The M109A6 Howitzer Paladin model by AFV Club
has been out sometime, about 6 months and has for the most part been very well received. The M109A6 Howitzer Paladin is the current version of the M109 with the U.S. Military, and while this variant has not done as well as earlier variants on the international Market it is a very capable weapons system despite its ancestry going back 50 years.
Inside the standard and adequate box from AFV Club
you will find;
- 14 green sprues
- 1 clear sprue
- A turned aluminium barrel
- A brass collar
- 1 spring
- A pair of vinyl rubber tracks
- 20 poly caps
- 1 vinyl sprue
- A length of cord
- 1 photo etched fret
- 1 set of textured stickers/transfers
- 1 decal sheet
- A box top print
Opening the box you are confronted by a large amount of plastic and other goodies, which are well packaged. All of the items are supplied in the own protective plastic wallet except where sprues have been duplicated. The plastic elements are well moulded being reasonably free of areas of concern. I did locate are quite a lot of flow/cooling lines, however these areas look and feel to be good with just the variation in colour making them stand out. There are of course some seam lines that will need cleaning up, but that is to be expected. I did find sink marks in the spades for the rear of the vehicle which are very prominent on the inner face and subtle on the outer face, these will of course need to be filled and sanded but fortunately access is good and should make corrective work easy. All of the metal and vinyl rubber parts look good with nothing jumping out at me as regards issues.
You will not be surprised to hear that a large portion of this model is shared with the previous release from AFV Club
, the M109A2 Howitzer. A link to a review of the M109A2 Howitzer from AFV Club
can be found at the end of this review. The multi part lower hull allows AFV Club
to make subtle modifications and so allowing them to produce various variants of the vehicle, the downside of this approach is that you will need to take care during construction to insure that the lower hull is square.
The suspension on this model is workable or more accurately where modellers are concerned can be posed accurately on an uneven surface. Workable torsion bar suspension is included with the model, this is with the exception of the first and last torsion bar on each side which due to the replicated shock absorber are not adjustable.
Wheels and Tracks
The road wheels are listed on the box as having been re-tooled, however I am a little lost as to what changes have been made or needed to be made. In my previous review I stated the rubber portion of the road wheels was separate and which thanks to a comment by Pawel Krupowicz, who pointed out that this has allowed AFV Club
to accurate portray the undercut on the face of the wheel rims. The idler wheels are very well detailed but due to that detail and how the wheel goes together it will make part alignment a struggle, I believe. The drive wheels are of simple construction but have good detail. All of the wheels have trapped polycaps inside them and so with the exception of a disaster the wheels can be removed for painting and access to the sidewall of the vehicle.
The tracks supplied with the kit are vinyl which I know will rattle some and please others; I personally prefer individual track links, but I am not going to knock the model for not supplying my preference. The T-154 tracks are listed as newly tooled but I am unable to comment on the accuracy of that; however I do have an observation and a concern, the observation is that there are a few injection marks on the inner face of the track run, my concern is that joining the track ends may prove problematic due to a minimal mating surface. Another problem I foresee with the vinyl tracks is that they will not sit naturally on the wheels when applied to the model, however until I build the model I cannot be sure of that.
The upper hull is a multi-panel affair at the front which does provide the modeller with some display options if you splash out on some after market sets such as the engine and gearbox set that is available for this model. The only differences that jump out at me from the earlier release is the new travel lock and the textured stickers/transfers which are to replicate the anti-slip texture on the hull. These textured pieces are very subtle and I have heard varying opinions of them, regardless of the varying opinions it will at least give you an accurate pattern for the anti-slip if they don’t meet with your approval. The travel lock would appear to be workable and so provides more display options.
Hull Back Panel
I am no expert on this vehicle and my reference relies on images and books I have obtained, as such the back panel appears to be very well detailed and accurate. The large rear door cries out for an interior to be made available and for someone to produce an ammunition carrier to accompany the vehicle. The digger blades look to be the only parts of the model with moulding faults, due to the sink marks on the blade surface due to the thickness in that area I believe; however as I mentioned earlier these sink marks should be easily remedied.
The gun in this kit as with the earlier release is a great addition to the kit with a lot of work having been put into it by AFV Club
. The breach of the gun while not being visible is very well detailed and should an interior become available this area will not be needing much in the way of improvement; AFV Club
have even provided the locking mechanism on the breach ring and this area can be displayed open or closed. The turned aluminium barrel differs from the earlier release having two lines in it which will require the barrel to be correctly orientated for accuracy. The barrel also has a spring at its base in order that the barrel can be recoiled but I feel this is more a gimmick than a plus to the model. The muzzle brake has been pointed out to me as having the wrong profile as the rear portion should have been strengthened on this variant of the M109, that said it is a minor flaw in what is a very good area of the model.
The all new turret included with this model looks to be a very good match to visual reference and as such I believe accurate. There are a number of hatches in the turret and these can be displayed open or closed, with some of them being moveable if care is taken during assembly; this aspect of the model also cries out for an interior to be made available, I am not usually one for interiors as they can rarely be seen due to the limited access points on armoured vehicles. Self propelled guns and howitzers do lend themselves to having interiors generally as they usually have a large number of decent sized openings allowing you to view what is inside, far more openings are present than on say tanks as every opening is a weak spot and with SPG’s and SPH’s not usually being on the frontline the weaknesses are not as important. The heavy machine gun included with the kit is from the AFV Club
US M2HB 0.50 cal machine gun set with M3 tripod & M63 AA mount set and rather than repeat an earlier review I have provided a link to it at the end of this review. One thing I am not a fan of here is the cord supplied to replicate the tow cable stowed on top of the turret.
Instructions and decals
The A4 instruction booklet is reasonably well laid out. The directions use black and white line drawings to guide you through the 34 stages of construction. First impressions of the instructions as such is good and I believe will not cause you any issues in following them. The finishing options provided are disappointing due to there being 5 options provided but they are all only listed as U.S. Army with no specifics supplied.
This is an impressive model and would seem to live up to the hype. The long list of contents provides some idea of how much effort AFV Club
has put into this release and with the exception of the tracks concern, sink mark in the spades and one minor accuracy fault on a major part the muzzle brake this is a very good purchase in my opinion. It should be remembered that only the muzzle brake issue is not easily cured and most would not likely even notice or be aware of it. As such I see this model as model as a must buy for anyone interested in mobile artillery or AFV’s in current use. My only wish is that AFV Club
or some other company release the ammunition carrier to go with this model soon.
US M2HB 0.50 cal machine gun set with M3 tripod & M63 AA mount