AFV Club
105mm Howitzer M2A1
& Carriage M2

AFV Club 1:35 Kit No. AF 35160

Review by Terry Ashley

AFV Club
The kit represents the standardised M2A1 105mm Howitzer with M2 carriage introduced in 1940 and saw the Howitzer remaining basically unchanged throughout WWII and beyond. The kit also includes an M2HB cal.50 machine gun mounted on the top recuperator cylinder for sub-calibre training but this was not used once the Howitzers went into action.

The only major upgrades were in the carriages, the initial production guns having the M2 carriage easily distinguished by the smaller single shields (with folding top sections) and civilian type automotive wheel rims and tyres. Refurbished (modernized) M2 carriages were also fitted with the combat wheels and tyres.

The later M2A1 carriage had a double shield arrangement with smaller front shield and larger rear shield that extended further out over the wheels with a lower folding flap that provided more protection for the crew. The other major feature is the use of the standard WWII combat rim and tyres.

The Kit:
The kit consists of 221 parts in olive drab plastic, 16 etched brass parts, 4 parts in black vinyl and the full 105mm gun tube in turned aluminium plus the small 10 page instruction booklet. The sprues already contain some of the parts for the soon to be released 105mm Howitzer M2A1 w/M2A2 Gun Carriage (kit #AF35182) which are obviously not used here and can be assigned to the spares box.

Etched, metal and rubber parts
AFV Club

The standard of moulding is very good overall with clean crisp detail but there is also some fine flash and mould seam lines to be cleaned especially on the numerous smaller parts in the kit, this does require a bit of time invested in cleanup before assembly but results in a higher level of detail definition. There is also the odd pin mark about the place but the major parts such as the shields are blemish free.

The kit can be built in sub-assemblies with these bought together for final assembly which allows you to work on one sub-assembly while the glue another dries with some of these sub-assemblies designed to be movable allowing you to pose the gun in the travel or firing mode but extreme care will be needed especially with the spring equilibrator assembly which is the trickiest part of the kit.

Top Carriage:
The spring equilibrator assembly is the standout feature of the kit really pushing the slide moulding boundaries with perfectly formed springs and is designed to be workable (compress on elevation). This does take a lot of care during assembly to not glue the wrong parts together and removing the springs from the sprues needs a very sharp blade and a light hand as the springiness of the parts makes them slippery little suckers. It’s also a good idea to hold the individual spring coil with fine tweezers as you cut them away from the sprue to help avoid any damage.

After the part cleanup assemblies goes a bit like this.

  1. Glue the three outer shafts (parts D7) to the front bracket (part A42) using the middle bracket (part A40) unglued as a guide to aligning the shafts, let dry completely. Note: the oblong hole in the middle bracket (part A40) should be aligned vertically with the U fitting on the end bracket (part A42).
    AFV Club
  2. Attach the two end supports (parts D15) over the end T section of the central shaft (part A19) ensuring the end supports are free to move, let dry completely.
    AFV Club
  3. Slip (don't glue) the small equilibrator spring (part A55) inside the larger spring (part A45) and then slip (don't glue) the rear bracket (part A41) and the springs over the central shaft (part A19).
    AFV Club
  4. Use reversible tweezers to hold the springs parts back to avoid gluing the wrong parts together. Glue the end of the central shaft to the middle bracket (part A40).
    You must also make sure the bracket (part A40) is perfectly square with the T section of the central shaft (part A19). This alignment is critical for the final fitting of the assembly.
    AFV Club
  5. Again using a pair of reversible tweezers to compress and hold the springs away from the end bracket (part A41), glue the ends of the three outer shafts to the end bracket (part A41) making sure not to glue the bracket to the central shaft. Let dry completely before removing the tweezers.
    Again, make sure the brackets (parts A40, A41, A42) are aligned perfectly square with the T section of the central shaft (part A19).
    AFV Club
  6. Once the glue has completely dried on the assembly you should be able to draw the central shaft out compressing the springs which is what happens during barrel elevation.
  7. The Spring Equilibrator assembly is then trapped between the carriage parts (A60, A61) ensuring not to glue the eye on the bracket (part A42) to the carriage in the process.
    AFV Club

The assembled spring equilibrator and its mounting are attached to the top carriage base along with the right elevation arc and traverse arc and as these parts are all quite small the usual care is needed. Also note the parts marked F5, F6 should actually be E5, E6 respectively. Of course if you don't want the gun to elevate after assembly you just glue these parts together as you go reducing the work involved.

Bottom Carriage:
The main axle is in one piece with 6 part Equalizing Support added to the back of the axle, take care to fit the small outer mountings (parts A35, A36) on the correct sides and any alignment issues of the parts are fixed when attached to the axle.

The Equalizing Support pivots on the actual gun but is fixed on the model which isn’t a problem and the brake drums and hand brake levers fit to the axle stubs without any problems.

The wheels in the kit are the initial civilian type rim and tyre which is correct for this version with the wheel rim being in two parts, the main rim dish and the outer rim lip which is attached once the vinyl tyre is fitted to the rim. There is an issue here in the outer rim lip doesn’t sit flush with the tyre sidewall as it should leaving a distinct gap, this isn’t a problem with the rim/lip but with the tyre itself as the sidewalls are too flat and don’t “fill out” to sit against the rim lip.

I experimented with trimming the outer rim to allow the lip to fit further inwards against the tyre sidewall but this changed the profile of the rim/lip and didn’t look right either so we are left with the small gap between tyre/rim lip which may or may not be an issue.

On the inside of the wheel rim is a small poly cap held in place with the plastic axle hub (part D13) and this allows you to add and remove the wheels at any time for easier handling/painting.

Note the two small axle lock levers (parts D23) should both face in opposing directions, either facing each other or away from each other and not facing the same direction as shown in the instructions.

The top carriage is attached to the bottom by way of a large central pin (part A24) which in turn is trapped in place by the small cap (part A6). As the cap also fits into a recess on the underside of the axle it can be a problem gluing this without gluing the axle as well. A simple solution is to drill a small hole in the cap and when fitted onto the pin add a drop of liquid cement into the hole, all quick and clean.

Method of attaching pin cap as described above
AFV Club

The trails have the top and both sides moulded as one with just a separate bottom section that fits precisely with bevelled edges to leave a very clean join There are a few moulded on locating lines applicable to the later M2A2 carriage that need to be removed, these are shown in the instructions.

The locking arms are added to the front edge of each trail and it’s important to note the part numbers and allow the assemble arms to dry completely before fitting to the carriage. There are numerous smaller details added to the trails and apart from the usual mould seams there are no problems fitting these, including the one piece spades.

The multi part draw bar can be fitted in the towing or firing position as required so you should decide this and glue the bar in the appropriate position. The only issue with the trails is the two separate gun lock brackets (parts A12, A13) are located about 1mm too far back on the trail arm and don’t mate to the locking tabs on the gun carriage.

You should cut off the small locating strips on the trail arms and leave the lock brackets off until later when the gun and trails have been fitted together so you can align the gun cradle tabs with the gun lock brackets to ensure they fit together correctly in the travel mode.

The trails are attached to the lower carriage with large pins (parts D16) on the main trail arms and smaller locking pins (parts D12) to secure the trails in the open firing position, there is fine etched securing chain provided for the smaller pins. These pins should be fitted without gluing to allow the trails to move and they will remain in place providing you don’t pick the model up and waive about.

Gun Cradle:
The main gun cradle is moulded in one piece which eliminates the annoying central seam on many a kit gun cradle, the cradle is also the first kit cradle I have seen with the gun sleigh slide lips included to allow the sleigh to fit and slide (recoil) as it should.

There are two triangular strips that fit inside the cradle and you should ensure the correct orientation for these as indicated in the instructions with the remaining detail added without any problems. This includes the gunner’s lanyard moulded in the stowed position (part B3) on the cradle side so remember to remove this if the gun is posed in the firing position.
The left side elevation arc is fitted unglued over the trunnion pin with the bottom of the arc attached to the top carriage aligned with the right side elevation arc already attached to the carriage. You should ensure the gun cradle sits squarely in relation to top carriage and a temporary jig (part B37) is provided to rest the cradle on while assembling the parts but I found this more a hindrance and it was easier to just align the parts by eye.

The traverse hand wheel assembly is then fitted ensuring the end ‘screw’ is aligned with the traverse arc on the carriage.

Barrel Sleigh/Recoil Mechanism:
This is a multi-part assembly that requires a bit of assembly due to the number of parts but the result has excellent detail definition as well as a working recoil piston if you show the gun in recoil?

The top recuperator cylinder (part B23) and recoil cylinders (parts D2) are added to the first of the three large sleigh brackets (part B14) and care is needed when trapping the recoil piston between the cylinder halves if you want this to be movable?

The cylinders are then fed through the middle sleigh bracket (part B15) and glued to the rear sleigh bracket (part B16) but you shouldn’t glue the middle bracket at this stage until the two side sleigh frames (parts B27, B30) are attached to ensure the assembly is aligned correctly and not twisted on it’s axis, there is a small etched data plate added to the left sleigh frame for added detail.

The full barrel tube is in aluminium with two part plastic collar added mid tube and these need to be fitted as snugly as possible around the barrel, the muzzle is hollowed out but the rifling included is just some parallel scratches that don’t look much like rifling at all unfortunately, this is surprising given the superb rifling included in the recent sIG.33 barrel tube from AFV Club.

The barrel slips through the three sleigh brackets with the plastic collar nesting into the first bracket and while the fit is good the edges of the bracket openings may need to be smoothed to take away the sharp lip for easier fitting. Note; the breech shouldn’t be attached to the barrel tube until the sleigh assembly is fitted to the carriage slide.

The breech ring is in two parts with a barrel mounting collar trapped between them with the fit of the breech halves being very good resulting in just a small join seam to be eliminated. The two part breech block can be shown in the open or closed position but remember to position the separate breech locking handle correspondingly in the open or closed position. There is also a small locking pin on the end of the breech block (part B2) that should also be positioned differently depending on the state of the breech block.

There is a very small and I mean small round attachment bolt (part B1) added to the top of the breech which will need extreme care both removing from the sprue and attaching to the breech, the bracket (part C15) shown attached to the breech top shouldn’t be fitted as this is only used with the ranging cal.50 MG, more on this below.

When fitting the sleigh/barrel assembly onto the lower cradle it is best to glue the recoil cylinder piston to the front carriage bracket (part B25) and let dry before as this will make things easier. The sleigh fits neatly over the carriage slide with the front bracket glued to the front of the carriage and breech then attached to the barrel without any problems.

The sights are made up of multiple parts resulting in very good detail definition but they need care as some of the parts are quite small, there are also some alternate parts for the range telescope.  The left side Telescope Mount M21 includes the Panoramic Telescope M12A2 with the right side Range Quadrant M4 has the Telescope Mount M23, for those technically minded.

The Range Quadrant is attached to the elevation wheel mount with connecting rods and gluing this to the carriage is rather tricky as it fits very close to the gun breech/barrel slide and very easy to glue this in the process. If you don’t plan on moving the gun breech/barrel slide then this isn’t a problem and you just glue away.

These are made up of three parts, the larger lower section with central V attachment and the two smaller upper folding sections. All are moulded quite thin without any edge bevelling and are pin mark free with fine hinge and rivet details.

The top folding supports (parts D17) have fine etched chain provided to add additional detail as does the lid of the two part Telescope box. There are actually two Telescope boxes in the kit, a smaller one mounted on the inside of the shield and a large one on separate mounting bracket on the front side of the shield. You should NOT fit both cases as per the instructions as the smaller box was used on very early shields and the larger box to later shields and would probably be the more appropriate case to use.

The shields are attached to the gun by three mounting rods without any problems apart from the usual care as there is not a lot of room to manoeuvre with all the small bits added to the gun along the way.

Additional Items:
Also included with the kit is a nicely done (for plastic) M2HB cal.50 MG which features the receiver in two halves allowing the “hollow” look of the actual gun to be shown if you open out the side recesses? The top ammo feed cover and rear firing handles are separate parts along with mountings to fit to the gun.

As this was a ranging gun used for training it shouldn’t be fitted for an active service gun but leaves you with a very nice cal.50 for the spares box.

Other inclusions is a nicely moulded one piece tail light assembly that is attached to the barrel tube during road transport and three alternate tow pintle hooks to replace the applicable kit hooks if you want to attach the gun behind;

  1. GMC 1 ½ ton truck, M3A1 Scout Car or M3 Half Track (AFV Club, DML, Hobby Boss)
  2. M35 2 ½ ton truck (AFV Club)
  3. WC63 1 ½ ton Weapons Carrier (AFV Club)
These are the usual exploded view type drawings that have clearly laid out assembly sequences that are easy to follow in most but some sub-assemblies are quite busy and you need to study the instructions carefully.

There are also a few small B&W images of the actual gun to illustrate some of the sub-assemblies that help in positioning some of the smaller parts.

This is a superbly done kit of the early M2A1 105mm Howitzer and Carriage M2 with many fine parts that result in excellent detail definition although this has a trade off with additional assembly required along the way.

The overall gun and smaller individual sub-assemblies are all to scale with some sections movable after assembly if you wish to put in the work required to achieve this, the only real gripe is the vinyl tyres that don’t “fill out” the rims as they should leaving a gap around the rims.

Rating  8.5/10

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
AFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV Club
Detail images
AFV ClubAFV ClubAFV Club
Sprue detail images
AFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV Club
AFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV ClubAFV Club
Close new window to return to review

M101A1 105mm Howitzer
in detail
Wings & Wheels Publications R 048
U.S. WWII 105mm Howitzers
M2A1 & M3

Tankograd Technical Manual Series No.6016
TM9-325 105mm Howitzers M2A1
Carriages M2A1 and M2A2

Easy 1 Productions CD-ROM #T003
Easy 1
Thanks to my credit card and Hobbyeasy for the review kit.

Page created March 31, 2011

Back to Top