M109 155mm SP Howitzer
After WW2, the US Army created a succession of self-propelled guns and howitzers based upon existing tank chassis and automotives married to existing guns and howitzers. None of the resulting weapons were entirely satisfactory. So, in 195x the Army started a new clean-sheet design. This resulted in the M108 105mm self-propelled howitzer and the M109 155mm self-propelled howitzer going into production in 1962. The platform was so successful that the M109 series is still in production in 2020 and will serve for another decade or two.
This model is based upon the excellent AFV Club M109 155mm L23 kit released in 2020. This is the next logical extension of AFV Club's excellent series of kits based upon this platform. The kit consists of most of the sprues from the excellent M109A2 kit along with a couple of sprues from their new M108 kit and a new sprue of M109 parts and a multi-part metal barrel. As is typical of AFV Club, there are a lot of tiny parts to add detail. Although the vinyl tracks are detailed and well molded, I decided to use the AFV Club individual link tracks that I had in my stash. I also used portions of the Voyager PE kit for the M109A2. Voyager has since release a PE kit specific to the M109. Although the PE was a bit crisper for several of the parts, in hindsight, I am not sure that it was worth the effort. The AFV Club kit does a great job of molding the details with the hassle of PE. I scratch built the red and white aiming stakes from aluminum tubing and silver rod to replace the kit ones, part Q27, which are molded in an unrealistic case. Note that the kit painting instructions confuse the cleaning staff with aiming stakes. The cleaning staff, part AC13, should be painted black - not red and white. I also used lead from an old wine bottle and PE buckles for the tool retaining straps.
The kit is excellent with just a small amount of filling with Mr. Surfacer 1000 needed to make the seams around the sides and top of the hull disappear. I did deviate from the directions and assembled the hull top, step 7, after the lower hull, step 2. This allowed me to ensure that the multipart hull fit and was square. The AFV Club individual link tracks went together easily and fit perfectly.
I chose to use the kit decals to depict howitzer A-14 of Battery C, 2nd Battalion 35th Field Artillery at FSB Coral in May 1968. This Battery was attached to the Australian forces at FSB Coral to supplement the Aussie's 105mm towed howitzers. After priming it with flat black Krylon ColorMax rattle can primer procured from the local hardware store, I used Tamiya XF74 JDSF Olive Drab as the base color. I brush painted the rubber on the road wheels with Tamiya XF84 Rubber. Winsor & Newton oils were used for filters and a dot filter. As the M109 series is made of aluminum alloy, I did a bit of chipping along the edges, spades, and drivers hatch with Tamiya X32 Titanium Silver allied with a small bit of sponge. The model was sprayed with Future in preparation for the decals and again to seal them. I then weathered with various AK Interactive streaking products and filters. I sprayed a light dry coat of AK Red-brown filter to represent the Vietnam reddish dust. This was then followed by AK Vietnam Earth pigments and a final sealer of Testor's Dullcote.
This is a nice addition to my collection of US artillery.
How did you airbrush this if I may ask? 🙂
Careful and clean work with subtle weathering. Top result!
Nice subtle weathering 👍
excellent job. beautiful weathering.
I first primed with a rattle-can flat black enamel primer from the local do-it-yourself store. The Krylon ColorMax brand that I use is inexpensive, lays down well, and sticks to brass and metal better than anything else that I've tried.
I use a Badger 100G gravity feed, double action airbrush. I use Tamiya paints thinned with Mr Color Leveling Thinner. I find that this thinner results in a thinner, smoother coat than the Tamiya thinner. I airbrushed panels on the the upper surfaces with Tamiya flat white mixed 1:1 with Mr Color Leveling thinner as a "pre-sun". This leaves the black in all of the recesses, edges, and vertical surfaces for shadow effects. I find this less work than priming with light gray and then pre-shading with black. I next applied Tamiya XF74 JDSF Olive Drab thinned 1:1 with Mr Color Leveling Thinner as the base color. This is applied in multiple very light coats starting in the center of each panel and expanding out. On the vertical surfaces, I spray at an angle from the top down allowing a bit of the black to show through at the bottom edges. Things like the underside of the barrel don't get any of the base color - the black looks like natural shadow. The goal is to allow a bit of the black and white to show through as sun and shade. If you think that you need to add another coat, stop and put the airbrush away. The black and white have to be a bit exaggerated at this point or the weathering process will make it disappear.
The dot filter provides depth of color and and some streaking. It can only be applied to a flat acrylic finish - it doesn't work on a satin or glossy finish. I use Winsor & Newton oil paints and Mona Lisa, a very "mild white spirits. I squeeze a small amount of of each color of oil paint onto a square of card board and let it set for about 20 minutes to allow the cardboard to absorb some of the oil in the paint. For an OD finish, I use, Yellow Ochre, Gray, Green, White, Blue, Burnt Sienna, and Burnt Umber oils. The white and blue have a big impact, so I use very few dots of these. One panel at a time, I use a toothpick to put a very small dot of the colors on the panel - a little goes a long way. I use lighter colors on the upper surfaces and the upper side of the vertical surfaces and darker colors on the lower half. Use a flat brush slightly moistened with white spirits to drag the oil dots down the sides of the model. On the horizontal surfaces, I just swirl it around. I use the browns on the panels that the crew would walk on to get into and out of the vehicle - in this case, the patch to the driver's hatch. It gives a ground-in dirty look. The beauty of the oil paints is that you have a very long time to work with the paint, and if you don't like the way a panel looks, just brush it off with a bit more white spirit and start over
I cut up a plastic yard sign into 5cm squares as paint mules. These are primed and ready to test and practice my painting and weathering process on.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have questions.
Neuling, Thanks for kind words. I strive to reach your level of craftsmanship.
Thanks. The weathering on this one gave me problems trying to represent the red-orange soil of Vietnam. I initially had it too orange and it just didn't look right; but, I kept modifying until I got the effect that I was looking for.
Thanks for the detailed info, and congrats again. I think you nailed it