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Monday, June 13, 2016

Bolt Action - Review: Mad Bob Miniatures Long Tom Howitzer

Recently I've been on a nostalgic jaunt with my Americans. This started when I had to write a gumby list for an event I ran recently. Whilst putting a tough but fun army list together I started going through all the different options for artillery and vehicles. Some I was familiar with others not so much. I'd read about the Long Tom howitzer but had never seen one on a table. To the best of my knowledge the heavy howitzers don't come out to play that often. They're large, require a substantial tow, they're also large, they're a bit of a points sink, they're large, they're magnets for enemy fire and oh yes, did I mention they're large?! Despite the drawbacks I decided that I'd at least like to see one painted up and after a quick look I found that none other than our friend Mad Bob was a purveyor of this awesome slice of HE goodness.
I contacted Mad Bob and ordered the Long Tom. In a short space of time I had my new toy and I eagerly inspected the goods. Right out of the box this was a quality resin kit. It had clean, crisp lines and the model was a great quality sculpt. My only beef was that the model arrived with a slightly crooked barrel. I hopped onto Facebook, contacted Bob and within a few hours Bob had gotten back me with a quick fix and within 10 minutes I had a nice straight barrel. 

I primed the model in white and set to work. I initially painted the model in Vallejo US dark green and once dry I highlighted the gun with Vallejo green grey. Once this was dry I had the beginnings of a great looking model. I then used Patch's trusty sponging method with Vallejo German grey. This gave the gun a wore and slightly tired look. I then used army painter strong tone dip and coated the model completely, ensuring that any build up was moved about and spread evenly. 

While the gun began to dry I assembled 5 soldiers to serve as crew. I used a sprue of US infantry from Warlord Games and constructed 3 loaders, a firer, and a commander. I then looked at the rough size of the Long Tom frame and cut out a circular mdf base. I sanded the edges of the base and then took some air dry modelling clay and molded up some rough sand bags. My modelling skills are pretty ordinary, so the sand bags came out looking quite lumpy and simple, but they served their purpose so I was happy. I then glued the sandbags down and painted the base with some of Battlefield Accessories amazing textured paint. When that dried I used a black wash and then dry brushed with greys, browns and greens. I then put down static grass, tufts and then painted up some tarps, bedrolls, crates, weapons and barrels. 

I then painted the crew in my usual way and glued down the stowage and equipment. By this time the gun was dry and I used some dull coat to remove the shine that the dip leaves behind. When this had dried I glued down the gun frame and then glued down the crew. I put some last minute touched on the sandbags and I finally had a finished American Long Tom howitzer. 

In Bolt Action, a Long Tom will set you back 88 points for inexperienced, 110 points for regular and 132 points for veteran. A spotter is an additional 10 points and a gun shield is unavailable. It counts as a Heavy Howitzer and has a maximum range of 72 inches with a minimum indirect range of 24 inches. You'll also need a tow which would be the Mack heavy truck, the M4 or M5 artillery tractor or a horse drawn limber. 

The heavy howitzer is a double edged sword in that it presents your enemy with a ripe, static target that once setup and deployed, isn't going anywhere. Yes it does a good amount of damage against infantry and infantry in building are especially susceptible with that awesome 3D6 HE, but against armoured targets the Long Tom only does a single hit with +4 penetration. As the Long Tom lacks a gun shield I think that taking this at veteran may become your best option as otherwise you'll end up with a 5 man crew that die very easily when a stray mortar round lands on target. You're also going to to have to pick your target because plugging away at a medium mortar is hardly worth the points sink. There is also a great deal of luck involved as you still need an initial 6 to get that hit. What you're looking at is a unit that may spend 3-4 turns being an enormous target for your enemy to drop mortars, howitzers and warplanes on. 

Summing up the model is 10/10 and I'm going to be doing a conversion piece later in the year to create an American M12 in which I'll be using Mad Bobs Long Tom barrel. In game the unit is less than ideal but heaps of fun and as I've said the resin model is amazing. I'll be fielding this great looking piece whenever I can! In lists above 1250 points, this is a great investment but I think at low points values its ultimately superfluous. Still, it's great fun!

Until next time, roll your 6s and have fun.

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