In-Box Review
US Artillery Crew
US Artillery Crew
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


The past few years have been a mini-renaissance for what was called in Napoleon's time the "queen of the battlefield," artillery (now often called the "King of the Battlefield"). Many new kits have come out, though unfortunately a majority seem to be offered without crews. Master Box, one of the current innovators in styrene figures, has just released a solution for US guns lacking crews with one intended for the larger calibers.

what you get

Inside the usual MB box is a single sprue of tan plastic that has been broken into two pieces. (Ed Note: Our apologies to Bill, but actually it's just this way to fit in the box we sent to him. The kit comes as one solid sprue.)

the review

The molding and execution of Master Box figures has improved dramatically in recent years, and the set is one of their better efforts. Each figure is made up of six parts with separate helmets. Two of the figures have a second set of arms & hands to allow for a different pose. Those of you who are good with your hands could probably even combine two sets for a bigger mob.

The molds are crisp with little or no flash and only modest seam lines. The clothing folds are good, though not as sophisticated as some others I've seen, but well within the limits of acceptability. The hands especially are as close to resin quality as I've seen in recent styrene offerings (see close-up photo at right). There are none of the usual indistinct globs, but instead fingers in realistic positions.

While big guns like the M115 8" howitzer or 155mm "Long Tom" typically had 14-man crews, this set gives you enough figures to make a diorama look realistically busy. The set builds up into six crewmen:

  • Three loaders in various positions
  • One sponger (can also be a loader with different arms)
  • One gunner aiming the piece (also a second set of arms in a different elevation)
  • One radio telephone operator for indirect fire (complete with radio set)

While one large shell is included, you will still need to come up with ammunition if you intend to build a fire base. The cover shows one of the loaders pulling out a propellent bag from a canister, but unfortunately nothing of the sort in included.

One of my pet peeves with artillery crews is that often they look like infantry squads pressed into manning a gun: lots of packs, gear and hanging accoutrements that could get caught in the violently moving parts of a busy cannon. This crew, on the other hand, is stripped for action - at least three of them are, with two in skivvy shirts and one sporting a bare chest.

He looks in pretty good shape, and maybe his sculpted abs will attract a few more female modelers to the hobby the way the many naked and half-naked fantasy female figures have found a market among us males.

The crew is perfectly-matched for the AFV Club M115 8" howitzer or 155mm "Long Tom" kits, and I'm glad to have the option of building the former in a fire base diorama instead of in transport mode. Six figures are a realistic option instead of 2-3 resin ones at 2x-3x the price of plastic.

As per Master Box's usual custom, the assembly and painting guides are color photo montages on the back of the box. The parts aren't numbered on the sprues, so care must be taken in removing them in the right order, though the figures aren't terribly complicated. The painting guide offers only Vallejo and Lifecolor choices, and numbers instead of color names, so research your paint options before beginning the build.


Anyone with a big gun in their stash should immediately seek out this set and add it to the mix. The molding, poses and execution of the figures is exemplary, and continues Master Box's recent run of interesting, creative and useful figure sets. While not quite a "diorama in a box," this set will bring life to any artillery build if handled correctly.
Highs: Crisp molding, little or no flash, seam lines within the specs for most styrene figures.
Lows: Some of the figures might look out-of-place with a small caliber gun.
Verdict: Good value for money. I recommend this set highly for anyone looking to crew their bigger guns.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: MB3577
  Suggested Retail: $14.95
  PUBLISHED: Mar 08, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United States

Our Thanks to Dragon USA!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Bill Cross (bill_c)

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright 2021 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.


Regarding the comments that a 155mm shell is too heavy for one soldier to lift: LINK LINK KL
MAR 08, 2013 - 05:31 PM
You'll easily note that neither of those guys is holding that 90 lb shell away from his body in a pose like the MB figure. The first guy is resting it on his knee and the second appears to barely be able to keep it from falling on the ground. Next time you're in Home Depot, swing by the Quickcrete products and see if you can hold an 80 lb sack of cement in the same pose as the MB figure. Now try two... (The 8" shell included in the kit is still 40 lb heavier than that.) The pose on the MB figure shows something that's clearly wrong. The point's not that it's not humanly possible to lift the 95lb shell, however, it is that it's not likely that anyone could hold it in a static position like the MB figure pose.
MAR 09, 2013 - 02:04 AM
That's true, but the MB pose doesn't show a static pose: it's a soldier in the process of hoisting the shell into the breech. No, I can't hold *still* with a cement bag like that, but take a photo of me heaving the bag off the cart and up into the pick-up bed . . . What's the biggest complaint over the years of most company's figure sets? Static poses. Here MB shows someone in motion, and it turns out we don't like that either. KL
MAR 09, 2013 - 02:44 AM
Thanks, Russ, I have the 8" kit from AFV Club and simply wanked. I have emended the review, and appreciate the correction! Guys, the shell thing can be worked out, whether pushing it into the breech or onto a loading dolly. It's a nice problem to have, though.
MAR 09, 2013 - 07:33 AM
Not trying to toot my own horn here but what is the problem with a redleg being able to pick up a 200lb shell? As a football player i can bench 225 around 14 times, i can shoulder shrug which essentially is the motion being made here just under 500lbs around 30 times... For someone trained and who does it daily in the prime of his life I don't really see the pose as being unrealistic but thats just my two cents
MAR 09, 2013 - 08:57 AM
A very generic set which is a good thing. It makes it flexible enough to be used for many guns and different militaries. I am into the Vietnam era and I am using many of the parts for the diorama I am trying to make with a pair of M102 howitzers. I will use the base Hobby Fan figure kit and add some of these figures on with the addition of Vietnam era lower bodies. Since the only thing artillery men wore was a helmet it makes it much easier to do, no packs or guns. Many of the Vietnam era troops only wore a set of trousers, boots and a helmet so the bare upper torsos will help a lot.
MAR 10, 2013 - 06:01 PM
Apologies for bumping up a old (and excellent) review. I wanted to ask what kind of com gear is in this MB3577 kit? Is this the wire reel phone and if so what is the number? EE-8-B? TA-838PT? What is this box on a battery on the sprue?
APR 15, 2016 - 08:09 PM
BC-659 radio per Frenchy at this link
APR 16, 2016 - 04:09 AM
Thanks, SG, for adding that to the discussion.
APR 17, 2016 - 10:43 PM

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