Airfix  1/76 British Landing Craft Mechanized Mk III & Sherman Tank Mk I

Media: Injection molded plastic

Decals: One large decal for each side of the LCM and a small sheet of markings for the Sherman Tank

Accuracy: Looks authentic in finished form

Overall: B+

Review and Photo By: Bob Swift

These are the last two kits of the rummage sale bargain, and represent state of the art molding from a time long past. Overall Airfix made a very nice effort with the models involved.  

I know very little about the landing craft, and the Sherman was a classic from its time; this one appears to have the 75mm main gun and was obviously a Lend-Lease article used by some British units to expand their armored forces for D-Day and later operations. I remember reading that the British had some difficulty putting a larger caliber main gun into operational use on their main battle tanks due to the inability to develop a weapon capable of firing both high explosive rounds and armor piercing ordinance from the same gun. This was due in part to the British concept of using armor as infantry support, rather than the more flexible, free ranging role employed by the Americans; in other words, the main gun was thought of as more of a howitzer than a tank to tank weapon. Physically, the British tanks were also rather narrow beamed and made upgrading to larger weapons very difficult, if not impossible, in some cases; larger turrets just couldn't be accommodated . I read that as an interim measure, the British actually took some American 75mm guns and installed them , complete with the mantle, on a fairly large number of Churchill tanks; even if the fit wasn't perfect they seemed to have accomplished their missions when employed.

As with the WWI tank and the 88mm/Kfz kits, these kits are really easy to work. Instructions are minimal, but adequate, even for an old guy. The landing craft in this scale is just the right size for a small workbench. Details are rather minimal, but then, so were they on the real thing. Plenty of room for detailing for anyone so inclined. Parts are molded in grey plastic with little flash to be dealt with. Fit is excellent; the deck piece was warped (imagine that, after all these years), but when snapped into place on the hull, it flattened out with no problems. The only filler required was a thin bead of white glue around the entire seam between hull and deck; no need for anything more substantial. To display the ramp in opened position required some hidden support; in the down position its weight puts considerable strain on the tiny hinge attachments, and when I put the tank on it, it fell off; fortunately it didn't break anything; that was an easy fix. The figures were rather featureless, but they had heavy weather gear and quaint helmets; three were provided; only used two. There was a ladder from the upper deck to the hold, but the sprue attachments were so thick I destroyed it trying to remove it. Will scratch build one when time permits. Decals were really bad, but since there were only two involved, we used them after several coats of liquid decal film were applied (as if they weren't thick enough before applying the film); actually didn't look too bad when finished.

The Sherman was an easy bit of work, going together with little fuss. Detail on the exterior is molded on; things like a shovel, pick, pry bars, tow cables, etc.; the scale involved is the reason for this, but painting them took longer than assembly. Rivet detail is nicely done, and actually looks to be almost in scale. Main gun barrel was drilled out for realism; the exterior machine gun on the commander's copula resembles anything but a machine gun; left it on for now to be replaced as soon as I find something more realistic. Decals were used after the 'treatment', but can be better done when I find a sheet with more desirable elements.

Track was the usual poor fitting, un-glueable, unrealistic item encountered on the other tracked kits from this lot, and was dealt with in the usual manner with needle and thread. We had considerable enjoyment putting these two kits together; for my grandson there was a good history lesson involved; for me, well, I just wallowed in nostalgia for a week, or so.

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