The Schneider 75 mm cannon model 1897 was the first quick firing field cannon to use the long tube recoil principle. The high rate of fire coupled with high muzzle velocity, the easy handling of the gun under combat conditions and the possibility of being able to use various types of shells made the gun a popular multi-purpose light field gun. Originally the gun had wooden spoked wheels but in later years cast wheels with pneumatic or semi-pneumatic tyres were fitted.
The gun was made in very large quantities and was used by several countries during both WW1 and WW2. In WW1 the most important users were the French Army and the US Army.
The Polish Army used the gun as “75 mm. armata polowa wz. 1897” when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. The French also used the gun for defence during the German Blitzkrieg in 1940. Captured pieces were used again by the Germans as “7,5 cm. Feldkanone 231 (f)”. 600 barrels were later replaced on the 5 cm Pak 38 carriage.
The British Army designated the gun as “Ordnance Q.F. 75 mm. Mark 1” and used it for home defense during WW2. The US Army used the gun in active service until 1941 as M1897A2 and M1897A4. The barrels were later placed on the modern M2A3 undercarriage of the US 105 mm field howitzer or even used as SP weapon on the M3 Halftrack.
This all makes it a very interesting piece of artillery for WW1 and WW2 modellers.
A great reference for the gun is the 75 mm Cannon Model 1897 monograph
described in Pawel Krupowicz (AKA Vodnik) bookreview.
I bought the RPM kit at a big modelling fair in Dortmund, but RPM products are available from many internet shops as well. The price of the kit was originally 8,99 Euro. I decided to do a review of it because the gun is so widely used that it can be interesting for many WW1 and WW2 modellers.
The kit comes in a small blue box and contains 5 racks with a total of 51 parts, instructions and a decal sheet (picture 1, 2, 3, 4).
The instructions are printed (copied?) on a small A5 sized paper. On the one side of the paper the technical data and some brief historic information are given in Polish language only (picture 5). The other side shows the building instructions in 5 steps (picture 6). The instructions are not so clear and some reference pictures can be very helpful while building the kit.
The front of the box shows an artist impression of the gun in German use, painted Panzergrau (picture 7). Three little (colour) reference pictures are placed on one side of the box and on the back there are three colourful paint suggestions for the gun: French 1917, Poland 1939 and French 1940. It also shows 4 suggestions for the ammunition (picture 8).
The decal sheet is a very nice addition. The sheet includes even a German air-identification flag. Don’t be surprised if the decal sheet is cut in 2 parts. The reason for this is to cut up the swastika because in some European countries there are laws forbidding the display of a complete swastika.
There are many reference pictures to be found of the gun. The book mentioned before is an example of this. There are also plenty of pictures on the internet. These actually show the kit is not so accurate at all. It represents the gun nicely, but it’s not an exact replica. I could not find a PE set for this gun, but it would be a very nice addition for it.
Two major ‘errors’ are the following:
the 2 ‘wings’ on the front of the barrel have become a solid block on the kit's barrel (see pictures of completed model). A little triangular file can help here, or perhaps it’s an idea to completely remove the block and make 2 wings out of plastic sheet.
the gun shield is not divided in panels lines like the real shield; it was one flat surface. I decided to carve the lines in the shield myself, using pictures of the shield as reference.
After completing the gun I noticed it was a bit ‘top-heavy’, especially with the wooden wheels.
As a solution for it, I glued a small weight under the gun to prevent it from tipping over
The kit is a nicely complete kit that gives the option to use alternate wheels. While the boxart shows clear painting suggestions the building instructions are minimal. The drawings could be clearer about where to place some of the parts. The quality of the parts is reasonably good and after filling and sanding, the pieces fit well. There were a few small imperfections i.e. air bubble holes but on the whole the parts look good.
Don’t compare these kits with ‘always-fit-right’ kits from the major manufacturers. It takes some skill to build them, let alone to find out where the pieces really belong.
The last few pictures show the finished gun with all three wheel variants. (The purple colour on the wooden wheels is latex to hold the wheels in place for the picture).