In a place where heavy weaponry is scarce, yet war against a fairly well armed government has raged for years, there are bound to be some ingenious improvised arms. From bomb slingshots, catapults and machine gun robots commanded using PlayStation controllers to truck-mounted mortar systems and makeshift tanks, Syrian rebels developed all sorts of do-it-yourself weapons to fight against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
One of the most famous improvised firearms seen in Syrian Civil War is Hell Cannon. The term actually describes a class of mortar-like weapons, first rigged up in the rural areas near Idlib by the Ahrar al-Shamal Brigade, then a member force of the Free Syrian Army, in 2013. The homegrown howitzer caught on and was soon produced in slightly different variants in and around Aleppo, and used for urban warfare.
Mortar artillery Syria (MAC35011) from MacOne Models is a full resin kit delivering Hell Cannon in 1/35 scale. The kit comes packaged in a plastic blister box with an image of the model, fully assembled and painted. Opening the box reveals 16 resin pieces, 2 styrene rods and a piece of textured plasticard. There are no instructions included, however step-by-step assembly guide is available on MacOne Models website (link
The pieces are cast in grey resin. I found a seam line going down the barrel of the cannon… some careful sanding and the surface is nice and flush. One of the gas cylinder fuses is missing the tip and one wheel rim is missing a bolt, probably due to air bubbles getting trapped in resin during the casting process. The carrier blocks are large and a bit difficult to remove, but extra effort and patience is well worth it as the cleaned pieces look absolutely great with the details nicely rendered.
The kit represents one of the Hell Cannon iterations, a massive piece of artillery with a reported range of 1 mile. The cannon barrel is about 3 feet long, mounted on wheels and towed. It is muzzle loaded. Explosive powder such as ammonium nitrate is first dropped into the muzzle and ramrodded with a wooden stick. The projectile is a re-purposed propane gas cylinder filled with explosives and shrapnel (the payload). Welded to the payload is about a 2-foot metal tube (the tail) with the stabilizing tail fins forming a flat base. Although the concept looks more as a propaganda push than a functional tool of war, the 1/35 scale kit from MacOne Models offers many painting and finishing possibilities.
The assembly instructions on MacOne Models website are clear and informative, making the build pretty much straightforward. After taking some time to study the pieces, I decided to modify the assembly sequence a bit, thinking it might help in aligning the pieces optimally.
First I dry-fitted the wheels to the axle. I glued the axle to the chassis, making sure both the chassis and the wheels touch the ground, thus maintaining a perfect geometry of the subassembly. To find the optimal position of the barrel, I glued the center support beam to the chassis first. I fixed the barrel to the chassis and the center support beam, then gluing two side support beams. I think this procedure ensures optimal alignment of the barrel and front support beams. I recreated weld lines between the barrel and the support beams, as well as between the beams and the chassis, using Magic Sculp modeling putty. For this build I decided to leave the front loader's platform off. The references show some Hell Cannon variants without the platform and I must admit the model looks better to me without it. Finally I fixed the tow bracket to the chassis.
When I first saw Mortar artillery Syria (MAC35011) from MacOne Models released in 1/35 scale, I knew I had to have it. The kit looked impressive from the first glance and after building the model, I must admit I like it even more. Yes, there were some casting imperfections in the resin pieces and perhaps the assembly might seem complex, but the extra effort definitely shows and the model looks super cool. I would highly recommend this kit to anyone interested in modeling something different.
PS If your diorama idea requires additional projectiles, these are available as Gas bottles (MAC35012). Or even better, get Mortar artillery Syria & gas bottles (MAC35013) instead, a kit which includes both the Hell Cannon and additional 8 gas bottle projectiles at a reduced price.