The Gun Carrier Mk.I was the first ever self-propelled gun.
To date, little data is available about this weapons system. With the advent of the tank on the European battlefield, new means had to be established to supply the rapidly advancing forces with adequate large calibre fire support.
Conceived in 1915, in the summer of 1916 a prototype of mechanized artillery was ordered based on parts of the Mk.I tank. In March 1917 the prototype went into testing and an order for 50 vehicles was placed, which were then delivered in June and July of the same year. The Daimler-powered behemoth bore little resemblance with the Mk.I tank, but retained its 105hp engine and initially the 2-wheeled steering aid trailer. The 4 man driving crew, all of which were needed to operate and steer the tank, was supplemented with an artillery crew to man the 60-pounder field gun or a 6-inch howitzer, respectively. The gun/howitzer was embedded at the front of the vehicle, with its wheels detached and hung on the side of the main housing. Theoretically the gun was supposed to be fired from this position, but only the howitzer could be used this way. The 60-pounder needed to be unloaded from the tracked unit for firing.
2 Gun Carrier Companies were formed comprising of 24 vehicles each. As the doctrine of rapid tank advance never unfolded in battle, the gun carriers never saw action in their intended role. They were however, used extensively to supply tanks and troops in the field. While the WWI Gun Carriers never seemed to have fired their guns in anger, the idea of highly mobile, mechanized artillery was to be rapidly advanced two decades later.
Buying, delivery, and service:
I first saw the 1:35 Panzershop
Gun Carrier Mk.I kit at Telford 2010. It immediately struck a note within me, but I was clearly frightened off by the retail price. It took a while to mature the desire into the actual purchase action and during the Panzershop-Christmas-Special-Sales some unexpected funds materialized, helping me to buy the Czech offering.
I ordered directly from the Panzershop. It did a bit of tweaking and if you have a payment address differing from the delivery address, you should double check the goods go the right way. However the goods finally arrived in good condition within 5 days after being shipped for the second time. Communication with the Panzershop went well and left hardly anything to desire.
The 2-ply carton is adorned with a photo of the assembled kit. The box is well filled and even after removing the styro-chips a sizeable number of zipper bags spread out on the workbench.
6 big bags contain resin pieces, a smaller bag holds a small photo etch fret and one decal sheet. Upon closer instruction I found one of the major parts broken, which I fully blame on the fact that the bags are stuffed and that the few parts that are not completely flat, are not properly protected.
The assembly instruction is very basic: 6 sheets of A4 stapled photocopies offer the parts inventory in Czech and English text and with photos of the parts. The instructions comprise of 6 copied pages of photos of 21 sub-assembly steps. The parts used in each assembly-step are indicated quite clearly. How well these instructions will help the modeller when getting into action, I don’t know.
While the construction seems to be easy enough, I am puzzled to see the quantity of parts and the relatively small number of pictures. The pictures are quite grainy and lack resolution. I wonder if it would have made a significant cost difference to deliver the instructions on CD or DVD for enhanced picture quality. As far as I can see there are no explicit instructions for painting or placing of decals. The parts inventory call out lengths of .6 and .8mm which I could not find in the box. As well, the model seems to require an unspecified length of chain which is not included in the kit.
I have by far not taken photos of every part, at 314 parts there just too many of them. What you see in the photos is a fair representation of the bigger and a choice of smaller parts.
Overall, the casting quality is very nice. I have found only a handful of pin-holes on the parts with minimal warping on larger pieces, which should help ease of construction. As was to be expected, a sizeable amount of flash can be found on the parts. As far as I can tell the molds were in good condition on my issue. The flash is pretty thin and will be easily removed with a hobby knife and a fine sanding stick. There are better examples to be had from other makers, but I have clearly seen far worse. The surface detail is very nice. In some places it lacks a bit of consistency in repetitive parts, but that won’t show on the finished model, I am sure.
The kit is mostly a “flat” kit. There is no internal volume structure to carry the plates which will make up the outer shape. I wager that it will take a bit of tweaking to get everything together at the proper angles. If, and to what extent, other material (plastic beams or struts) will be needed to lend stability to the whole assembly, will only become clear during the build.
Included in the kit are boxes and ammunition stores.
One gripe I am having with the offering is that the steering-aid trailer is not supplied in the kit. Even though discarded when it turned out to be basically useless, not having it certainly limits options in depicting the model according to available reference.
The photo etch is small but neat with no over-etching. Relief etching provides the modeller with folding lines and added surface detail. The sheet has a few scratches that hopefully won’t show on the final model.
The decal sheet provides markings for four carriers. The print is blemish-free and the carrier film seems to be quite thin. The instructions lack the information of which combination of city name and vehicle number, or where to place them. On checking the most valuable internet page Landships
, I found that the decals wrongly indicate the vehicle numbers as “GC xxx” instead of “CC xxx”. However I think it is possible to modify the given decals accordingly without too much of a hassle.
Am I happy to have a 1:35 Gun Carrier Mk.I? Yes, indeed I am! Am I happy with the Panzershop offering? Yes - and No!
I am grateful that Panzershop does supply us with such an exotic item complementing the age-old range of Emhar and Tauro tank kits. However, at the given price, I think the kit leaves a bit to be desired in more than one aspect. I am quite clear that this kit is in no way intended for the beginner or the faint of heart, but when I look at other cottage industry products in AFV, aeroplanes and ships, the kit is behind standard IMHO.
I am not quite certain when this kit was first released, but an update to improve customer satisfaction (parts protection, aiding material, decal sheet, and most of all on instructions) would surely enhance the popularity of the kit. As an artillery fan I will be looking forward to the challenge of building this kit. Quite certainly it will stand out both on my kit shelf and in upcoming model-shows, it’s just a question of how “intense” the experience building it will be. To see pictures of the assembled product please visit: Panzershop