ARM: Review - DML 1/72 scale M65 Atomic Annie 280mm Gun

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/72 scale Black Label series Kit No. 748
4; M65 Atomic Annie Gun, Heavy, Motorized, 280mm; 274 parts (262 parts in g
rey styrene, 12 clear styrene); pre-order price US$74.99 via Dragon USA Onl
ine
Advantages: first new kit of this gun in over 50 years in styrene; captures
the look of the big gun and its tractors
Disadvantages: some parts simplified on the carriage; presentation of trave
l mode is wrong (see text)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all "Redlegs" and US Army Cold War fans
Back in 1975 I got into some nasty arguments with my company commander at
Fort Riley, Kansas. He finally blew his stack and decided to punish me for
my attitude. The punishment came in two parts: part one was post detail for
a month and part two was schooling at the 5th Army NCO Academy on Main Pos
t at Fort Riley.
I had to pick five guys to help me on the detail and luckily five of my gu
ys wanted a break from routine. So in February 1975 we reported to a tempor
ary shelter near the ATSF memorial (a locomotive) on post for the detail. I
t turned out to be preparing a 280mm gun - "Atomic Annie" per its nickname
- for display on post. This one had been part of a collection held by the
Smithsonian Institution and had been in storage for over 15 years. So our n
ew friend for the next month was T71 Gun 280mm on Carriage T72 number 20, b
uilt by the Dravo Corporation in 1952. It was actually fun other than we we
re in a very cold tent with only a Herman Nelson forced air heater for warm
th and we had to use dope thinner to strip off the cosmoline and sealer use
d on the gun. Needless to say we were "floating around" from time to time i
nside the tent!
We did get it done and prepared for installation, and once done the gun wa
s moved to the top of a hill overlooking I-70. Alas, vandals and time have
pretty much trashed the poor old gun, but it was a fun project.
As for Part Two, I went to the NCO Academy in April and made honor graduat
e. The company commander was so mad he would not speak to me for six weeks
- best six weeks I had under his command!
Shortly afterwards I found the old Renwal 1/32 kit of the Atomic Cannon at
the legendary Papenfus Hardware Store in Kansas City (MO) and bought it. A
las, it was pretty much a toy unless you wanted to put a LOT of work into t
he model and instead I gave it to one of the kids of my assistant NCO on th
e restoration project.
The best model until now of this gun was the Adams kit in 1/40 scale which
was far more accurate than the Renwal one, but still a "child" of the 1950
s.
Now, at long last, DML has released a brand-new kit of the Atomic Cannon i
n 1/72 scale which is a good idea, as the entire gun in transport mode is n
early 85 feet in length so a much handier size! DML has captured the tracto
rs, carriage, and basic components of the gun while also offering optional
positions for transport and firing.
The kit starts off with the tractors and as with the real T249 (front) and
T250 (rear) tractors they share about 80% of their parts. The cabs come wi
th an interior - one clever part (F33) provides all of the pedals at one go
but there are no shift/transfer case levers provided. The drivelines are f
airly complete for this scale and even mirrors are included. As a point of
reference the first 17 steps cover the two tractors.
The carriage is bulked up and does a good job of representing the sturdy c
arriage for this gun; however, all of the grill-type servicing platforms ar
e molded onto the other sides (A24/A25) which is a shame, as they are all d
eployed when the gun is being fired (and which we had to reinstall and repa
ir so they worked when working on our gun). Part A8 is NOT oversized either
- the wheel was that big!
The gun is quite large and takes six parts from muzzle to breech - the fro
nt section was slide molded but has none of the very prominent rifling pres
ent in the tip. Note that it slides into the upper carriage - unless you wa
nt to show it in firing position I suggest as do the directions you leave i
t loose.
The gun is free to elevate and the hydraulic cylinders will function with
careful assembly (F18/18/19/19/20/20/21/21). However, it cannot be traverse
d on its baseplate (C4) and traversing shoe (B27).
The kit does get one thing wrong - the travel position of the gun. Our gun
Number 20 had the barrel in travel position when we got it: the breech is
disconnected from the recoil mechanism and pulled back by a winch on one of
the tractors until it will fit inside the rear lifting cradle. DML shows i
t in position and slightly elevated, which apparently was okay for very sho
rt distance movements. As the barrel is left loose, the barrel may be moved
to the rear and correctly positioned. Note that anyone wanting to fix it t
hat way will need to put four short rods (about 30 inches in scale) on the
rear of the upper cradle to represent the recoil and balancing cylinder rod
s which are disconnected from the breech when this takes place, remove the
locking nuts from the rear of the breech and drill out the holes for the ro
ds.

The model comes with three finishing options: Gun A-20, 59th Field Artille
ry Battalion, 7th US Army, Germany 1954 (OD with bumper stripes and white c
odes; A-31A, 216th Field Artillery Battalion, Germany 1955 (OD with bumper
stripes and white codes and stars); and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 1
950s (OD with bumper stripes and white data). A small sheet of Cartograf de
cals is included.
Overall this is a great kit with the only clinker being the fixed servicin
g platforms (they would have better done in etched brass over plastic frame
s).
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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