Riich 35042 1/35 British Army 6 Pounder Anti-tank Gun w/Crew
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7-cwt anti-tank gun, usually just known as the 6-pounder, was brought into service to replace the overmatched 2-pdr, although the need to keep producing that held the unproven 6-pdr back for a while. The 6-pdr soon became the principal British anti-tank gun in the middle of the war until superseded by larger weapons such as the 17-pdr. The 6-pdr was also used as tank armament and variants were used as naval and aircraft weapons. The US used it as a 57mm anti-tank gun and many other countries used one or the other into the late 1950's or so.
Greg Rapson has previously reviewed this same basic kit for AMPS; the difference is that kit has a metal barrel and this has crew. Henry Milton has previously reviewed the US 57mm variant for AMPS; it is very similar except where it needs to be different for obvious reasons. I believe Riich.Models is coming out with a 57mm gun with crew, for a total of four boxings. Here are quick sprue shots.
This will be my first Riich.Models kit and my first 6-pdr since way back; the Peerless portee and maybe Tamiya, but certainly none of the many newer kits from AFV Club, Bronco, Resicast, etc. Other than the ubiquitous 2-pounder, I'm not an anti-tank gun guy, preferring my artillery to make big noises and big holes in the ground. Anyway, I cannot give you any comparison to help you decide the best 6-pounder kit so I'll confine myself to telling you how this went for me.
On my first look through the box, I was struck by three things
-- There are only four crew members, there ought to be five. The provided crew appear to be the section (or detachment) commander, the layer (#1), the loader (#2), and the ammunition number (#4) just behind the loader. Missing is the 2IC and link number (#3).
The gun crew have water bottles, entrenching tools, and some ammo pouches; the commander has binoculars, a case, and a pistol. There are no other weapons, which is proper, as they'd be stored with the vehicle unless an imminent threat existed.
The decal sheet offers rank for a sergeant, corporal, and a lance corporal and a choice of shoulder titles and formation patches for 3 units: #1-3 are the Durham Light Infantry of the 49th (West Riding) Division, #4-5 are the East Lancashires of the 53rd Welsh, and #6-7 appear to be of the 'Prinses Irene' Royal Netherlands Bde. Note the Durham L.I. (70th Bde) were disbanded as fillers about Oct '44 so these markings might be in error after that time. The instruction sheet tells you none of this and takes some study to sort out.
-- The single sprue of ammo is inadequate; you get two different size 6-round boxes, one single round box, one expended shell case, and several different packing tubes. For rounds you get two AP (Wa15), one APCBC (Wa16), one SVDS(APDS) (Wa17), and one HE (Wa22) for a total of 5, however you need 3 rounds in the on-shield ready-rack plus one each for the two crew posed as holding rounds, so it is both quite an odd mixture and a very barren scene not even reflecting the number of empty packing tubes for the number of rounds visible. Even if there were more rounds and packing cases, the 6-round boxes aren't made to be open, but can be.
I think SVDS is an early name for APDS and I am not sure that the inclusion on the decal sheet isn't anachronistic given this can be a later model gun. The decal sheet appears to offer enough to do one each of the 6-round boxes, the single round box, plus a case or two and a round or two. I am not exactly sure because the decal sheet layout and the instruction sheet require some sorting out to understand. I cannot comment on the accuracy of the shell or box markings.
-- Soft plastic, heavy sprue gates, flash, and seams are going to be trouble, especially with the many small, fine parts. It's not big flash, just an incipient raggedness along most edges that will need to be cleaned for a good result. Care must be taken removing parts from the heavy sprue gates and cleaning up afterwards. Seams, and flash, are highly visible on all the crew body parts. I do not want to belabor this and have a short series of close-ups to illustrate the issues. Not a fatal flaw, just take care. Henry Milton had much the same impression, so isn't a single kit issue.
It is my impression, this is a NWE kit, D-Day and beyond. The paint scheme, the crew's units, the APDS ammo, etc, place it somewhere in the UK or NWE from spring 1944 onward. The 49th and 53rd Divisions arrived in Normandy in early and late June respectively; the Netherlands Bde in early August. With the exception of the Durham L.I., as mentioned above, they remained there until the end of the war. The crew are not in winter uniform.
There are only two options. The first is the obvious firing or traveling position, although why one would buy a gun with crew only to put it in travel mode escapes me. For the other option you may attach parts to provide a "spaced armor" shield. The instructions mention this is for "later versions" but do not say when "later" is. I've not found much information on it, and most pictures I have do not show the spaced shields.
I guess a third option is juggling the ammo and that includes deciding whether to use the open ready-rack or an alternative "ready box" - it's not all that obvious what is going on, and no explanation is given. In fact, a study of period images indicates that leaving the rack off would be entirely appropriate and save the ammo juggling.
The kit does not provide the big side shields which were rarely used anyway.
The instructions appear nicely done, busy but not too cluttered, and have detailed color call-outs as you go along. There are glitches however and study of the current and following steps is highly recommended. In a few places the perspective of a part does not match how it attaches, e.g. step 6, pivot B6 to the trail assembly.
Last, if the miniscule ammo supply is a Riich.Models marketing tool it works, at least on me. I found their 57mm & 6-pdr ammo set RE 30009 and bought one. It has four times what is in this kit, plus four wood boxes for a 57mm round, but not four times the decals - I only got two sets. AFV Club also has a 6 Pdr(57mm) Ammo set AF35174 in brass, four rounds each of AP, APCBC, APC, APDS, and empty case.
Travel or firing mode?
Decide this first then look at steps 6, 7, 9, and 14. Regardless, parts A28+29 of the trail clamp assembly in step 6 (and 9) are shown wrong - see instead step 14 (or 11,12). Part A35 would be horizontal as shown - if you think about that type latch you'll understand. In steps 5 and 6, the cradle clamps (B21) are mounted to the trails - ensure the longer ends are facing inward. You might want to open the holes in B16, B30 a tad to be sure they seat. Also in steps 5 and 6, there is a spreader (B17) to consider. See the detail in step 14 for all this. Last there is the sight cover in step 7; this is the only "problem" if you want to display your gun in either position as I sometimes like to do.
I have decided to leave off the ammo racks (step 4) and the "spaced" shields (steps 8 and 13) to represent an "earlier" gun.
Fore-warned is fore-armed.
I am going to say this for the second, and last, time; there are thick gates, mold seams, and thin flash everywhere. The detail is exquisite which accounts for a large number of small parts that seemingly represent the exact parts on the real thing - just look at the breech, sights, and the trail clamp. But it is a nightmare cleaning all these small parts, trying hard not to lose any. I cannot think of any kit, styrene or resin, with 4-5 times the part count, that I have spent as much time cleaning parts.
Steps 1-3 are the gun assembly.
There is not a positive alignment of the barrel front (A1) and back (B15+B29) sections and you need to align the half-moon pin on the front so the bore evacuator (A56+A37) fits correctly in step 8. Steps 2 & 3 are tiny parts, see photo below. B49 and B50 appear to be travel stops but at 1/32" square all they did was fly away. The breech might be movable but not if you get paint on the parts; leave breech detail until the end when you won't be handling it. In step 3, I'd recommend holding off on the traversing shoulder piece, the sight, and elevating wheel until the gun is mounted on the carriage.
Step 4-5 are the shield.
It builds OK; I left off the photo-etch bolt heads (P1) and the ready ammo rack. Assembling the shield to the gun assembly is tricky and when done there is very little room for elevation. Test fit such that the tabs on B1 and A9, on the cradle assembly (B34+B43), fit into the shield - I had to do some trimming to get it all together.
Step 5-6 are the trail legs.
The locks (B21) are meant to fit into the holes on the cradle (B16+B30) from step 1 as shown much better in step 14. When you start putting the trail clamps (A31+A34 and A28-A35) on, look at better pictures in steps 9 and 14; I doubt it would ever sit upright as shown in step 6. Save the spreader (B21) to step 14.
At this point, I jumped ahead to step 9 so I could use that assembly to get the trail locks, the spades, etc, positioned right if the trails were to be closed - this proves to also be helpful to ensure everything is square and proper when the trails are open. Parts B5 and B6 provide the hinge for the trails and they fit into parts A11+A46 - note that the right trail fits over the left and that accounts for the obvious offset of the two trails you might have been wondering about. Test, fit, and trim so there is some movement - it's all very tight - to be sure you can get the trail spread you want before adding too many more tiny pieces. (See step 14)
Once I had the basic legs and center section together, I went back to all the parts I skipped in steps 5 through 9.
The wheels are built and mounted in steps 10-11.
Watch the direction of parts. Fit is often tight so test and sand. Save the little drag rope rings (P18) until you mount the wheels as they should hang down. The gun should be mounted to the carriage in step 11 but hold that off until step 14 AND you have your crew (the layer and loader at least) assembled … read on.
And steps 12-14 finish the gun.
My gun is firing, but I could not get the trails to spread more than about 70-75 degrees, despite working at it earlier so I had to trim down the spreader (B17) a bit to fit. I substituted 0.018" CIM-Rope for the kit thread; it is a ship modeling "rope" that looks so much better than what usually comes as kit rope. It should be run as two separate ropes not one long piece. Again, I left the spaced armor shield off.
The bottom shield (A52) will hang right to the ground, take this into account if you are displaying on uneven terrain.
Step 15 is the ammo boxes.
The first and second insets are for the two types of closed box. If you want an open box, then assemble Wa3+Wa5/7+Wa6/8, then make a top with Wa4+Wa1x2, but turn Wa1 about 30 degrees to look unlocked. Wa2 isn't really necessary IMO.
The paint and decaling for the ammo boxes and shells are next. The only comment is that an AP round should be black (as shown correctly on the box art) not steel.
But, as I noted earlier you don't get much to work with. Even after buying one of their aftermarket ammo sets, I could add very little variety to my display. There are plenty of boxes but very few shells, cases, decals, or much else. My plan was to have the basic load, 24 shells, in 4 boxes, in various states. Proved impossible without buying more ammo sets or making my own and the provided decals don't allow much variety anyway.
The decals are thick and need lots of Micro-Sol/Set to lie down right.
The crew is also assembled in the marking and painting section.
The boot soles are separate for detail, but do take some effort to avoid looking like platform boots. Whatever you do with the crew, you need to build the layer (Ac-) and loader (Ab-) and test fit them around the gun. I could not get the layer to sit correctly on the left side or even fit unless I swung the gun to the left a bit, but not far enough to cause problems for the loader. Now you can glue the gun/mount to the carriage. This would not have been a problem had I been able to achieve a 90-deg spread on the trails.
I mentioned that it is the wrong crew so I set about to fix it; see the 1/2-point below. Having done all that and painted the figures, I then gave up on the uniform decals. I could not get them to lay down and stay there, they are too thick to conform to the rounded arms. I would look for aftermarket items. This was my final straw.
And here it is, in a small scene;
perhaps a gun placed on small European road, the crew ready because whoever left those tracks appears to be coming back.
Pros: Highly detailed, both as molded-on and as built-up from the separate parts.
Cons: The miserly ammo, the incorrect/missing crewman, the incipient flash and seams, the thick decals. It is a nice kit when finished but the effort required is disproportionate.
Recommended, with reservations,
for experienced modelers.
I would like to thank
for providing AMPS the review copy.
Reviewed by John Ratzenberger, AMPS/Central-Virginia.
The Half Point
1. Hogg, Ian V.; British & American Artillery of World War Two; Greenhill Books, London, 2002; ISBN: 1-85367-478-4.
2. Henry, Chris; British Anti-tank Artillery 1939-45; Osprey New Vanguard, Oxford, 2004; ISBN: 1-84176-638-0.
3. Knight, Doug; The 6-pounder Anti-tank Gun in Canadian Service; Service Publications, Ottawa, 2004; ISBN: 1-894581-24-5.
4. The War Office; Small Arms Training Vol I, Pamphlet 27, 6-pr, 7-cwt Anti-Tank Gun; HMSO, London, 1944; reprint by Partizan Press.
I have carried on about the crew, so here's the doctrine for setting up summarized from ref #4; other actions are similar and help make more sense of the initial positions:
Selects the position, gives the orders, helps get the gun ready, then positions himself a short distance away, on the upwind flank, to control the fire of the gun.
#1, The Layer
helps ready the gun, then takes position on the left, kneeling on his right knee with the traversing shoulder piece under his right arm pit, his right arm pointing to the rear and downwards, and his left hand on the elevating handwheel with his eye 12 inches from the telescope.
#2, The Loader
helps ready the gun and ammo, then takes a position kneeling on his left knee on the right side of the breech; he then opens the breech and takes the first round, holding it with his right hand on the top at the point of balance and his left hand on the base.
#3, The 2I/C & Link Number
helps ready the gun and ammo, then takes position crouching behind #1, with his left hand on the traversing shoulder piece and his right hand behind his back.
#4, The Ammunition Number
helps ready the gun and ammo then takes up position from which he can assist in preparing ammunition or carry out other duties as ordered.
And here's what I did to modify the kit crew accordingly:
The #2 Loader (Ab-) is correct OOB. The #4 Ammo-# (Ad-) is fine as is. The #1 Layer (Ac-) is OK, but for some reason a bit undersized and does not fit well with the gun. There is no #3 2IC/Link.
Because of the fit issues with the Layer, I actually swapped the #1 (Ac-) and #4 (Ad-) then kludged the opposite arms to make it work, if you don't look carefully and ignore that each of them have somewhat of a Frankenstein-ish construction. Even with that I could not get the Layer to put the traversing shoulder piece under his arm. #4 looks a bit like Gollum cuddling his "precious".
I then turned the kit section Commander (Aa-) into the #3 2IC/Link by hacking up the arms. His right arm looks a bit odd but it is correct unless he is doing something like setting the range dial or making motions. His left is close enough to help traverse the gun or whatever.