The Six Inch Howitzer was an important member in a line of British medium field guns first developed in the late 1800s and improved-on during World War One. It was officially known as the Ordnance BL 6 Inch 26cwt Howitzer
because the "business end" of the gun weighed 26 hundredweight (about 1 1/3 tons). Over 20 million rounds were fired during the war by this workhorse of the field artillery. Originally drawn by a team of horses, it was improved with rubber-rimmed wooden wheels for towing by the 3 ton lorry.
During the period between the World Wars, it was upgraded with actual tires for mechanized towing behind, but otherwise changed relatively little. With British armaments research taking a back seat to cost-cutting (some would argue it was no longer even in the vehicle), it's not surprising that the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) sailed off for France in 1940 with an arsenal of weapons often outmoded and generally unsuited for the coming high-speed conflict. Its chief field gun was the same 6 Inch Howitzer as had accompanied Tommies to the Fields of Flanders and the Somme in 1916.
The BL 6 was phased out following the introduction in 1942 of the BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun, but it was a fixture of the Battle of France and North Africa. So it's fitting the Belgian resin manufacturer Resicast
has released a full resin kit of this important piece (already reviewed on Armorama here
Inside the usual Resicast
paperboard box you will find:
1 resin trail piece
11 Ziploc baggies filled with yellowish cream-colored resin parts totaling 78 pieces
20-page A5-sized booklet
After having reviewed over 200 kits from multiple manufacturers, I've come to see that no kit is ever perfect. For that reason I was particularly excited about the chance to review a Resicast
full resin kit, as I had been sorely disappointed in a 3" mortar carrier kit I purchased myself
. Resicast has its fans, and I was not among them after having wrestled with a kit that lacked adequate instructions. When this 6" howitzer kit showed up recently in my mailbox, I was eager to see if it was as good as another reviewer has indicated previously
The kit was well-packed for transatlantic shipping, and all the parts appear to have survived the crossing. The casting is immediately apparent as very crisp, but what I particularly liked is the sensible design that uses "whole" parts instead of forcing the modeler to wrestle with sub-assemblies. While styrene lends itself to this process, resin can be cranky during assembly of multiple pieces; CA glue dries quickly, and is unforgiving of mistakes. Neither does it lend itself to jigs or taping, so "trueing" the corners of boxes, trails and other squared-off components can be tricky.
has given the modeler a one-piece trail (A1) avoiding the danger of misaligned parts. Ditto the saddle, which slides onto the forward portion of the trail, the cradle (which requires only the end cap), and the trail blade (one piece except for resin grab handles). The barrel is also a single piece (with a small open end attached and of course, the breech).
The rubber tires are beautifully-cast with no obvious "pour" holes or plugs to mar the finely-detailed tread. The tires are impossibly new and unworn, so you might want to run a little sandpaper or emery cloth over the outer portion to reduce that newness, unless you're looking to replicate a spanking-new field piece.
casting technique shines as well in its rendering of the small tools included in the kit. Observe caution in handling the wee parts, including separating them from their sprues. Pieces are readily identified by numbers on the sprue base, and an overall parts guide in contained on p.1 of the assembly instructions. And those who dislike "fiddly bits" will be relieved to know there is no photo etch needed nor included.
Ah, yes, Resicastís
sometimes notorious assembly instructions: earlier instructions occasionally left a lot to be desired, and the manufacturer has told me it has been a learning curve for them as the company evolved a proper balance of photos (expensive to reprint) vs. written instructions (easy to get wrong). The ones included with this kit are fairly straightforward, with generous use of black & white photos. The only challenging portion might be the many tiny parts and wheels that make up the sights: there are two of them, one a flat plate, the other a wheel. Check your references before proceeding.
Overall, this is an excellent kit with few negatives. There are no markings or painting guide, and the included ammunition isn't enough to recreate a fire base; it's more of a suggestion than a solution, which is a pity, since there is no readily-available source of ammunition from other manufacturers. There is also no muzzle cover from what I can see, despite the need for one if the gun is in travel mode. Finally, it's unfortunate there is currently no readily-available, reasonably-priced prime mover for the gun, but that's not the fault or shortcoming of this fine kit. Sources indicate either the Scammel gun tractor or Matador lorry were the preferred means of towing the BL 6, and good luck finding one currently at any price.
Overall, this is an excellent kit, though a bit expensive at Ä70. Still, for those who love BEF or North Africa subjects, this should be a welcome addition to their collections. And given the recent spate of styrene British truck kits hitting the market, I'm hopeful a reasonable Matador will join the field shortly.
Thanks to Resicast for this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.