The M2A1 family of 105mm howitzers was the most recognizable U.S. artillery piece of WWII. It’s simple and rugged design, along with its devastating punch, was instrumental in its long and illustrious career. Eventually, dozens upon dozens of nations would adopt it as their standard field piece, a testament to its outstanding design.
However, for our purposes here in the world of styrene plastic, the 105mm gun has until recently been a sorely neglected subject. A 1980’s era release from Italeri was the only game in town until recently when we have seen releases from Dragon and AFV Club
that have used newer molding technologies to raise the bar significantly. Now hard on the heels of their first entry into the suddenly crowded world of U.S. 105mm howitzers, comes AFV Club with a second entry. Their first release of a 105mm howitzer was of the M2A1 mounted on the M2 carriage. Now they have covered all of the bases with this superlative kit of the M2A1 on the M2A2 carriage.
First, this kit is very detailed; it includes some of the most delicately molded pieces I have ever seen. Extreme care should be taken not only in building but also in simply removing parts from the sprue. Inside the sturdy box AFV Club gives us six sprues in their customary dark green plastic. Also included are two small photo-etch pieces, an aluminum gun tube, a decal sheet, and the rubber tires along with a small rubber sprue.
Most of this kit has been seen previously in the M2A1 with M2 carriage as Reviewed Here
by Ted Hayward, but it deserves repeating that this kit is stunning. Some of the highlights; one piece cradle that eliminates forever the extra work in removing the tell-tale seam, the molding for the springs in the recoil mechanism, and the inclusion of a .50 caliber ranging machine gun ( a gem in its own right).
The tires are very well done and measure out to a correct 40 inches and change in diameter and have the brand name “Firestone” as well as what appears to be, I think, the 9.00-20 size designation. (thank you Opti-visor!)
What makes this kit different from the earlier release is the change in the gun shield. The M2A2 had a modified two piece shield that offered more protection for the crew. AFV Club has molded these parts so incredibly thin that they are indeed nearly translucent, be careful or you just may cut yourself on the edge. What I really like about what AFV Club has done here is that the inner shield, the larger of the two shields, is not molded as one piece but instead consists of different parts for the folding flaps, all appropriately hinged.
Finally, a really nice touch, besides the previously mentioned ranging machine gun, is the inclusion of the myriad of small retaining chains that AFV Club has thoughtfully included as part of the photo-etch array. And I would be remiss if I did not mention that they have also included two data plates also done in photo-etch that are really the icing on the cake of a superlative effort.
Wow, it seems each new kit of this venerable old war horse just keeps setting the bar higher and higher, and this one continues that trend. Very well molded, appropriately thin, nice additions, and a decent price will make this kit a winner for years to come.