M109A2 Self-Propelled Howitzer
The M109A2 is the second upgraded version of the M109 self-propelled howitzer, the most widely used and longest serving artillery in the US Army history. The M109 entered service in 1961 and was upgraded to the M109A2 in 1979 with about 4000 pieces being produced. This kit represents a vehicle the US and British Army used from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, when they were upgraded again to the M109A3/A4. I had the opportunity to serve in an Army Reserve M109 unit for 11 years, so I am very familiar with this gun.
This is Kinetic’s first tracked armor kit. Their first armor was the recent M-ATV kit released about six to eight months ago. This M109A2 kit comprises 499 tan plastic parts, black plastic tracks, and a small decal sheet. There are no photo-etched or clear parts. You will use almost all the parts, with just the optional muzzle break, spare track sprue, a different front lower hull, and some torque arms left over. There is some flash and heavy mold lines on quite a few parts, so lots of clean up is needed. The sprues are laid out very logically with each step using mostly parts that are next to each other. The instructions are very nicely organized and uncluttered. There are 24 steps in the 20 page booklet, along with four paint schemes, but they are in black and white.
We start with the first six steps assembling the tube mount, which requires filling seams in the recuperate tubes. There is a small breech included, but this looks way too small and unfortunately is the only interior detail, so the hatches will be closed. The machine gun is also not very well detailed and it has some bad molding divots on the sides. The barrel needs to be drilled out.
The turret is constructed in the next five steps. The turret I received was damaged on the left side. It was bent up at the side door opening, but after a hot water bath and careful bending and gluing to the turret base, I got most of the bend out. The tools are molded together with the tie downs, so we get really soft detail. I spent some time scribing between the tools and tie downs to get a 3D look. The tow cable ends are included, but no cable, so I used parachute 550 cord to make one. I decided to leave off the track jacks (B44), smoke dischargers, and water cans because the detail is very bad on these parts. I also left off the British-style shovel (A37) on the turret, since I was doing an US Army gun. The gun tube comes in 2 halves along with an option of two muzzle breaks. I used parts B2 and B3 for the break, since my old army photos showed this one being used in my unit. Lots of seam filling is needed here.
The hull is constructed from ten pieces and it had a nasty gap behind the headlights. I had to do some cutting and sanding, then used lots of putty to get the top and bottom hull to fit well. The muffler needs to be drilled out. The travel lock would not close around the gun tube, so I positioned it down. But that took some bending and repositioning to get it to lie on its hull bumper. The torque arms have a lot of play in them, so I installed the front and read arms first, since they are fixed. I then could line up the middle 5 arms and got the suspension lined up. The road wheels are nicely detailed with a separate hub and rubber wheel assembly. The tracks are length and link and come on five sprues, but only four are needed. Luckily, there is an extra set, since this kit had all but four guide teeth broken off one sprue. I only had a couple links left over. The end connectors are separate for the links and have nice bolt details, but they lack outer detail on the lengths.
I painted this gun with a pre-shade of dark green and then a basecoat of buff to represent a Desert Storm 1st Cavalry Division howitzer. The decals are printed by Cartograf and are very thin, in perfect registration, and lay down great.
I enjoyed building this gun, since I had actually crewed and fired one. It brought back many good and exciting memories. I was a little disappointed in the soft detail for a newly molded kit. It seemed like a 1980s era kit.
I want to thank Stevens Hobby for the review sample and IPMS for the opportunity to build it.