Building Italeri's 155mm M1 Howitzer
Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII

Overview of the Model and References

Technically speaking, Italeri's kit is not a "gun" as it claims. It is a howitzer (this is quite curious, as the original Peerless Max kit #07362-6 was labelled "155 Howitzer M1-A2"). The 155mm gun is the larger artillery piece also known as the "Long Tom," which AFV Club offers in model form. Konrad Schreier's book offers the following U.S. Army field artillery definitions:

GUN: A long barrel cannon which normally fires with a flat trajectory, can fire with a high trajectory, and has a longer range than either a howitzer or mortar of the same caliber.

HOWITZER: A cannon with a medium-length barrel which normally fires with a high trajectory, can fire with a flat trajectory, and has a shorter range than a gun and a longer range than a mortar of the same caliber.

The WWII howitzers featured the M1 and M1A1 carriages. The Italeri kit, while claiming to be an M1A2 introduced in 1944, is essentially a post-World War II howitzer because of the screw jack found on the M1A2 carriages and tread pattern of the tires. If you're building a Korean or Vietnam piece you'll save yourself a fair bit of work. But the kit has numerous errors, omissions and simplifications that span the eras. Included is a radio, which the directions state was mounted on the trails during transit. I could find no mention of this radio in the 1943 technical manual.


Kurt Laughlin pointed out to me that, based on his measurements of an actual howitzer, the kit's relative scale varies from 1/31 to 1/36, depending on the particular part.

Well, no kit is perfect. My approach is to correct the most obvious problems and add the maximum amount of detail while losing the least amount of what little hair I have left. Life is short, and I have many models to build before I sleep! But you never realize the shortcuts taken by model manufacturers — either by intention, negligence or production constraints — until you compare a kit to the weapon's technical manual.

I was fortunate in obtaining photos of two museum howitzers from Michael Powell and Kurt Laughlin, which they have graciously allowed to be included on this site. Kurt also provided a copy of the technical manual and updates, a wealth of data on the howitzer's ammunition, and a couple Army diagrams of prescribed emplacements to aid in my development of the diorama.

Firing gun

As I mentioned previously, the Schreier book was a helpful introduction for this project. It has a number of photos of the 155 and ammunition from the howitzer's technical manual. The book also features a good explanation of artillery fire control and direction as well as ammo development for a number of tanks and field pieces. There are a number of other good web sites where photos of 155s, in Vietnam and Korea as well as from WWII; just enter "155 howitzer" or "155mm howitzer" into a search engine. Most general books on WWII will have a photo or two of this gun in use as well.

One thing I like about the old Testors releases of the Italeri kits is that their directions are a little more comprehensible. For beginning modelers, they also have a decent introduction to painting and weathering. The Testors' boxes typically had detailed color photos of the built up kit. I'll use their photos of a model by Steve Trompeter in the construction sections of this article to help demonstrate the significant changes that I made.

Background on the 155mm Howitzer
Overview of the Model and References
Building the Howitzer Assembly
Building the Carriage Assembly
Painting and Accessories
Pictures from the Technical Manual
155mm Ammunition
Pictures of Museum 155mm Howitzer

Diorama: "Mail Call for the Sons of Thor"


Modeling the U.S. Army in WWII © 2002—2007 Timothy S. Streeter