Best Value Models US T19 SP Gun
w/105mm Howitzer (T19 105mm GMC) (35029)
by Frank De Sisto
Contains 10 vinyl, 20 resin and 167 styrene plastic parts, plus decals
and instruction leaflet in 15 steps. Price: unavailable.
On occasion, my friend John Prigent will surprise me with one of the
goodies he comes upon while perusing the stands at UK-based model shows.
This time around (Thanks, John!) he has sent me another Best Value Models
“combination kit”, the US Army T19 105mm Howitzer Motor Carriage.
This was an interim vehicle used in combat in Tunisia by US forces until
replaced by the M7 Priest 105mm HMC.
BVM uses parts from two previously available plastic kits (Tamiya’s
M3A2 Halftrack APC and Italeri’s 105mm Howitzer) as well as new
resin parts to provide a “conversion-in-a-box”, commonly called
in Europe a “combi-kit”. From the Tamiya kit, the bulk of
the parts are used, but be aware that BVM has taken out the infantry figure
set and some other parts not needed for this conversion. Likewise, the
Italeri kit is also abbreviated as they have removed the wheels and carriage,
again leaving only what is needed for the conversion.
The Tamiya kit was OK in its day, but needs help to bring it up to current
standard. Particularly, the suspension’s drive sprocket, idler wheel
and tracks need replacement. There are several options here, including
photo-etched parts from Eduard or resin replacements from either The Tank
Workshop or K-59. Regardless of which way the modeler chooses to go, the
end result will be worth the effort and expense. Several parts from the
Tamiya kit will need to be modified, especially the troop compartment
side panels. The storage “ladders” on the side panels need
to be removed, but this will also obliterate other needed details. Also,
the indentations for the mine racks need to be filled. BVM could have
gotten around this issue by using a Tamiya M21 81mm mortar carrier as
the base kit, but for reasons unknown chose not to. Perhaps the Tamiya
M21 was out-of-production when this kit was made? But, I digress.
The Italeri parts were very well done for their time and still stand
up rather nicely. Careful cleaning of the parts and attention to fit will
allow the gun to elevate and traverse, and the tube will recoil. Five
105mm rounds are also provided from Italeri parts to fill a ready rack
in the vehicle’s fighting compartment.
BVM provides resin parts that give the modeler a new floor, fuel tanks
with seat backs, new headlamps and brush guards, gun mounts and shields,
and finally a new rear fighting compartment panel. These parts are rather
well cast, but there were a few tiny bubbles present here and there. For
the most part clean-up will be easy, but the fuel tanks in particular
have large, thick pour plugs on their backs, which will require a bit
of time and effort to remove. It is also curious that BVM provides a new
rear fighting compartment panel (cleaning the racks from the M3A2 part
and replacing obliterated details would have been quite a chore) to ease
the modeler’s work load, but chose not to ease the load by including
new side panels. Oh well, we can’t have everything!
The instructions are a combination of revised Tamiya and Italeri sections
as well as new BVM-specific sections. These clearly show what parts get
modified from the plastic kits. The BVM gun shields are optional, and
to mount them the modeler will need to supply his own plastic or brass
rod, since neither is included in the kit. Their placement is shown, but
no dimensions are given. This will make it rather difficult for the modeler
to properly place the shields without resorting to time consuming trial-and-error
fitting. BVM should have provided measurements, or at least a template
in the instructions.The decals come from the Tamiya kit, so only the US
stars are useful. BVM also provides a small separate sheet with two US
national flags, something often seen on vehicles in North Africa. An illustration
shows basic placement information for the stars and flags. The modeler
will have to use reference materials for such things as bumper codes and
vehicle serial numbers.
In conclusion, the experienced modeler of early war US vehicles will
have a decent (but not perfect) basis for a conversion, where most of
the work is already done for him. With a bit more effort from the manufacturer,
this kit could have been outstanding. The final comment I’d make
to BVM is this: put your address and contact information on your instructions
and packaging, so that interested parties (who may not read Steelmasters
magazine) can find you.
Recommended with reservations.