Pitroad Russian Army B-4 M1931 203mm Howitzer G-11


by Russell Hall


First published in the August 2009 AMMS Brisbane newsletter


I recently received this kit after waiting for it quite some time as I had pre-ordered it, now we have the Trumpeter version showing as being available very shortly. I dragged it along to our last meeting for show and tell and it did generate quite a bit of interest, so, with being able to secure 3 days off work last week I decided to get into it.



Brief History

The B-4 was developed in Saint Petersburg at the Bolshevik Plant in 1931. The gun was equipped with a tracked carriage so it could be propelled even in the soft grounds of Russia – it weighed in at 19 tonne. The gun carriage was equipped with a small crane to load the 99 kilo shells and its fire rate was 1 in 3 minutes as well as needing a crew of up to 15 personnel to operate it. It did boast a range of 18 kilometres so was a big threat to the enemy at the time. This gun was used in the defence of Russia and was retired from use at the end of the war. In the 1970s the gun was converted into the B-4M by replacing the tracked carriage with rubber tires for greater mobility.


What’s in the Box?

The kit contains 10 sprues moulded in light grey plastic, some string, rubber tires and a small etch fret. The etch fret is stamped "TRUMPETER 2008" so figure that 1 out. The kit also includes additional sprues to make up 5 crew figures in winter drab, this is a nice touch considering Trumpeter are releasing the same figures separately to the kit of the gun.


Getting Started

The 1st part of the instructions deals with construction of the main frame assembly, it looked simple enough and the test fits were ok but when assembled there were some large gaps to deal with. The surface detail was just that – very detailed with hundreds of rivets moulded in place so a dissolving putty was used which can be brushed on to minimise on the clean up. This product more or less self levels so the objective was achieved. Some joins on the super structure were left visible as it appears that they were separate plates riveted together but lots of other joins needed some attention.

The recoil spade / shovel was constructed in the deployed position with the intention of having it buried in the ground on a base.

From here I moved onto the gun assembly, the barrel came in 2 pieces with 1 half having the complete muzzle and a nice fillet between the muzzle and barrel. This fillet has been omitted from the 2nd half of the barrel and looks rather silly when assembled so the fillet had to be created and blended in with more putty. They have also supplied a etch piece to roll and slide into the muzzle to show rifling, great idea but when fitted it is half a millimetre to short so there is a gap, I am not sure as to how to amend this as yet. The gun breach and all associated parts were assembled but with all of the joins needing attention.

From here we move onto the gun cradle, the idea being that the complete cradle with gun sits on the frame, it sits on the frame with some persuasion but not flush to the frame. For now I have attached the cradle only to the frame and filled the join issue with the intention of attaching the gun and its supports later after some painting has been done.

The last of the main assemblies are the 2 tracked units and yes with all the same issues. The sprue gates are huge compared to the parts they support so a lot of clean up was required on the wheels to remove these as well as the mould seams. This was bordering on taking the wheels out of round so these items were positioned so that the flaws will be hidden by the tracks.

Shell carriages have been assembled as well as items which hang off the main structure. I have not attached these as yet as I want to get it all painted and weathered without having to work around seats etc. I have also assembled the steering/towing bogey but this will not be attached to the final assembly.


Pending Work

The tracks are separate links, 38 per side and these will probably be the last thing to be assembled. A base will be constructed showing this gun in use with the aid of the figures. I have found some pictures on the net of this thing dug completely into the ground but do not think I will go that far.

I have also ordered a "Voroshilovets heavy full track Prime Mover" as this was used to tow the gun around.


This has been ordered from the "Panzershop" and is a full resin kit by Minatur Models of Romania, this I expect will be a major project by itself. Hopefully it will make it onto the base to complement the gun


Conslusion

Sad to say – "its not a Tamiya kit" but in saying that it is good to see some new subjects being made available. Yes there are some fit and alignment issues but nothing that cannot be fixed. I was able to get it to this stage in 3 full days with 3 major headaches at the same time but I think the result has been well worth it.