Tanks and air support were undoubtedly very important to any field army by 1939, but it remained the case that much of an army’s firepower came from its artillery. Throughout the 39-45 war the mainstay of Germany’s field artillery at divisional level was the le FH 18, the 105mm light field howitzer. Introduced in the mid 1930s, it saw widespread service on all fronts throughout the war, and was made in large numbers. With so many sets of German infantry on the market it is perhaps surprising that for many years the only model of this gun in 1/72 scale was that by Revell/Preiser, but that has now changed, and one of the models available is this by Armourfast, which comes with a crew of four.
We shall begin by looking at the gun itself. This model is exactly the same as that found in the Valiant set of German leFH18 105mm Howitzer and Crew, so is clearly a co-production. Whereas the Revell/Preiser model is of the standard FH 18, the one in this set is not, despite what it says on the box. This model has the muzzle brake that was only added in 1941 to permit greater charge and therefore greater range, so this is in fact the FH 18(M). However it is a pretty decent model with quite nice detail although naturally missing a lot of the complex gun mechanism to create a simplified model. The trails can be opened or closed as necessary, but if closed completely then it would still not be in transport mode as the trail spades cannot be changed. The carriage has wooden spoked wheels, which is perfectly authentic but means the transport would be horse-powered rather than mechanised (except perhaps in emergencies). A nice little model which will provide enough detail for many.
The four crew figures include an officer, a man carrying a shell, another with something small (perhaps a charge) and a fourth holding a ramming staff. The officer pose is a bit wooden, and we did wonder why the man with the rammer was kneeling down since this would not normally be necessary, but the poses do the job well enough. The officer wears full uniform including tunic, breeches and full-length boots, and even seems to have a decoration on his breast. His men are much more comfortably dressed, working in their shirt sleeves without any items of kit to encumber them. One wears a helmet but the others have a field cap and nothing at all, which is very reasonable. All bar the officer have some sort of assembly, but the parts fit together quite well and mean they are not flat. The sculpting is good on detail but a little clunky, although nothing to get particularly concerned about. While such a gun would call for more than four crew, these figures do the job of bringing the gun to life well.
The whole set is made in a suitably hard plastic, so all the parts can be easily glued. The various parts of the gun are crisply cast and well made, and there is minimal flash or noticeable ridge where the moulds meet on the figures. This is the first time that this particular model of gun has been made in this scale, and a pretty good job has been made of it.