German 15cm L/29.5 Howitzer Barrel
for sFH 18 & "Hummel"

ABER 1:35 Set #35 L-66
Review by Terry Ashley

The Set:
ABER are the third company to release a replacement metal barrel for the German sFH 18 15cm Field Howitzer and can be used on either the Dragon (#6392) or Trumpeter (#02304) kits with a little more work required to fit the Trumpeter kit. The barrel can also be used with the Dragon "Hummel" kits if required but the construction notes here are for fitting the barrel to the two sFH 18 15cm Field Howitzer kits.

The set has two cleanly machined metal parts, the barrel in aluminium with the muzzle drilled out to a depth of 15mm with fine rifling added inside to a depth of 10mm and the rear brass breech securing ring. Also included is a small fret of etched parts to add further details to the barrel and kit gun cradles.
The rifling is quite finely machined but with straight grooves as seen for most replacement metal barrel rifling.

The etched parts include the flush screwed ring added around the front step in the barrel and this is only barrel released to date either in the kits or after market to included this ring. There is also parts for the cradle barrel securing bracket to represent the early or later configurations which differ quite markedly so you have to decide which version you wish to build.

Two part aluminium and brass barrel and etched parts
with closeup of muzzle rifling


The barrel length and contours match those of the various plans in the books below but due to the breech securing ring included a little work is needed to fit to your choice of kit.

As both the kits come with metal barrels the obvious question is; why would you want a replacement barrel in any case? The appearance of the fine rifling in this larger calibre does provide a marked improvement in appearance over the non-rifled Dragon barrel and rather thick grooves in the Trumpeter barrel as well as the etched parts to add additional cradle detail and gives good reason for the update.

A quick comparison of the available metal barrel rifling.
LionMarc Model Designs
ABERGriffon ModelVoyager

The barrel is designed to simply replace the kit barrels but firstly you have to cut off the plastic breech securing ring from the two kit breeches and using the new Lion Roar Modelling Saw (set #LT0026) this was done in no time at all, just make sure you don't cut off too much plastic.

If you did not want to cut off the kit breech ring the metal ring could be left out and the barrel simply fitted to the kit breech.

Note: I found it easier to glue the two halves of the kit breech together before cutting off the ring as this ensured an even cut would result, but you can cut them individually if preferred?

Altering the kit gun breeches as per above
LionMarc Model Designs

After modifying the Dragon barrel the inside of the breech is exposed and the plug on the end of the ABER barrel is designed to fit neatly into the breech but the plug on the barrel is slightly too long and you need to file about 1mm off this to fit better. Another alternative is to drill out the inside of the breech further with a 5mm drill but this is rather tricky due to the size of drill required and filing the barrel plug may be the easier option?

On the Trumpeter breech there is a ring deeper inside that needs to also be removed to allow the barrel plug to fit in place, the breech hole is also larger than the metal barrel plug but it easy to fit evenly.
There is another issue with the Trumpeter breech in that it is marginally narrower than the Dragon breech and the metal breech securing ring sits a little higher than the breech.

Fitting to the Dragon breech as notes above
Insides of the Dragon and Trumpeter kit breech after removing the securing ring.
The inner ring also has to be removed from the Trumpeter breech for the metal barrel to fit.

LionMarc Model Designs

The forward flush screw ring is a perfect fit to the barrel and after fitting the barrel to the appropriate kit barrel cradle your choice of cradle attachment brackets can be added.

For the early type there is a simple bracket added to the kit cradle and two large hex bolts added to the front of mounting. These bolts are provided as etched "stars" and you bend the sides to form the hex bolts but care is needed when bending using a fine pair of tweezers so the bolt doesn't do the dreaded "ping" into the unknown.

The later configuration has a full band that goes around the barrel with the lower brackets having three two part etched washer/bolts added and I annealed the band beforehand to allow bending easier. The ends of the etched band have to bent back over themselves three times to form the thicker bracket and there is also provided small inner parts to add but it's easier to leave these off as they are all but hidden after assembly in any case.

The etched washers have the additional small securing tabs that bends around the lower edge of the bracket so don't be tempted to cut this off as they should be there with the small hex bolt head added on top of the lower bolt washer for better definition. I used thin cyanoacrylate to attach all the small bolt heads and cradle brackets without any real problems.

Thankfully ABER give you some extra washers and bolts on the fret in case of loss and this is a nice touch given how easy it is to loose the small parts into the cosmic void during bending and assembly.

Images of the barrel fitted to the Dragon kit with early cradle bracket
and flush screw band on barrel .

Images of the barrel fitted to the Trumpeter kit with later cradle bracket.
Discolouration of the metal is due to annealing process


The rest of the construction is per the kit instructions, the minor diameter issue with the Trumpeter kit is mostly hidden between the trunnion mounting with the barrel in the neutral position.

Barrel length comparison of available metal barrels including the Dragon and Trumpeter kit barrels.
sFH18 barrels

Of the metal barrels available for sFH 18 15cm Field Howitzer either with the kits or aftermarket this is the standout of those currently available with fine rifling in the muzzle and the additional etched parts providing the early or late cradle bracket configuration. Added to this is the forward flush screw ring that adds additional fine detail to the barrel.

A little work is needed to fit the barrel to either the Dragon or Trumpeter kit but offers a noticable improvment over the kit barrels.

Highly recommended 8.5/10

See the sFH-18 150mm Howitzer subjects page for additional reviews.

On the Net:


Model Detail Photo Monograph No.19
Published by ROSSAgraph
ISBN 83-919061-6-7


German Heavy Field Artillery

Schiffer Military History
ISBN 0-88740-759-5



Hummel Sd.Kfz.165
Nuts & Bolts Vol.10


Ground Power No.70
March 2000
GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd.

Thanks to ABER for the review sets.
Airconnection carry the full range of ABER update sets and barrels.

Page created April 29, 2008