The M108 and later M109 series of howitzers have been in service since the early 1960s with the M108 105mm version first being the initial one. The M109 was first introduced in 1963 as the standard 155mm US Howitzer. Both the M108 and the M109 share the same chassis and tracks, the T-136 track. This track was used on all subsequent M109 series howitzers through the M109A5.
For the newest version, the M109A6 Paladin, an improved track was used, the T-154 track. The T-154 track moved the center guide horn forward on the track pad and reduced flanges on the face in front of the rubber pad as wear markers to indicate when to exchange the rubber pad for new ones. The same tracks are used on the M992 series of ammo carriers based on the M109 chassis as well. The tracks on the M992s changed with which type of vehicle they were supporting, either M109A3-A (T-136) or M109A6 Paladin (T-154).
On the heels of their forthcoming M109A6 Paladin, Riich Model brings us two individual-link plastic track sets to upgrade the different versions of M108 and M109 Howitzers on the market. These two sets are correct for all versions of the above howitzers. The T-156 M109A6 Paladin set is the first correct set for the Paladin on the market as well.
The tracks are packaged in sturdy paper-card boxes with assembly illustrations on the back of each box. Inside, you get 6 sprues containing the track pad inner and outer pieces and the connector pieces that containing the connector rods and end connectors as one piece. This gives you 180 track pads per box. It takes approximately 80 links per side, or 160 per howitzer. This leaves you with about 20 extra links per box.
The tracks are very nicely moulded with no flash and crisp lines. Assembly is simple with the connector rods being enclosed between the two track pad halves. This allows each pad to articulate so they will conform to the road wheels or terrain without issue.
The T-136 tracks for M108s and M109A1-A5s are very nicely moulded with the correct position for the center guide horn in the center of the track pad and the wear bar around the entire outer track pad, outlining it. Compared to the AFV Club ind-link tracks of the same mark, they are on par in mold quality. These may be easiest to assemble, but have more parts. Also, AFV Club's set provide spare track pads with retaining bolts and plates to mount them to the hull. The Riich Model sets do not include these.
The T-154 tracks for the M109A6 Paladin and its M992A2 ammo carriers are the first in plastic for this version as well. They are properly molded with the guide horn on the forward portion of the track pad and the smaller metal wear flanges o their face. These will look great on their forthcoming M109A6 Paladin.
Highs: Very nice sets that will allow you to update and add extra details to you M108 and M109 models. Lows: No spare tracks pieces with bolts and attachment plates.Verdict: A couple of very welcomed sets, especially the Paladin set. If these are any indication to the level of detail and quality of the forthcoming M109A6 Paladin by Riich Model, we are all in for a treat.
Our Thanks to Riich Models! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Gino P. Quintiliani (HeavyArty) FROM: FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
Retired US Army Artillery Officer, currently a contractor at MacDill AFB in the Tampa, FL area. I have been modelling for the past 40+ years, really seriously on armor and large scale helos (1/32, 1/35) for the last 35 or so.