1/72nd vs. 1/76th Scales by Doug Chaltry
13 February 2002 email: doug(at)ontheway.us
First of all, let me say that I have nothing against 1/76th scale modeling, and my intent is not to make modelers in that scale feel unwelcome at this website. But I build 1/72nd scale models only, and consequently, this site is devoted to that scale alone. I started armor modeling in 1/72nd scale back in the 1970s with the original ESCI and Hasegawa kits, and have stuck with it ever since. Why I picked 1/72nd, I no longer recall. Perhaps I was looking for scale continuity with my aircraft models. Whatever the reason, I now have over 400 kits in this scale, and I am not interested in expanding into other small scales.

Over the past several years, I have received numerous emails from viewers who wish I would include 1/76th scale with this site. I take that as a compliment, and I very much appreciate the vote of confidence that I could do a good job with that scale. But I am sorry; I simply do not have the time, money, or knowledge to do that. I don't mind answering polite inquiries, and entering into harmless discussions about this topic. But pardon me for saying, I am really getting tired of seeing all the criticism I often receive at a certain small scale discussion group about my choice of 1/72nd scale. This bad press typically comes from people who obviously build primarily 1/76th scale, and for some reason feel insulted that I don't cater to their preferred scale rather than my own. Criticizing me for not including 1/76th scale is no different than criticizing a Japanese aircraft website for not including German ships. I do not build 1/76th scale, so why should I make a 1/76th scale website? I don't know how many different ways I can explain it so that people will understand.

When someone else cares to invest the same amount of time, money and effort into setting up a 1/76th scale website, as I have for 1/72nd scale, then I would be delighted to link the two sites together and form the "Ultimate Small Scale" website. Anybody interested in doing this, please let me know.

I often get the question: "Why don't you like to mix the two scales?" Primarily, it's a visual thing. When I look at a shelf full of tanks, I like to take in the whole "size comparison" effect; for example: the size of an Elefant tank destroyer compared to a Panzer I. With two different scales, it's not easy to make such comparisons.

How noticable is the difference?

I know some people feel that the size difference between the two scales is negligable, but I agree only for small objects. As the size of the object increases, so too does the magnitude of the size difference (see the adjacent diagram). On large vehicles, the size difference is considerable. Take the Elefant for example. The instructions in the ESCI kit state that the vehicle had a length of 23.3 ft (7.1 m). At 1/72nd scale, the kit should be 3.9 in. (98.6 mm) long. In 1/76th scale, the kit should be 3.7 in. (93.4 mm) long, which gives over a five millimeter difference. Such a difference is quite noticable to the bare eye (numbers are rounded).

But for a smaller vehicle, like the Panzer I, the difference is lessened. The real vehicle is 14.7 ft (4.5 m) long. In 72nd, that's 2.45 in. (62.2 mm). In 76th, it's 2.3 in. (58.9 mm). The difference is only about three millimeters, which although is still noticable to the practiced eye, it is harder to see for many people.

When you consider even smaller items, like a person, the difference becomes measurable with only a ruler. Consider a soldier 5.8 ft tall (about 1.8 m). In 1/72nd scale, he should be 0.97 in. (24.5 mm). In 1/76th scale, he would be 0.92 in. (23.3 mm). That's only about a millimeter difference, which can easily be written off as normal height differences between people. If you consider smaller items, such as various small arms, boxes, tools, etc. the difference is even less.

So what does this mean for mixing scales? That is, of course, up to each individual modeler. Many people will liberally mix and match. For me it means that I will readily use 1/76th accessories, and an occasional 1/76th scale figure, with my 1/72nd scale vehicles, but for the actual vehicles, I stick with just the one scale.

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