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Built Review
172
OKB Grigorov's 1/72 M109 SPG
OKB Grigorov's 1/72 M109 SPG
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by: Peter Ganchev [ PGP000 ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The M109 was introduced in 1963. The initial model had the short-barrelled 155 mm M126/A1 gun in the M127 Howitzer Mount and carried 28 rounds. An M2HB .50cal machine gun (Ma Deuce) with 500 rounds was positioned on top of the cupola for self-defence.
Ever since its introduction the capabilities of the M109 series howitzers have been increased through a number of upgrades. Longer gun barrels and special ammunition for extended range, expanded and more secure stowage, up-rated engine, improved fire control and communication systems, higher mobility and reliability, reduced deployment time resulted in no less than nine versions in the US alone. At least three more variants have been produced by local operators around the world. Since the Vietnam War no less than three dozen countries have used (or still operate) various versions of the venerable M109, making it one of the longest serving AFVs.
Models of the M109 SPH in 1/72 are few and far between. The subject kit by OKB Grigorov represents the initial howitzer design.

Contents

Kit parts are packaged in individual zip-lock bags and bubble wrap, all placed within a small white cardboard box. There are
- 85 parts in grey resin (82 used to construct the model),
- 40 photo-etched parts on two frets.
As is usual with this company the instructions are printed on an A4 sheet, folded to fit the box. Camouflage and markings are left up to the modeller’s references and decal spares.

Review

The moulding of the resin parts is excellent with very thin flash around some edges and openings. That is dealt with in a few swipes of a fine sanding stick or a sharp blade.
The two frets of PE parts have different thickness – the one with the turret baskets, lifting eyelets and .50 cal ammo belts is 0,3mm copper, the rest of the metal details are on a 0,1mm brass.
The hull and the turret are monolithic chunks of resin, and heavy ones at that. Since most of the detail (including tools) is cast on the resin parts, the number of tiny pieces here is reduced to a minimum.
Nearly half the kit parts form the running gear – a total of 58 resin pieces cater for the track (eight straight sections of T136 track), the suspension arms, driving sprockets, idlers and road wheels. The suspension arms are fixed to the hull via triangular locating pins. There is a running gear template at the back of the instruction sheet to allow you to prepare the track sections before you glue them to the wheels.
The two support spikes at the hull rear can be positioned to the modeller’s preference. Two large tool boxes go above them with further four attached to turret baskets. The gun assembly is made up of three parts: the howitzer mount with recoil cylinders, the gun barrel with its signature fume extractor, and the large cylindrical muzzle brake.

Build Observations

The first thing I did was sand the turret base a bit and the opening in the hull that will accept it. I then glued the howitzer parts together to get a better impression of the model’s size (the grid on my cutting mat is 1cm across). I then formed the turret baskets and marked their positions on the turret. Shallow holes in the rear turret wall were drilled to provide a better support to them and the boxes they’d carry. The commander’s hatch and the M2 gun mount were added next.
I assembled the supporting spikes in the stowed position and set them aside. The small details were glued to the hull, including pieces of styrene on the hull nose plates to simulate attachment points for the floatation gear. After adding the suspension arms to the hull all three subassemblies (hull, turret and gun) were covered with grey automotive primer and airbrushed with various shades and mixes of Revell green enamels.
While the camo was drying I bent the tracks segments over the templates I made using the drawings on the back of the instruction sheet. The track sections respond quite well to hot water – you don’t need to boil them. Once the sections were formed and dry they were primed, and then covered with MM Burnt Iron. Rubber pads were simulated with Revell 78. I used thinned Revell yellow and sand colours as washes and finally dipped the tracks in a Promodeller dark wash to bring out the recessed details.
Road wheels and idlers were added to the suspension arms. I glued the halves of the driving sprockets in the curves of the track segments I bent and painted earlier – a perfect fit. Next idlers were glued to the aft track sections and glued to the hull. Finally the straight sections were added at the top and bottom of the track runs.
The metal effect around turret doors was simulated with dry brushed Tamiya X-11. A minimal amount of pastel chalks and pigments were used this time, as I tried to use multiple shades of green paint to simulate camo discoloration. The more concentrated weathering was achieved with drops and streaks of oil paint applied directly over the dry stuff. Everything was sealed with Vallejo flat coat.
Once painted the barrel assembly is a nice, snug fit in the turret recess – even without glue. The turret itself also fits nicely in the hull ring, so you get a chance to vary the pose of your tiny SPG to your preference every once in a while.

Conclusions

The relatively low number of parts makes this kit buildable by a wide range of modellers, and the resulting model will turn into a fine replica of an early M109. With the M1 and M2 versions already on the market I hope a Paladin will follow soon.
Highly recommended.
SUMMARY
Highs: Nicely cast and etched, straightforward build. A good replica of an overlooked subject.
Lows: Instructions could be improved.
Verdict: Highly recommended to all SPG fans.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 72002
  Suggested Retail: 41,70 EUR
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 29, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 84.77%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.25%

About Peter Ganchev (pgp000)
FROM: GRAD SOFIYA, BULGARIA

I bought and built my first kit in 1989. Since then it's been on and off until about 4 years ago, when modelling became the main stress-relief technique. Starting with 1/72 aviation I've diversified into armor, trucks, artillery and figures, as well as a number of other scales.

Copyright ©2018 text by Peter Ganchev [ PGP000 ]. All rights reserved.


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Comments

@PGP000 – Peter, Splendid M109 SPG build review of one of the most overlooked subjects in any scale. Nice set of photographs showing the finely detailed resin and photo-etched items in the kit, but you didn’t photograph or scan the mentioned A4 instruction sheet? From the photographs that you posted it looks like your example of the 50 cal. gun barrel came with that ‘warped from extreme usage’ or what? (Those on the receiving end of that fine artillery piece just had to try and put it out of commission). Nice going with the brass replacement barrel. The price for this mixed media vehicle is a bit steep for the budget and one would have to outsource markings, but the detail and parts breakdown of the completed model looks to be right on the money for this modeler! With a few add-ons and good references one could easily build this into an early IDF SPG and after seeing how your completed build turned out, I’ll be happily adding this one to the stash. ~ Eddy
MAY 20, 2012 - 01:44 PM
Glad to see this review. I've seen that they have done a number of variations now, but the price makes it something I have to budget for, especially considering I already went on a bit of a shopping spree.
MAY 20, 2012 - 02:01 PM
Hello Eddy and thanks for you kind comment! Yes, I have not included the images of the instructions, because I meant to add the links to the images on the company website. Here they are: LINK LINK LINK LINK As far as the M2 barrel goes I tend to replace MG barrels anyway. I guess something went wrong with the particular catsing - first time I get something warped from these guys. Hopefully everyone else will get a proper Ma Deuce. Kent - pick a version, I'm sure you'd enjoy building any of the three I can echo the price comment, but for something as rare (postwar SPA) I just couldn't hold my wallet closed.
JUN 08, 2012 - 05:04 PM
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