by: Steven Eldridge [ ]
The M109A6 is an updated version of the initial M109, first introduced in the 1960s. Its variants have been fielded by the United States in every major conflict since Vietnam giving it a tried and tested combat history as an extremely effective self-propelled gun. It is capable of both indirect and direct fire, acting as non-line-of-sight artillery as well as having direct fire, anti armour capabilities.
The A6 variant (named 'Paladin') saw this veteran vehicle receive upgraded armour, drive train, suspension and main gun mount. Internal systems have also been modernised with the integration of electronic systems for navigation, automation of some aspects of weapon handling. Also installed is a suite of communication systems allowing the vehicle to be connected into the modern battle net.
This is the second re-box of the 1999 Italeri kit with some additional parts added by Tamiya.
Upon opening the box you are greeted with 5 sprues of sand coloured plastic parts, 2 vinyl tracks, a small PE fret, a decal sheet and a sheet of printed MRE boxes. Having not seen the original kits, its hard to say which parts are new and which are Italeri, but sprue F (with the figures and stowage) is labelled ‘Tamiya’ so one could assume this is their contribution.
Sprue A – This contains the wheels, suspension, some hull components and detail parts like tools and jerry cans
Sprue B – Main hull parts, including the tub and top of the hull
Sprue C – Main turret components including gun mount and travel lock
Sprue E – Gun barrel, top hatches, .50 cal machine gun and detailing parts like jerry cans
Sprue F – Crew figures, stowage, details parts such as identification boards, spare tracks, jerry cans and spare road wheels
Sprue W – Small sprue with spare ammo cans, identification boards and more jerry cans
PE Fret – this includes the basket grills and some other detailing parts.
Also included is a sheet of printed MRE boxes.
Decal options are provided for 3 vehicles.
Although Tamiya haven’t tried to cover up this being an Italeri kit (the box has the Italeri logo also) if you were looking purely at the casting quality you could be forgiven in thinking this was a pure Tamiya kit. Details are sharp, while parts count and construction steps are fairly low making this an ideal weekend build.
As expected, there are soft mould lines thorough out this kit, but I must say I was very pleasantly surprised that there is almost no flash, no sink marks and very few injector pin marks.
Two crew figures are provided, and look pretty good for plastic figures. They aren’t as sharp as a resin figure, but they are always a welcome addition. Also provided is a set of stowage contain packs, bedrolls and a large tarp, spare wheels, spare tracks and 9 jerry cans - giving plenty of additional detailing options right out of the box.
The weapons provided include the main 155mm gun and a .50 machine gun for the hatch mount. The main gun barrel comes in 2 parts, while the machine gun is a single piece with a mould line running along the weapon’s length. There are no main gun rounds included, though there are a number of spare ammo cans for the machine gun.
All of the hatches can be displayed open, as can be seen when the vehicle is firing, though with no interior whatsoever, this may not be an option for some.
With very few alternatives for this subject, there aren’t too many options for the modeller looking to do an M109A6. The major competitor to this kit is the AFV club, which is superior in almost every way but which comes at a higher price and more complex build. This kit is perfect for the hobbyist who wants a quick build and is interested in modern SPGs and Artillery.