The Achilles was one of the British answers to the German panzer threat. By mounting a standard 17 pdr Mk. V gun (with counter weight near the muzzle brake) in the American supplied M10 3in GMC, a much more effective tank destroyer resulted. Supplied in limited numbers to Royal Artillery Anti Tank Regiments for the D-Day landings in Normandy, it proved much more effective than either its towed contemporaries or the M10 3in GMC. More than 1,000 M10s were converted to the Achilles.
There are currently two plastic kits of the Achilles available, one by AFV-Club (no. 35039) and one by Academy(no. 1392) (the recently released Italeri kit (no. 6485) is a re-boxing of the latter). Both have their flaws, but both can be turned into respectable models. The Academy/Italeri kit has the barrel including the muzzle brake in two parts with the counter weight provided separately from two parts. The muzzle brake is somewhat undersized. AVF-Club has a turned aluminium barrel (mounted with a spring to make it movable) with the muzzle brake and counter weight provided in 2 parts from plastic.
provide us with this handy replacement for the barrel, counter weight and muzzle brake. When writing this review I had the Academy kit on hand to test the mounting of the barrel.
The set consists of the turned aluminium barrel with rifling, the counter weight in one part from brass, a brass muzzle brake in four parts and a minuscule PE-fret for the counter weight screws. Packaging is simple in 3 small Ziploc bags and there are neither instructions nor any indication as to what kit the barrel is meant for. The set is marked as “77mm OQF 17 pdr”
which is somewhat confusing as the 17 pdr and the 77mm were two completely different guns with different ammunition (although firing the same projectile). RB Models have clearly not done their homework in this respect.
Construction of the barrel is quite straight forward with the counter weight simply sliding over the tip of the barrel. The small ring, which to my knowledge was for the attachment of the muzzle brake on the real thing, is added next. Then the back part of the muzzle brake is screwed on, thus firmly fixing the other parts without the need of glue.
Be sure to align the counter weight and muzzle brake holes correctly at this stage. The second brass ring (basically a washer) is then inserted into the muzzle brake and the front part of the muzzle brake glued in place. Fit of parts is first class. The PE screws can be fitted to the counter weight at this stage or even before the assembly. Some may wish to replace these with thicker plastic items from a punch and die set as it is easier to clean up and the PE items seem rather thin.
When trying to fit the barrel to the Academy/Italeri kit it is obvious that it’s not meant for this kit but rather the AFV-Club kit. By drilling out the mounting holes in the Academy kit it should be no problem to mount the RB Models barrel.
The main problem is how much of the barrel should be sticking out of the gun mantlet. The question of how long an Achilles barrel was from mantlet to the front end of the muzzle brake is easy to ask but as it turns out not as easy to answer. At this point I would like to thank Tom (barkingdigger) for his help with this. He even went to Ft. Nelson to take measurements on the real thing (which was in full forward battery so should be the right length from mantlet to muzzle).
According to a British Manual on the 17 pdr Mk.V and also Hunnicutt the overall length of the gun (from rear face of breach to tip of muzzle) is 184.76 / 184". Tom’s measurements at the Ft. Nelson example came out at 185". In 1/35 scale this translates to between 133.5 and 134.3mm. The Academy 17 pdr is approximately 134.5mm from tip to tip. So far so good. Now how much of this should be outside the turret (from mantlet to front end of muzzle brake)?
• The Academy kit comes out at 81.5mm.
• The RB Models barrel measures out at 86.5mm from where the narrower mounting rod ends to the muzzle brake.
• Tom’s measurements came out at 118" which is 85.5mm in 1/35 scale.
• The Italeri/Academy Achilles review on PMMS (found Here
) states the barrel is 8mm too long without providing a source for that number (the correct length would therefore be 74mm).
• Measuring the scale plans in George Bradford’s “British Armored Fighting Vehicles” gives the length of 80.5mm.
I tend to take Tom’s measurements of the real thing as the correct length. This would mean mounting the RB Model barrel flush onto the Academy mantlet gives you a length outside the mantlet which is nearly correct (with one mm being well within tolerance in my view). On the downside, the overall length of the gun from breach to muzzle will be 5mm too long.
The length of the muzzle brake is 10.5mm, very close to the 10.3mm (13.25") measured by Tom.
An easy enough update that can be fitted to both available kits with more or less work. It is certainly a vast improvement over the Academy part (especially replacing the undersized muzzle brake). It is a bit less necessary for the AFV-Club kit (for which it was intended) as that one already has a turned barrel and the correct sized muzzle brake. The length issue seems to have more to do with the Academy kit than the RB Models replacement. It would be interesting to have some measurements of the AVF-Club kit.