Home > Reviews > Modern > AFV Club 1/35 scale Kit No. 35248; M109A6 Howitzer Paladin

M109A6 Howitzer Paladin

AFV Club, 1/35 scale

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

Summary

Stock Number and Description AFV Club 1/35 scale Kit No. 35248; M109A6 Howitzer Paladin
Scale: 1/35
Media and Contents: 579 parts (539 in olive drab styrene, 14 etched brass, 10 clear styrene, 7 clear styrene (sheet), 5 black vinyl, 1 turned aluminum barrel, 1 brass tube, 1 steel spring, 1 black nylon string)
Price: Not Known
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Much better kit of this weapon than the old Italeri kit; matches more features and provides many options.
Disadvantages: Comes with “Mickey Mouse” recoiling gun barrel; tracks a bit simplified; no interior
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for all modern US Army “redleg” fans.

Introduction

In the 1970s the US Army, the Soviets, and others started to field automated data systems for managing artillery on the battlefield. These systems, known as TACFIRE and “Fal’set”, permitted commanders to task units and carry out detailed management of ammunition, locations, and other important data. But they did not permit control of the guns themselves, which slowed down the entire process.

At the same time, modern countermortar/counterbattery radars were being fielded like the US Firefinder and the Soviet SNAR-10. But it took automation to finally make things work right.

This was introduced in the late 1980s with the MLRS and then in 1990 with a fully automated artillery system in US service. As a result, and as proven on Operation Desert Storm, a firing battery could be located and destroyed in a matter of minutes. Some Iraqi POWs stated they were able to fire one round for ranging and as they prepared to fire a mission the incoming counterbattery fire struck.

The weapon that made this happen was the M109A6, better known by its project name of Paladin. With a basic range of 18,000 meters and an extended range of up to 30,000 meters with rocket assisted projectiles, Paladin is a much improved version of the original weapons system that entered service in the mid 1960s. It is designed to automatically emplace itself, fire a mission, and then button up and leave in a matter of a few minutes, which makes it much harder to counterbattery. It also can operate autonomously (e.g. no line abreast formations) due to its electronic suite.

Italeri was the first company to kit the M109 series with kits of the 105mm M108 and then M109, M109A1, M109A2, and finally M109A6 Paladin guns. But most of them used the same parts as the base kit and therefore carried along a number of errors as the guns were modernized and the kits were not.


 

F i r s t L o o k

Recently new kits of the M109 late model guns have been released by Kinetic and AFV Club (the ones by Tamiya and Revell are re-releases of the Italeri kit). This is AFV Club’s effort with the Paladin and it is nicely done.

AFV Club has given the gun first rate treatment, and its suspension is nicely replicated with individual torsion bars and two-piece wheels to replicate the reinforcement ring so often left off of modern US road wheels. But it comes at a price - the basic hull of the gun comes in 12 parts (lower and upper sides, front, rear, belly and three piece roof sections). The fit is not bad but it does take a bit of jiggling to assemble. Note that some parts need holes drilled out and AFV club shows a small cartoon of a drill going through a rectangle as the indicator.

The model has all of its hatches as separate parts, which is unfortunate as the only interior in the kit is the breech end of the M248 gun assembly. But on the other hand they provide the non-skid coating for the front of the hull (sprue S in the directions) as stick-on clear parts.

As is common with AFV Club, all hinges, handles and locks are separate parts so prepare for a lot of itty-bitty parts that need attachment. But as noted there are no interior details for any of the hatches, so this is a bit disappointing.

The tracks are one piece vinyl affairs that AFV Club indicates can be cemented with plastic cement, but I felt they looked a bit wimpy. They are at least flexible (unlike the unfortunate Italeri ones) but on the whole I think most modelers would prefer the set of T136 tracks offered by AFV Club (AF35S23, which was the one acquired when they took over Skybow; they are excellent but a very loose fit and the end connectors are a pain to keep on until you finalize their location and touch them with liquid cement!)

The gun is a quite detailed assembly and consists of at least 52 parts from styrene, vinyl, aluminum, brass and steel. It retains the throwback “working function” recoil capability from another generation but at least the parts for that are concealed and it looks convincing and in scale.

The turret is the extended bustle and elevated roof version of the M109A6 and comes with all of the necessary parts and changes needed to replicate it; it has its own shell and is not a bunch of “stick here” parts on an M109A2 turret.

The commander’s cupola has been upgraded with risers and comes with AFV Club’s excellent M2 series machine gun, offering three different HB barrels and also the M2AC version which is not used.

The bustle extension stowage racks are included along with six 5 gallon plastic water jugs and four .50 caliber ammo boxes for the turret. The mesh in the stowage racks is represented by etched brass.

Five different guns are covered in the painting and finishing directions: a generic US Army one in NATO tricolor scheme (black/forest green/brown); Field Artillery Training Center, Fort Sill, Oklahoma (tricolor, FATC A-37 “Linnich”); 4th ID 3-29 Artillery (sand, B16 “Battle Up”); 1st ID 1-6 Artillery (tricolor, B-13 “Santiago”); and 1st Cavalry Division 1-82 Artillery (sand, B-12, “Bass Master”). Pay close attention as there are some errors in the plans.


 

C o n c l u s i o n

Overall this is an excellent kit and with some after market interior bits (I hear Hobby Fan in the background!) this can be a spectacular model.




Sprue Layout:


A 51x2 35109 - road wheels, idlers, drivers, torsion bars
B 47x2 35109 - details, headlights, small components
C 64 35109 - hull details, commander’s cupola
D 37 35109 - 155mm breech, elevating mechanism, internal parts
E 5 35109 - bow, stern plate, sponson bottoms
F 8 35109 - hull sides, belly, hull roof
G 10 35109 - clear styrene
H 3 35109 - black vinyl
J 2 Black vinyl
K 13 35248 - etched brass
L 1 Steel spring
M 3 Turned aluminum barrel
N 1 Brass tube
0 2 35248 - hull base, shell
P 44x2 35248 - five gallon water cans, .50 ammo cans, details
Q 31 35248 - Palading - automatic barrel lock, hull door, details
R 78 35248 - Differentiating parts for Paladin, commander’s machine gun ring
S 7 35248 - clear styrene
X 30 M2 machine gun set sprue with different barrels, M2HB or M2AC variants
Z 1 35248 - decals, black nylon string
2 35109 - etched brass

Thanks to Tony Chin of Merit for the review sample.

Text and Images by Cookie Sewell
Page Created 15 September, 2013
Page Last Updated 3 November, 2013