Kit Reviews Roden 1/35 BL -8 inch Howitzer Mk VI

smeg-head

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#1
Roden 1/35 BL 8-inch Howitzer Mk. VI

1190732-13385-62-pristine.jpg

Manufactured at the Vickers Plant in the UK in 1915, it was given the War Office designation Mark VI as it was significantly more advanced on the older Mark V. The biggest improvement featured the hydraulics to counter the massive recoil of the gun. With a combat range of almost 10km and a shelling sector of 4 degrees to the left or right and 50 degrees up or down, this was a fearsome weapon. Unfortunately, the weight of the gun was some three tons more than the mark V. Being such a cumbersome design and load meant the gun had to be towed into combat by either the FWD Truck or the Holt Tractor. This meant that the gun wasn't that mobile, and should the enemy advance too close, there was no chance of getting the guns to safety. As it happened, none of the Mark VIs were surrendered to the enemy.
The gun saw WW1 service on all fronts, including Macedonia and in Palestine and was employed by Canadian and Australian gunners and a small number found their way to Imperial Russia.
The U.S. built their own version of the Mk VI under licence from Britain. They were made at the Armstrong Company. U.S. MkVIs were donated to the Finnish Government to assist against Soviet aggression and remained in service until the end of WW2. By 1960, the guns had been declared obsolete and were sent to various museums and military camps to act as gate guards

The Model:

The kit is packaged in a sturdy two-part box. Inside are the instructions and a small photo-etch fret sealed in plastic, and all the sprues sealed in another plastic bag. No decals are included as artillery pieces rarely had markings. As well as the gun itself, there is a small limber and a foldaway firing platform. Considering the fact that this lot was towed in line-astern, there would be several problems cornering and achieving any sort of flat-out speed! Control would also be a problem.
The Kit itself comes in 7 sprues of pale grey plastic plus a sprue of grey vinyl for the gun's road wheels. There is also a small photo-etched fret containing manufacturer's placards. Care needs to be taken with the wheels during assembly as there are three different pairs that all look the same. The mouldings are very well done with very little flash and little, if no moulding lines. There are one or two release pin marks but nothing to worry about.
The firing platform can be assembled in the firing or transport positions, a nice little touch for those who want some degree of variation. This is a model that screams out for figures, either in transit or using the gun. Unfortunately, there were none with the kit and very few available online!
The black and white instructions are eight pages in length. The first page gives a history and statistics in English, German, and Ukrainian. Next comes the color scheme based upon Vallejo paints and diagrams showing all the sprues and part locations. The instructions are clear and provide ten steps to assemble the howitzer and carriage. An additional four steps cover the assembly of the limber and firing platform. The painting instructions show a dark green British Expeditionary Forces example, and a US Army Expeditionary Forces example in the three-color olive, brown, and black camouflage scheme. The black and white instructions make it difficult to differentiate between the black and brown. The box art is no help as it illustrates a British example. You will have to rely upon other references to determine where the black ends and the brown begins. Printing this page in color would have resolved the confusion.
I used Bronze Green for the gun and limber with a faded Olive Green for shading. The firing platform was undercoated in khaki with a top coat of Russian Uniform Green. These colours (all Vallejo) are as near as dammit to the real article. Weathering was done using Light Sand and Flat Earth and any bare metal was accomplished using metallic grey.

Sprue and parts breakdown

A – 15, Barrel, lower carriage & spade
B – 31, Upper carriage, breach block, and trail details
C – 19 , Limber and firing platform
D – 21 (x2) Wheels
E – 4, Firing platform and limber
F – 1, Box trail
G – 2, Wheel treads
P – 4, Photo-etch placards

Conclusion

A nice easy little build with plenty to get your teeth into. I finished this in two days and am very pleased with the result. Excellent as a presentation piece, diorama or stand-alone model. The only down side to me was a lack of gun crew figures.
Rating: An excellent 5 out of 5
Smeggers..
 
#2
Tidy!

The first mark not to be a cobble-together from a sawn-off 6in coast-defence gun.

I don't think a Yankee FWD tractor would have moved one of those apart from across a parade ground.
 

smeg-head

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#3
Tidy!

The first mark not to be a cobble-together from a sawn-off 6in coast-defence gun.

I don't think a Yankee FWD tractor would have moved one of those apart from across a parade ground.
Roden models has a different viewpoint....

For towing the gun to fighting positions it was connected with a bulky forward part, the limber, which was hauled by a heavy transporter such as the FWD truck or a Holt 75 tractor.
s-l1600-650x423.jpg

Alternatively, from Anticsonline.....

FWD's first 3-ton Model B, along with its first 1-?-ton Model G, have survived in the FWD Museum. In the British Army the F.W.D. was mainly used as a gun tractor but it also saw service as a supply carrier for heavy or awkward loads.
IMG_3527-743910.JPG

or megahobby.....

In the British army the Model B was used primarily as a tractor of heavy guns.
RD0713-2.jpg
 
#4
Roden models has a different viewpoint....

OK, but there are any number of photos of 8in howitzers being towed by Holt tractors (and 6in guns, the Mk XIX shared its carriage with the Mks VI, VII and VIII) but I've never seen a photo of one being towed by a FWD. Their main role was towing 6in 26cwt howitzers, of which we had rather a lot.
 
Last edited:

ugly

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#5
I want to see it built!
 
#6
#8
@smeghead some data on artillery equipment weights and traction for you.

Above horse-drawn field artillery the next largest equipments were:-

The 60pdr (5in) gun. The MkI weighed 4t 8cwt complete and was normally towed by a team of ten heavy draught horses. The MkII and III weighed 5t 7cwt and 5t respectively and were normally towed by Holt tractors.

The 6in 26cwt howitzer. Weighed 3t 12cwt and was towed by the FWD tractor.

The 6in gun. After a few ancient ex-coast guns mounted on very dodgy carriages and towed in bits by traction engines the MkVII (also a coast gun) was fitted onto a cobbled 'Percy Scott' carriage and weighed 25t 4cwt. The improved MkXIX was mounted, as above, on the same carriage as the later 8in howitzers and weighed only 10t 3cwt.

The 8in howitzer. The MkI to MkV were all sawn-off and bored-out coast guns mounted on primitive carriages and weighed 13t 16cwt give-or-take. The MkVI was the first designed for the role and weighed 8t 10cwt, the MkVII and MkVIII were improvements and weighed 8t 10cwt and 8t 17cwt.

The 6in guns and 8in howitzers were all towed by Holt tractors (incidentally without limbers, only the horse-drawn 60pdrs used them). From the above it would seem that the limit for the FWD on the battlefield was about 4t.

At the armistice the British Armies in France had the above:-
456 60pdr guns,
1042 6in howitzers,
152 6in guns
240 8in howitzers,
plus 25 larger guns and 296 larger howitzers.

Hope this helps!
 

smeg-head

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#9
Very useful indeed. Like you, I can only go with the information I have to hand. As there are models available showing the FWD 3-ton Truck towing the gun and limber, as well as documentary material, one can only assume this was fact. Looking at the weights, and incidentally, including the mobile firing platform, I have to agree with you. The weight would be far too much for the FWD.
 

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