by: Mario Matijasic [ ]
First fielded in 1962, the M108 was a replacement for the troubled M52 self-propelled howitzer. Developed from the T195 self-propelled gun testbed (which itself was later further-developed into the 155mm T196 six months later), the M108 was intended to be the short-ranged component of a new generation of US Army self-propelled artillery, alongside the 155mm M109, the 203mm M110, and the 175mm M107. Although effective in combat during the Vietnam War, the M108 was considered lacking in lethality compared to larger howitzers, and it was gradually phased out of service from the US military in the early 1970s, being replaced by M109s in US service.
Developed from the T196, the M109 is basically a M108 with a bigger 155mm gun. The first M109s entered service with the US Army in 1963. Several upgrades to the cannon, ammunition, fire control, survivability, and other electronics systems over the design's lifespan have expanded the system's capabilities, producing numerous M109 variants. The M109 family is the most common Western indirect-fire support weapon of armored and mechanized infantry divisions.
Wings & Wheels Publications (WWP) is a small publishing company from Czech Republic. WWP produces photographic reference books for modelers, jam-packed with large and detailed images showing every aspect of a particular vehicle. WWP's range is broad, covering everything from military tracked and wheeled vehicles, artillery, airplanes, helicopters, to individual weapons and accessories. This review covers one of WWP's latest titles: M108/109 SPH in Detail.
Here are the basic facts on the book:
Title: M108/109 SPH in Detail (M108 & M109 A1/2 US Self-Propelled Howitzers)
Publisher: Wings & Wheels Publications
Authors: Jan Horαk, Frantiek Kořαn
Format: softcover (22x24 cm)
Color: full color
Retail Price: $33 (27)
The book is printed on high-quality paper and consists of 108 pages filled with over 390 large color photos and diagrams. The book covers M108, M109, M109A2 and Dutch M109A2-90, and provides an ideal reference for all those modeling M108 or early M109 versions.
The book is organized in 15 chapters which are color coded on the page edges, allowing easy navigation:
M108 Turret Details (026-035)
M109 Turret Details (036-045)
Engine Details (056-065)
Gearbox Details (066-069)
Hull Interior (070-075)
M108 Hull Interior (076-079)
M108 Turret Interior (080-085)
M109 Hull Interior (086-087)
M109 Turret Interior (088-090)
M109A2 Turret Interior (091-101)
M108 / M109 Sights (102-105)
M108 / M109 Swimming Kit (106-107)
The first chapter, Introduction, gives short info on history and development of the M108 / M109, adding some technical details and designating different vehicle variants. The Walkaround chapter gives a detailed overview of vehicle hull, showing front hull details like headlights, battery cases, driver's hatch, gearbox and engine hatches, radiator grille, fuel and water cap details, as well as rear hull details. This chapter also includes suspension and track details. M108 Turret Details chapter follows, displaying M108 turret exterior; turret side doors, turret rear doors and equipment baskets, 50. cal gun mount and commander's cupola, the retractable and pivoting optical sight cover, and barrel. M109 Turret Details chapter gives details on the M109 turret exterior with the original M126 version 23L barrel. M109A2 turret exterior is included in this chapter as well, providing details on various gear stowed on the turret, M117 artillery telescope cover and 39L barrel. Dutch M109A2-90 chapter comes next, with photos and info on this vehicle variant, showing several modernization differences to the original vehicle. Engine Details and Gearbox Details chapters display the engine compartment details with large photos and several drawings and diagrams showing various engine and gearbox assemblies in great detail. Next up is Hull Interior which gives an overview of various hull interior details, particularly the instrument panels and driver's compartment. M108 Hull Interior and M108 Turret Interior chapters follow, providing details of the M108 fighting compartment with ammo racks and loader's seat, as well as M103 gun breech details, direct fire telescope, turret side walls and roof. M109 Hull Interior, M109 Turret Interior, M109A2 Turret Interior are next, giving a detailed overview of M109 inner parts: air cleaners, heater and ammo racks, as well as M126 gun details, turret side walls with gunner's station and commander's post, rear turret ammo rack and roof details. Together with engine detail chapters, these interior chapters are a real treat for anyone planning to show the insides of their models! M108 / M109 Sights chapter provide details on M117 fire panoramic telescope, M1/M1A1 collimator and M118 fire sight. Finally, a short chapter on M108 / M109 Swimming Kit shows couple of photos and several drawings of vehicle flotation kit.
Having an amazing 1/35 scale M109A2 from AFV Club in my stash, I was really looking forward to WWP's "photo manual for modelers" dealing with this beast. Now that I have the book in my hands, I'm not only eager to start with my model, but it also got me contemplating on buying the resin interior and engine sets for M109A2... The reason? This book features about 390 high-resolution, large color photos showing every aspect of M108 / M109 A1/A2 inside and out. The details of these vehicles covered by this book would make the most passionate rivet counter modelers like me extremely happy, as this sort of reference book provides everything a modeler needs for building the super-accurate M108 / M109 A1/A2.
WWP books are designated as a "photo manuals for modelers" and they really provide a great resource for scale modelers. The M108/109 SPH in Detail (G040) is no exception to this rule. The book features tons of high-resolution images and is an amazing reference for all those modeling M108 or early M109 versions. A big plus is also the info supplied in the book; the introduction gives interesting details on the origins and development of the vehicle, while the brief captions provide a very informative read, explaining various details presented in the photos.