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In-Box Review
135
6 Inch Howitzer
6inch Howitzer BEF & North Africa
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

introduction

The Six Inch Howitzer was an important member in a line of British medium field guns first developed in the late 1800s and improved-on during World War One. It was officially known as the Ordnance BL 6 Inch 26cwt Howitzer because the "business end" of the gun weighed 26 hundredweight (about 1 1/3 tons). Over 20 million rounds were fired during the war by this workhorse of the field artillery. Originally drawn by a team of horses, it was improved with rubber-rimmed wooden wheels for towing by the 3 ton lorry.

During the period between the World Wars, it was upgraded with actual tires for mechanized towing behind, but otherwise changed relatively little. With British armaments research taking a back seat to cost-cutting (some would argue it was no longer even in the vehicle), it's not surprising that the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) sailed off for France in 1940 with an arsenal of weapons often outmoded and generally unsuited for the coming high-speed conflict. Its chief field gun was the same 6 Inch Howitzer as had accompanied Tommies to the Fields of Flanders and the Somme in 1916.

The BL 6 was phased out following the introduction in 1942 of the BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun, but it was a fixture of the Battle of France and North Africa. So it's fitting the Belgian resin manufacturer Resicast has released a full resin kit of this important piece (already reviewed on Armorama here).

kit contents

Inside the usual Resicast paperboard box you will find:

1 resin trail piece
11 Ziploc baggies filled with yellowish cream-colored resin parts totaling 78 pieces
20-page A5-sized booklet

the review

After having reviewed over 200 kits from multiple manufacturers, I've come to see that no kit is ever perfect. For that reason I was particularly excited about the chance to review a Resicast full resin kit, as I had been sorely disappointed in a 3" mortar carrier kit I purchased myself. Resicast has its fans, and I was not among them after having wrestled with a kit that lacked adequate instructions. When this 6" howitzer kit showed up recently in my mailbox, I was eager to see if it was as good as another reviewer has indicated previously.

The kit was well-packed for transatlantic shipping, and all the parts appear to have survived the crossing. The casting is immediately apparent as very crisp, but what I particularly liked is the sensible design that uses "whole" parts instead of forcing the modeler to wrestle with sub-assemblies. While styrene lends itself to this process, resin can be cranky during assembly of multiple pieces; CA glue dries quickly, and is unforgiving of mistakes. Neither does it lend itself to jigs or taping, so "trueing" the corners of boxes, trails and other squared-off components can be tricky.

Resicast has given the modeler a one-piece trail (A1) avoiding the danger of misaligned parts. Ditto the saddle, which slides onto the forward portion of the trail, the cradle (which requires only the end cap), and the trail blade (one piece except for resin grab handles). The barrel is also a single piece (with a small open end attached and of course, the breech).

The rubber tires are beautifully-cast with no obvious "pour" holes or plugs to mar the finely-detailed tread. The tires are impossibly new and unworn, so you might want to run a little sandpaper or emery cloth over the outer portion to reduce that newness, unless you're looking to replicate a spanking-new field piece.

Resicastís casting technique shines as well in its rendering of the small tools included in the kit. Observe caution in handling the wee parts, including separating them from their sprues. Pieces are readily identified by numbers on the sprue base, and an overall parts guide in contained on p.1 of the assembly instructions. And those who dislike "fiddly bits" will be relieved to know there is no photo etch needed nor included.

instructions

Ah, yes, Resicastís sometimes notorious assembly instructions: earlier instructions occasionally left a lot to be desired, and the manufacturer has told me it has been a learning curve for them as the company evolved a proper balance of photos (expensive to reprint) vs. written instructions (easy to get wrong). The ones included with this kit are fairly straightforward, with generous use of black & white photos. The only challenging portion might be the many tiny parts and wheels that make up the sights: there are two of them, one a flat plate, the other a wheel. Check your references before proceeding.

Overall, this is an excellent kit with few negatives. There are no markings or painting guide, and the included ammunition isn't enough to recreate a fire base; it's more of a suggestion than a solution, which is a pity, since there is no readily-available source of ammunition from other manufacturers. There is also no muzzle cover from what I can see, despite the need for one if the gun is in travel mode. Finally, it's unfortunate there is currently no readily-available, reasonably-priced prime mover for the gun, but that's not the fault or shortcoming of this fine kit. Sources indicate either the Scammel gun tractor or Matador lorry were the preferred means of towing the BL 6, and good luck finding one currently at any price.

conclusion

Overall, this is an excellent kit, though a bit expensive at Ä70. Still, for those who love BEF or North Africa subjects, this should be a welcome addition to their collections. And given the recent spate of styrene British truck kits hitting the market, I'm hopeful a reasonable Matador will join the field shortly.

Thanks to Resicast for this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.
SUMMARY
Highs: Crisp casting, excellent kit design.
Lows: Not for the novice resin builder.
Verdict: Recommended for its pivotal subject and fine casting, though it would be even better if a Matador lorry were released to pull it.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35.1225
  Suggested Retail: Ä69.50
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Apr 26, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.29%

Our Thanks to Resicast!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright ©2019 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



Comments

I don't think it is any more expensive to print outline instructions than photo ones nowadays is it? In the end for me it comes down to the resin kits being way too expensive for me. Looks nice from the photos but not AU$100 (approx) worth to me.
APR 26, 2013 - 11:56 AM
There is a build blog of the gun here: http://armorama.kitmaker.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=199056#1665561 and a photo feature of the finished article here: http://armorama.kitmaker.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=features&file=view&artid=4823 address@email.com Just for clarification. The mortar carrier kit that Bill had the issues with was the OOP 35.123 kit and not the kit I reviewed and is linked to in his article which is was the upgraded 35.1207 kit. Al
APR 26, 2013 - 11:07 PM
I hope to build this one when I return from a trade show in a week's time. Warren, you make an excellent point about resin kits being expensive, but we often get what we pay for: many vehicles are not popular enough to elicit styrene makers to release them, so resin is our only option. And there is no question that some resin models are just more-detailed and of a higher order of accuracy than most styrene kits, where shortcuts are taken to reduce mold costs. Some of that has to do with manufacturing technique, whereby resin makers can get better detailing than all but the most-advanced styrene molds, but I think at least as much of the difference comes from the "loving care" they put into their kits. After all, we've seen dedicated amateurs release resin products, yet fall down in the management, shipping and other sides of the business. As one oft-criticized resin maker told me "I just want to release really high-quality kits." Resicast strike me a nice balance between the dedicated amateur (in the true sense of the word of someone who is passionate about the hobby) and a smart business that can release quality kits and keep up with the demands of servicing their accounts. My understanding is they plan on releasing updates of their famous line of upgrades and conversions originally meant for the ancient Tamiya Universal/Bren Carrier, now aimed at the new Riich line of UCs that are just now appearing on the market. It's a smart move, since Resicast has excellent stowage sets, as well as conversions like the 3" mortar carrier that will be popular for Riich's base kits.
APR 27, 2013 - 03:55 AM
   

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