket launcher L/5.4 with 14 rounds
    1x 7.92 mm (0.312 in) MG 34 machine gun with 600 rounds
    1x 100 mm grenade launcher (firing anti-personnel mines, smoke grenades or signal flares)



The kit and its assembly:
This fictional tank model is not my own idea, it is rather based on a picture of a similar kitbashing of an Elefant with a Sturmtiger casemate and its massive missile launcher – even though it was a rather crude model, with a casemate created from cardboard. However, I found the idea charming, even more so because the Ferdinand/Elefant was rather a rolling bunker than an agile tank hunter, despite its powerful weapon. Why not use the same chassis as a carrier for the Sturmtiger’s huge mortar as an assault SPG?

The resulting Sturmelefant was created as a kitbashing: the chassis is an early boxing of the Trumpeter Elefant, which comes not only with IP track segments but also alternative vinyl tracks (later boxing do not feature them), and casemate parts come from a Trumpeter Sturmtiger.
While one would think that switching the casemate would be straightforward affair, the conversion turned out to be more complex than expected. Both Elefant and Sturmtiger come with separate casemate pieces, but they are not compatible. The Sturmtiger casemate is 2mm wider than the Elefant’s hull, and its glacis plate is deeper than the Elefant’s, leaving 4mm wide gaps at the sides and the rear. One option could have been to trim down the glacis plate, but I found the roofline to become much too low – and the casemate’s length would have been reduced.


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


So, I used the Sturmtiger casemate “as is” and filled the gaps with styrene sheet strips. This worked, but the casemate’s width created now inward-bent sections that looked unplausible. Nobody, even grazed German engineers, would not have neglected the laws of structural integrity. What to do? Tailoring the casemate’s sides down would have been one route, but this would have had created a strange shape. The alternative I chose was to widen the flanks of the Elefant’s hull underneath the casemate, which was achieved with tailored 0.5 mm styrene sheet panels and some PSR – possible through the Elefant’s simple shape and the mudguards that run along the vehicle’s flanks.
Some more PSR was necessary to blend the rear into a coherent shape and to fill a small gap at the glacis plate’s base. Putty was also used to fill/hide almost all openings on the glacis plate, since no driver sight or ball mount for a machine gun was necessary anymore. New bolts between hull and casemate were created with small drops of white glue. The rest of the surface details were taken from the respective donor kits.


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Painting and markings:
This was not an easy choice. A classic Hinterhalt scheme would have been a natural choice, but since the Sturmelefant would have been converted from existing hulls with new parts, I decided to emphasize this heritage through a simple, uniform livery: all Ferdinand elements would be painted/left in a uniform Dunkelgelb (RAL, 7028, Humbrol 83), while the new casemate as well as the bolted-on front armor were left in a red primer livery, in two different shades (Humbrol 70 and 113). This looked a little too simple for my taste, so that I eventually added snaky lines in Dunkelgelb onto the primer-painted sections, blurring the contrast between the two tones.

Markings remained minimal, just three German crosses on the flanks and at the rear and a tactical code on the casemate – the latter in black and in a hand-written style, as if the vehicle had been rushed into frontline service.


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing) - WiP
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


After the decals had been secured under sone varnish the model received an overall washing with dark brown, highly thinned acrylic paint, some dry-brushing with light grey and some rust traces, before it was sealed overall with matt acrylic varnish and received some dirt stains with mixed watercolors and finally, after the tracks had been mounted, some artist pigments as physical dust on the lower areas.




1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 SdKfz. 184/1 „Sturmelefant“; vehicle “265” of Panzer Sturmmörser Kompanie (PzStuMrKp) 1001; Ahrweiler (Central Rhineland, Western Germany), March 1945 (What-if/kitbashing)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Again a project that appeared simple but turned out to be more demanding because the parts would not fit as well as expected. The resulting bunker breaker looks plausible, less massive than the real Sturmtiger but still a menacing sight.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 03:52:43 am by Dizzyfugu »

Offline Old Wombat

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Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est

Offline zenrat

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Great paint.  Particularly on the back half.
Fred

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere for your convenience..

Offline NARSES2

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That's a logical development of the Elefant and looks really good  :thumbsup:
Decals my @r$e!

Offline Pellson

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Cool, but to be absolutely honest - it just looks as if you’ve forgotten to attach the gun barrel.. 😁
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

Offline PR19_Kit

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Looks like it fires dustbins!  :o :thumbsup:
Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)

Regards
Kit

Offline Dizzyfugu

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It does! Here's a Sturmtiger "in action", impressive fireworks:




Thanks a lot, everyone, glad you like it.  ;D

Offline tigercat

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It works really well , in a surely they had those  in RL  way

Amazing

Offline Glenn Gilbertson

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That's different - very convincing! :thumbsup:

Offline Dizzyfugu

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Again, thanks a lot - also for the Whiffies consideration of this one.  :bow:

Offline AndrewF

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Nice one - the photos look great.

Offline Dizzyfugu

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Thank you, too.

Offline buzzbomb

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 :thumbsup:

Neat combination

Offline chrisonord

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Awesome piece of kit Thomas, I certainly wouldn't like to be anywhere near the wrong end of that thing when it was fired  :wacko:
Chris
The dogs philosophy on life.
If you cant eat it hump it or fight it,
Pee on it and walk away!!

Offline PR19_Kit

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Awesome piece of kit Thomas, I certainly wouldn't like to be anywhere near the wrong end of that thing when it was fired  :wacko:


Or even within 1/2 mile of it without ear defenders!  :o
Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)

Regards
Kit