ARM: Review - DML 25-pdr and limber with crew

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.
6675; British 25-pdr Field Gun Mk. II w/Limber & Crew - Smart Kit; 224
parts 199 in grey styrene, 21 etched brass, 4 DS Plastic); pre-order
price US$39.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: first new kit of this weapon in styrene in 36 years; use
of modern molding techniques makes for a more faithful representative
of this weapon; several construction and build options provided
Disadvantages: =93tin hats=94 visibly not right; no =93Quad!=94
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all =93gonners=94 and WWII Commonwealth fans
Every nation has its own classification system for artillery: light,
medium, heavy; field and siege; battalion, division, corps and army =96
the list is endless. But they all tend to break out with similar sizes
and functions. At the lower end =96 usually brigade or division =96 the
desire is a gun of 75-105mm of 2-2.5 tons weight and with a shell
throw weight of 12 to 35 pounds. All of these weapons have ranges of
10-13 kilometers. They can be used on the front line in direct fire
mode (not usually recommended) or for indirect fire 7-10 kilometers
deep into the enemy rear areas.
The British Army=92s first 20th Century weapon was the 13-pounder - a
light and handy weapon which could be swiftly moved by horse drayage
and fired very rapidly for short periods of time. But its throw weight
of only 13 pounds of high explosive fragmentation projectiles was
considered too light for effective bombardment.
A slightly heavier weapon, the 18-pounder, was introduced at the same
time (1904) and served as the standard field gun into the mid 1930s.
But as technology passed it by =96 and more lethal and longer ranged
projectiles were needed =96 at that time a new gun was developed, the 25
pounder. While its design had started in 1925, due to the efficiency
(and prevalence) of the 18 pounder it was not until 1935 it was
fielded. To save money during that time, the new barrels were mounted
on redundant 18-pdr carriages as the Ordnance QF (quick firing) 25 pdr
Mark I.
But due to the design of the lower carriage, the gun could not be
elevated high enough to get full use out of its capabilities. So a new
carriage with box trails and a large opening between them (which would
permit sufficient elevation and traverse) was designed, combined with
a special platform that would permit 360 degree rotation within a set
position. This became known as the Ordnance QF 25-pdr Mark II on
Carriage 25-pdr Mark I.
This wound up being the mainstay gun of the Royal Artillery during
WWII and into Korea and beyond. More than 12,000 were built, and they
were used in all theaters of operations. Later, when it demonstrated
some capability as an antitank gun, a double baffle muzzle brake was
fitted to cope with the increased charge and recoil.
It was normally coupled to the Artillery Trailer No. 27 Mark I or
later models. This limber, in its 25-pdr version, provided stowage of
up to 32 rounds of ready ammunition in two round trays. While the
ammunition was nominally separate loading, it could be stuck together
just before firing. Crew of the gun was five or six: one aimer, three
or four other numbers for ammunition, and a gun captain.
Over 35 years ago, Tamiya released three kits in quick succession:
35044, a complete 25-pdr, limber and Ford =93Quad=94 gun tractor plus a
driver and crew of five; 35045, the =93Quad=94 and driver as a separate
kit; and 35046, the gun, limber and crew as a separate kit. This was
basically a =93diorama in a box=94 and quite popular at the time, but as
the years went on it began to look more and more toylike. The same was
true of its crew: as Tamiya was found to use rather small models,
their figures were all found to be stocky and around 5'2" tall when
scaled up. Anyone who has seen one of these kits win at a model show
usually has noted how much work it took the modeler to bring the kits
up to date.
DML has now offered a change of pace from a long string of German
fare with a bright new kit of the Mark I and its No. 27 trailer, along
with a new crew of six. The research on this kit and its dimensions
were taken from the display examples at =93Firepower=94, the Royal
Artillery Museum at Woolich. From what I can tell from comparing the
photos to the 1/1 scale example, DML appears to have hit all the
The gun itself comes on three sprues: the gun, the shield and lower
carriage, and the trails and base elements and wheels. All show
evidence of intensive use of slide molding to capture both inner and
outer details. The gun proper consist of eight parts (all styrene, but
complete down to the muzzle crown reinforcement. The breechblock can
be position opened or closed; however the activation lever (C3) is
only shown in one position. The cradle offers a choice between early
production riveted components (C22/C23) or welded ones (C20/C21). The
warning instructions brass plate is present but alas, not readable
(but then again I had to get within three feet of it to read it on the
The lower carriage and wheels are nicely detailed, and the complex
shapes of the prototype are captured. The only thing missing from the
kit here is the coil of rope that was to be hung off the front of the
gun shield. Gun spikes (B21/23), the shovel (B18), a spare rammer
(A13) and mattock (A26) are provided. Note the upper gun shield can
also be shown up or folded; the gun shield itself is molded credibly
thin and free from ejection pin marks.
Steps 5 and 6 are an either/or proposition, as they cover firing and
transport modes for the gun. In =93Firing=94 part A16 is used to attach to
the rotating base (A17/48) and in =93travel=94 part A15 is used. Part A4
is interesting; it is the spade protector which is used when the gun
is fired from its platform so the gun can swivel around the platform
without digging in. It is shown in position in Step 5 and stowed in
Step 6; note if the gun is fired without using the platform the
protector is left stowed so the spade can function. Also note in Step
5 that the items in the cutaway (MA6/7) are apparently mounts for
aiming stakes (not provided) that go on the outside of the right side
of the box trail; DML=92s directions tend to not be as helpful as they
could be with parts like this.
Steps 6-11 cover the assembly of the No. 27 trailer. This also has
some options such as open or closed doors, two removable trays with
brass details, and two different styles of hitch to connect to the gun
lunette. The wheels even come with separate handbrakes and activating
The crew consists of six new figures in the usual DML mold =96 six
parts to each (head, torso, arms and legs) with separate helmets and
details. As the gun comes in the North African mold four of the
figures are bare-chested and all are wearing shorts and high socks.
The gun captain and rammer are in shirts. They are standing with the
captain ready to give the fire command and the rammer closing the
breech; the gunner is aiming the piece and the three =93other numbers=94
are kneeling with more ammunition. But the =93tin hats=94 do not look
right; the suggestion has been made to me they are closer to civilian
issue (e.g. Civil Defense or Observer Corps) ones and not the issue
helmets used by Commonwealth troops. I tend to concur as they look
more like Burgundian helmets from the 14th Century. An odd clunker in
what otherwise is a beautifully done kit.
The tires are DS Plastic =96 seamless and of the right pattern when
matched with photos. The injection nub is on the inside of the rim and
should vanish behind the wheel rim when installed.
A tiny sheet of Cartograf decals is provided for the ammunition.
Painting directions give two options: Unidentified Unit, British 8th
Army, North Africa 1941-43 (sand overall); Royal Canadian Horse
Artillery, England 1940 (listed as olive drab but somehow I do not
think that is correct). Alas, the latter cannot use the figure set.
However, based on the =93Firepower=94 gun =96 which has been lovingly
restored to near original finish - there are a lot of details which
need painting and are not called out.
Overall this is a great kit and a very welcome change from panzers.
Given the recent standards of DML softskin kits, one can hope for a
Quad of new vintage from them to match this set.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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I have been informed that Bronco actually beat DML to the street with their new 25-pdr and limber kit so I stand corrected. But I must say -- and has anyone else noticed - that Bronco kit distribution in the US is lousy?
Cookie Sewell
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