1/72nd, 1/76th & 1/87th Scale by Gerard van Geleuken
6 December 2001  
First of all, I would like to congratulate Doug on this initiative, it is very heartening to see somebody stand up for the little guys (i.e. 1:72 as opposed to the big 1:35 bullies who think the world belongs to them - joking). In that context, some Frenchman has just opened a 1:72 website that looks promising - I'm frantically looking but can't find it right now, I promise to report back.

On the subject of mixing 1:72 and 1:76 scales, and the notion that the difference is less noticeable with smaller vehicles and figures, I have to disagree with Doug however. A big 1:76 truck in a 1:72 environment will still look like a big truck. How many people have a precise idea of how big a Diamond T truck (I'm thinking of Matchbox) is anyway? On the other hand, if you take a vehicle that's fairly small to begin with, let's say a VW Kubelwagen in 1:76 (Fujimi or whatever), and you put a couple of burly ESCI German paratroopers (made 6 inches - in real life terms - taller by their base) next to it, it will look tiny indeed, almost as if somebody brought his little son's toy car to the war.

I think scale should be judged on a case by case basis anyway. Airfix claim their vehicles are 1:72 but if you put an Airfix Sherman next to a 1:72 Hasegawa Sherman even your mother in law will notice something is amiss (no offence meant to any mothers in law, mine has bookbinding for a hobby and thus has a keen eye for details and minor flaws).

Along the same line of thought, it has been noticed on this site that Armo's BRDM-1 is rather wide. I have one, and it is. I also have an Al.By BA-64 which seems really small (yes yes, I know it was in reality - but the model is really small - maybe Al.By should have opted for the BA-64B with wider axles). If you put the two together - and the one must have relieved the other in many Eastern Bloc countries in the 1950s - the BRDM really dwarfs its predecessor. Doesn't look right somehow.

Finally, some helpful tips (I hope):

- most 1:72 modellers are aware that the 1:87 scale (HO railway scale) provides many useful accessories: crates, bags, buildings and parts of buildings, etc. I would like to point out that if you're a little unscrupulous many vehicles in that scale can pass muster as smaller 1:72 vehicles: the Roco M54 5-ton truck can be a M35 2.5-ton truck, and the Roco MAN 630 series 5-ton truck is the same size as and looks very similar to the Ford G398 SAM 3-ton truck in 1:72 (I have checked this with scale drawings in Jane's Military Vehicles and Ground Support Equipment). Not for close up scrutiny but maybe for ambitious dioramas with long columns of trucks disappearing into the hazy distance.

- my really good tip concerning the 1:87 scale however is this: the Roco US machine gun kit (Roco 442 if memory serves). These are supposed to be 1:87 and some are, but there are rows of M1919A4, M1917A1, M2HB and M60 MG's on the sprues that are considerably bigger, for some unknown reason, and as far as I'm concerned are perfect for 1:72. So order one to see if I'm right, then order a dozen and for the rest of your 1:72 modelling life you can fit MG's to your US and allied vehicles from WWII to Vietnam and they'll look both good and consistent (that can be a problem with a line of vehicles from different or even the same manufacturers where one M1919A4 looks quite different from the one on the next vehicle). To be honest, I should note that the M1919A4 barrels need replacing; they're too thin, too short and placed too high on the receiver, but that is really a minor problem.

- I noticed that someone deplored the unavailablity of WW II Russian gun crews in connexion with the Skif 57 and 76 mm guns. I whole heartedly recommend the MMS white metal figures (www.mmsmodels.co.uk). These are not the usual white metal wargaming gnomes but are well detailed and perfectly compatible with the best soft and hard plastic figures in 1:72 (the Russian gun crew are holding 76 mm rather than 57 mm shells I should note). I bought several MMS figure sets and my only criticism is that that pouches and pistols holsters look a little atrophied, but I replaced them with holstered handguns from the Preiser Police in summer uniforms set.

Happy modelling,

Gerard van Geleuken, Luxembourg

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