After the Boer War, the British Army undertook a major revamp of their artillery organization, doctrine, and equipment. The quick-firing (fixed ammunition) 18-pounder was one of the new pieces, introduced in 1904. The gun became the standard, and possibly the most important, field gun of the Royal Field Artillery during World War One, serving at many echelons in all theaters.
A gun section consisted of two guns, each with limber, and one shared ammunition wagon with limber - each drawn by a team of six. The most common shell, initially, was shrapnel until difficulties with high explosive were overcome. Other shells, such as smoke, gas, and star were also used.
It was typical in major actions to find guns lined up for miles, 15-25 yards apart, not quite hub-to-hub, but still lots of them. By the end of WW1, 18-pdrs had fired some 99.3 million rounds on the Western Front alone, out of a total of 113 million rounds produced. If I did the arithmetic right, that means on average over 2600 18-pdr shells were in the air on the Western Front every hour of the entire war - sobering.
The pole trail, good for horse-drawn mobility, restricted elevation and indirect fire capability. By the end of the war, it had morphed into the Mk.IV with a box trail, which became the basis for the 25-pounder of WW2 fame.
An interesting and significant artillery piece as the references below cover in much more detail than I could.
The kit is of a Mk.I or Mk.II gun, (they are the same except for manufacturing) and can be portrayed on either the Mk.I or the Mk.I*/Mk.II carriage - the significant difference among them being the recuperator. The kit is bare bones - the only item of gear is the sight bag (B10) - numerous cases and such are not represented, nor are the shovel, aiming stakes, drag ropes, or tools stored within the trail.
Here are the requisite parts pix. The parts come sealed in several small bags, all neatly protected by bubble-wrap.
The instruction booklet is folded 8-1/2 paper with black & white photos. The cover has two period photos, followed by an inventory page, followed by 10 pages of instructions, followed by 3 pages of period photos, and then the missing/damaged parts claim form on the back cover.
Instruction pages consist of 3-5 photos, usually showing different views, possibly some text. The pages are not discrete steps so there may be additional images on the next page. Part number errors exist. The instructions must be read for understanding. Different views require double-checking because often they switch from over/under and front/back.
Starting with the parts inventory inside the front cover, the notation x1 means one is needed and provided, while x1+1 means one is needed/provided plus one spare is provided. Included are two each left seats (A13) and two each right seats (A14) but only one of each are needed. Two each left bell crank (W16) and two each right bell crank (W17) are provided, with the two W17 being different, but only one of each is needed and no reason is provided for the difference. The inventory calls for two each brake/seat arm (W18) and all the assembly steps show that, but actually provided are one each W18 and one each W19 and they are mirrored parts - I think the assembly picture will sort that out. There are 5 hand wheels (B11) and while only 3 are needed, they are a bit fragile so the extras are handy. The "eyelets" (RL) are not on the inventory but two of the four are needed.
I will highlight the corrections to the instructions as the build progresses. In the meantime, since the pages are un-numbered, you might want to open the booklet to the page titled "Gun Assembly" and label that page 1, and then continue on until you reach the labeled drawing which should be page 10. I know I said that pages are not discrete steps, but it is convenient to do this.
Off we go …. Well, first a digression - please see "The Half Point" for some illustrations which complement the discussions below, in particular attaching the wheels to get the proper representation.
After cutting the plug off the back of the trail (W1), sand it flat, and test fit it on the spade (A2) as shown on page 7 to avoid doing it with all sorts of parts attached. Then attach the trail to the cradle (A4) as shown in the drawing and first two photos.
Attach the left bell-crank (W16) and the right bell-crank (W17). Again, there are two of each and the two right ones are different. I chose the shorter/smaller right bell-crank as that matched the photos best. Note that the center right photo, labeled "UNDER" is correct. The lower left photo, also labeled "UNDER", is really "TOP" and the labels for the bell-cranks (W16,W17) are reversed. Neither photo shows exactly how they fit on the cradle, nor does the bottom right photo which doesn't show them at all.
Now look at page 10, the drawing, and place the 13mm rod between the bell-cranks before attaching the shield (W5). It can do be done after but it isn't fun (ask me).
Finally, in the bottom right photo, attach the shield to the cradle/trail/bell-crank assembly. I used a small square file to gently expand the notch in the end of the trail and then gently used a 1/8" drill to open up the hole in the end of the trail, test-fitting on the shield the whole time. Note that the trunnions on the cradle do not glue to the shield. And as I said, note this photo, conceptually the final step, does not show the bell-cranks installed.
This step and next are critical to correct alignment of the model.
Here the axles (W20) and brackets (A10,A11) are attached to the assembly from page 1.
Before that, open the holes in the wheels (W) slightly to allow them to slide easily onto the axles later. Do not trim off a little "key" on the axles - it is not a mold flaw.
I would have phrased the instructions better - "place the axles into the brackets, lining up the keys on the axles with the notches in the brackets". These keys/notches keep you from having to worry about the axle orientation to get the proper "cranking".
And in the 3rd picture, again W16 and W17 are reversed.
I can understand attaching the wheels at this point, but I thought they would be in the way, so I used Blu-Tac to hold them on for now and glued them at the end of page 4. I now wish I had held off until after page 6 to allow more freedom to work on the small items.
The brake supports (W18) are really W18 and W19 as I mentioned earlier, and from the top, W19 goes on the left and W18 on the right. The brake supports must be lined up with the wheels, attached or not at this time.
I think the instructions intended the brakes be glued to the wheels, but since I didn't glue the wheels, I didn't glue the brakes. If the gun will be in a firing position, the brakes would be set so gluing is appropriate - I have the brakes touching the wheels, and I'll tighten all that up later.
I had some difficulty with W18 - it wasn't long enough and I might have an alignment issue somewhere. I did a bit of sanding to try and take out the difference, but in the end patched in a very short stub to make the support slightly longer.
Lastly, the brake rods (W21,W22) are attached - and note the carriage in the picture is upside down. Brake rod W21 runs from the little channel piece on the support through the arms on the bell-crank and out the hole in the shield. I found this to be a bit short, barely sticking past the shield, and used a piece of plastic rod instead. The bottom photo on page 9 shows how the crank (W23) attaches to W21, but note W23 isn't well-labeled.
Brake rod W22 runs from the little channel on the support to the arm on the bell-crank -- what looks like a small lever/release should be on the outside. However W22 did not clear the axle and thus did not sit on W16. I do not know what the issue is, I don't think W16 could have been placed lower on the cradle as then the 13mm rod would run level. I faked it with a small piece of scrap.
Here is the choice of gun model/mark by recuperator - long (W2) or short (W3) plus oil-reservoir (W4). An even earlier gun could be represented by grafting the front-end tip of the long recuperator onto the short one instead of the oil reservoir.
I like options, and one would be to allow the gun to be displayed in recoil. I drilled a hole into the back of the recuperator to take a 1.2mm rod and did not glue the barrel into the recuperator assembly just yet. This gun has long recoil, 49 inches, as you can see approximated here. In the end, I decided to not show the gun out of battery, but it was an interesting exercise.
It is advisable to defer gluing the barrel assembly until later. I had to sand a little from the inside rear of the cradle to clear the gun ring (A17) and allow it to elevate as I wanted and check that the elevating screw (B3) would fit into the holes as shown on page 5.
You will see from the pictures that I jumped ahead to page 7 and added the two seats (A13,A14) and the spade parts (A2,A3,A7) to the trail - no particular reason other than I started painting about here.
The right side wheel (B19) and range indicator (B12) are easy. On the left side, fit the elevating screw (B3) to achieve the desired gun angle/elevation before gluing the barrel. The quadrant mount (B13) is fairly clear in the 2nd photo.
As for the two gear shafts (B2), I ended up reducing the upper one to 3mm and the lower one to about 1mm. As provided, they stick out quite a bit, more so with the hand wheels on, so I brought them back in such that they would be closer to the sight line, not in line with each other, and not conflicting with the brake rods and such. It was pure eyeball and BMJ. Look at the top photo on page 6 also.
Warning: here my AMS overcame my OOB as I didn't think the rocking-bar sight (B22) and the dial sight ( R) were quite right.
From my references, the rocking bar sight should have an angled mount at the front and test-fitting lead me to think the front and back parts of the sight itself were too short. The dial sight was something else completely - there was the appearance of a dial, but not a very big one. Also the black tube under the mount did not appear to belong there, and may prevent the sight from attaching to the quadrant (B13). And there is no representation of the firing handle.
So, I lopped off the black tube off the dial sight mount and used it to add onto the rear of the rocking-bar sight, I clipped off the front part of the rocking-bar sight and added a 2mm section, and I made a mount from scrap, being concerned with appearance and fit, not absolute fidelity.
I cut the provided dial sight into several pieces, made a new dial, then put it back together with a slightly different configuration, but about the same height.
The firing handle was made from brass and plastic rod. The firing handle has to work the trigger and such mounted inside the layer's guard (B9), so I made a few little blocks from scrap and painted them steel(-ish) to replicate all that. I jumped ahead to step 7, mounted the layer's guard, with "mechanism", and then tacked in the firing handle.
We're now back in the instructions, whether you modified anything or not, so add the dial sight and the rocking bar sight. The rocking bar should center in the cross-window in the shield. See also the first picture on page 7.
For me, these were just clean-up steps as I had already added the seats and other parts. Please note there should be grab handles on the spade. I chose one style, I have seen several others.
The wheels, if not already mounted, should be to protect the shields and sights. Here I have drawn lines to mark the trail, axles, and wheel track, the latter scaled at 62 inches. I braced the carriage and eye-ball aligned the wheels to get the "proper" arrangement then put a little superglue in to hold them. When dry I made sure they would stay on.
The lower shield (W6) can be down as shown or folded back and clamped under the trail. The clamp is not represented, so I used a small piece of scrap to do so. The lower shield hangs down freely, so it should appear vertical to the ground.
Part ?? is B1, the advance ring, which I think is for pulling the gun forward. It has nothing to do with gaining entry to the storage area inside the front of the trail.
I left off the sight bag (B10). Almost none of the gear normally attached to the shield and carriage is included, something I will address later. The upper shield (A9) can be raised, folded forward, or left off - which is what I chose to do at this time - I may fold it forward at a later date. W23 is the brake actuating crank mentioned earlier.
Lastly parts RL look like small eyelets but are really part of "drag washers" - a rotating ring with an eye (part RL) for the drag rope hook. The instructions show them upright, but they should hang down. Use only one per wheel - if this were a heavier gun it would have a loop washer with two eyes. I did cut much of the shaft off.
Paint and Finishing.
There are several options for grey, green, and camo -- I chose Humbrol enamel #159 Khaki Drab based on remarks by Mike Starmer and/or Dick Taylor in some of their works.
I modeled the brass on the color (centerfold) print in Reference #2 and some images found on the web. I did read that guns are like colors to the artillery and great care was taken to keep them spiffy at all times, even rubbing them down with oily rags. I may add a bit of shine to this at a later date.
The brass paint is Model Master; anything else is Vallejo including a couple washes.
SummaryIt has long been my opinion that Resicast expects modelers who purchase their products to have some knowledge of the prototype as little to no color, marking, or usage information is provided – this kit is the “none” end of their spectrum.Resicast parts are uniformly well detailed and cast, with parts numbers on the runners. From that perspective, their kits can be a good introduction to resin kit assembly. Their instructions are not quite to the same standard, but once you get used to them, it's OK. You have to build the model.My bout of AMS with the sights is my interpretation - with the exception of the firing handle, probably extremely fragile in resin, the basic gun is complete.However, I am disappointed that none of the gear associated with this gun was provided, other than one sight bag. There are any number of cases and things attached to various places on the gun. I am also disappointed there is no photo-etch for finer things like chains, pins, and latches. All of this can be corrected from the spares box, but I would have preferred to have them.Nonetheless, I have already bought their second 18-pdr kit, #35.1237, which includes a limber and an ammunition wagon. I wish they would release the limber as a separate item so I could have a complete section. I guess that's a good endorsement and justification of my evaluation:Highly Recommended for experienced modelers.I’d like to sincerely thank Resicast for providing AMPS the review sample.
Resicast also makes a diorama base for this gun, reviewed here.
The Half Point
For history and general technical information, all of these provide something - #4 and/or #5 are very useful and free. #2 makes a good supplement to either of these.
For the complete technical and detail geek, #1 is the clear winner. #2 is again very useful, this time for the color drawings and information, especially the 18-pdr "centerfold". #3 can also be useful, but note it is very early war and some of the info can be found in #1.
I relied heavily on #1, #2, and #3 for terminology, background, and the details to make corrections, some commented on below.
1. Early British Quick Firing Artillery (Field and Horse), Len Trawin, Nexus Special Interests, Hertfordshire, England, 1997, ISBN 1-85486-154-9.
2. British Artillery 1914-1919 Field Army Artillery, Dale Clarke, Osprey New Vanguard, 2004, ISBN 1-84176-688-7.
3. Handbook of the 18-PR. Q.F. Gun Land Service, HMSO, 1913 (updated to 1914).
4. Ordnance QF 18-pounder, Wikipedia article:
5. Ordnance QF 18-pounder; Landships British Artillery article by Terry Gander:
6. British Artillery Weapons and Ammunition 1914-1918, I.V. Hogg & L.F. Thurston, Ian Allan Ltd, 1972, SBN 7110 0381 5.
7. The Workhorse. The 18 Pdr - Warrior of two world wars, Terry Gander, Airfix Magazine, August 1980.
Attaching the wheels. Trawin (Ref #1) has an extensive discussion of wheel construction from which I am going to extract just enough to explain what I consider a crucial aspect of modeling horse-drawn artillery.
Because of the severe side loads on wheels as they were galloped around the battlefield, the spokes were dished. To force the lower portion of the dished wheel vertical, the axles were angled (cranked) downwards. The wheels were beveled to make the tire run flat on the ground. There are a couple other design points, but these are not significant to modeling.
Resicast has designed this in. The two wheels have some dish and bevel and the axles (page 2) are cranked down, but the instructions do not explain enough about this. Regardless of when the wheels and brakes are glued on be aware of the desired effect. There is a distinct difference of "track" on the bottom of the wheels (62 inches) and the top (72 inches) and this may take some eyeball alignment to get a decent representation and keep the wheels looking straight and parallel from the top.Sights. Here is a composite of the information from Trawin (#1) that I worked with for the sights and firing handle on page 6. I should note the gun had independent line of sight, meaning the hand wheel on the right side moved the gun and range gear independently of the rocking-bar sight while the hand wheel on the left side moved all three together. From a modeling perspective, it means you do not need to have the rocking bar sight aligned perfectly with the gun centerline.
Stores and equipment . A simple shot from behind the gun to show all the cases - there are at least 7 - not provided in the kit. Reference #1 and #3 provide all the information needed.