by Roger Gentry
AFV has two superbly detailed 1/35 scale Howitzers. Both are of the leFH 18 10.5 cm Howitzer.
However, one, AF35s24, has wooden wheel spokes and a muzzle break added to the gun. I chose kit the kit with pressed steel wheels, AF35050.
Upon opening the box, one is amazed at the intricate, small pieces and great care that has gone into the design of this kit. The leFH 18 10.5 cm Howitzer consists of 153 parts in light tan styrene, one aluminum barrel, one brass tube, and one plastic screw section for elevating the barrel.
For those not familiar with AFV kits they should know that the styrene tends to be softer than Tamiya and Dragon kits so one must be careful in removing the selected pieces from the sprue. Also some of the pieces are amazingly small so care must be taken not to misplace them. All of the major details are included, with the collimator sight amazingly consisting of four parts!
The howitzer is designed to be displayed in either of two positions: travel mode or in firing position. The directions are quite good in that they provide an indication of what the modeler is to do in each case. The modeler can choose to build either the horse-drawn or mechanized versions of the weapon.
The directions cover a total of 15 steps and include at each one how to build it for either form of movement, as well as for firing and towing.
The one problem is a massive amount of flash on one side of a plastic screw that is to depict elevation of the gun. This is a fairly simple process. The plastic screw can be cut to the elevation either, with 4mm being near horizontal and 8mm high elevation.
As with all styrene modeling projects it is best to coat the model with a primer, in this case a light coat of aerosol grey primer. Care must be given not to build up the primer coat too think since other succeeding layers would follow. Once the primer was dried be sure and the model for any seams or surface inconsistencies.
Various color schemes are available and I chose one to be for the Africa campaign. I airbrushed the model with Vallejo acrylics. I have found these the best acrylics for airbrushing since they tend to adhere better to modeling surfaces than some other acrylics that are airbrushed. Vallejo also has a remarkable refinement in the pigmentation that I admire.
After priming the model, I decided to apply a light coat of Vallejo steel over the primer coat . I believe that as a modeler one must convey the feel and look of metal. In this case I allowed the steel coloration of the barrel to show through portions of the overlapping dark sand layer that was my third color selection.
My first airbrushing was merely as a transparent layer allowing the steel to show thorough giving the barrel emphasis and true look of metal to a styrene model. Once airbrushed with dark sand, I applied light applications of an oil paint wash of Van Dyck Brown into all crevices and around bolts to make them standout.
Once the acrylics had dried, I selected oil colors as filters, transparent layers, to be applied around the bolts and into the crevices to give proper definition. A light application of sand was applied to highlights as well as some of the metallic grey of worn surfaces.
Fortunately Warriors recently released two figure sets that fit appropriately with the10.5cm Howitzer. These sets are highly defined and compliment the howitzer in how it was manned and operated, either in the Africa campaign or in Italy.
I chose set WA 35331 because it depicts a figure giving the command to fire while the other turns from the howitzer clasping his hands over his ears.
It appears that the these very figures are directly from a cover photo on the publication German Light Field Artillery in World War II by Schiffer Military Books, ISBN:0887407609. The two figures on the cover photo are identical in pose and clothing as the Warriors figures, #WA 35331. I find that Schiffer series is excellent as a reference, especially if one is interested in creating dioramas
Since I intended this as a diorama I choose a rectangular shaped piece of piece of wood and airbrushed it dark brown so that the fine grains of sand applied to the wood base with matte transparent white glue would conveniently convey the look of the Africa campaign.
Realizing this and not wanting my figures to simply be glued to the wood base, I drilled out small holes in the bottom of the figures feet with a pin vise and inserted and glued wires that would match holes in the wood base.
The figures received an application of light gray primer and then painted with Humbrol enamel paints.
No artillery diorama would be complete without some rounds. Wonderfully AFV has recently created some accessory kits. The two resin figures came with only one round and I determined I needed empty shell casings.
To give the proper look and feel of the kit I chose AFV kit 35062, German 10.5cm Howitzer Ammunition Accessory Set “What an accessory kit ! This consists of 36 10.5 cmrounds, 36 separate shell cases, 36 wooden containers and 12 metal single round boxes plus a decal sheet with stenciling of rounds and ammo boxes.
This is a wonderful accessory kit in that one can choose to use empty shell cases distributed around the howitzer as well of the rounds themselves. Wooden carrying cases are included, though I chose not to include them in this case. As you can see the howitzer and rounds would compliment the earlier released AFV kit for the Sd. Kfz 11 3 ton halftrack.
This is a highly detailed kit that requires no etched parts and can be used in a variety of dioramas including the inclusion with the halftrack, AFV SdKfz-11. All together I found this an amazing kit that one must take care with in detaching the small pieces.