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One Kit Is Never Enough Part 4 - Building the Dragon 1/35 T19 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage

One Kit is Never Enough - Part 4


Building the Dragon 1/35 T19 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage



With this being the fourth article for Graham, I think it is about time I talk about a model I am actually building and not go on and on about thoughts, opinions etc. So in keeping with the theme of my last article, building for enjoyment and inspiration I thought I would show the current build that I have been working on from the beginning of this year. Normally I would have had this finished by now, but due to various matters that have cropped up my modelling time has been restricted.



First a bit about the history of the real vehicle. The T19 was based on the M3 half-track, and was set up much like the 75mm GMC M3 halftrack, with the cab roof removed and the windshield cover folding forward over the hood. The T2 mount involved using parts of the howitzer carriage M2, but incorporated some redesigns to spread the recoil force over a larger area. Nonetheless, the half-track's frame had to be strengthened to prevent sagging. A howitzer shield was fitted, and this was hinged in the middle to present a lower height when not in use. This was all in aid of providing a self propelled artillery piece for the US Army. However, unlike the 75mm GMC M3, the T19 was never intended to be used in the anti-tank gun role. It was largely used in North Africa and Italy and by the time of the D-Day landings it had virtually been phrased out of the U.S. Army’s inventory.



For a long time there was not a kit of the T19 in 1/35th scale and the only way to make one was to either kit bash or buy a conversion kit for the old Tamiya M3 Half-tracks, neither of which was exactly ideal and could be cost prohibitive. Then in 2009 Dragon Models Limited brought out a kit of the T19. Now I am not usually a big fan of DML kits. Yes they produce some very good kits but, in my opinion, they are let down by the overly complicated instructions which can appear very muddled. Or there are errors in the kits that really make me scratch my head and wonder if they really know what they are doing. The early Panzer IVE release is a good point in question, as are the Tiger and Panther kits. However this is balanced out by some excellent releases such as the Sdkfz 234 8 wheeler series. I doubt we will ever see a better kit of those AFV’s. I think the same can be said about this T19. The level of detail is excellent, with some exquisite attention to detail and the fit of the parts is on the same level as the aforementioned Sdkfz kits.



So let’s start building this kit and see what we can come up with.



The first stage deals with the engine and transmission and Dragons eye for detail is readily apparent in this area. The engine is a kit in itself and leaves very little for the aftermarket to improve on. As this is an out of the box build I have not added any of the photo etch sets that are available for this kit, and to be honest I am not sure they would add that much, if anything, to the level of detail. As with most modern Dragon kits there are a lot of sprue attachments to deal with, but these are easy enough to remove with some side cutters and a quick swipe with a file. Also, in stage one; we have the construction of the tyres and the drive sprocket/return rollers. Now I do not know if it was me or the instructions that were responsible for my error here but somehow I managed to mess up the wheels by attaching parts D27 the wrong way round. Another modeller I know also did the same thing on his T19 so maybe it is a combination of errors here, so be careful when building yours. To correct this I bought some Tank Workshop resin wheels as I could not salvage the kit ones.



Once I had completed stage one, it was time to move on to stage two. Here we build the axels and wheels for the half-track section. This can be a bit on the fiddly side so take your time here and do wait for the glue to set. If you do take your time you are rewarded with a very nice set of wheels and bogies that are very impressive. With stage two complete it was time to move on to detailing the chassis.



Stage three deals with the suspension, front and rear, as well as adding the transmission. I found no problems with this and as long as you take your time and do not try to rush anything this stage should be a breeze. Do make sure everything is firmly attached though, as stage five deals asks you to attach the various sub assembles from the previous stages. Again there were no issues here but do be careful with the placement of the exhaust as this can be a little trick. As can the location of the radiator. This is an example of the problems I find with Dragons instructions as they do not clearly show, for me, the exact location of the radiator. Even when it was in place I found it difficult to get a good bond, so do take your time here. Continuing with stage five, we are asked to build the winch roller and front bumper. It is possible to have the roller moving if you are careful with the glue. However, I think it would have been better to have the winch roller as one piece instead of the two Dragon supply. In all the photos I have seen of the winch roller it is a one piece casting so the join line on Dragons piece needs to be filled and sanded. Not really a problem, just a minor annoyance. Make sure you align the front bumper up correctly when you attach it to the chassis as again it is not shown that clearly in the instructions. Stage six calls for the instalment of the tracks, drive sprocket and idler wheel. I would suggest leaving these off to make painting them and the chassis that much easier.



Stage seven deals with the front wheels and again I would suggest leaving these off for the same reason as the tracks etc. One part you should not attach at this stage is B4. This is a small stowage box and if attached when the instructions ask you to can foul the placement of the right hand side of the drivers cab.



Stage eight is the construction of the driver’s area and mainly deals with the seats and various leavers found in this area. Care should be taken when removing the gear leaver etc from their attachment points as these are very delicate parts and easily damaged. Stage nine deals adds the armoured sides and armoured windscreen to the driver’s area, as well as the dashboard and the steering wheel. Once you have part T3 in place you can then add part B4. The doors are very well made and have some very fine rivet detail, be careful not to lose any of this when sanding the attachment points for these parts. The various tools are attached at this point and it is a shame that Dragon did not include some photo etched tool clamps as they do in many of their other kits. However I did not think this is a major problem, just a gripe on my part.



Stages ten, and eleven, have us assemble the 105mm gun and this is a very nicely detailed assembly that requires some patience as there are some very delicate parts here. I was very impressed by these parts and I doubt a finer example of the 105mm gun could be found. Again patience is the key here, and you definitely must let the glue dry otherwise it would be very easy to lose some of the smaller parts, or knock them off. Take your time and your patience will be rewarded. One thing that I did find annoying about this stage was the location of the armoured gun shield. Although there is a good attachment point at the bottom of the shield, it is small and care is needed to get this armoured shield in the right place. The same can be said for the supports for this shield. So take your time here and do not rush.



Putting the completed gun assembly to one side we move on to stage thirteen. This deals with the rear compartment for the T19 and is quite straight forward. I would have liked to have had the shells as separate items rather than moulded with the clasps on them. This is one area where aftermarket parts, or scratch building will be an improvement on the Dragon supplied pieces. One area here that I do not like is the .30calibre machine gun. Dragon would have you add parts that are not needed, J10 and J1. These are not correct if you are going to mount the .30 on the supplied pedestal mount. There is also some debate on whether or not the T19 would have the .30 mounted on the pedestal as this is quite a cramped area and it would be better mounted on the siderail of the halftrack. Where you put yours is up to you, but I recommend you check your references.  With careful assembly it is possible to make the rear compartment without the need for any filler.





Stages fourteen and fifteen deal with the final assembly of the various sub assemblies, but I have chosen to leave mine off to make painting that much easier. One thing of note here is the mounting frame for the 105mm gun. Make sure you get these in the correct position and I would recommend dry fitting these parts a couple of times to make sure they do not foul anything.


Overall I have enjoyed building this halftrack and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in Allied AFV’s. It is certainly a good kit from Dragon, but there are areas where it could be improved with some aftermarket photo etch parts.