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AFV Club 1/35 s ale M109A2

RELATED TOPICS: ARMOR | TANKS100
Kit:35109 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$64
Manufacturer:
AFV Club, from Merit International, 626-912-2212
Pros:
Molded-on tie-downs matched loops; working suspension
Cons:
Colors for “Cobras” version not accurate
Comments:
Injection-molded, 506 parts (2 photoetched metal, 25 vinyl, metal barrel, brass tube, spring, nylon rope), decals
FSM-NP0513_46
M109A202
M109A203
M109A204
M109A205
M109A206

The M109 series of vehicles has been in American service since the Vietnam War and has soldiered on for the U.S. while being exported worldwide. In the 1970s, a new design was developed as the A2 variant. 


AFV Club’s multimedia kit includes photoetched metal, a turned-metal barrel, brass tube, vinyl parts, and a nylon string, as well as plastic parts molded in olive green and clear plastic. There is some flash on a few of the smaller parts. The hatches are molded separately with detail on the inside, but the only interior detail is the gun breech. There are four marking choices: two for U.S. service, an Egyptian vehicle, and a Portuguese. 


The directions are logical; I followed them by starting with the lower hull, which comprises nine parts. Even being careful while gluing the hull together, I still had a small fit problem with the rear corner of the hull being off a little bit. There are knockout marks on the bottom of parts F3 and F4 that need to be filled because they are visible on the model.


The torsion bars are designed to work, allowing the road wheels to move up and down. I would recommend prepainting the road wheels; there is an undercut that makes it difficult to paint them later. The tracks are one-piece vinyl with detail on both sides. AFV Club does make a set of individual track links for this model (sold separately).


The upper hull is also in multiple parts, but the fit here is good. In Step 8, the cover for the exhaust is labeled G1; it should be photoetched-metal Part K1. 


The gun is where the majority of the nonplastic parts are used. A spring allows the metal barrel to recoil. When gluing the gun in place, make sure to attach parts D36 and D37 at the same time to ensure the gun is in the proper position. I found out later that it was out of alignment and had to correct it.


I assembled the turret baskets last to make sure I didn’t break them during assembly. But if they are assembled properly, they are quite strong. Mudflaps and a dust cover for the gun are supplied as vinyl parts. These would not hold paint, so I chose not to use them. 


I picked the four-color camouflage scheme for my kit. The Federal Standard number given for the green seemed too pale compared to photos that I found on the Internet. Instead, I used Tamiya NATO green. This color is too bright, but better than the other green. For the other three colors, I used Tamiya NATO black and NATO brown along with Testors Model Master Acryl sand. Weathering was done with various Mig washes and filters and AK Interactive streaking solutions. I used Vallejo and Humbrol paints for all the detail. The decals adhered easily with no silvering.


The detail on the finished model really stands out and is accurate compared with pictures in David Doyle’s M108/M109 Howitzer Walk Around (Squadron, ISBN 978-0-89747-617-1) and François Verlinden’s Warmachines No. 1: M108-M109-M109A1/A2 (Verlinden ISBN 978-90-70932-18-3).


It took 36 hours to build this model, but much of the time was spent painting the camouflage. Even though this is a multimedia kit, it would make a good one for someone to gain confidence in using other materials.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2013 FineScale Modeler.

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