Self-Propelled Howitzer M109A2
Kinetic, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
The M109 is an American-made self-propelled 155 mm howitzer, first introduced in the early 1960s. It was upgraded a number of times to today's M109A6 Paladin. The M109 family is the most common Western indirect-fire support weapon of manoeuvre brigades of armoured and mechanized infantry divisions.
The M109 has a crew of six: the section chief, the driver, the gunner, the assistant gunner and two ammunition handlers. The gunner aims the cannon left or right (deflection), the assistant gunner aims the cannon up and down (quadrant). The M109A6 Paladin needs only a crew of four: the Commander, driver, gunner and ammunition loader.
The M109A2 variant incorporated 27 reliability, availability, and maintainability (RAM) mid-life improvements. Most notably, the long barrelled 155 mm M185 cannon in the M178 gun mount, ballistic protection for the panoramic telescope, counterbalanced travel lock, and the ability to mount the M140 alignment device. Stowage was increased from 28 rounds of 155 mm, to 36 rounds. .50cal ammunition remained at 500 rounds.
The M109 saw its combat debut in Vietnam. Israel used the M109 against Egypt in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and in the 1982 Lebanon War and 2006 Lebanon War. Iran used the M109 in the Iran–Iraq War during the 1980s.
The M109 saw service with the British Army, the Egyptian Army and Saudi Arabian Army in the 1991 Gulf War. The M109 also saw service with the U.S. Army in the Gulf War, as well as in the Iraq War from 2003.*
F i r s t L o o k
Kinetic has followed up its early-2012 debut M-ATV release with another modern subject – the M109A2.
Kinetic’s new 1:35 scale M109A2 comprises approximately 328 parts in caramel coloured plastic. Bucking the trend somewhat, There are no multimedia parts or even vinyl in this kit. Kinetic seems determined to keep the building process as simple and straightforward as possible while retaining a decent level of detail.
Please note that this is an all-new kit with no parts in common with the older Italeri offering.
Kinetic’s plastic parts are presented in a caramel colour and are mainly free from moulding flaws. Some of the smaller parts have a little flash to clean up though.
The level of overall detail is good.
Construction commences with a nice looking mantlet followed by the turret assembly. This is quite a busy area with stowage boxes, tools and a .50 cal heavy machine gun. The tools and .50 cal are not really up to the standard of the rest of the kit and will best be replaced with aftermarket items or parts from the spares box. The rear stowage baskets are a bit chunky but should look acceptable when assembled.
There is no interior but hatches are supplied as separate parts. I am sure that it is only a matter of time until some enterprising resin manufacturer decides to fill this large space for all those superdetailers out there.
The big 155mm barrel is split into two horizontal halves, with alternative muzzle brakes being supplied as an additional two parts each.
An alternative lower hull front is included on the sprues too, but not mentioned in the instructions. This, and the parts breakdown of the lower hull, suggest that more M109 variants may be on Kinetic’s drawing board.
Suspension arms are separate parts (rejoice, diorama builders), while the road wheels are cleverly designed to enclose the wheel between the tyre halves. This should make painting easier.
Link and length tracks are supplied in black plastic – long straight sections for each top and bottom run; and individual links and connectors for the front and rear curved sections. The tracks are generally good, but the track pins are poorly represented on the edges of the track connectors on the long runs.
Markings are provided for three vehicles – one each British and US from Iraq in 1991, and a NATO-cam US Army machine based in the USA during 1987.
The small decal sheet is designed by Crossdelta and printed by Cartograf. As you would expect, registration and printing are perfect.
C o n c l u s i o n
Kinetic’s 1:35 scale M109A2 looks to be reasonably detailed and should be quite straightforward to build. The moulding quality is good, and it is nice to have solid plastic link and length tracks. The main shortcomings – the tools, .50 cal and the side track connector detail – will be pretty straightforward to replace or correct if they bother you, but will be quite functional if they do not.
Thanks to Lucky Model for the sample.
* Historical summary summarised from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M109_howitzer
Text and Images by Brett Green