The M2 105 mm howitzer began production in 1939; like the M4 Sherman and all its variants was to armor, the M2/ M2A1 was to US artillery. The M2 was the most widely produced piece of field artillery in the US arsenal. Later the M2A1 became the M101 and M101A1 and in all, saw battle with the US forces from WWII through Vietnam. The M101A1, the descendent of the M2A1 was retired from US military service in the mid 1990’s, but is still in service with many other countries around the world.
This Dragon kit, #6499, of the 105mm Howitzer M2A1, is on carriage M2A1 which is the correct version for the WWII modeler. The Italeri version from years back is more like the M101 than the original M2. This Dragon version of the 105mm howitzer correctly has the simple shield and original barrel. The Italeri version more represents the upgrades post WWII which encompass the M101.
Upon opening the box you are presented with 5 sprues, which are individually packaged. Three of the sprues are for the howitzer, and 2 are for the included figures.
The A sprue contains the one piece molded rear barrel section and recuperating cylinders, the breech, equilibrator assembly, and recoil sled. The B sprue is mainly the trails, spades and two piece tire assemblies while the C sprue is the shields and miscellaneous small parts. The small parts include many details such as panoramic telescope, lunette assemblies, ramming staffs, aiming posts, quadrant, and hand wheels.
The carriage is molded to allow the trails to move into either travel or firing position. The directions also show how to assemble the howitzer assembly so it is in the travel mode or in the firing mode. All of the sprues appear to be slide-molded and are molded very well. The details appear to be crisp with no flash or marks.
The B sprue has a number of parts which are not used, including a different shield assembly. This suggests that these sprues will end up in other different kits. The A sprue with the metal barrel would be in a kit of the T19 HMC. The B sprue could be used as part of an M5 3 inch antitank gun. For sure we will see these sprues in other kits.
Also included is the metal barrel end. This fits to the one piece molded rear barrel section at the barrel locking bolt. Lastly there is a small sheet of decals for ammunition markings.
There are two figure sprues. The main sprue has four figures and personal equipment. This sprue also contains winter jackets, as these are intended to be 101st Airborne troops in the Ardennes and is based on their previously released figure set. In order to turn them into artillery troops, a small second sprue is included with different arms to allow carrying of ammunition and 3 full 105mm rounds.
Again the molding is crisp, though the figures would benefit from some aftermarket heads as the included heads are of average quality.
The kit includes a 3 page tri-fold booklet. In total, there are 7 steps to the assembly of the howitzer. The last two steps are a choice which allows the modeler to either put the weapon in travel mode or in firing mode. The instructions appear clear and are in the normal “picture” mode. The figures are a single “photo” type instruction which appears busy but complete.
This is an excellent kit of this version of this howitzer. It is obvious these parts will be used to create a number of other offerings from Dragon such as a T19 HMC, M5 3 inch gun, M101A1 105mm and dare I say maybe an M7 or M37 HMC. For the WWII fans this will be an excellent addition to your list.
Highs: The kit is very well molded, with crisp details and metal barrel. A simple, yet important, kit which adds to the WWII or artillery modeler.Lows: The kit is missing the normal artillery accessories such as empty cartridge cases, separate shells, powder increments, ammunition boxes, ammunition tubes, section chest. There are no proper individual weapons for the figures. Verdict: This is a well thought out kit which will be a good addition to a WWII modeler or an artillery lover. Because of its high quality and only copy of this variant in this scale, it is worth the price of purchase.
About Mike Del Vecchio (redleg12) FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES
I modeled both plastic models and model rockets from my early years through college. I left the hobby to have multiple carrers, family and all those things. After almost 30 years I returned and found a passion with 1/35 scale artillery in 2004.
Today I am a retired Major, US Army Artillery Office...