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In-Box Review
135
British 25-pdr Field Gun
British 25-pdr Field Gun Mk. II w/Limber & Crew
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

Certain weapons become iconic for a nation or war, and for me, one of the real icons of World War Two is the British 25 pounder field gun. Manufactured by Royal Ordnance, a concern that began back in the 16th Century, it served the armies of the mother country, and the Commonwealth, and soldiers-on into the present with Pakistan's army.

But if you want to evoke the British Eighth Army in the deserts of North Africa, think of the squared-off snout of a 4x4 Field Artillery Tractor (known as a "Quad") pulling a QF 25 pounder and you're there.

The 25 pounder (also known as the 25-pdr) gun was developed prior to WW2 as a single replacement for the First World War's 18 pounder and 4.5" howitzers, combining direct and indirect fire capabilities in a platform that could be towed easily, and yet deliver a knockout punch. That punch came from variable-charge ammunition with separate shell and cartridge propellant charges, giving gunners a range of HE, AP, smoke and other options.

So it's not surprising that Allied modelers have been excited about both Dragon and Bronco releasing versions of the 25 pounder. One difference in the Dragon kit is the inclusion of a six-man crew, with the anticipation of having a British Eighth Army diorama-in-a-box ready to go. It doesn't quite work out that way....

the kit

Inside the usual Dragon box with an excellent Ron Volstad cover illustration are:

5 sprues of light gray plastic
four DS tires
1 small fret of PE
a tiny sheet of decals
4 page instruction & painting guide

the review

The kit depicts the Mark II variant, which was the standard throughout the war and for years afterwards in places like India and Pakistan. This is the Early War version without the muzzle brake added in 1942 for greater precision and stability. It's an unfortunate decision by Dragon, as it would have been preferable to offer the brake as an option (as Bronco does) as part of a 2-in-1 kit. Modelers are limited to North Africa or India and perhaps Malaya; you can't really model this gun post-Normandy without a brake (and a counterweight that was placed on the trail).

Dragon probably figured that most consumers who buy this kit with its shirtless crew will be planning on a Western Desert scenario. If you want a later time frame, you'll have to pick the Bronco kit, which will be joined shortly by a beret-wearing crew in non-tropical uniforms. Perhaps someone will offer the brake and counterweight as an after-market option at some point?

AM companies will have many options for improving this kit. The slide molding on the barrel has eliminated any need for gluing halves together (there is a tiny seam mark that should clean up with minimal risk of spoiling the shape), and the splinter shield and many of the smaller parts are crisply-molded with no flash detected. They're also thin enough they don't call out for a PE replacement as in many gun kits.

But Darren Baker will address some serious shortcomings, mistakes and simplifications in a build feature of the two guns.

Dragon could have given us a fully-opening limber chest, which held 32 rounds and had brakes for towing (the gun only had a hand brake). While it's nicely-rendered with the option of its doors open for firing or closed for transit, only two of the trays can be shown in the open position, and the only ammunition option is HE. The DS tires are a welcome relief from trying to coax styrene 2-piece wheels into acceptable shape, and the tread is accurate, though I don't know if accurate for the time period or perhaps later (the guns are still used by the Pakistani Army).

But even though the gun and limber are better than the ancient Tamiya version, they're not sufficiently better to justify a price almost 2x higher. The breech can be shown in the open or closed position, for example, but there is no opening to show a shell going into the breech (the barrel part blocks it). There are small, but annoying omissions, too, such as missing hooks on the ground plate that were used to lift it into the stowed position for transit (lifted by a chain that's missing, too). You can see the hooks on the photo at right from Darren's fine walkaround for the Keren Gun.

THE CREW:
I detest artillery kits without crews, since there are too few stand-alone figure sets devoted to the Queen of the Battlefield. The crew set provided for this gun is 2/3 shirtless, as befits men working in the desert heat, and are a huge improvement over the Tamiya set from 30 years ago. Unfortunately, their helmets are incorrect for North African service, and are more like the wide-brimmed Home Guard lids, and even then are too wide. The molding on the body parts is sharp, if not particularly detailed. Adding some Hornet heads with the right "lids" should solve the helmet problem, unless you're up for refashioning the kit's tin hats to make them smaller in circumference.

painting & decals

The painting guide gives two options:

The famous "Unidentified Unit" (this time from the Eighth Army, North Africa 1941-1943) in dark yellow
Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (England 1940) in olive drab

The latter was the first unit to receive the Mark II. The decals are all for shell markings.

conclusion

The old Tamiya 25 pounder is long overdue for retirement, so this kit is a welcome upgrade. Unfortunately, I can't rave about its accuracy or completeness. The problems aren't severe, and can be remedied. But with a premium price tag, it's disappointing you can't build this gun OOB and end up with a totally accurate version. I don't want to be forced to add details or things like a length of chain. If you don't mind those challenges or can pick up this kit for less than full price, then it will be an improvement over the old Tamiya version.
SUMMARY
Highs: Crisp molding, to-scale splinter shield and other thin parts, including the handspike releases (though no guide holes to place them). Crew included!
Lows: No muzzle brake for later-war options. Helmets wrong. Instructions murky in spots. Missing details like lift hooks on the ground plate. Is this a reboxing of the Tamiya kit?
Verdict: Will go well with Tamiya's Morris "Quad" or by itself in a North African diorama, but could have been so much better.
  ACCURACY:50%
  BUILDABILITY:85%
  INSTRUCTIONS:60%
Percentage Rating
65%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 6675
  Suggested Retail: $40
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Feb 12, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.19%

About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright 2017 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Thanks Bill , That was a good review. I still think DML did the right thing to bring out the early version with the crew. Even with the higher price tag the detail of the 25 pounder is by far the best offering than the 30 something Tamiya kit More than likely having announced the latest release of the Sexton they may be looking at a later variant 25 pounder as well . Thanks Michael
FEB 12, 2012 - 01:48 AM
Sorry Michael I am in the process of doing a build review of both the Bronco and DML offering and the Bronco kit is much better. Both kits have faults and room for improvement, but the only place I see DML beating Bronco is that they have the hand spike correctly placed when the gun is in a firing position and have included the pick axe head correctly placed. The DML kit also requires far less ability to build being a 2 or 3 day kit build with out too much effort. The Bronco kit is a much more involved build that will test your abilities and eye sight but will build into in my opinion a finer looking product. As I said earlier there is plenty of room for the after market suppliers to add extra goodies for both kits. In Bronco's case they need two photo etched brackets for the hand spikes and ideally two separate hands spikes, it will also need a pick axe head with the bracket details. Both kits have not supplied the ground plate locking handles as an open or closed offering and from memory both have supplied the handles as they would look when the ground plate was stored (from memory) they also need the 2 lifting chains for these handles in both cases. For me the biggest let down of the DML product is the inability to show the breach in an open position as the barrel locator fills the void where the shell would be placed. The sliding breach opening handle on the DML kit is shown in the same position for an open or closed breach and locating lugs on the rear of the handle would require some filling on the breach and minor surgery on the handle, however as I said the open breach on the DML kit exposes a plugged breach. The DML kit is by far a much easier kit to build and will I suspect attract some for that facet alone and I will not criticise any one for that reason. The Bronco kit is much more involved and should be the better looking of the two models. Included is a full load of ammunition and provides Anti tank, HE and possibly smoke (which I need to check into more). The No 27 ammunition trailer from Bronco is a much better product as every tray can be opened, stacked, or however you wish to display it also the handles for moving the trailer by hand can be opened or closed and are accurately rendered, unfortunately DML has these handles as a single moulding in the open position which would be accurate for an in action setting only It could be argued that with the DML kit you get a gun crew in the box which is a valid point and despite some who feel the crew is overly (Buff) I think they are a good product even with the helmets looking as if some surgery will be required. The problem with the gun crew is that the kit is designed for the desert war and the gun crew is shown in a 1944 gun drill positions, its minor and I am sure will not matter to most. The biggest issue between the 2 products is I am afraid price with the Bronco product now being 8 to 10 cheaper than the DML product in the UK (rest of the world may vary) and for that price difference I will get my own gun crew.
FEB 12, 2012 - 04:02 AM
Thanks for the review Bill. Given the price tag I'll stick with the Brocno offering which gives more finish options. It is alwasy good to see choice available on the market and I'm sure the DML kit will appeal to many. It will be interesting to see if Bronco produce a crew or crews for their version, they certainly seem to be moving in the right direction with a 17pdr and Bofors crew now available. Cheers Al
FEB 12, 2012 - 06:14 AM
Thanks Darren, It will be interesting to see the comparisons between the 2 kits . I have not ordered my 25 pounder gun yet. This review has made my decision to lean toward the Bronco gun . Michael
FEB 12, 2012 - 01:38 PM
Michael it really does depend on what you want for your money as both kits are reasonably accurate in what they include with DML being easy and quick to build at the expense of detail, where as Bronco has so many parts (3 PE frets for starters) That it is a very involved build that really will put you to the test. As someone who was really looking forward to this release from DML I am disappointed in the contents. Due to my workload I aim to have the DML build submitted for Sunday 19th the Bronco kit will take considerably longer.
FEB 12, 2012 - 02:29 PM
Bronco have already released a crew I picked a set up in my LHS on friday- they're really good
FEB 12, 2012 - 04:01 PM
Thanks for reminding me Pat, I knew they were working on one but hadn't realised the set had been released. Will we see a desert crew being the question? Cheers Al
FEB 12, 2012 - 04:17 PM
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