Trumpeter 1/72 LCM(3) Landing Craft
KIT #: 7213
PRICE: AUD$  22.95
DECALS: Many options
REVIEWER: Peter Hobbins
NOTES: Allows either USN or RN versions

HISTORY

Developed incrementally from a series of inter-war and early war designs, the landing craft, mechanised (LCM) mark III became a standard assault vessel for the allies from 1942 onwards. These landing craft were standardised for US Navy and Royal Navy production, with minor variations, and were built in the thousands. Able to be carried on the davits of a troopship, the LCM (III) could not only carry a medium tank in its hold; it was also adapted to a multitude of tasks, from bouncing the Rhine full of troops to carting cargo up tiny byways in forgotten corners of the Pacific war.

THE KIT

This kit has already been previewed on the site. In brief, it is well moulded and detailed, and appears to be generally correct dimensionally, although compared with plans and photographs, it appears to be too deep and the shape of the propeller channels is incorrectly moulded as semicircular when in reality they were more akin to truncated ovals. Even though the packaging (and decals) identify this kit as a US Navy craft, alternative parts are provided for a British version – including hold ladder and wheelhouse – and these are clearly called out in the instructions. Detail parts like machine guns and the deck pattern are very finely moulded, with a small photoetch sheet providing detail parts for the gun mounts and shields, plus the hoisting attachments on the hull sides.

CONSTRUCTION

 On the whole, this kit goes together easily. It is sensibly engineered and there are only a few ejector pin marks to remove, mostly inside the wheelhouse. There is also a pour mould indentation on the underside of the hull that is easy to fill. I did, however, find that the rails that are intended to be inserted into the bow ramp were short-shot and had to be replaced with Evergreen rod.

 The most problematic area of construction is actually the wheelhouse; assembling the four walls plus the roof to be square and gap-free is not as simple as it could be, requiring a lot of filling and sanding. Once that was achieved, I then found it necessary to shave off some of the mounting platform on the raised deck in order to make the wheelhouse sit flush over the top of it. While the fitting of the deck to the hull is solid, it results in a join line all of the way around the uppersides of the hull that takes a lot of filling and sanding. This then necessitated replacement of the weld seams, achieved by stippling Gunze Mr Surfacer along a thin strip masked off with Tamiya tape.

 The well deck also assembles cleanly but could do with better positive alignment aids. I replaced the kit’s moulded ladder rungs with 16-Amp fuse wire to ensure a more rounded profile. While it fits snugly into the hull cavity, it is difficult to attach the well deck solidly – I applied superglue at the ends and then joined the longer seams with MEK cement. I found that the complex and delicate ramp securing mechanism didn’t appear sturdy enough so I glued it firmly open; the position is probably a little low but helps achieve a stable display stance for the completed model without recourse to a separate stand.

 This just left the detail parts. The machine gun assemblies look impressive, but according to references they are incorrect both in shape and in detail. I fashioned more appropriately shaped armour shields from plastic card, added mounting rails under the guns, then created the padded armrests from fusewire. Unfortunately this left the guns sitting higher than in references, but it would have been very difficult to suitably shorten the etched-brass mounting pillars. The ventilators were drilled out to provide some depth and the ramp winches were added on both sides of the hull, although most reference pictures suggest that there was only one positioned on the port side.

COLORS & MARKINGS

 I was inspired to build this model after finding some photos of an Australian LCM operating off the troopship HMAS Manoora in 1944–45. I ascertained that it was in a two-tone grey scheme, but could not determine which shades of grey. I assumed that the lighter colour was a base coat of USN Haze Gray, then had to judge the tonal value of the darker shade from black and white photographs. The camouflage pattern was determined with reference to photos of both LCMs and LCVPs operating off the Manoora. Then came the fun part.

 Most LCMs showed noticeable ‘bowing’ of the hull plates between the internal bulkheads. This would have been difficult and tedious to achieve during construction, but was more readily achieved with plenty of masking tape. I laid a fine latticework of thin strips following the internal bulkheads (including the undersides), then oversprayed the hull with lightened shades of grey. I removed the masking and sprayed again to lessen the contrast between the masked and faded areas. Then, based on photos, I added a layer of masking at the approximate waterline and sprayed another lightened coat. The ‘M25’ lettering was achieved by scaling up a photograph to create a template, which was then laboriously transferred on to white decal film via lots of scalpel work. The resulting decals were then applied and touched up with white paint – photos show the lettering quite bright even against the tatty hull paintwork. In order to bring out the detail and add a hint of rust, several washes of raw umber oil paint were applied, followed by streaks and smears with pastel dust. I resisted the urge to turn this LCM into a rustbucket, but liberal paint scuffing and chipping was achieved via use of drybrushed light grey paint.

 While the LCM is technically a ship, I’ve always thought of it as more akin to armour models – probably on account of its angular construction and relatively small size. As such, I felt it deserved some stowage and a few figures. The former was achieved via a model railway casting of various boxes and barrels, while the crew were created by mixing and matching elements of British 8th Army, Australian infantry and German Kriegsmarine figures, with uniforms re-carved where necessary to represent tropical kit. The captain, for instance, is an 8th Army sentry with the head of a German Kapitan, while the man with the broom was actually an 8th Army minesweeper with an Australian head added and a scratchbuilt broomhead replacing his previous technical apparatus! All figures had a pin inserted into one of their legs, which allowed for a firm attachment via fine holes drilled into the deck. I then sprayed the finished model with Testors Dullcote and added the final touch: a White Ensign that came with the ancient Revell 1:720 German heavy cruiser kits!

CONCLUSIONS

Trumpeter’s LCM (III) is a nicely moulded although not entirely dimensionally accurate representation of an important – if mundane – contributor to the Allied war effort. Construction is not without its problems, but none are insurmountable; it is disappointing that the machinegun mounts are so incorrect. It is not a hard kit to build, but turning it into an interesting model almost demands the addition of some crew and a load – perhaps even one or more vehicles – and it could certainly form the basis for some fascinating dioramas.

REFERENCES

 Martin Brice. WW2 Landing Craft. London: ISO Publications, 1985.

Steve Zaloga. ‘Bouncing the Rhine’ in Military Modelling, 6–26 May 2005.

Peter Hobbins

November 2006

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