Dragon Models Limited
has introduced a second version of the M2A1 105mm howitzer, this time the US Marines variant. The US 105mm howitzer is one of those ubiquitous weapons that seemed to be just about everywhere during the war. That is probably because the 105 was indeed just about everywhere and since that time has gone on to even more places. Over 45 nations have used the M101 in one version or another and despite its advanced age, some nations still find occasion to employ the old war horse. Perhaps the most interesting use currently is its employment as an avalanche control gun where it is used to trigger controlled avalanches.
The contents of the kit are essentially the same as the earlier release by Dragon, with a few exceptions that help to make this a Marine Corps version of the gun. The gun shield has been updated/modified in order to make this an M2A2 carriage as opposed to the earlier release of the M2A1 carriage. For a review of the first version that Dragon released check out Mike Del Vecchio’s in box review from last year:
M2A1 105mm Howitzer
As mentioned, the only real change is the addition of the new gun shield, which looks very nice, appropriately thin, with fine detail on both sides. My only quibble is that the shield is hinged to allow the different flaps to be lowered, and while Dragon has molded the flap detail on the back side of the shield the front side gives the appearance of a solid piece. In other words, the shield has no recessed panel line to indicate that these are separate panels, even though the hinge is present. Easy enough to add with a sharp hobby knife and a good metal ruler, but come on now Dragon, you're better than that.
Other than that I have nothing but good things to say about the gun. Dragon seems to be pushing the envelope on fine detail, the spring assembly is just flat out ridiculously well done. This kit may well be the best example of what all the fuss about slide-molding is all about. The kit does include a small decal sheet with markings for 6 guns, one of which has a pin-up girl, “Gyrene Gal”, applied to the front shield (oh, you naughty Marines!)
The kit also includes the Iwo Jima Marines from the earlier Dragon release (#6408), albeit without the weapons and with a new set of arms for two of the figures. I know that some were hoping that the crew figures would be completely new but alas, that is not the case. The kit includes no personal weapons for the short crew, but if you are like me you probably have more than a few appropriate pieces of weaponry in the spares box. The two new sets of arms are for the figures that were firing the BAR and the flamethrower in the earlier kit, the fellow with the rifle at port arms and the kneeling figure with the shotgun are still the same, just expected to now be manhandling 105 rounds. The figures are also a bit different than the box art rendering, no leggings, different poses, and slightly different kit. After the superb gun the crew is something of a disappointment.
The gun is off the chart beautiful, you simply can’t go wrong with this artillery piece. The crew, however, was a big letdown. I would rather have had one new, well done, figure than this bunch of rehashed plastic warriors who are only partially modified for their new assignment.