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Review
Roden: BL 8-Inch Howitzer
CMOT
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Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2019 - 01:24 AM UTC


Rick Taylor takes a look at the BL 8-Inch Howitzer Mk. VI from Roden in 1/35th scale.

Read the Review

If you have comments or questions please post them here.

Thanks!
vettejack
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Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2019 - 01:50 AM UTC
I have this kit ordered with the plan of mating to the Holt tractor, thanx mainly due to your review. I plan to depict the British support of the Australian lines, on the morning of October 31st, 1917, by Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Chetwode. It was ordered to have the British begin artillery bombardment of the main Turkish (Ottoman) trench line in front of XX Corps (of which Chetwode commanded), along the Beersheba front, in what is now Israel. It will be a nice change to model WW1 vehicles, and to model them to a completely different theatre (who thinks of the Middle East when it comes to conversations of WW1?). Having 2 pieces to deal with, of WW1 subjects, sure changes things a lot! In your description of the 2 piece barrel, one can hope the aftermarket will catch up to this kit in the form of a turned barrel. Thanx again for the review.
saransk
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Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2019 - 04:45 AM UTC
What I've found is that there are a lot of pictures of the early marks of the 8" howitzer (I - IV) which were an expedient design, but few of the later versions. I can't find one with the howitzer being towed and having the ground platform attached as well. It would be nice to see one with the unit "on the march."

In the book "Allied Artillery of WW I" by Ian Hogg there is a picture of a late mark 8" on a platform that is just barely seen.
Most of the picture I've found seem to have them set up to fire without the platform.

I think the kit is well done and could be set in both the Western Front or in the Middle East. I also believe that they were in use by the British in North Africa. There is enough detail to avoid the need to have photoetch. With several British gun crew kits available, with some modification you can have the gun crewed.

Nice Review.
saransk
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Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2019 - 04:58 AM UTC
Hornet makes a great set of British heads in their particular pith helmet. In fact there may be two sets now. With a little modification I would think the any of the North African British gun crew kits could give you a set - I think Bronco has a NA 25 pounder crew in shorts. A little work, a new head, and you have a gun crew - Palestine 1918
taylorrl
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Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2019 - 03:54 PM UTC
John, thanks for the kind word on the review. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an after-market metal barrel also. Doing one in the Middle Eastern Theater is a great idea. Please post some photo's when you are complete.

Rick
taylorrl
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Posted: Thursday, February 07, 2019 - 04:02 PM UTC
Michael, thanks for the nice comments on the review. The platform may have been used more than we think. It was dug in flush with the ground and the muddy / dirty footprints would make it blend in with the gun pit very quickly. In a couple of photos I can make out just a bit of the platform. My intention is to model it with the platform. I have not yet found a photo of it in travel mode with the platform. I'm still looking...

Rick
vettejack
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Posted: Friday, February 08, 2019 - 12:13 PM UTC

Quoted Text

John, thanks for the kind word on the review. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an after-market metal barrel also. Doing one in the Middle Eastern Theater is a great idea. Please post some photo's when you are complete.

Rick



I'll have to consider your request to post pics...but at the moment, I'm behind my other builds by about a decade!
CMOT
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Posted: Saturday, February 09, 2019 - 05:50 AM UTC
The Following link was provided by George Moore and should provide the details you seek.
http://digital.slv.vic.gov.au/view/action/singleViewer.do?dvs=1549734344734~888&locale=en_GB&metadata_object_ratio=10&show_metadata=true&VIEWER_URL=/view/action/singleViewer.do?&preferred_usage_type=VIEW_MAIN&DELIVERY_RULE_ID=10&frameId=1&usePid1=true&usePid2=true
Halbcl2
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Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 - 04:09 AM UTC
Hi. The link appears to be broken. Any alternative?
Kevlar06
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Posted: Monday, March 25, 2019 - 04:15 AM UTC
Hmmmm... "great minds think alike". I'd like to see this link too as I'm beginning work on my BL Howitzer too. Is anyone else working on theirs? John?
VR Russ
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 03:07 AM UTC
Well, I've started my 8" BL Howitzer. And I can honestly say it's a bit of a disappointment. I found the Roden Holt Artillery Tractor not to be the disaster some claimed it was, albeit with some scraping and sanding involved, but this Artillery peice is another story altogether. There are hollow forms on the bottom of the carriage trails, the cheeks are split down their length in halves, with a nasty seam when glued together. The barrel consists of an ill-fitting inner and outer tube, split into four parts, demanding lots of sanding to get them to fit. The instructions are quite lacking for the kit too, and hard to follow-- the drawings are small and confusing.

But worst of all are the main wheels, which consist of two halves, two hubs, and vinyl strips for the "tires". The instructions are woefully inadequate and counterintuitive for these wheels, and if you are not careful, you'll assemble them "bass-ackwards". Once I figured it out, I still managed to assemble the hubs on one of my wheels backwards, which will cause me a lot of grief drilling out the interior of one side to get it to fit over the tapered axle. Add to that the vinyl "tires", which are supposed to overhang the wheels on both sides, and the entire assembly is difficult to get right-- I've already screwed up one of the wheels, and am considering striping off all the stupid vinyl and replacing everything with stip styrene, including the "treads". The wheels also lack the finess of the real thing which has hundreds of rivets holding the wheels and tires together. And, the vinyl is molded in one direction only, resulting in the same tread pattern for both wheels--even reversing it on one side won't correct it. In every photo I've seen ( but one), the tread pattern is opposite from the other wheel (except for one museum photo, I think in Finland, the tread pattern is opposite from the other wheel, which makes sense). Even the box top picture depicts it correctly (although the box top has what appears to be a late type brake, where the kit comes with an early type). . The effect of the kit wheels/tires is rather toy-like, in fact. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a quick fix.
VR, Russ
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2019 - 04:39 PM UTC
Well, I spent a good part of the day today scraping off the vinyl tires that came in the kit, sanding down the remnants (I'd used CA to make sure the vinyl stuck). Making new tires out of thin styrene sheet (a Friskars circular paper cutter works great for this) and cutting strips for the tread. I was fortunate to have exact width Evergreen on hand for each individual tread. The good thing is Roden has a diagram of the treads in the parts template inside the front cover of the instructions-- they are the exact size of the vinyl parts. As such, they can be cut out and glued right to the wheel with Tamiya thin cement, and used as a template for attaching the individual treads! To get the opposite wheel pattern, stick the tread pattern on upside down, "paint it with Tamiya thin, and before the glue dries peel off the paper, it will leave the print of the diagram right on the wheel! Putting the treads on is as easy as following the pattern! I'll add Archer rivets later. The Roden pattern of the rivets is incorrect-- four rivets held each individual pad to the wheel, Roden has them between pads. Check photos of these steel wheels for the correct views of the rivets, and you'll see Roden has left off 90% of the rivets around the rim of the wheel.

Although I'm disappointed with the way the parts are molded, I'm impressed with the engineering of the kit. Everything is there, it just needs to be cleaned up. I discovered the "cheeks" of the real gun were movable a few degrees left and right-- I didn't realize that at first, and thought I had a big gap between the cheeks and frame-- until I looked closely at photos. Pay close attention to the instructions though when building this kit, but even then, it helps to consult photos.
VR, Russ
Kevlar06
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Posted: Saturday, March 30, 2019 - 03:27 AM UTC
I've finished it! The kit is not the easiest to build, that's for sure. The instructions are incomplete, in that I found I have 4 "U" shaped parts left over on the trees, that are not mentioned in the assembly diagrams, and one "L" shaped part. Upon consulting photos of the real thing, I learned the "U" shaped parts are lifting shackles for the trail, and they have places marked out on the kit parts, but are not mentioned in the instructions, so I cemented them in place. The "L" shaped part remains unidentified. I'm not really sure if the WWI version of this Howitzer had the oil reservoir on the barrel band as the kit depicts either, but I cemented this in place anyway-- after reworking it considerably. The kit does look pretty good when assembled with the caisson and the firing base in travel positions. Combined with the Holt tractor, this model reminds me of the "20 Mule Team" Borax model that was offered in Borax ads in the early '60s-- it takes up nearly two feet of length!

My advice to any that build these kits--- study the instructions carefully, and dry fit all the parts before cementing. It helps to "refer ahead" in the instructions for positioning some details, and have some photo references available too. I don't recommend this kit for beginners either. It can be frustrating at times. Chuck the vinyl tires too if you want a more accurate model (but save the tire diagram in the kit to use as a pattern for strip styrene tires if you go this route). I didn't find it that difficult to construct new tires from styrene strip material. You need a boat load of patience when sanding, scraping and filing parts-- as that will certainly be necessary. But if you are careful, and take you time, it builds into a rewarding and impressive model.
VR, Russ
taylorrl
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Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2019 - 10:53 AM UTC
Russ,

I am working on it during the IPMS Seattle TNI's. What looked like a quick build on the sprues is turning into a challenge on the bench. I'm running into the same issues with the rubber tread for the wheels and general fit. Thanks for the idea on scratch building them from Evergreen styrene strips. Which Archer rivets did you end up using to fix the upper carriage cheeks? I need to order some and it wasn't clear from Archer's web site which would be most suitable.

I'm looking forward to seeing your build.

Thanks, Rick
Kevlar06
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Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2019 - 04:54 PM UTC
Rick,
You are in TNI? Drop me a PM. I haven't added the Archer rivets yet, as I'm not quite atthe painting stage. I plan on using Archer's larger rivets, but I don't remember the sizes, and it looks like I only have a couple of strips of a sheet left. Right now I have remnants of three sheets of rivets. I'm hoping to have this about finished for the Spring Show on April 13th. We'll see. The tires are simple to make from Evergreen strip-- once I had the concept in hand, it only took me a couple of hours to get it done. Those parts templates in the instructions were extremely helpful for this. As I mentioned, I used one template glued directly to the wheel with Tamiya thin cement, then glued the diagonal Evergreen strips directly to the paper-- it works perfectly! For the other wheel, I flipped the second template over, applied thin cement, then quickly (and carefully) removed the template while the glue was still wet-- leaving a perfect transfer of the ink directly on the wheel!.

I am a bit confused by the patterns of wheel rivets I've seen in photos on line. In some photos, it appears rivets are holding the pads in place. In others it looks like the rivets are between the pads. Yet in others there are only two rivets between the pads and there's nothing securing the pads. I belive Roden used the Finnish (Midvale Iron Works) production BL VI Howitzer at the Finnish War Museum. I think, but I'm not completely sure, those tires don't actually have any rubber pads left on them, and what we see are rivets holding the wheel together, with indented spaces where rubber should be. Also on that example, the "slant" of the rubber pads is the same direction for both wheels-- I've not found a single photo of any other BL VI with the same direction slant on the tires-- they all appear to be "mirrored" in that they are each angled uniformly inward when looking at the gun from the barrel end. I'd think a tread slant on both wheels in the same direction like the kit (and Finnish WM example) would cause the carriage to "crab" sideways more in travel mode (perhaps that doesn't matter much though). But I think there's something amuck with the wheels on the Finnish example.

I also think Roden has included the oil reservoir on the barrel which is an addition on post WWI Howitzers. The box cover art has the newer post-WWI brake system which is not in the kit (the kit has the early brake shoes inside the wheels). I suspect Roden willrelease this kit as a late version-- perhaps a British early WWII rubber tired version, or a Russo-Finnish War version. I've been studying the firing platform too, and I think Roden has it correct-- there are two parts that are cast metal, which sandwich the two wooden beams to form a triangle. At first, I thought the hollow parts in the kit should be of wood construction, but the more I look at how it would have fit together, the part that fits the trail must have been hollow to fit the beams. I think Roden has done some pretty good work on the details, but the execution of the parts is indeed frustrating.
VR, Russ
vettejack
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Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2019 - 07:36 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Hmmmm... "great minds think alike". I'd like to see this link too as I'm beginning work on my BL Howitzer too. Is anyone else working on theirs? John?
VR Russ



I have not begun work on the gun...probably moved off to the future now that I'm being made aware of the questionable orientation of the wheels. No matter however, the very subject intrigues me enough to keep hoping the aftermarket will catch up with this kit, no matter what needs to be corrected.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Monday, April 01, 2019 - 04:03 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

Hmmmm... "great minds think alike". I'd like to see this link too as I'm beginning work on my BL Howitzer too. Is anyone else working on theirs? John?
VR Russ



I have not begun work on the gun...probably moved off to the future now that I'm being made aware of the questionable orientation of the wheels. No matter however, the very subject intrigues me enough to keep hoping the aftermarket will catch up with this kit, no matter what needs to be corrected.



John,
After thinking about it overnight, I found the wheels not to be as much of a problem as I thought they would be. It was pretty simple to wrap some strip styrene around them (cut to the right width with a Friskars circular wheel paper cutter!), then some appropriate thickness/width styrene strip for the treads. The patterns in the kit part diagrams made it fairly easy. I didn't worry about the exact length of the treads either, I just cut approximate length strips, glued them on, and nipped the overhanging ends off with a side cutter. Then turned the wheel on its side against a sheet of sandpaper. The wheels and spokes are complicated enough that it might be a long while before the aftermarket catches up. I have to compliment Roden on their engineering skills to mold the spokes and hubs the way they did. It took me no more that a couple of hours of building, gluing and sanding to get them into shape, perhaps less. I watched "Twelve O'Clock High (the movie) in the background while I was building, and was done by the time the credits rolled! (Of Course I haven't added the rivets yet, since I haven't begun the painting stage).
VR, Russ
vettejack
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Posted: Monday, April 01, 2019 - 05:34 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text


Quoted Text

Hmmmm... "great minds think alike". I'd like to see this link too as I'm beginning work on my BL Howitzer too. Is anyone else working on theirs? John?
VR Russ



I have not begun work on the gun...probably moved off to the future now that I'm being made aware of the questionable orientation of the wheels. No matter however, the very subject intrigues me enough to keep hoping the aftermarket will catch up with this kit, no matter what needs to be corrected.



John,
After thinking about it overnight, I found the wheels not to be as much of a problem as I thought they would be. It was pretty simple to wrap some strip styrene around them (cut to the right width with a Friskars circular wheel paper cutter!), then some appropriate thickness/width styrene strip for the treads. The patterns in the kit part diagrams made it fairly easy. I didn't worry about the exact length of the treads either, I just cut approximate length strips, glued them on, and nipped the overhanging ends off with a side cutter. Then turned the wheel on its side against a sheet of sandpaper. The wheels and spokes are complicated enough that it might be a long while before the aftermarket catches up. I have to compliment Roden on their engineering skills to mold the spokes and hubs the way they did. It took me no more that a couple of hours of building, gluing and sanding to get them into shape, perhaps less. I watched "Twelve O'Clock High (the movie) in the background while I was building, and was done by the time the credits rolled! (Of Course I haven't added the rivets yet, since I haven't begun the painting stage).
VR, Russ



This is why this topic is in my "follow" list. I'll refer to the topic when the time arrives to build this beast. These nuggets of corrective action to this gun will be a lot easier...taking out the secondary guess work. Thanx for the inner look into this gun's accuracy.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Monday, April 01, 2019 - 10:40 AM UTC
John, Rick, et. al.,
Carlos Martin (Varanusk) has asked me to do an article on my build of these two kits for Armorama, to which I've agreed. but I'd like to get some paint on it first. Hopefully, I can write the article and get it submitted by the end of the month. I'm just putting my first coat of primer on today, and thinking about those rivets on the wheels, and whether or not I want to go to that much trouble-- I'm thinking about keeping this build as close to "out of the box" as possible. Roden has a reputation for difficult builds (I've built several of their WWI aircraft kits, and know this first hand!), but this kit is not so much "difficult" as it is tiresome in cleaning up primarily the "round" parts-- but any modeler armed with a sharp knife and sandpaper (and elbow grease)won't have too much trouble!
VR, Russ
taylorrl
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Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2019 - 06:18 AM UTC
Russ,

I ordered 2 sets of rivets from Archer - one for the double row on the upper carriage cheeks, and one for the inside of the wheel rims.

There appears to have been a bit of variation in the wheels. I have photos with 2 to 4 bolts placed between the pads and on some through the pads. The US technical manual describes the pads as metal vs rubber. I did find one WWI photo with the wheels NOT reversed. All of the others showed the tread pattern mirrored.

In looking at all of the photos and drawings in the TM's, I agree the recoil oil reservoir on the right side of the barrel was a post-WWI addition. After spending a hour super-detailing it, I'm going to have to break it off and clean up the mess...

The TM has a couple of drawings of the platform. The drawings clearly show wood grain on the beams and the cross beams at the spade. The part where the wheels rest appears to be iron plate as well as the curved guide for the spade. The drawings also show more fittings on the sides of the beams for staking them down.

I'm going to try and have mine ready for the spring show in 11 days. It will require some dedicated bench time and curbing my tendency to add detail.

Rick

vettejack
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Posted: Tuesday, April 02, 2019 - 06:48 AM UTC

Quoted Text

John, Rick, et. al.,
Carlos Martin (Varanusk) has asked me to do an article on my build of these two kits for Armorama, to which I've agreed. but I'd like to get some paint on it first. Hopefully, I can write the article and get it submitted by the end of the month. I'm just putting my first coat of primer on today, and thinking about those rivets on the wheels, and whether or not I want to go to that much trouble-- I'm thinking about keeping this build as close to "out of the box" as possible. Roden has a reputation for difficult builds (I've built several of their WWI aircraft kits, and know this first hand!), but this kit is not so much "difficult" as it is tiresome in cleaning up primarily the "round" parts-- but any modeler armed with a sharp knife and sandpaper (and elbow grease)won't have too much trouble!
VR, Russ



Nice to know! Glad you 'volunteered' to this build for all to see. It will help my 'minds eye' actually see the changes take place. One request: mention the 'part number' of any/all aftermarket products used, i.e. Archer rivets (I think I have that sheet, but want to make sure it is the same as what you mention).
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2019 - 04:10 AM UTC

Quoted Text

..... It will help my 'minds eye' actually see the changes take place. One request: mention the 'part number' of any/all aftermarket products used, i.e. Archer rivets (I think I have that sheet, but want to make sure it is the same as what you mention).




I'll do my best. As for Archer rivets, I realize now that Rick was asking about the bolts on the gun carriage, and what Archer rivets I used. The fact is I didn't use any! Roden has molded the gun "cheeks" in halves, with a twin row of prominent strapping bolts on each half. When each cheek is assembled, there is a big gap down the middle of each cheek, with a row of rivets on either side of the gap. Now, these "bolts" stand quite proud of the checks on the real thing, and Archer doesn't make bolts tall enough. A purist would assemble the cheeks, fill the gap, sand them down, and replace all the "rivets" with stretched sprue or other material. I did not do that. I took the "easy way out", assembled the cheeks, then, using Tamiya thin cement and Tamiya gray putty mixed together, filled the gap--carefully, avoiding the bolts. Then, using a specially shaped sanding stick, I sanded out the gap (well, at least to my satisfaction, as this was a "quick" build for me) right down the middle. You might note the "bolts" are mounted on an angle to each other too-- that's ok. I have a very fine tooth metal file that fit perfectly between the bolts on an angle to remove excess putty. So to answer Rick's original question, I didn't use Archer rivets for the bolts. My supply of Archer rivets has dwindled, and so I'm confining their use to the wheels of the carriage for now, and again since this is a "quick build", I'll probably be abbreviating that too-- I've found several photos of what appear to be Midvale guns with only two rivets between rubber pads so I think that's the route I'll take. As to the size of the rivets (for the wheels), they will be the large size Archer rivets as opposed to the small ones.
VR, Russ
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, April 03, 2019 - 04:23 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Russ,

I ordered 2 sets of rivets from Archer - one for the double row on the upper carriage cheeks, and one for the inside of the wheel rims.

There appears to have been a bit of variation in the wheels. I have photos with 2 to 4 bolts placed between the pads and on some through the pads. The US technical manual describes the pads as metal vs rubber. I did find one WWI photo with the wheels NOT reversed. All of the others showed the tread pattern mirrored.

In looking at all of the photos and drawings in the TM's, I agree the recoil oil reservoir on the right side of the barrel was a post-WWI addition. After spending a hour super-detailing it, I'm going to have to break it off and clean up the mess...

The TM has a couple of drawings of the platform. The drawings clearly show wood grain on the beams and the cross beams at the spade. The part where the wheels rest appears to be iron plate as well as the curved guide for the spade. The drawings also show more fittings on the sides of the beams for staking them down.

I'm going to try and have mine ready for the spring show in 11 days. It will require some dedicated bench time and curbing my tendency to add detail.

Rick




Rick, I'll see you there (At the Spring Show)! I'm not sure how I'll handle the trail platform, as Roden has made the curved rail and it's bottom part hollow-- which I already surmised was probably incorrect. I think for now I'll leave it as is, and fix it later with real wood parts. I'm displaying mine in the towed position behind the Holt 75 (I like to display my artillery with the prime mover). You managed to find a TM? Would it be possible to bring it to the show or a TNI sometime?
VR, Russ
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, April 04, 2019 - 10:43 AM UTC
So, for anyone contemplating this build, hold off if you have the patience. Rick Taylor (who wrote the in-box review) and I have agreed to write an article together about this build for Armorama. Rick lives just a little way from me, and by happenstance we are in the same casual modeling group. Rick is building his Howitzer on the firing platform, I'm building mine in the travel position behind the Holt 75 tractor. Rick also managed to get a copy of the US Ordnance manual for the Howitzer, which is very revealing with some details about the Howitzer and it's firing platform, some of which Roden got right, some of which they got wrong (different types of wheels, the recoil slide oil reservoir, the trail spade, etc). So for any of you with this model in your stash, we're going to write up our builds in conjunction with each other with some added information. Hopefully, we'll get it done by the end of April.
VR, Russ
vettejack
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Posted: Friday, April 05, 2019 - 11:11 PM UTC

Quoted Text

So, for anyone contemplating this build, hold off if you have the patience. Rick Taylor (who wrote the in-box review) and I have agreed to write an article together about this build for Armorama. Rick lives just a little way from me, and by happenstance we are in the same casual modeling group. Rick is building his Howitzer on the firing platform, I'm building mine in the travel position behind the Holt 75 tractor. Rick also managed to get a copy of the US Ordnance manual for the Howitzer, which is very revealing with some details about the Howitzer and it's firing platform, some of which Roden got right, some of which they got wrong (different types of wheels, the recoil slide oil reservoir, the trail spade, etc). So for any of you with this model in your stash, we're going to write up our builds in conjunction with each other with some added information. Hopefully, we'll get it done by the end of April.
VR, Russ



Yummy...gimmee, gimmee, gimmee!!