by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The British Army was supplied with the US built M7 Priest to replace the 25pdr mounted Bishop, but the 105mm gun created a logistic issue, as the standard artillery piece was the 25Pdr Field Gun. The Sexton was developed on a request to the Canadian Army to develop a self-propelled gun based on the Ram tank chassis, already being built in Canada, using the 25 pdr. After testing the prototype, the British Army was satisfied with the vehicle, ordering 300 Sextons. But after building and delivering the first 125, the design was changed to use the Grizzly chassis (Canadian built M4A1 chassis), these were designated the Sexton II. A total of 2026 Sexton II's were built by the Montreal Locomotive Works, serving both British and Canadian mobile artillery units, as well as other Commonwealth allies. The Sexton II continued to serve well into the late 1950's with Canada and England, as well as some other countries.
As a side note, the name Sexton, being a religious custodian, was used to somewhat mimic the Priest, which got its name from the MG cupola being like a pulpit in a church.
Enter the Dragon 1/35 Sexton II 25pdr SPG, a greatly desired kit for British and Canadian armor fans. Upon receiving the box, I was a little surprised at how large this box was, and opening the box, well... it is packed. The box contained 12 sprues of light grey molded plastic, including the one piece lower hull. There was also a small fret of PE, two lengths of DS track, a small sheet of decals, and the instructions.
Looking at the sprues, they are very well molded, great detail, and no flash to be found, but there are a few mold lines that will need to be sanded. There are no ejector marks that stand out that will be seen once the kit is built, they all seem to be hidden on inside parts. The detail is very well molded, and there are some very fine parts that will need some care when removing from the sprue.
As with the Sexton II being assembled from parts from different sources, the kit from Dragon is the same, many of the sprues are from previous Dragon releases, most notable the M4A1, M7, and 25pdr kits. The construction of the Sexton uses the front glacis from the M4A1, and a closer inspection shows what looks to be a couple mold lines running across the casting effect. This could be easily fixed by redoing the cast effect using your favorite method such as putty.
As some of the sprues do come from other kits, there will be quite a few extra parts to add to your spares box. There are sprues marked specifically for the Sexton, mostly the sides, gun mount, and some interior detail. The kits does provide parts for a full interior, including the driver’s area and transmission, there is no engine.
The gun itself will be built from new parts for the Sexton, mainly the barrel and breech, with detail parts from the Dragon 25pdr kit. The barrel is one piece itself with the breech and flash suppressor being a two part side to side assembly. Overall it looks like it will build a reasonable facsimile of the Sexton mounted 25pdr.
The bogies for the Sexton come from other kits, the sprues being labeled VVSS Bogie and M4, more than likely common to Dragon Sherman kits. Unfortunately these bogies on either sprue are incorrect for the Sexton. The Sexton, being built at the Montreal Locomotive Works, would have had the Canadian built reinforced bogies, the same as the Ram and Grizzly. While the kit does contain the correct looking road wheels and rear idlers wheels, the instructions have you mounting the spoked idler wheels, which are incorrect for the Sexton. The kit does contain a pair of the more correct looking solid idler wheels.
The Sexton II kit contains two lengths of the vinyl Dragon DS tracks, while the tracks look nice, being T54E1 tracks they are incorrect for the Sexton. The Sexton II being built on the Grizzy chassis would have rode on Canadian Dry Pin(CDP) tracks. But I did find a few images of a Sexton II using T51 rubber padded tracks, but I believe these would have been post-war, as the Sexton II was used well into the 1950’s.
The PE fret in the kit is small with only a few parts, mainly the vent cover for the rear deck, ties for storage boxes, and a screen to cover the radio compartment. The screen for the radio cover, I don’t believe, is from World War 2 Sexton’s, but from a post war vehicle, as I can’t find any images of the screen on the vehicle, other than a museum displayed Sexton.
The decals are sharp with great color, and all look to be well in register. The decals cover 5 vehicles, all British, and unfortunately no Canadian vehicles.
Sexton Vehicle Markings included:
• 147 (Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment RHA, Normandy 1944
• 4th Royal Horse Artillery, 4th Armoured Brigade, Weert 1944
• Unidentified Unit, NW Europe 1944
• 13th Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery (HAC), NW Europe 1944
• Unidentified Unit, NW Europe 1945
The instructions are printed on a large folded sheet, and contain 18 steps to assemble the Sexton. I won’t go into the details of each step, but to say it follows typical AFV assembly flow, starting with the lower hull, bogies, moving to the upper hull and interior. As with most Dragon kit instructions, carefully study the instructions steps, dry fit often, and check your references.
The instructions include paint callout using Aqueous, Mr. Color and Model Master paints. While I personally don’t agree with the color choices represented for the vehicle, modelers should check references for the vehicle they are building. Most images I have found show the Sexton in solid Olive Drab or the Olive Drab/Black camouflage pattern.
The Dragon Sexton II kits looks to be a very nice and well detailed kit, unfortunately there are several inaccuracies. As a kit, it will be build a somewhat facsimile of the Sexton, but there are some glaring errors in the parts, mainly the track and bogies. Being able to replace these with aftermarket parts will allow the builder to build a more accurate Sexton II, and produce a great looking model of the overdue Sexton II.
****Edit: Since writing the review I have discovered that the Dragon Sexton II kit does match at least one existing vehicle with the kit provided track and bogies. Upon further research I have discovered that there may be a few vehicles in different configurations. While I have only found one reference of the Sexton using the M4 bogies, I did find a handful of vehicles on the T54E1 track. While being a excellent kit in standards of molding and details, Dragon missed the mark on producing the correct standard version of the Sexton II.****