Although some other manufacturers have this gun in their range, only three of them provides some kind of crew for it. From past to recent they are Revell, Zvezda and now the new Armourfast ones.
It was the standard divisional field howitzer used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. It was designed and developed by Rheinmetall in 1929-30 and entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1935.
LeFH 18 was developed in 3 different versions, the LeFH 18, LeFH 18M (1941), which incorporates a new muzzle brake and the recoil system adjusted to allow the use of a more powerful charge and new long-range shell and finally the 10.5 cm leFH 18/40, mounting the gun on the carriage for a 7.5 cm PaK 40, additionally, a more efficient muzzle (which also upgraded some of the 18M version).
Revell model was the first to appear, in 1995. Set is an excellent show case of the Revell’s better works in our scale. The two guns included in the set, depicts the early LeFH 18 gun, without muzzle, and with pressed steel wheels, although it comes with a full horse limber, a missed good opportunity to include the wooden wheels. Set also have a full crew for the firing gun and a lot of excellent extras, such munition, helmets and so. Instructions are clear enough and guns have a very good detail, taking care that they are made in soft plastic.
As other times an excellent full review can be found at Plastic Soldier Review site.
This Revell model is also usable for the Spanish civil War, as this early version was shipped to Spain as part of the Condor Legion.
The Zvezda’s set only comes with two crew men, which maybe is good for their gaming system, but not so good for other purposes. Figures have the usual good quality of the brand, but their are just two. Gun is depicted in the box as the 18M gun, the muzzle brake is clearly visible, but it looks more like the 40 version, although this muzzles also upgraded some 18M versions in the late war. Which definitively seems to be a 40 version is the carriage and wheels, which looks to be the Pak 40 ones and the modified wheels designed just for this gun, some taller than the Pak 40 ones, but smaller than the other LeFH 18 versions. Figures seems to be to classic German soldiers, more appropriated for the early war, but the gun is the last version, appropriated for the late war, so at this point Armourfast crew could be good for the Zvezda’s gun.
Plastic is quite rigid, instructions are easy and gun is mounted with just a few parts.
Our mate Cristian Florescu made an excellent review about this set in the Braille Scale Discussion Group.
The Armourfast version seems to be the real 18M ones, taking care of the muzzle shape. I’m not sure about the wheels, maybe this time they are wooden spoked ones ?. Crew figures are probably quite good, details are very good, and maybe the discussion could be around the poses itself. For my taste the quality of these figures are better than previous Armourfast figure set, they are hard plastic and looks pretty well. They need glue to fix the multi-part, this allow no plastic excess at any point and flash is non existent, have mould lines, but are easy to fix. These figures are all wearing anklets, a late war feature.
Instructions come in the box rear, they are clear enough to build the gun.
So 17 years after the Revell’s launch, their set continues to be the most complete ones. Not only by the excellent crew, it also comes full of munition and boxes and the complete limber. Although soft plastic is an odd. The new Armourfast ones is clearly oriented for wargaming environment, but we though it’s a great product for this purpose, 4 crew men per gun, robust, and shape detail in figures. Also we like the style of these figures, discussion about the poses apart. Zvezda ones is a product which don’t gets happy to much people, 2 crew is a joke and detail level of the gun also is nothing special, a wargaming product less useful than the Armourfast, even if sculpture in the figures is better. Both sets lacks of munitions, boxes and so, which is a pity.
With the three sets seems that we have the three LeFH 18 versions available for our armies.
Minor faults are present in all the sets, which have a quite simplified detail, the worst in the Armourfast could be the absence of a sight, and detail missing in the lower shield. The most ugly in the Zvezda’s ones is the gun itself, you may drill and drill to get this muzzle looking well. Also you may drill the Revell’s and Armourfast’s ones. Zvezda and Armourfast are the most robust, as correspond for wargaming models.
What we miss now is a decent winter crew for these guns, to combine with all the leFH 18 available in the market, such for example the ACE ones, with 18M and 40 versions. Note than the box illustration for the 18M comes without muzzle, which is incorrect. Also some resin manufactures have the LeFH 18 in their ranges.
A set in the way of the recently released Orion Russian Artillery Crew could be welcome for the German guns.
By the way , we also recommend to take a look to the excellent MMS material, such this.