Sunday, February 12, 2012
American artillery had not been given much attention by toy soldier manufacturers until recently. Most if what I had seen before was unpainted plastic and not really accurate representations of real artillery pieces. This post describes a few options that have been made available to us by Forces of Valor and 21st Century Toys in the past few years.
The Priest, also known as the 105 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M7 was a self-propelled gun carrying the 105 mm howitzer. This Priest was made by 21st Century Toys, and even though the box was branded as 'die cast', it is pretty much made out of plastic. Even so, it is a nice vehicle. I've actually seen it in a different paint scheme with slightly smaller stars that have a circle around them, and the name Annamae written on the side. This vehicle comes with two figures: a driver and a gunner.
21st Century Toys M59 155mm Long Tom
Also known as the 155 mm Gun M1 or M2, this field gun was designed and developed during the inter-war period and by 1938 it was officially adopted. It had a barrel length just shy of 7 m, and could fire a round up to 23km. Its size and weight (almost 14 tons) required a carriage with 8 tires in the back and two in the front. The barrel could be elevated from -2 degrees all the way up to 65 degrees, which means that if necessary the Long Tom was also able to engage targets such as tanks in direct fire mode. The Long Tom was operated by a crew of 14 and saw action in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific. This gun comes to us from 21C Toys. Even though it is all plastic, it is still a really nice model with lots of moving parts. The carriage is detachable -and a bit hard to assemble-, and the gun can be deployed into firing position. The paint job shows a small amount of wear for added realism. 21C did a good job filling this previously ignored model niche.
21st Century Toys M59 155mm Long Tom
Here is the gun in its deployed position. Unfortunately, 21C did not provide any crew figures to go with it. Classic Toy Soldiers recently released some artillery crew figures which I have pressed to service the Long Tom, but with a crew of 14, it looks like I am still 11 men short...
21st Century Toys M115 8 Inch Howitzer
Also known as 8 inch Howitzer M1 or M115 203 mm howitzer, it was designed and developed prior to WW II as a replacement for the 8-inch British howitzer that the US Army had been using since WW I. Even though it was developed independently of the Long Tom, it was mounted on the same M1 Carriage. That's probably why it was an obvious choice for 21C Toys to produce this variant. It really looks like all they did was shorten the barrel of the Long Tom. Curiously, this gun was about 700 kg heavier than the Long Tom, even though the barrel was 2 meters shorter. The firing range was also 7km shorter, or about 17km in total. It was also operated by a crew of 14.
21C Toys US Artillery Crew
This set is actually sold by Four Star Military. I have a feeling it was one of the last sets made by 21C before they went out of business, but you can clearly see that the style and sculpting is the same. This is a five man crew to operate a big gun, like the Long Tom in this picture. It comes with a few extras, such as shells and casings. The one odd pose is the guy who has his foot high up. I had a hard time finding a place to put him where he would look like he was doing something that made sense. Overall a pretty nice set, that will help man quite a few guns.
Forces of Valor M101 105mm Howitzer
Also known as the 105 mm M2A1 (M101A1) howitzer, this gun was the standard light howitzer used by the US military during WWII. It weighed only 5000 lbs, yet it had a range of 7 miles (11 km), making it an effective infantry support weapon. It was widely used in all theaters. It's been so successful that it is still in service in some countries today. Forces of Valor has delivered this nice model to us. It is partly made of metal, and it comes with a crew of 3. The barrel can be elevated and the trails can be separated so that the spades can dig into the ground when firing. Another nice piece of equipment from FOV.
Forces of Valor M101 105mm Howitzer
Another view of the crew and the gun from behind. Note that the figures come without a base, which makes them a bit wobbly at times, but still remarkably stable for not having a base.
Dinky M101 105mm Howitzer - Part I
Here is another version of the 105mm howitzer, made by Dinky Toys. In this picture I have set it up with a crew from 21C toys. I believe it originally came with its own crew, but unfortunately, this one came without them. The howitzer has several moving parts, allowing the firing angle to be adjusted and the trails can also be spread apart when deployed.
Dinky M101 105mm Howitzer - Part II
So here it is with the original crew. I was happy to get the figures because they are not so easy to find, but I must say that they are not the greatest. The plastic feels hard and light. The kind that might break easily. And the detail is a bit rough in some parts, lke the face of the main pointing. Anyhow, all in all, I am still happy to have checked this set off the list.
Dinky M101 105mm Howitzer - Part III
On this pic you can see that the trails can also be collapsed and hooked to the back of a Jeep, also made by Dinky. Interestingly enough, I bought a second Dinky howitzer and it turned out that it has a different set of rubber wheels, with finer thread design on them, similar to the tires on the jeep.
21st Century Toys US M7 Priest
Click here to see a more detailed post about the US M7 Priest
Atlantic US Artillery
This is a set that includes the gun and 3 figures. I don't know if it represents an actual artillery piece that existed in reality or not. It could be an anti-aircraft gun as there is something that looks like a sight for the operator to aim through, but the barrel does not offer much elevation. The gun comes in multiple parts and needs to be assembled together. Everything snaps into place but you need to be careful when putting the barrel into its mount. I pressed a little too hard and snapped the mount in two. In terms of the figures, the gunner who gets to sit at the gun could have been given a more realistic pose. He really looks like he is just sitting there doing nothing. All in all it's one of those sets from Atlantic that are appealing to have for sake of having a 'complete' collection, and not so much for its poses or realism.
New Ray Howitzer
This howitzer came with some New Ray set. I don't even remember which one. I don't know if it represents an actual gun or some fictional model. And if it represents a real model, whether it is from the WWII period. In any case, given the limited availability of artillery pieces I have chosen to keep it and even feature it here. If you are not picky, they might come in handy as extra fire power, plus they are cheaper than those from 21C or FOV. As you can see, it blends well with the FOV crew figures.
Click here to see a post about American Tanks
Click here to see a post about an American unit in action
Click here to read a post about mortars