Monday, 19 August 2013

Model Review - BATTLEFRONTS M109's

So I picked up some M109's last week because I really like the look of them and they are pretty at actually pretty good value (£19) which considering you get Decals and Magnets to mount both kinds of Gun isn't bad..

I wasn't interested in the M108, or mounting the 0.50cal's so I suppose I gained some extras and more vehicle crew, so all good additions to my Bits box.

The M109 went through alot of Upgrades in it's venerable and ongoing Career. But the variant that is used in the Cold War period of the Mid-80's was the M109A3, which was pretty much ubititious and used by all NATO Forces giving some great Logistics savings and streamlining!

This has a different much more capable Barrel then the original M109.  So a bit of work was required to bring this upto Spec.

First off, I cut up the existing Barrel removing the Muzzle Brake and the huge disk on the Barrel leaving a Stub, I then carefully with a Pin vice drilled a central pilot hole and then gradually widened it with a succession of slightly larger drill bits. All I can say here is, patience and confidence, I find if you are timid with it you will make mistake, be confident and deliberate (just like handling a firearm).  I drilled approx 7mm in to make sure there was a deep and secure hole for the Brass Rod.

So I then glued this in place on the Mantlet / Turret Ring and then drilled out the Muzzle Break, a small piece of plastic rod I had in my bits box. Then I glued in the piece of Brass Rod, with the Barrel sleeve and Muzzle break on. I then smoothed it out by encasing the whole rod in a thin layer of Green Stuff / Epoxy (you can see this on the top of the vehicles and also filled in the area around the Mantlet). 

I continued this throughout and forgot to take many pictures, but the key to a good finish is to gentle file the Epoxy on the New barrel lovely and smooth and even.Giving this...

Which I think is a reasonable approximation of what I want, okay it's not amazing but it's fairly decent.


  1. Nicely done! I served around A6 Paladins and CAATS early in my officer career (3d Battalion, 18th Field Artillery) so the M109 has a place near and dear to my heart. Can't wait to see what you do with them.


    1. Interesting you might be the man I need to answer this one....So a Field Artillery Battalion was 24 M109A3's, how did they sub divide, into smaller Batteries of 6 or 4 or 3? And what Command Vehicles did the smaller Batteries have was it an M113, HMMWV or M577? Cheers Steven

    2. When I was a lieutenant (1998) our SP Battalions were operating on a 3 x 6 configuration, each with 2 firing platoons of 3 howitzers and a service platoon. Let me do some digging on the Corps and Division Artillery configuration in Cold War Germany. If I'm not mistaken, the firing batteries had more howitzers and larger firing platoons.

      All our firing batteries in the heavy units used the M577 Fire Direction Center, and that included the Battalion Staff as well. There was an S3 (ops) M577, an S2 (intel) M577 and the battalion commander had a M998 humvee with extra radios.

      At the Battery level, we had 3 M577s. One for the Battery FDC, and 1 per firing platoon.

      Let me check up on the Cold War Configurations and get back to you.

      Here are some more recent MTOEs - i'm checking up on older ones now.

    3. Okay as best I can tell - up until about 1984-85 the SP battalions had 3 Firing Batteries, each with 8 howitzers divided into 2 platoons of 4 sections for a total of 24 SP howitzers in the battalion. The material I read did not differentiate between Corps Artillery (General Support) and Division Artillery (Direct Support). After about '85 it looks like they adopted smaller footprints for the Artillery firing platoons (3 sp howitzers each in 2 platoons for a total of 6 howitzers in a firing battery).

      So it all depends on the year you want to game. You'd be safe in my opinion having 4 firing sections, an FDC track (M577), and a M998 humvee to represent a firing platoon. You might want to include special rules for "smoke," who in the US Army is the firing platoon's platoon sergeant!

    4. I've passed this to Dan, I would like to go Historically accurate but honestly I think 3 x M109's is enough and means a single Platoon box from BF rather than 1 and 1/3rd to make a 4 Gun battery. It's representative without going full on "Rivet counter" if you know what I mean. That said, I might pick up another 3 at some point and maybe do them in Dutch or Danish Colour Scheme. In reality I will be firing from off-board so you won't necessarily need the models, but I bought them as a Challenge and for the sake of completeness. Also so I can have another interesting Article for my Blog!

    5. Oh and hit me up on "E-mail" because I'm intrigued by the "Smoke" comment about the Platoon Sergeant!