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DML 1/72 LCM-3 Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review November 2004 Manufacturer DML
Subject LCM-3 Scale 1/72
Kit Number 7257 Primary Media 213 parts (112 in grey styrene, 97 in grey cementable vinyl, 2 etched brass, 1 length of nylon string, 1 vacuformed clear base)
Pros Nice, new kit of this popular landing craft in 1/72 scale; crew and infantry figures very nicely detailed; options to go "scale" or "wargame" Cons Vinyl figures still not popular with modelers due to painting problems; compromises may not be appreciated (see text)
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) N/A

First Look

This seems to be the year of the LCM(3). The original one was an outgrowth of the "Americanized" version of the first British purpose-built landing craft, LCM(1), which was designed to land up to 16 tons of vehicles or cargo on a beach with a slope of 1/43. The American one was designated to carry either one 15 ton light tank (read M3 or M5 series) or 30,000 pounds of cargo, or alternatively 100 troops. This evolved into the larger LCM(3) which was designed to land one 30 ton tank or 60,000 pounds of cargo on the beach.

But while the original prototypes could deliver a 30 ton tank (M3 Medium type) to the shore, in practice it was found to be too much of a strain on the hull and as a result was not generally attempted. A modified version, the LCM(6), could carry an M4 Medium Tank but had been extended 6 feet to provide it the necessary flotation reserve to carry the tank in nominal seas.

These craft were standardized and both the US and UK used the same craft during the major landings in Europe. Later, some were carried to the Rhein on "Dragon Wagons" and used for the crossings there. Each of them had light armor on the control station and two .50 caliber machine guns on pedestal mounts for self defense.

Both Trumpeter and Italeri have produced 1/35 scale kits of this craft, and DML has announced one in 1/35 as well. But this is the first one in widely available form and literally replaces the older 1/76 scale one from Airfix.

DML apparently took a look at what modelers want and what they use kits like this for, and came to the conclusion many of them will be used for wargaming. As a result, the kit is a compromise; a semi-"wargame" ready model with only a limited representation of the lower hull (e.g. only enough of it so that the complete well deck inside the hull can be represented.) Purists wanting a "full hull" or wargamers wanting only a "waterline" version are bout out of luck; if the former was modeled the boat would need a stand to display, and in the case of the latter the well deck would have to be nearly flat to fit inside the scale freeboard of the vessel in the water.

If you have no problems with that, then the model is a very nice representation of the actual vessel. It provides for either scale (etched brass) or sturdy (styrene) gun shields for the gunners. The ramp can be displayed up or down, but while moveable will not be operable without a lot of work. Surprisingly, while rigging thread for the ramp is provided, no directions are included to show how to rig it.

A crew of three and 12 infantry men are included; these are miniatures of the figures in DML's 1/35 scale 29th Infantry set and are doubled up for poses (e.g. two each of six.) Each figure comes with a separate pack and canteen as well. All are made in the new cementable vinyl used by DML for smaller parts, and as such have had mixed results from modelers. The figures have exquisite detail but are difficult to paint well due to the flexing of the vinyl. A selection of 10 US weapons in styrene are provided for them.

The way DML gets around the compromise in the hull molding is to provide a vacuformed base from a clear plastic for mounting the finished model. The model nestles down into the base with its bow up on a simulated beach, so the lack of underwater components becomes a moot point. (Note: the directions don't give any hints except to color, but I suggest painting the "water" color from the INSIDE of the base to permit it to retain a shiny surface, and the "beach" color from the OUTSIDE to keep it suitably flat. Some drybrushed "foam" should finish the water off to most peoples' satisfaction.) Three sections of "Rommel's Asparagus" complete the base.

Two sets of markings are provided: one for one at D-Day in 1944 (marked "81" so you have me as to who it was used by) and one from Iwo Jima for Boat 2 from APA-46, USS Knox.

Overall, the model is very nicely done and if most modelers have no problems with the compromise in the hull should be very popular.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.