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

Building the Howitzer Assembly

The model essentially breaks down to two assemblies: the howitzer and the carriage, including the cradle and trails. The Italeri/Testors pictures are of a finished model; click on my in-progress photos with the border to open a larger picture in a new window.

  1. The kit's two-part barrel - more correctly called the tube - was replaced with a 3/8" Butyrate tube from Plastruct, since the final result of gluing the kit's pieces was that they were more oval than round. The replacement tube had to be sanded down some in order to fit within the barrel sleeve. I also replaced the recuperator and recoil cylinders (parts 14 and 17) with 11/16" and 5/32" Evergreen tubes. The closed tip of the kit's recuperator cylinder was sawed off, adjusted and glued onto the open end of the Plastruct tube.
  1. The breech was extensively reworked. It's designed to swing open or closed, but I glued it closed (the breech block itself is significantly undersized and would need to be reworked if left open). The breech has a rounded extension on the right topside, featuring a circle with a bar through it, which I removed. (The circle and bar is actually on the back side of part 5 and I used a piece from the Eduard photo etch for the M1 105 Howitzer to place this detail on the reworked part 5.) A new squarish extension was added on the left top of the barrel, to which the counter recoil cylinder was attached on the real gun. The counter balance (part 66) can be used, but needs to be turned around so the end that glues to the breech is actually at the front (barrel side) of the piece. I used some bits of plastic and Grandt Line bolts to create the armature that connects to the top of the breechblock's hinge on the side of the breech. A percussion hammer was added from brass pieces. A lanyard was connected to this after the gun was loaded and ready to fire.

  1. The kit's recuperator yoke (aka "cylinder yoke") is simplified, likely due to molding purposes. I added some strips of plastic card to replace the missing front flange. The bottom of the yoke has a pin for the traveling lock, but this really should be cut off and a hole made through this tab. The tab's corners should be cropped, and a supporting flange added.

  2. Part 5 receives the back ends of the recuperator and counter recoil cylinders (kit parts 14 and 18). Its shape is significantly simplified, and I was able to create a more credible appearance using a small file and some putty.

  3. The elevator gear (part 4) had a strip of Plastruct added across the narrow top edge, and three strengthen strips added to the sides.
  1. The pair of two-piece equilibrator springs was assembled, and when dry they were carefully cut apart to remove the solid spring areas and the adjoining flat plastic on the other side of the piece. This left one remaining rod on each equilibrator piece. I glued in springs made from thin solder wire, then pieces of Plastruct rod to replace the missing parts. These rods were bolted at the barrel end of the springs, and extended through the plate and secured with nuts on the breech end of the springs. The middle plate between the two ends has a hole in it in order to allow the model's gun to be raised (the rods slide through these holes, whereas on a real gun they would push against the sliding center plate as the springs expanded). The hole was filled with putty. While the kit is correct that the ends at the forward end of the barrel were bolted to the sides of the cylinder yoke, the ends that attach to the trunnion on the carriage are not bolted, as the kit builds up. Rather, there were companion plates on the outsides of the trunnion, and the equilibrator was secured between those two plates. To accomplish this, you need to trim down the attachment points on this end of the springs. (I did not glue the springs, nor the howitzer assembly, in place for these photos, as I planned to paint them separately from the carriage.)

  2. Because I try to minimize breaking things during assembly, I often leave small fragile parts off until the last possible moment. I fashioned the percussion hammer and glued the breechblock lever (part 67) just before painting.

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