The sIG 33 (for schwere Infanterie Geschütz
or “heavy infantry howitzer”) was first developed in 1927, and became the standard infantry support gun of the German army in WW II. At 15cm it was larger than any other infantry gun, and could fire a range of ammunition, including the bunker-busting Stielgranate
42 demolition round. Its powerful punch led to it being mounted on a variety of gun platforms as well, including Pz. I, II, and the Czech-designed Pz. 38(t). CyberHobby has already released a kit recreating the horse-drawn version, with its characteristic wooden wheels. Now DML has added a towed version with pressed metal wheels, rubber tires and brakes. With over 4,500 sIG 33s built by 1945, it is an important addition to the modeler’s stash of German artillery.
To go with the kit, one of the fast-rising new after-market accessory manufacturers, China's OrangeHobby, has released a brass turned replacement barrel. Their PE sets hitting the market right now are generally superb, and now they're making moves into the AM barrel market as well. The latest is this brass (instead of aluminum) turned barrel for the DML and CH sIG 33 kits.
The barrel and a small fret of PE with the attachment ring for the base are packed in the usual OH Ziploc baggie, along with a small diagram showing how to mount the barrel on the kit parts.
Hey, what can you say about a replacement barrel? Either it fits, or it doesn’t, is accurate to length or isn’t, etc. Oh, and then there’s the price: some of the AM barrels just aren’t worth the cost. The OH version is touting its rifling and a correct shape. One of the negatives of Dragon and CyberHobby metal barrels is an almost total lack of rifling. And with a gun having this large a bore, the absence of rifling becomes even more-noticeable, especially if the breech is in the open position for loading.
But the problem is that in this case, the CyberHobby and DML sIG 33s both have
Fortunately, the news for OH isn't all bad: as usual, the rifling (and the bore) in the DML barrel only extend a few millimeters with the rest of the barrel solid metal. OrangeHobby’s barrel has done Dragon and CyberHobby one better by having the bore extend down the entire length of the barrel. After all, with such a short muzzle, the sIG 33 is perfect for showing the gun being loaded with an open breech.
Unfortunately, OH missed a chance to be truly exceptional by extending the rifling all the way, instead of only 5mm down the bore. The PE attachment ring is a nice touch no one else seems to offer, but beyond that, what you see is what you get: a nice barrel (in brass instead of aluminum).
I suspect the only reason OrangeHobby has gone into the barrel business is to offer its Asian customers a locally-made alternative to Aber and RB Model (hence cheaper because of shipping from Europe for both of them). While this barrel is very good, I can’t recommend it with as much enthusiasm as I could if the rifling had been all the way down the bore. I hope OrangeHobby will look for ways to make its products truly distinctive and not just alternatives as it has done with its PE sets.
UPDATE: A built review of Dragon mechanized version of the sIG 33 using the OH barrel can be seen here.