by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
The M109 is an American-made self-propelled 155 mm howitzer, first introduced in the early 1960s. It has been upgraded a number of times to the current M109A6 Paladin version. The M109 family is the most common Western indirect-fire support weapon of manoeuvre brigades of armored and mechanized infantry divisions. The M109A2/A6 is powered by a two-cycle diesel, 440hp, DDEC 8V71T engine from Detroit Diesel Corporation, and an Allison ATD-XTG-411-4 transmission with four forward and two reverse gears. The vehicle has a range of 214 miles with a maximum speed of 40mph. The M109 saw its combat debut in Vietnam. Israel used the M109 against Egypt in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and in the 1982 Lebanon War and 2006 Lebanon War. Iran used the M109 in the Iran–Iraq War, in the 1980s. The M109 saw service with the British Army, the Egyptian Army and Saudi Arabian Army in the 1991 Gulf War. The M109 also saw service with the U.S. Army in the Gulf War, as well as in the Iraq War from 2003 to 2011.
On the heels of the excellent new series on M109 Howitzer kits from AFV Cub, Real Model introduces an engine and transmission set to dress them up. The set includes on large casting of the engine and transmission and a small casting for the batteries. The set comes packed in a sturdy cardboard box with the parts bagged inside. There is also a single sheet guide included that shows color photos of an actual engine to assist in painting.
The mold quality of this set is exquisite. Real Model has captured the engine and transmission parts expertly. I don’t know how they are able to cast that much detail in one large piece. There are various hoses and lines that are completely free of any supports and they are cast perfectly. The most baffling is a hose from the engine to the transmission that is about an inch long and has nothing holding it up. It is just there, spanning the gap. The smaller casting for the batteries is equally well-molded and looks great as well. There is everything here to make a really nice engine compartment. All you need to do is connect the battery compartment with the main casting, paint, and drop in place. The only thing you may want to add is a prop shaft on the driver’s side from the transmission to the final drive. This may not be needed though since it is mostly buried under the battery boxes.
The set is designed for the new AFV Club kit and drops right into their hulls with no modification. Also, the parts line up with the open hatches perfectly. With slight modifications (a bit of sanding and filing), it will also fit into the Italeri M109 (and its re-boxed releases by Revell and Tamiya) hulls.