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In-Box Review
135
US 155mm Howitzer M1A1
US 155mm Howitzer M1A1
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by: Mike Del Vecchio [ REDLEG12 ]


Introduction

By the late Thirties, it was realized that the existing US 155mm towed howitzer, M1917A4 Schneider, was obsolete. Work began on development of a new 155mm howitzer, and by 1941 the M1 155mm Howitzer was issued. Soon after adoption, the electric brake system was changed to an air brake system, and the gun was re-designated M1A1. This version saw use during WWII and Korea.

The ratchet plate jack for the firing plate was changed to a screw jack plate, and the travel lock was modified on the M1A2. In 1962, the M1A2 was re-designated the M114 155mm Howitzer, and saw extensive service in Vietnam. By the mid 1980s, the M114 Howitzer was replaced by the M198 155mm Howitzer. Currently the M198 is being phased out by the M777 155mm Howitzer. Due to the production number of the M114 and its predecessors, it is still in use in many countries around the world.

The M1A1 was also employed in a self-propelled version: the upper carriage and gun were mounted on a modified M24 Chaffee chassis as the T64, and eventually adopted as the M41Howitzer Motor Carriage. The same carriage was also made into the M1 4.5 inch Gun, though this had limited production, and only saw use in WWII. After the war, it was considered obsolete.

Bronco Models has now released a styrene version of the M1A1.

The Kit

The kit is packaged in a large standard model box. Upon opening the box, you find all of the parts packed in a main plastic bag. Each sprue is then individually packaged in its own plastic bag. There is also a decal sheet and a small photo etch fret. The instructions are an 8 page color glossy booklet.

The review

There are two large sprues, six medium sprues and two small sprues. It is immediately clear that the way the sprues are laid out, and by the way they are marked, there will be multiple kits from this offering. They have already announced the M114, and I would also think with an announcement of the M24 Chaffee that an M41 HMC may be in the future, and with possibly an M1 4.5 inch gun.

All of the sprues are clean with no flash. Larger parts have faint to no mold lines, and ejector pin marks appear to be placed where they will be hidden after assembly. All the sprues are molded in a medium olive green color.

Sprue A (large) essentially makes up the lower carriage and trails.

Sprue B (large) makes up the gun and recoil assembly. Also on the sprue is the howitzer sight system, which is highly-detailed and the best recreation of a panoramic telescope I have seen in a model kit

Sprue Ea is a medium sprue, and two are supplied. Each sprue makes up one wheel assembly. Bronco assembles the styrene wheels in the new fashion of building “sandwiches” to recreate the tire treads, rather than trying to cast them in one or two pieces. Each wheel is 5 parts, one for each sidewall, with three rings within, The seams are hidden in each tread.

Sprue Eb is a small sprue and, again, two are supplied. Each contains 4 powder bags as part of the ammunition. This is the first time I have seen an ammunition set in styrene which is correct for separate loading ammunition. It not only includes the powder canister, but also the powder bags.

Sprue H is the ammunition, and contains 16 projectiles and powder containers. You can see it is also set up for sale in the future as a separate set, and for use on the M114 kit. There are parts not used on this kit, including the modern projectile’s 8-round pallet.

Sprue G is a medium sprue with two supplied. Each makes up one of the equilibrator system and small detail parts. The equilibrator springs are outstanding, as they are an individually-molded spring that promises to yield a very realistic-looking equilibrator system when assembled.

Sprue D makes up the upper gun carriage and shields. The shields appear quite good for styrene, and not that usual “too thick” look of previous kits.

Photo Etch Fret: The fret is very small, and contains about a half dozen details for the howitzer.

Decals

The kit includes a detailed decal sheet for the WWII-era rounds. The decals are very complete for marking the different projectiles: HE (High Explosive), Smoke and Gas. This set is based on WWII-style markings and colors, and has stencils for the powder canisters. They even include the red dot marking the end that has to face the primer. Again, this is very transferable to a separate ammunition set.

Instructions

The kit instructions are well laid-out and very clear. There are a total of 28 steps to the assembly, each of which is clearly labeled and shown pictorially. The last page gives painting and decal instructions. There are options shown throughout, such as the barrel in recoil or in battery, in travel mode or in firing mode, as well as elevating and depressing the tube.

Conclusion

This kit appears to make a great addition to any 1/35th scale collection. Many artillery enthusiasts have been patiently waiting for a replacement to the old Peerless/Italeri kit, which is no comparison to this kit. By all standards, it is well worth the wait, and Bronco has done an outstanding job bringing back the M1A1 or as the Redlegs refer to it— ”the pig” (which this kit is not!).

Future offshoots such as the M114 or the M41 HMC will also be eagerly awaited and purchased by this reviewer.
SUMMARY
Highs: The kit has excellent detail and should yield a highly accurate model.
Lows: Lots of small parts and parts which will need a lot of care to remove from the sprue.
Verdict: If you build US artillery you need a few of these!
Percentage Rating
95%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: CB 35073
  Suggested Retail: $49.95
  PUBLISHED: Oct 29, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 87.97%

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...

Copyright ©2017 text by Mike Del Vecchio [ REDLEG12 ]. All rights reserved.


Reader Reviews
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Comments

Sorry guys about being responsive to questions, the snow here caused me the problem of no power or internet!! Fun Kurt, from what I can see, they have done an excellent job with the details. It looks correct. It will be interesting once the M114 comes out to see what they have modified. As I said in the review, the sprues are set up for multiple kits and setup well to make an M41 conversion. I am looking forward to the future releases. This kit appears to be a keeper. The old Peerless kit will become a collectors item not worth building. As for the metal barrel, it would have been nice. I will see how well the plastic barrel goes during building though I am sure as someone noted, a metal barrel will be out soon. Frenchy, thanks for the pics showing the bare barrel and how it moves throught the mounts during recoil. Bronco has done the old "pig" proud!! Rounds Complete!!
OCT 31, 2011 - 10:24 AM
I am trying to build a Vietnam version and had to take the tires from another aftermarket kit that looked close enough, then sand them. The Nam version also eliminated some things. Since I am NOT an arty guy I have no idea what they are called. I hope their Nam version is spot on. I have a few old kits and the metal barrel from the Peerless is not good. It looks phony and does not have rifling. It needs work as much as the plastic one.
NOV 06, 2011 - 08:19 PM
Noah I am hoping the M114 is out shortly. It should be far superior to the Peerless and Italeri kits The major difference (besides tires) is the jack system on the M114. Rounds Complete!!
NOV 06, 2011 - 09:16 PM
wonder if we'll see an RDM 39 calibre conversion!
NOV 06, 2011 - 10:11 PM
The kit instructions show a option for metal barrel or plastic barrel,but none in the kit and no mention of aftermarket stock# for the metal barrel.The kit is real gem,well worth the wait!
DEC 02, 2011 - 06:02 PM
I just got the word that the Swedish distributor is about to order the Vietnam version as well as two metal barrel up date sets (from Bronco): 3554, 1/35, Aluminum Gun Barrel for Howitzer, Kit no 35073 3555, 1/35, Aluminum Gun Barrel for Howitzer Kit no 35102 The estimated price seem OK. Cheers, /E
DEC 05, 2011 - 12:04 AM
Thanks for the heads up on the metal barrels!
DEC 09, 2011 - 08:10 PM
Interesting....guess I will be getting some metal barrels!! Rounds Complete!!
DEC 09, 2011 - 09:18 PM
I just got through building this. There is no metal barrel listed in the kit. What is shown is the option of having it in the bright metal finish or in an OD finish. I initially thought there was a metal barrel too, but upon a closer look, figured out what was going on. The build should be posted soon. I sent it in as an article yesterday. I'm not a big fan of towed artillery, but this kit is amazing. Just be prepared to take your time with the build. Lots of attachment points to clean up and some of the assemblies are tricky. "Q"
DEC 21, 2011 - 06:37 PM
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