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In-Box Review
135
M109A2 Howitzer
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by: Adam Tai [ ADAM4445 ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

The M109 series became the hottest subject in late 2012. Besides the re-issue of the Italeri one, Kinetic had issued the M109A6 a couple of months before, and Riich will launch the M109A6 as well. AFV Club just released the M109A2 on the market a week ago, and I am very pleased to have this available for review.

The M109 family is a self-propelled 155 mm howitzer, which is considered as the most common indirect-fire support weapon of its time. Although it has been replaced by more advanced systems in some countries (the British Army replaced its M109s with the AS-90 and some European countries replaced the M109s with the German PzH 2000). The latest model, M109A6 Paladin, remains the principal self-propelled howitzer in the U.S. army for the foreseeable future.

contents

I like the “BIG GUN” and the M109 is one of my favorites (the other one is M110). AFV Club chose the M109A2, I think, because the Taiwanese army is equipped with this variant (both A2 & A5, and to be upgraded to A6 in future). The kit is molded in olive green.

Sprue A (there are two of these) contains the wheels (road, driver, and idler) and suspension system. The high light to this sprue is the torsion-bar suspension. On the real vehicle, the rubber tire is wrapped to the steel wheel smoothly, in the model it has a clear step between the two, which I think is for facilitating the paint work.

Sprue B (there are two of these) contains the detail pieces on the upper hull such as the front light, handles and shovel.

Sprue C has other detail pieces on the upper hull such as hatches, engine intake and rear light.

Sprue D consists of the rear section (chamber mostly) of the main gun and details of the gun bolt with its mount (a separate metal barrel is included).

Sprue E is the main parts of upper hull.

Sprue F consists of the main parts of the upper and lower hull.

Sprue G is the clear pieces, which are collimator aiming device and the lens for lights and fire control telescope.

Sprue H is the rubber part for gun mount cover.

Sprue O is the main part of the turret.

Sprue P (there are two of these) &Q are the detail parts on the turret which includes the hatches, ammo storage compartment and the tools attached to the turret, along with the main gun support mechanism.

Sprue X is the parts of assembly for the .50 caliber M2 machine gun.

Sprue Y consists of the additional M3 tripod for the .50 cal machine gun.

Metal barrel

PE mesh for the exhaust

Rubber band tracks

review

The box art has the consistent style from AFV club, but on the side it shows the special features in this model, which are

1. Torsion-bar suspension on the road wheels.
2. Recoil movement.
3. Operable bolt of the main gun.
4. Retractable shovel.
5. Aluminum barrel.

I didn't have the chance to compare the two latest M109 (AFV Club and Kinetic), but compared to the Italeri one, the AFV M109A2 has almost twice the amount of pieces. Like most of the models from AFV Club, it is designed for experienced modelers.

When opening the instruction booklet, we immediately see how sophisticated it is. If you feel a lack of challenge on making the Italeri one then this is absolutely the one you should try. On the 3rd page, there are drawings to give an overview on the family of M109. I'm reminded that the Stryker kits have the similar drawings, maybe AFV Club will issue the other variants later just like Stryker.

As usual the build starts from the lower hull and the wheel system. The workable torsion-bar suspension is the highlight of the model. As I mentioned above, the obvious step between rubber tire and steel wheel which does not faithfully replicate the real one, but the up side is that it is convenient for the modeler at the painting stage.

The hull looks good with plenty of details. Lights, telescopes for driver and fire control are all provided with clear parts. The driver hatch, gun support, and shovel are operable.

The turret also follows the same level of detail of the hull. The hatch for the commander and gunner are workable and the telescope of the fire control can be rotated. The most appreciated point of this model is the gun, not just with the metal barrel, but also with the recoil mechanism, and the gun, including the mount and bolt, are replicated nicely.

For the .50 caliber M2 machine gun, AFV Club did an excellent job on this item in the past. And this time it moves one step forward. There are two kinds of gun barrels with different muzzles that can be selected. The additional M3 tri-pod is provided for the modeler providing an alternative to display the gun.

Conclusion

AFV did a great job on this kit. If you like the Stryker and Churchill they issued you will love this one, which keeps the same level of quality.
It will be further appreciated if the interlink track is provided and workable with the suspension. It is definitely recommended.
SUMMARY
Highs: Nicely detailed, choice of M2 mg and display options. Metal barrel sweetens the deal.
Lows: Wheel/tire combo not completely accurate.
Verdict: Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
92%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AF35109
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 03, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 93.33%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.65%

About Adam Tai (adam4445)
FROM: TAIPEI, TAIWAN / 台灣

Copyright ©2017 text by Adam Tai [ ADAM4445 ]. 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

Not in the States just yet.
JAN 03, 2013 - 09:08 AM
Looks like a beautiful kit. I hope AFV Club does a stock M-109 and maybe even an M-108.
JAN 03, 2013 - 10:08 AM
Any info on the marking options?
JAN 03, 2013 - 12:29 PM
Four Marking Options: Egyptian Army Sand Portuguese Army Olive Drab U.S. Army VI/11 CAV - HOW 18 NATO Camo, 5th Corp 1/11 Armored Cav Squadron, Germany I ^ I-22-F - C-41 MERDC Camo, 1st Armored DIV, 1/22 Field Artillery, Germany (^ is an open triangle for Armored)
JAN 03, 2013 - 01:44 PM
Robert, based on your post I checked my kit and fit two wheel halves together. It creates a nice undercut rim when assembled. It looks just like this: LINK KL
JAN 03, 2013 - 08:03 PM
That's great news then. I really couldn't tell from the photos but I was hoping someone would finally get them right. So...How's that tire demarcation line? Is it too noticeable?
JAN 03, 2013 - 10:10 PM
This is looking good. After the Kinetic A2, which I deem my personal Disapointment of the Year, I am much looking forward to this. I thought the tires of the Kinetic kit were pretty good, so maybe a kitbash is in order, as I will very likely not finish the Kinetic product. Most of the German online traders offer pre-order deals. None of them has issued an availability date, yet, but seeing the sprues definitely raises my confidence! Chesrs, Guido
JAN 04, 2013 - 03:12 AM
Here LINK the real ones look to go from flush to the metal disk being slightly above the tire. The cross-sectional drawing of the 11636140 roadwheel shows that the metal should be nominally higher, but with the roadwheel disk curving under the rubber there really shouldn't be an edge. The kit parts are slightly proud of the surface with a soft edge, less than .010 I'd say. Within reason for my purposes, but easily removable if that's your desire. KL
JAN 04, 2013 - 09:02 AM
I'm so glad that three of these kits are coming to me from Lucky Model now I agree with Taylor about the Kinetic kit
JAN 04, 2013 - 05:06 PM
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