Self-Propelled Howitzer M109A6
Tamiya 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
B a c k g r o u n d
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
Tamiya has now reboxed Italeri’s venerable 1:35 scale M109A6 Paladin kit with some improved parts plus re-issued Tamiya sprues – mainly stowage and two Iraq War US crew figures.
The kit comprises 273 dark yellow plastic parts on the Italeri sprues; a further 95 parts on Tamiya’s sand-coloured sprues; two lengths of flexible vinyl track; one photo-etched fret with 16 parts; a printed paper sheet representing MRE boxes and markings for three vehicles.
The original Italeri kit dates from 1983, but new parts were included for its upgrade to the A6 variant in 1999, and now there are more improvements to the Italeri sprues, mainly to the road wheels.
The old full-length silver vinyl tracks are still in this boxing. I was hoping that there might be an upgrade to link-and-length tracks this time around. If you don’t like the tracks, there are always the after-market Skunkmodel link and length tracks available; and Italeri themselves offer a workable set of individual link tracks too.
Tools are a bit clunky and would best be replaced.
Tamiya brings two newer sprues to the package with crisply moulded and well detailed packs, rolls, modern jerry cans, ammo containers and Iraq War specific parts, including two torso crew figures. Tamiya has also provided a paper sheet of Meal Ready To Eat (MRE) cartons. You’ll need to cut these out, fold and glue these.
A brand-new photo-etched fret is also added for the turret stowage bins.
C o n c l u s i o n
Italeri’s 1:35 scale M109A2 Paladin is reasonably detailed and should be quite straightforward to build. The addition of Tamiya stowage, accessories, figures, photo-etched parts and decals is a bonus that will deliver a definite improvement. This should be an easy project for fans of modern armour.
Thanks to Tamiya Japan for the sample
Tamiya kits are distributed in the UK by The Hobby Company Limited for the sample.
Text and Images by Brett Green