Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Armourfast versus Revell LeFH18 105mm gun - Part 2

Having discussed the initial impression of the two LeFH18 models it’s time to put them together and compare the ease of construction, quality of detail and sturdiness of material.

As noted in part 1 of this review there are a few differences in the models to do with – presumably – options that were applied through the history of the gun. The different wheel types for example and the absence of a flash hider on the Revell version.

Additionally there is the difference in the way Armourfast and Revell chose to handle the gun in both it’s firing and travel position. Armourfast lets you make both guns in it’s set with the gun carriage ‘legs’ open or closed, while Revell provide one gun with carriage in the firing position and one gun in the towing position.

Above: How the gun is towed is something that bears some consideration
if you are a war gamer. After all, just how will your gun get onto the table? While
the LeFH18 was designed to be horse draw the Finnish Army made use of a wide
variety of heavy trucks. The photo shows Citroëns.

So, for the meticulous war gamer – who wishes to represent the gun in both orientations – two Revell sets would have to be purchased to represent a ‘travelling’ 2 gun section. Although even with the Armourfast set you need to buy two sets to represent two working guns, BUT you would also need to buy an additional horse and limber team as well. So Revell does have the advantage.

As far as towing options for the Armourfast gun goes the LeFH18 was designed to be horse towed. In my scenario, however, I have come across photos of the Finnish Army using large trucks – like the Opel Blitz – to tow guns. So pick your preferred mode of transport, but in any case the price of the Revell kit means that – ironically – it offers the most cost effective option as a companion for the Armourfast set!

Whether you like the idea of painting all those horses is what may make your mind up...

Above: The completed Revell LeFH18 gun limber team beautifully painted
by 'Panzer_Grenadire' for his review on the FineScale Modeler web site. You can
see just how impressive this means of towing the LeFH18 is, but you may have to
weight up the merits of this excellent display against the convenience of making
a comparatively easy tow truck instead.

Towing considerations aside, how do the models go together?
Well, I had thought that the softer plastic of the Revell model would make construction a little tricky while the harder plastic of the Armourfast gun would help it to snap together effortlessly, but in fact the reverse was true.

The Revell gun is designed to pop together and stay together (although a spot or two of glue helps), it has post and hole fixing points and I soon had the completed gun on my workbench.

On the other hand the Armourfast gun was not so accommodating and absolutely needs glue to hold all the parts together - they do not just snap into place. In fact some of the parts had no visible means of attaching to each other and the instructions are a little vague. Trial and error is demanded to complete a satisfactory looking build.

And finally, how good do the models look?
Always bearing in mind that these models are for war gaming and not for ‘rivet counters’ there is an obvious concession to keeping things simple. But the real clincher for me is the material of the model and not the number of parts or the level of surface detail here.

The Revell gun is as passable – if vague – impression of the LeFH18 as is the Armourfast model. From table distance – the normal viewing distance for war gamers – I doubt if you could actually tell the difference between the models at all. But there is just something wrong with the idea of a soft plastic field gun in my book – it’s the same thing that makes me wince when I see the bent rifles on soft plastic soldiers. That’s all I can say really – it’s just FEELS wrong.

The harder plastic of the Armourfast, coupled with the crisper molding, is much more satisfactory. It has a nice straight gun and relatively sturdy feel to it that looks more solid and heavy, which is what you would expect of a large artillery piece.

In a practical sense there is nothing really wrong with the Revell gun, it does exactly the same job on the war gaming table that the Armourfast one does. But I find the Armourfast gun more pleasing to look at – it has a meaner stance (if that makes any sense)!

At this budget end of the market it is actually harder to pick fault with models like these than it is to distinguish between the expensive display kits. As said, they do their job, which can be described as ‘cheap and cheerful’, although I do still wonder about the Armourfast £7.50 price tag when you get no gun accessories at all.

My opinion is that with the Revell set selling at £6.99 full price it does just have the advantage, with the additional perk of looking a pretty set with all those horses.

But the Armourfast gun is aimed at ‘armour fast’, military units made quick and easy. In that case the ideal option for the avid war gamer might be to grab a box of Armoufast LeFH18s and a Pegasus Opel Blitz and Bob’s your Uncle!

I'm still unhappy with how the Armourfast went together, it does kinda take the quick out of 'quick build', but I just can't bring myself to feel satisfied with the Revell guns flimsy soft plastic. In the end the Armourfast gun maybe the lesser of two evils.

NEXT: Painting and basing the guns.

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