ARM: Review - DML 1/35 scale M270A1 MLRS

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale Modern AFV Series Kit No. 3557
; M270A1 MLRS; 375 parts (374 in grey styrene, 1 sheet of clear styrene); p
re-order price US$59.95 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: solid older kit upgraded with new parts to match current vehicl
es
Disadvantages: some fit problems with the rocket packs
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: For all "redlegs", rocket and US and NATO armor fans
The US has had a hit-or-miss relationship with tactical rocket launchers o
ver the years. In WWII they used some towed systems and the famous "Calliop
e" system on the M4 Sherman tank but overall nothing like the Germans or So
viets. In Korea the USMC made extensive use of towed rocket launchers using
helicopters in the "hit and git" system of fire support. But overall nothi
ng much else. The Honest John and Little John were essentially nuclear deli
very systems.
But in the early 1980s the US Army began to field a new modular rocket sys
tem called the Multiple Launch Rocket System or MLRS (just to be different,
as the rest of the world systems were usually called multiple rocket launc
hers or MRLs). It used two six-shot pods firing 227mm rockets to ranges of
around 30 kilometers (it varied based on source) and was able to set up, fi
re, and leave in less than two minutes. The new Heavy Expanded Mobility Tac
tical Truck family (HEMTT) was introduced at the same time with the M985 as
the dedicated reload vehicle with a HIAB type crane for handling.
A self-propelled launcher/loader (SPLL or "Spill" to its friends) would pu
ll up next to the M985 and find its packs already on the ground. Running ou
t the expended ones and lowering them to the ground, the SPLL would then pi
ck up and load the new packs and then move out in a matter of 15 minutes or
less. The M985 would pick up the expended packs for return to have them re
loaded (at depot or higher level unfortunately).
But the original vehicles had a number of problems. After firing 108 round
s (nine full loads) the SPLL had to be sent to a depot for recalibration of
its aiming equipment and systems. It also had problems with the fact it wa
s optimized for war in Europe and had no air conditioning or other adaptati
ons for the desert. It was also now capable of firing the ATACMS tactical g
uided missile with a 150 kilometer range, so after some interim changes the
M270A1 was an upgraded vehicle introduced in 2005 with much improved fire
control and the ability to use GPS guided rockets. Over 1,300 MLRS were bui
lt before production ended.
DML originally introduced a kit of the M270 MLRS and two offshoots, a NATO
version and a dedicated Bundeswehr version, in the mid 1990s. They were ve
ry nicely done for the time with the only bugaboo a rocket pack that was fi
nicky to assemble and some detail quirks. Now DML has essentially re-releas
ed that kit but with a set of the external upgrades for the SPLL and also t
he improved fire control equipment for the cab.
The kit can be built (with some care and good resources) as either the M27
0 or the M270A1 as both sets of parts are in the box. The cab has a full in
terior and the blast louvers can be presented as open and elevated, opened,
or closed. Seven of the first eight steps in the directions cover the cons
truction of the cab interior. The suspension was well done for the time and
still holds up well, and the "link-and-length" tracks, while one of the fi
rst from DML, still look the part.
The launcher assembly is pretty straightforward and if care is used the ro
cket pods and their carrier frames may slide in and out of the launcher. No
te that the problems with the original pods were that the frames were hard
to get to fit together around the rocket tubes, so take care when assemblin
g these parts.
Step 24 covers all the next external parts, and one of those is a mount fo
r an M240 7.62mm machine gun over the commander's hatch.
Two finishes are offered for the kit: C-22 "Car Ramrod", 6-37 FA Battalion
, 2nd US Infantry Division, ROK (black over forest green with regimental cr
ests on the front of the SPLL); 4th Battery 52nd Artillery Battalion, Bunde
swehr (black over green, Maltese crosses, Y-827 251). A small sheet of Cart
ograf decals is included and also provides the FS30277 sand patches for the
codes and names on the 6-37 vehicle.
Overall this was a pretty good kit the first time around and the addition
of the necessary upgrade parts will help in making it a really nice model.

Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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