The le FH 18, the 105mm light field howitzer, was the backbone of the German Army’s divisional artillery throughout the war in its various forms. Large numbers were made, and it saw service on all fronts right up to the end of the war in 1945, having been first introduced a decade earlier. It could fire several different types of projectile, and was well liked apart from being quite heavy and therefore difficult to move, particularly if the terrain was difficult. The basic model of this gun has already been made by Revell/Preiser, so with its new crew of five, what does this Valiant model offer?
We shall begin by looking at the gun itself. This model is exactly the same as that found in the Armourfast set of leFH18 105mm Howitzer, so is clearly a co-production. Whereas the Revell/Preiser model is of the standard FH 18, the one in this set is not, despite what it says on the box. This model has the muzzle brake that was only added in 1941 to permit greater charge and therefore greater range, so this is in fact the FH 18(M). However it is a pretty decent model with quite nice detail although naturally missing a lot of the complex gun mechanism to create a simplified model. The trails can be opened or closed as necessary, but if closed completely then it would still not be in transport mode as the trail spades cannot be changed. The carriage has wooden spoked wheels, which is perfectly authentic but means the transport would be horse-powered rather than mechanised (except perhaps in emergencies). A nice little model which will provide enough detail for many.
The five crew figures are, from left to right above, a man with a ramming staff, one carrying something small and indistinguishable (perhaps a charge), another with a shell, a fourth apparently preparing a shell, and a fifth wearing a field cap. Most are a little flat but perfectly serviceable nonetheless. The kneeling man is sitting on an ammunition box and perhaps handling a shell or charge, and the fifth in our picture is on the move with rifle over his shoulder. This last has a choice of arms, and can instead be made up looking through binoculars as illustrated on the box artwork. Both are nice figures, and not as flat as the other standing figures. The figures are too large, and are of a style we usually associate with metal figures or 28mm production, so are quite chunky. However the detail is good and the clothing is all authentic, with a mixture of uniform and under clothes which we always think looks more natural for artillery crews in action. The choice of poses is useful too, so these are very appropriate for the job at hand.
The set is made in a good, hard plastic, and both gun and men are crisply made and fit together well, taking ordinary cement easily and securely. There is absolutely no flash or marks on the figures, so both they and the gun are well produced, and while we are not keen on the size and style of the figures this remains a very useful set to accompany all those divisions of infantry as they go into battle for the Fatherland.