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DML 1/72 LCM(3) Landing Craft + M4A1 w/Deep Wading Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review April 2008 Manufacturer DML
Subject LCM(3) Landing Craft + M4A1 w/Deep Wading Kit Scale 1/72
Kit Number 7360 Primary Media 299 parts (229 in grey stryene, 57 in grey DS plastic, 8 etched brass, 2 in tan DS plastic, 1 length of nylon string, 1 length of twisted steel wire, 1 clear vacuformed base)
Pros “Instant” diorama in a box with all elements needed in one place Cons LCM(3) and tanks were apparently never used in this manner
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $31.95

First Look

Back in 1965 Airfix released one of the neater kit ideas of the time, an LCM(3) landing craft with an M4 (Sherman I) tank embarked on it. Accompanied by their other combo kit from that time frame, an LVT-4 with a Willys MB jeep, they made for a lot of fun as kids when used in wargame type landing scenarios. Never mind the fact that the LCM(3) only had a maximum capability of about 60,000 pounds of cargo and thus was not able to effectively carry a Sherman tank (that fell to the six foot longer LCM(6) series craft) it was a neat idea and did well.

Fast forward to 2008. DML has now released a package deal of their new production LCM(3) with one of their excellent M4A1 Sherman kits in the same sort of concept. Here at least DML provides both kits relatively complete (somewhere along the line half of the infantry from the original LCM(3) kit have gone missing) but the tank does make up for some of the difference.

Since both kits have been reviewed before I shall just sum up from them.

For the LCM(3) 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 six 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 from DS plastic 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 DS plastic. 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.

The M4A1 comes with an large number of add-on parts, as well as a “slide molded” pistol port on the left side which does not have to be puttied into the side and is open, so the modeler may leave it that way or close it. All viewers and vision devices are separate items, and the modeler also has a choice of either styrene or etched brass covers and guards for the devices. The M34A1 mount comes with a correct base unit, screw-mounted frame, and mantelet, as well as a hollow-molded gun bore.

The hull has sponson floors molded in, as well as a large amount of extra details that are added on. If the etched brass is used, it is one of the most complete hulls around, as it comes with the little seen and seldom modeled screening that covers the exhaust pipe exits under the back edge of the hull top. All fine details such as light guards may be replaced with etched brass; only the fenders here are left as styrene parts.

The suspension is well done, using a bit of trickery where the bogie mounts are molded in two parts and the wheels are molded on as part of the rear suspension arms in one assembly. The vertical volute springs are separate (one unit) and the return roller is molded to the front half of the bogie unit. When assembled, the fiddly modeler may want to drill tiny holes in the front of the bogie unit to simulate its “reversible” feature but that is about all it needs (or perhaps an etched brass track return guide at the top.) The drivers come with two different “teeth” patterns, a “fancy” ring on the interior and the “solid” one on the outside, so future suspensions may come with different outside rings. Once installed, the inside cannot be seen so it is a moot point. The same is NOT true of the idler, which shares the failing of most 1/35 scale kits of not having a backing to it.

The model comes with T48 rubber chevron tracks. All tools are separate parts, and the model comes with an essential option for this version of the Sherman, namely a six-part etched brass set of wading trunks that are commonly found on tanks being landed from LCM, LCT or LST vessels. Indicating this kit is most likely intended for wargames is the fact that the rest of the normal etched brass parts found in “Armor Pro” Sherman kits is missing.

Markings and finishing directions unfortunately are not even close. The Normandy 1944 finish for the LCM(3) is fine as is the set for Iwo Jima 1945, but the Sherman was not landed by these craft at Normandy and the USMC battalions at Iwo Jima (3rd, 4th and 5th Tanks) used M4A2 and M4A3 Shermans, not M4A1 types. A nice sheet of Cartograf decals is provided.

Overall while the kits are good this combination doesn’t work out well, but is a handy and slightly more inexpensive way for wargamers to stock up.

Thanks to DML for the review sample.

Sprue Layout:

  • A 15 LCM well deck, sides, ramp
  • A 56 M4 low bustle turret with options, hull details for M4/M4A1
  • B 51 LCM deck details, machine guns
  • B 41 M4 small details
  • C 32 M4 “flat top” return rolller suspension with pressed steel wheels
  • C 12 LCM - beach obstacles
  • C 9 LCM - crew (DS plastic)
  • C 48 LCM - six infantry figures (DS plastic)
  • D 1 Vacuformed Base
  • E 10 M4A1 late model hull
  • M 1 M4/M4A1 lower hull pan
  • X 2 M4 T48 type tracks - DS plastic
  • Y 1 LCM hull
  • Z 1 twisted steel wire
  • MA 6 Etched brass
  • MB 2 Etched brass
  • 1 nylon string
  • 10 US small arms