M752 Tactical Ballistic Missile Launcher
For a bit of historical background on this vehicle, as well as photographs and preliminary evaluation of the kit contents, please click on the link below for the First Look review of this kit.
Building the M752
The build begins with the usual place; the one piece lower hull tub and suspension. In this case the task was quite simple, as the roadwheel suspension arms are already molded in place on the lower hill tub. Due to this, you’d best plan on placing the completed model on a flat surface, unless you want to cut and re-attach the suspension arms to fit terrain on your base.
As you can see in the above photograph, the roadwheels have a good many sprue attachment points needing to be cleaned up.
Above - the lower hull with roadwheels, final drive covers, drive sprockets and idler wheels installed. All fit well, no issues encountered.
The next area to be tackled is the base for the Lance missile launcher. This unit is made up of almost 50 parts, but goes together very well with no fit issues anywhere.
Another view of the missile launcher base. The instructions for these steps building the launcher base assembly were clearly drawn and no issues were noted, despite how “busy” this base is.
The frame of the launcher itself is made up of several sub assemblies as seen in the above image. Some of these sub assemblies are made of quite a few parts requiring precise placement due to interface with other assemblies. You must pay VERY close attention to parts placement, as well as where NOT to use cement.
The missile launcher base and erector frame is made up of something like 110 parts, which is covered by two pages of instruction drawings. Some further illustrations of some components would have made the job easier.
Above, the completed launcher assembly. It’s a model unto itself, given it’s complexity and number of interrelated parts. The instructions were a bit too basic for this assembly. In my opinion several more detailed views showing parts alignment would have been very welcome. As is, the builder will need quite a bit of trial and error to determine how this launcher fits together. Fortunately, fit ( once figured out ) was fairly good.
The builder must also determine if he wishes to have the launcher / missile in transport or launch-ready condition. If in transport condition, you’ll need to align the launcher and missile carefully so that the missile can fit to the cradle that mounts on the forward deck of the vehicle.
Also, the builder must be aware that the instruction drawings all show the launcher in an elevated, ready to launch position, which also requires the rear tailgate / access ramp to be lowered. If you desire a transport mode, paying strict attention to the no-cement guidelines in the instructions are necessary.
Building the Hull
The construction of the upper hull begins with the bow plate, a very “busy” area with lots going on. Fit of this plate to the lower hull is pretty good, but care must be taken in ensuring proper alignment, as there are no real positive mount points. As a matter of fact, all of the upper hull parts are joined with simple butt joints, some of them on angles, with no pins, holes, tabs or slots to ensure positive fit. You will need to do a lot of dry fitting to ensure these parts all align properly to their neighboring parts before cementing. Take your time, dry fit twice, glue once....
The front plate is loaded with nice detail, including tools and headlight arrays. The kit provides some nice photoetched straps for the tools, but the headlights are a bit of a disappointment, as the provided lens are solid gray styrene. I replaced them with aftermarket lenses.
Above- forward upper hull parts that make up the rear wall of the engine compartment and three sides of the driver / crew compartment. Note the instrument panel molded onto the front wall of the driver compartment.
Above- hull rear plate with tailgate / ramp.
Above - the tailgate / ramp MUST be lowered to allow clearance for the missile launcher to be elevated ( non-travel mode ) if so desired.
Above - the forward engine bay roof. It’s a bit difficult to see in the above image, but there are two screened areas on the engine deck. There are supposed to be recessed areas under the screens, including one which references indicate contain exhaust system components. Instead of actual recesses with photoetched screens over them, DML has opted to simulate these recesses by molding the screens on the surface of the engine deck roof ( part B13 ).
DML does provide a nice photoetched exhaust pipe guard to be mounted atop the screened area on the right hand side of the engine deck, but provides nothing for it to be covering. No exhaust pipe. I found photos showing this pipe and scratched one to install beneath the guard. Another curious omission.
Above is the floor of the missile launcher compartment, including the bench seating along both sides. The bench seats seem to have mount spots on them, but these don’t align to anything on the hull floor part, so I eyeball aligned them. Reference photos indicate that these benches were aluminum, not wood.
With all upper hull sub-assemblies constructed, it’s now time to fit them all together!
I pre-painted some of the interior prior to assembly, including the instrument panel. The seats aren’t installed yet in the drivers compartment. As mentioned earlier, dry fitting as many of the upper hull parts together as you can manage at the same time will help you determine exact placement. Fortunately, there ARE some locating ridges for the rear wall of the engine compartment...these were a big help. I still had some minor problems however..
Above - crew seats were a bit tricky to install, but look nice
Above - The engine deck has so many mating surfaces at so many angles ( it slopes downwards from the front end on the vehicle ) that I was quite honestly pleased at only having one real gap in all of those mating areas. Above can be seen the two screened areas noted above, as well as the photoetched exhaust pipe guard.
Also seen above is the missile cradle, which mounts to the engine deck roof. Curiously, there are no mounting points for this assembly. After researching its placement and deciding that several mounting parts had been either deemed unnecessary or simply deleted by DML, I eventually opted to mount it by eye once I’d mounted the missile onto the launcher, and the entire launcher into the vehicle. That way, I could see approximately where the cradle needed to logically be. Another omission in this kit by my estimation.
Above - a bit of a fit issue as noted above....you can see a white line of putty where I had a gap between the hull side and engine deck roof.
Above - the hull completed, with the missile launcher test fitted into the vehicle.
Unlike some other aspects of this build, the tracks were a joy to assemble and mount. They are link and length style, and fit together quite well. I prepainted the steel sections with MiG Dark Tracks color, and the vinyl pads were already molded in a nice dark blackish-gray, and needed no further attention prior to assembly.
Above - tracks and pads
Above - you’ll need to trim the vinyl pads on a slight angle to remove the sprue nubs. They settle into the track recesses very nicely.
Above - first track run assembled and mounted to the vehicle.
Building a Lance Missile
Building the missile is a simple matter, as its made up of just the eight parts seen above; two main body halves, a nose cone, a tail end piece, and 4 stabilizing fins. The sprue attachment points on the main body halves of the missile are massive, and of course they are located on the surfaces needing to be joined...that said, the cleanup of these parts went well, and I got a nice undetectable join between the parts. The fins mount into small holes on the missile body.
i almost forgot, there are 4 tiny directional nozzles to be mounted in recesses in the forward half of the missile. These tiny nozzles ( maybe flea sized..) are cleverly hidden on a piece of sprue, think of it as an Easter Egg hunt. Just don’t toss any sprues until you’ve found these nozzles.
Decals,Decals, and more Decals
After a quick airbrushing with a dark green to approximate the missile color seen in reference photos, the missile was then given a coat of Future to provide a smooth landing spot for the many decals to be placed on the missile. As the missile is so prominently seen on the vehicle, you have to do a good job of decalling it. There are a whopping 76 separate decals to be applied to the missile.
The decals provided in this kit are of good quality, and reacted well to setting solution. They settled down nicely with no silvering, and no raised edges.
My only Issue with the missile decals is that with the exception of the big blocks of data text immediately forward of the fins, literally every bit of text or markings ( including the lifting strap alignment markers ) is a separate decal. Eyeball alignment is tedious and tough. It took me several days to get all of the decals applied to the missile.
Final Construction - odds and ends
This consisted of assembling the drivers compartment roof and window panels, mounting the track guards to the hull sides, and mounting the missile to its launcher.
Above - the mount points for the missile to launcher are TINY, but seem to hold okay.
Above - the track guards mount positively to the hull sides
Above are the two final areas at the end of the build ( which is why I forgot to photograph them prior to painting - apologies ). To the left is the drivers compartment, with roof and window panels. The window panels are molded of clear styrene, meaning that the builder has to mask both sides of the window, matching each side perfectly to the other, so that the “metal” panel color can be applied. I then simulated the weatherstripping with a black sharpie marker.
NOTE - the drivers compartment roof can be shown in a launch imminent position, lowered to immediately above the driver’s compartment. I opted to have it raised for visual interest, and to show the driver’s compartment.
To the right of the driver’s compartment is the previously mentioned missile cradle. It now has the photoetched tie-down straps added. I was unable to determine what the actual material used for these straps is, perhaps canvas, rubberized something or other, maybe nylon. But after some trial and error, I was able to get the photoetched straps to lay down in what I feel is a fairly realistic manner.
That concludes the build portion of this review!
Painting and Finishing Touches
I opted to do a mid 1970’s MERDC paint scheme, as it was so commonly seen in Europe ( plus I liked the box art for this kit ). I airbrushed the model with Tamiya acrylics thinned with Tamiya’s lacquer thinner. The vehicle decals were applied over a coat of Future. Once happy with the decals, they were sealed with another light coat of Future.
Chipping and scratches were done with Tamiya flat aluminum, as the vehicle is largely made up of aluminum. Weathering consisted of the usual fading and streaking done with oil / Turpenoid washes, a little pigments, and then some final touches with various other items. There are still a few areas I intend to doctor up a wee bit, but for the purposes of this review, we’re done here.
This kit left me with rather conflicting feelings about it. I will do my best to sum them up below, based on all of the above.
Pros - this kit builds an interesting subject, and the first kit of the M752 in plastic. The kit builds into a good looking, interesting model. The kit includes photoetched parts. Parts quality is quite good, with crisp clean moldings, with very good detail.
Cons - there are some minor mistakes in the instructions, with part numbers transposed. Some drawings do not clearly show where parts are to be fitted, particularly in the missile erector. No photoetched screens are provided for the engine deck. No clear styrene headlight lenses are provided. This is not an inexpensive kit, these omissions are surprising. The decals for the missile are much more tedious to apply than necessary.
ThIs kit will build into a terrific looking model with the application of good fundamental modeling skills and a lot of patience.
Thanks to Dragon for the review sample
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
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