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AFV Club #35S06 M115 8in Howitzer

AFV Club M115 8-in Howitzer 1/35th scale plastic kit reference AF 35S-06 Over 200 polystyrene, ten soft plastic and one metal part. UK price 24.95

The 8" Howitzer was the "partner piece" to the American 155mm gun, in that both used the same carriage to mount different barrels for different roles. The original WW2 M1 series (which became the M2 with some manufacturing improvements) put a 95lb/42kg HE shell to 25,000 yards/23km while the 8" - also designated M1 and later M2 - fired its heavier 203mm calibre 200lb/90kg shell to 18,000 yards/17km. Both guns were the mainstay of American and allied heavy artillery units and served for many years post-war with US forces as well as being widely distributed to America's allies. They were redesignated as M115 for the 8" and this gun was used in its original 25 calibre format in the early model M110 series self-propelled guns. As such it served for many years, with the M115 in towed form being still in service in the 1990s which shows what a solid and reliable gun it was. It was also capable of firing nuclear rounds. Its 155mm partner was also used for many years, under its new title of M59. The same carriage was also adopted by the British Army to mount the 7.2" Howitzer Mk 6.

As can be seen from the above, the 155mm and 8" guns were very similar, in fact apart from the different barrels - the 155mm's long, thin one with the 8" being shorter and wider - they are the same. This makes them a good choice for model manufacturers, and this "new" kit is identical to the older AF3509 M59 kit apart from the barrel or more correctly, the turned-aluminium section which is forward of the reinforcing collar which attaches it to the recoil slide. The 8" version is drilled out at its muzzle end to about an inch or 24-25mm, with rifling cut in though this does not have any twist. As none of my references lists the rate of twist for the gun, I cannot comment how much this is a problem. All other parts are the same as the original version, nicely moulded in green polystyrene on three large and one small sprues with ten soft-plastic tyres for the gun carriage and the two-wheeled limber. It will make a nice model out of the box and offer scope for super-detaillers along the same lines as its 155mm partner. The instructions are also much the same, the only difference being that the shorter 8" barrel meant that the barrel did not have to be transported pulled back as in the 155mm. No accessories or crew are included, the instructions mention the AFV Club 155/203 Howitzer Round and Stowage Case set AF35017 for shells and two Hobby Fan figures sets referenced HF524 and HF525 for crew which are for the 155mm gun but also double for the 8" version. Crew figures can be adapted from suitable plastic figure sets with infantry web equipment removed. The M115 kit does offer more options for paint finishes, with two US Army and one Marine guns in WW2 and one US Army in Korea with decals for names on the gun barrel, plus one un-named gun in Taiwanese and another in Japanese service.

Anyone modelling this gun will have the choice of finishing it emplaced in action or being towed. The box art suggests another new AFV Club kit, their AF35S08 1:35 M35 Prime Mover which is their M10A1 tank destroyer without the turret and with interior parts and various fittings added, and this too mirrors real life as real M35's were rebuilt M10A1's. However, the usual
towing vehicle for the 155mm and 8" M1/M2 guns in WW2 was the Mack NO 6x6 7.5 ton truck (this was also used post-war in British service and no doubt elsewhere too). The M35 and other tracked high-speed tractors were designed for the heavier 8" Gun M1 and its partner 240mm Howitzer M1 which was a different artillery system altogether. These   were designed to be
transported with gun and split-trail carriage separated and mou ted on special trailers to the gun-site where there were assembled using a crane. So, mating the two kits together is not quite right, and unless someone produces the big Mack or the heavier gun we will have to wait for the correct combination. Until then, we do at least have a good model of a widely used gun. As artillery is not well covered in model form - we do not even have many WW2 German guns and only the basic pieces from other nations - this is welcome as it is and it will find its ways into many collections.

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