ARM: Review - DML 1/144 Scale Armor Kits

Kit No. 14001, Sturmtiger + Demolition Tiger; 18 parts (8 in grey styrene, 8 in etched brass and 2 in vinyl) and 13 parts (7 in grey styrene, 4 in etched brass and 2 in vinyl); price not available Kit No. 14002, German Heavy Tank Maus + Tiger I Early; 17 parts (7 in grey styrene, 8 etched brass and 2 in vinyl) and 16 parts (12 in grey styrene, 4 etched brass and 2 in vinyl) ; price not available Kit No. 14003, German Super Tank E100 + Tiger I Late; 17 parts (9 in grey styrene, 6 etched brass, and 2 in vinyl) and 14 parts (8 in grey styrene, 4 etched brass and 2 in vinyl); price not available Kit No. 14004, Pz. 38(t) and Pz. IV Ausf. D;17 parts (10 in grey styrene, 5 etched brass and 2 in vinyl) and 15 parts (7 in grey styrene, 6 etched brass and 2 in vinyl); price not available

Advantages: First armor kits in this scale; brass gives them very fine details; will be a new scale for wargamers

Disadvantages: Use of "airliners' scale" may not find wide approval; not in an established wargame scale (e.g. 15mm or 1/125, 10mm or 1/180, etc) or model railroading scale (N Gauge or 1/160)

Rating: Recommended

Recommendation: for wargamers who have not sunk great costs into their armies or are just beginning to assemble forces

In his heyday with "Monty Python's Flying Circus" rubbery English actor John Cleese said it best: "And now for something completely different."

DML is now releasing the first of a new line of 1/144 scale armored vehicles. The first eight (each kit is sold as a related pair, and the first ones out are German WWII) are now in hand and can be assessed.

What they are NOT are kits as involved as the 1/35 scale DML efforts, or even their 1/72 scale siblings. The average kit consists of two complete track runs, hull bottom, hull top and turret (broken down a la ROCO) and a number of small add-on details such as gun barrels, mufflers, mantelets, etc. The etched brass covers either very fine details such as mantelets or hatches and engine deck screens.

For example, the Panzer 38 (t) kit comes with a pair of track runs, hull bottom, hull top, turret, mantelet, main gun, muffler, antenna, stowage bin, and bow machine gun in plastic and an optional mantelet, bow plate, gun mount, rear deck vent, and stowage bin in etched brass. The Pzkw. IV Ausf. D comes with a pair of track runs, hull bottom, fenders, hull top, turret, mantelet, gun, and bow plate in plastic and front and turret side hatches and engine deck grilles in etched brass. Note that the track runs are in vinyl and not styrene, to give some flex and options to the builder.

The inference ? since the etched brass is not called out on the directions ? is that those modelers who want more detail can use it, but those who only want "wargame quality can simply pop these together in short order and ignore the fancier (and more fragile) details.

Each pair comes with one of two decal sheets ? either an early war one with a variety of crosses and a small number set or a large number set with command codes for later war period vehicles. There is enough variety to permit making at least one company of each type of vehicle with no repeats on the sheets, and that also leads to the wargamers' angle.

Simplified but typical paint schemes are included for each type of vehicle, but again DML seems to consider that the purist will get a precise fit whereas the wargamer will be happy with the suggestion.

The idea is good, and these should be relatively reasonable. Each is also brightly packaged in a small box 8" x 4" x 1" or about the same size as a VHS tape. Inside are two separate plastic inserts with clear tops; one holds one kit and the other holds the other kit, the etched brass and the decal sheet taped to the top. A window is provided to examine the latter.

The main question is ? currently what can be done with them? Wargamers do not use the same scales as either railroad or scale modelers, and as such this is sort of a isolog. 1/144 scale is now a common model aircraft scale ? usually called "airliner" scale as most airline models are made in this scale, but with a large number of military aircraft now available as well ? and so far no other type of kit is available. If they are going to be used for wargaming, all of the other pieces of kit will have to follow ? artillery, infantry, softskins, buildings, fortifications ? or it may turn into a nice but orphaned series of models.

Still, the subjects are appealing and do not take up much space at all. They may sell well as ROCO 1/87 or HO scale kits now sell for what 1/35 scale kits went for 15 years ago, and a new "ground floor" for armor collectors is needed.

Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review samples.

Cookie Sewell AMPS

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