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In-Box Review
135
BL 8-Inch Howitzer
BL 8-Inch Howitzer Mk. VI
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by: Rick Taylor [ TAYLORRL ]

Introduction

The BL 8-inch howitzer Mark VI was a heavy British howitzer on a mobile carriage used during World War I. It was designed by Vickers and entered production in March 1916. It was produced by four British suppliers and by Midvale Steel in the United States. It featured a 117.7-inch-long (2.972m) built-up tube on a conventional box trail with a fixed spade at the rear of the trail.

It used a hydro pneumatic recoil system and two pneumatic counter recoil cylinders. The breach was an interrupted screw type with an Ashbury style single motion opening breach block mechanism. The distinguishing feature on the piece are its large, open spoke, all steal “traction type” wheels. The box trail allowed it to elevate to 50 degrees; but, limited it’s traverse to four degrees right and left. To overcome the limited traverse and limit displacement after firing, it employed a triangular steel and wooden firing platform which allowed the trails to be shifted 26 degrees right and left. The firing platform travelled with the piece on its own set of wheels. Like other designs up to this point it employed a limber for towing behind an artillery tractor. It weighted 8.74 tons and fired a 200-pound (91kg) high explosive projectile to a range of 10,745 yards (9,825m).

In World War I, it was used by the British, Canadian, Australian, United States, and Russian forces. At the time of the Armistice, the United States had four 24-gun coastal artillery regiments in action on the western front equipped with this weapon and an additional three regiments in training in the theatre. The Commonwealth forces had 40 6-gun batteries equipped with this weapon in action on the Western front.

Early in World War II, the United States transferred its remaining war reserve stock of howitzers to the United Kingdom under the Lend-Lease Act. Some of these were reconfigured to 7.2-inch howitzers and employed in combat by the British. The United States gave 32 American built howitzers to Finland when they were invaded by the Soviet Union. After the war, Finland put the remaining 8-inch howitzers into reserve stores until scrapped in the late 1960s.

Review

This is the first offering of this subject in 1/35th scale. Roden, of the Ukraine, released a 1/72nd scale version in 2018. Resicast offers a 1/35 BL 8-Inch Mark II in resin which was a completely different howitzer.

The production kit is packaged in a sturdy two-part box. Inside are the instructions and a small photo-etch fret sealed in plastic, and all the sprues sealed in another plastic bag. No decals are included as artillery pieces rarely had markings.

The black and white instructions are eight pages in length. The first page gives a history and statistics in English, German, and Ukrainian. Next comes the color scheme based upon Vallejo paints and diagrams showing all the sprues and part locations. The instructions are clear and provide ten steps to assemble the howitzer and carriage. An additional four steps cover the assembly of the limber and firing platform which can be assembled in firing mode or travelling mode. The painting instructions show a dark green British Expeditionary Forces example, and a US Army Expeditionary Forces example in the three-color olive, brown, and black camouflage scheme. The black and white instructions make it difficult to differentiate between the black and brown. The box art is no help as it illustrates a British example. You will have to rely upon other references to determine where the black ends and the brown begins. Printing this page in color would have resolved the confusion.

The kit consists of six sprues and a separate box trail molded in grey styrene. The metal road surface of the wheels is molded in vinyl which must be wrapped around the four-part molded wheels. The small photo-etch fret contains four data plates for attachment to the carriage. The parts count is a modest 118. The molding is straight forward – none of the slide molding or tiny delicate parts that we see on artillery pieces from other manufacturers. The bolt and rivet details are crisply molded. There is a small amount of flash on a handful of pieces and noticeable mold parting lines that will have to be carefully scraped and sanded off. A handful of the parts, mostly on the optional firing platform and limber exhibit sink marks. Ejector pin marks are mostly hidden by assembly. The barrel and upper carriage are two-part assemblies and will require careful filling and sanding to eliminate the seams. The breach block is a very simple molding – only three parts compared to ten on another manufacturer’s kit that uses the same style of breach block.

Sprue and part count break out:

A – 15 Barrel, lower carriage & spade
B – 31 Upper carriage, breach block, and trail details
C – 19 Limber and firing platform
D – 21 (x2) Wheels
E – 4 Firing platform and limber
F – 1 Box trail
G – 2 Wheel treads
P – 4 Photo-etch placards

Conclusion

This kit should be a fast, easy, and enjoyable build – no tiny flying parts, or parts so delicate that they break or bend when removing them from the sprue. Congratulations to Roden for tackling this overlooked yet important subject. It fills a hole in everyone’s collection of World War I artillery pieces. This kit was purchased by the author.
SUMMARY
Highs: Quick, easy built. One-of-a-kind subject.
Lows: Black and white painting guide.
Verdict: Recommended
Percentage Rating
85%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 813
  PUBLISHED: Feb 06, 2019
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 85.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 87.07%

About Rick Taylor (taylorrl)
FROM: WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES

I am a retired US Army Artillery Officer. I model 1:35 scale artillery and am focused on artillery used by US forces from 1900 to present.

Copyright ©2019 text by Rick Taylor [ TAYLORRL ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

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.
FEB 06, 2019 - 01:50 AM
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.
FEB 07, 2019 - 04:45 AM
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
FEB 07, 2019 - 04:58 AM
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
FEB 07, 2019 - 03:54 PM
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
FEB 07, 2019 - 04:02 PM
I'll have to consider your request to post pics...but at the moment, I'm behind my other builds by about a decade!
FEB 08, 2019 - 12:13 PM
The Following link was provided by George Moore and should provide the details you seek. LINK
FEB 09, 2019 - 05:50 AM
   

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