The cardboard box contains 3 sprues in light gray plastic for the howitzer; a small decal sheet of stencil markings for the rounds; an aluminum barrel; and 2 sprues for the crew figures. All the above items are individually bagged to keep them from being damaged during shipping. The multi-fold, 8 step instructions manual and a 1-page, paint & markings guide round out the package. There are no markings for the howitzer itself.
The instructions are clearly written and have good illustrations on for parts placement location. The howitzer can be either built in the traveling or firing position as well. The decals for the stencils on the 3 round are a nice touch and look to be in perfect register with very thin film.
The individual parts on the sprues look to be sharply molded and free of any flash. The trails are finely molded with good details on all sides. Their construction allows details on all sides to be present. The cradle pieces have fine teeth on the traverse and elevation gears as well. The multi-piece PanTel (Panagraphic Telescope; sights) are finely rendered with nice details and crisp moldings. The sliding breach block is also molded well and shows great detail. It can be assembled in the open (loading) or closed (firing) positions. The tires and brake drums are nicely molded as well. There has been some discussion on the correctness of the uni-directional tires and 6-slot wheels being correct for WWII. I have seen pictures of the tires used in WWII as well as other tire/wheel combos in use. The ones in the kit are more appropriate for a late war piece though.
The howitzer sprues also include many parts not used that will undoubtedly be used for later versions of the 105mm howitzer. Sprue B, with mostly gun shield and suspension parts only has you using about half of the parts on it.
The crew figures are Dragonís Battle of the Bulge figures with new arms added to hold the 3 included 105 mm HE rounds. The figures look good and are clothed in great coats and winter boots. They have all the gear and accessories of the original infantry figures and can be used as any US troops in cold weather during WWII.
Overall the kit looks very detailed. It is a vast improvement over the old Italeri kit of the same basic artillery piece. It has great details and the addition of the crew is very nice as well. It is very welcome and hopefully Dragon will continue with more Allied artillery pieces from WWII to present.
I highly recommend this kit. The parts are well molded and free of flash. I see no major flaws in the kit, its dimensions, or details. With minimal work, it looks like it will build into an accurate replica of an M2A1 Howitzer.
Highs: Fine casting and good details. Nice addition of crew figures and rounds with stencil decals.Lows: None really in the kit. A few spent shell casings and round boxes or tootsie roll wrapped rounds would have been a nice addition.Verdict: A great kit. Highly recommended. Looks like another winner for Dragon.
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 35+ years, really seriously on armor and large scale helos (1/32, 1/35) for the last 30 or so.