Revell 1/40 Honest John






One missile


Scott Van Aken


1995 reissue


Thanks to the work done by the Germans during WWII, all of the major powers put considerable effort into developing battle field missiles. The idea of having some truly long range artillery was an enticing one. The fact that these missiles took a long time to reload and fire did not diminish the desire for them. A 'benefit' of them was that they could carry a tactical nuclear warhead. Personally, I wouldn't want to be within a hundred miles of such a thing when it went off. Nukes of the time were decidedly 'dirty' and such a strike would have spread radioactive fallout for quite a long way.

Allow me to quote from the Redstone Arsenal website as I know zilch about the missile "The HONEST JOHN was a simple, free-flight rocket capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. This highly mobile system was designed to fire like conventional artillery in battlefield areas. The Basic (M31) HONEST JOHN system was first deployed in 1954. It was replaced by the Improved (M50) HONEST JOHN  in 1961 which reduced the system's weight, shortened its length, and increased its range. In July 1982, all HONEST JOHN rocket motors, launchers, and related ground equipment items were type classified obsolete."


Revell's kit of the Honest John is the the early version that was deployed in 1954. In fact, it is probably a preproduction or prototype version. The scale is not mentioned on the kit box, but many Revell military models were built to the then common standard of 1/40 that was also used by Adams and a number of other companies. The missile itself makes up very little of the kit. Most of it is taken up by the semi that is used to haul the crated missile around. Yes, there is no launcher for the Honest John in the kit. If you want the missile to be fully assembled, you'll have to find another way to show it. It may be possible to modify the Lacrosse launcher for this missile or to build a non-mobile launcher. The Redstone Arsenal website may be of some assistance in this area.

Anyway, the missile is in a lovely white color while the transporter is in a particularly garish green, the like of which I have not seen since I opened the Polar Lights Godzilla kit! As you might guess, the majority of the kit is the transporter. It is a full semi from the 50's so in that light, could make for a very good model just by itself. There is a full engine block and suspension for both the tractor and the trailer itself. Two figures are given, one standing and one driver. They look a bit anorexic to me, but I doubt if anyone will actually use them.

As with all kits of this age, panel lines are raised, ejector pin marks are in unwanted spots and the overall construction will have to be done very carefully as there are sure to be problem areas. I can recall building these types of kits and not having quite what I expected. Of course, I was 9 or 10 at the time so my skills were not as well honed as they are currently! Overall, the molding is quite clean and free from flash, so that is a blessing.

The instructions are copies of the original 1958 ones, which means that it is nearly photo like in depicting the various assembly steps. Colors are generic and shown where they are needed in the construction sequence. The decals are rather thick and glossy and are for both the missile and transport. Since the missile itself is to be white with red checked areas on it, you can surmise that it is not an operational type but a test vehicle. Operational missiles would be olive drab.



It is a bit of a disappointment to not have a launcher in with the kit, but if you are into the oldies but goodies, then this isn't a bad kit. Sure, it will not be what you want, but think of it as a missile with an optional semi included!



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