has to wonder what was going through the minds of the brain trust at Tamiya, circa
1980, when someone said, "Hey, let's make a pack howitzer." To which
someone else responded "Right on! And let's make it out of...white metal!"
was a period when Tamiya dabbled in their "Metal Casting Series" which
yielded a handful of kits and figures (white metal has long been a staple of figure
makers). A pack howitzer certainly was certainly a novel subject back then. This
kit has been out of production for some time and sought after by both collectors
and builders, even though there is an S-Model
kit that is reportedly a resin copy of the Tamiya. Roy
Models also has a pack howitzer, though it may be hard to find.And Ted
Dyer's Japanese Armor King offers three other versions: The M8 and M1 (earlier
version with wooden-spoke wheels) broken down and packed on a cart, and the M3
"straight leg" version on the split trail carriage. The most recent
M8 airborne version is the 2007 highly detailed kit from Resicast.
it was the arrival of the Resicast kit that prompted me to finally take this box
off the shelf and put the super glue to it. I had picked it up several years before
at the local hobby store and was partcularly impressed at the unique way of shrinkwrap
packaging that held the parts to the cardboard insert. There are only 23 pieces
to this set and it took me little more than an hour to clean up the seams and
assemble the parts. However, be aware the was a long seam running down the length
of the trails on both the top and bottom sides. This seam is presenton the trail
parts, though a bit off center. You want to leave it as is o file it down and
replace with a seam made of sprue or one of the resin transfers from Archer Fine
went together like clockwork. Interesting choices were made when developing the
patterns, such as having the equilibrators molded as part of the trail interior
side walls, rather than as separate pieces. There are certain simplifications,
particularly to the joints in the carriage where the cradle parts come together
to trap the elevation arcs. These can be filled with putty. The lunette is a bit
different from the photo examples here.
The modled-in receptacle for the hand spike seems to be inverted, but I did not
bother to remove it since it seemed like it would be more difficult and damaging
than it was worth. The gun sight is also different from the photos of the Hubbard
Museum piece, being the panoramic telescope M1. The elevating cranks are the weakest
representation, as they are molded onto the trail sides and lack handles, but
those can easily be scratch built. Otherwise, the detail is fairly crisp for its
time and the model gives a good representation of the howitzer.
most significant absences from this kit are the handspike, cleaning rod, range
stakes, and ammo. The first three items you can scratch out of plastic rod. For
ammo, spent cases, and tubes, Tiger Model Design offers these in resin, but in
two separate sets. Verlinden used to make a set that has been out of production
for a long time; it includes wooden boxes, which are not available with the TMD
art and instructions show the trails "unlocked" while in the firing
mode, but historical photos I've seen show the trails locked and arched as above
(otherwise, there is little to prevent the howitzer from jack-knifing during recoil).
even though this kit is a bit behind the times, the weapon's simplicity works
for this type of offering. It was a pleasure to build (how many kits can be built
and finished in under three hours?) and the unique opportunity to work on an all-metal
armor kit. With just a little bit of updating, Tamiya could reissue this in plastic
and combine it with the jeep and a couple airborne figures for a very nice D-Day
set. Are you listening Tamiya-san?
Pack Howitzer photos by Kurt Laughlin.
9-1320 75mm Pack Howitzers and Carriages, April 1944.
9-319 75mm Pack Howitzer M1A1 and Carriage M8, November 1948.
Artillery and Anti-Tank Guns, Easy 1 Productions, www.easy1productions.com,
Guide to U.S. World War II Tanks & Artillery, by Konrad F. Schreier,
Jr., Krause Publications, 1994, ISBN 0-87341-297-4.
American Arsenal: The World War II Official Standard Ordnance Catalog of Small
Arms, Tanks, Armored Cars, Artillery, Antiaircraft Guns, Ammunition, Grenades,
Mines, etcetera, introduction by Ian V. Hogg, Greenhill Books, 2001, ISBN