by: Russ Amott [ ]
Reviewed by Russ and Andrew Amott
The 10.5cm LeFH 18/18m was the standard howitzer of German field divisions in WWII. The model 18 was a standard gun muzzle and the 18m had a muzzle brake fitted, which allowed longer range charges to be fired, increasing range by 1800 meters. It came with either wood spoke wheels for use with horse drawn mobility, or pressed steel wheels for vehicular towing.
Zvezda has released a 1/72 scale snap fit kit of the 10.5cm LeHF 18m with the pressed steel wheels as part of the Art of Tactic series of war gaming kits.
The Art of Tactic series are a collection of kits made to form the base of a tactical war game between German and Soviet forces in WWII. The collection includes figure sets in 1/72, vehicles in 1/100 and aircraft in 1/144 and 1/200 scale. The figure sets include a diorama base, each with a marker pole for game playing. The sets include a gaming card and are snap fit for ease of assembly. The plastic is generally soft and easy to work with, will cut easily from the sprue with cutters and can be carefully trimmed and shaped with a sharp razor. It is soft enough to allow pressure to be applied for the snap fit assembly, but is not the soft flexible plastic like the soldier kits from Airfix that I remember building when I was younger. The Zvezda plastic will take model cement.
This release, of the 10.5cm (105mm) LeFH 18/18m field howitzer came in a small, side opening box with artwork on the front showing the gun in action, with only two crew members to run it. In reality, I would imagine a crew of 6 or 7 would be needed to keep the gun operational, but the kit is simplified for war gaming purposes. There are two sprues inside, along with a sheet of instructions and a gaming card showing movement and points collection. The back of the box has color photos showing the assembled kit and giving an idea for diorama options.
The first sprue has the gun, with the carriage coming in two options. The first is for towing and has the trail arms together. The other has the trail arms deployed in firing position. The wheels are the stamped steel spoke type. The gun itself comes in four parts with a muzzle brake on the end. The muzzle is molded solid and will need to be drilled out for the detail oriented. The gun shield is also in one piece. It is an assumption on my part that the muzzle brake could be removed to create the base LeFH 18.
The second sprue has the two crew figures. One has a single separate arm and the other comes with both arms separate. Detail is pretty good, although there are some seam lines that will require attention if you really want to dress it up. The faces seem nicely molded and the figures are wearing a minimum of equipment, with no straps or other gear to get tangled up in the gun. This sprue also has the ground base, with some texturing added. The gun and figures have mounting pins molded on that fit holes in the base. There is a large standard with rectangular top for use in war gaming.
Molding of the kit parts was pretty good for the scale. Some details are soft and those more obsessed with complete accuracy will probably find it unsuitable, but the focus of the kit is simplicity.
The instructions are simple line drawings and are easy to follow. My son Andrew removed the sprues, and in the two minutes I spent looking at the back of the box he assembled the entire kit. He said there were no fit issues, and although he broke off two of the small connector pins on two parts, he was able to glue them together without any trouble.
This kit will make a nice, although simple, diorama of the LeFH 18/18m in action. If you can find suitable figures in 1/72, you can add more to the diorama, or add the gun and crew to a larger base. I think it is an excellent option for introducing new modelers to the hobby, and can be easily adapted by more advanced modelers as they see fit. As a snap fit kit, I think it is pretty good.