The OTO Melara 105 mm Mod 56 is a light-weight howitzer that began its life in the 1950s and is still in service with several armies.
I has a number of unique features, like being able to be easily disassembled in 12 parts for transport, capability to be used in direct fire or be towed by a light vehicle such as a jeep or transported in one piece by an helicopter.
These characteristics have made it very popular among popular light artillery units in many countries as well as the more specialized mountain and airborne troops. In fact it has been used by more than 30 countries of the five continents, and has seen combat in several conflicts like Vietnam, Nigeria or the Falklands.
WIP 3D offers this kit as a 3D printed model, at 1/35 and 1/72 scales. This review focuses on the 1/35 version, received as a sample.
The kit has reference number 35046 and comes in a rigid cardboard box with top lid. Inside, there are several ziplock bags protected by foam and one folded A4 sheet with the instructions. Package is correct and should adequately protect the kit.
The instructions are more an exploded view, with parts separated, than traditional instructions. Despite there are three views on this page, it requires some attention to correctly identify where a couple of parts go.
There are also five views of the finished model on the back side, plus two in transport mode.
The parts have been printed on a light grey resin and are delivered still attached to the trees. The detail is crisp and there are almost no faults, parts are flat, straight and smooth and free of banding -the breakout and different angles of the parts when printing show a good planning to maximise the printing quality. Resin used is hard but not brittle and stands well manipulation, even small parts do not seem fragile.
Only the wheels' arms show some subtle banding, but it is very easy to get rid of it with a half-round file, and the supports of the shield came kind of frosted and required some sanding.
On the other hand, the gun barrel comes in one piece and is absolutely perfect, being smooth and hollow. The muzzle brake fins are nicely reproduced as well.
As usual on 3D printing processes, trees supporting the parts are numerous and sometimes wrap around it. In this case. contact points are small so it is very easy to remove them. It will be necessary to clean the nods left, using a blade, file or sand paper. Apart from this, there are no seams or marks to clean.
The wheels are the exception, with a large number of trees covering about 1/3 of the circumference, so part of the visible thread is affected.
There are several options for the model, it can be shown at different degrees of elevation and rotation, in transport or firing mode, with the shield on or off, or using the extension trails or not.
The kit has no clear parts or decals, as they are not needed. These guns usually have no markings.
It comes also with alternative parts for further options, like two shields with and without tools, and sight installed or not. The towing attachment is a separated part as well.
The kit has two shells plus two containers.
Part count is reasonable, with few parts. Most of them fit well but a couple will need some trim for a better fit. Specifically, the base of the cradle requires adjustment and the wheels need to be drilled to insert the shafts.
There is an excellent and helpful walkaround at http://olivier.carneau.free.fr/photoengins/italie/otomelara_m56/index.htm , useful to check position of parts and add any detail if wanted.
The trail parts fit perfectly, and the shield arms, which usually are a problematic area, go smoothly in place.
Once all parts are clean and adjusted as required, assembly is quite simple. It can be glued with CA and the kit is ready in a short time. There is some room for superdetailing, should you wish so, with a few details missing like the link between the two halves of the shield or the elevation roller under the barrel.
This is a nice kit of a well known artillery piece, easy to build and with plenty of options. Includes two shells for a diorama, so as several alternative parts for the different configurations.