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Trumpeter 1/35 scale U.S. Navy LCM(3)

Kit: No. 00347
Scale: 1/35
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, imported by Stevens International, P.O. Box 126, Magnolia, NJ 08049, 856-435-1555
Price: $65
Comments: Injection-molded, 182 parts (22 photoetched metal), wire, decals
Pros: Good detail, excellent .50-caliber guns, one-piece hull
Cons: Some gaps and minor fit problems
To meet a U.S. Navy request for a landing craft that could handle a light tank, Higgins Industries produced the LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized) series. The original boat was designated the LCM(2), but in 1943 its length was increased by 5 feet and the capacity increased to 30 tons to meet the need for landing larger vehicles. The LCM is most easily recognized by the open gridwork at the top of the bow ramp. The LCM saw service in both the European and Pacific Theaters. More than 8,600 LCM(3)s were produced by the war's end.

Trumpeter is the first manufacturer to produce a 1/35 scale LCM(3). Molded in medium-gray plastic, the kit features good detail. To my surprise, the main hull is molded in one piece, and shows no molding flaws. Ejector-pin marks are kept to a minimum and are mostly in areas that won't show when the model is assembled. A fret of photoetched brass parts provides the machine-gun pylons and shields as well as the lifting points and life preserver hooks. Brass wire is provided for the bow ramp-cable guides, and tubing is supplied for the fire-extinguisher hose. Heavy thread represents the bow-ramp cables. While markings for only one boat are shown in the instructions and the box art, the decal sheet contains several generic letters and numbers. The 10-page instruction booklet is well-illustrated with clear diagrams.

Assembly starts with the lower hull. The rudder extensions did not fit the hull very well and were among the few places that needed filler. While assembling the pilothouse, I used the roof piece to make sure everything was square. There are minor variations between the British and U.S. Navy versions of the kit; make sure you follow the options for the version you build. The main deck fit the hull very well. I used a bit of super glue to fill the seams where the front plate of the bow ramp meets the rear piece. Take care in assembling the bow ramp hinge: With care, it will operate and is quite sturdy.

Small gaps showed up on both sides of the bow where the inner and outer hulls meet; I filled them with auto-body putty. I didn't glue the pilothouse assembly as its snug fit made it easier to paint and detail the inside of the cabin. Just enough copper wire is provided to make the 10 cable guides for the bow-ramp cable.

I airbrushed the model with Testor Model Master Acryl paints. I applied the decals over a coat of Future, then sealed them with a clear flat coat. The propellers should be painted brass or bronze.

The .50-caliber machine guns are some of the finest plastic guns on the market. They even include a small length of ammo belt if you wish to show either of the ammo canisters open. The last thing I installed was the ramp cable. The string provided in the kit is really way too thick and fuzzy. Although the bow ramp is hinged, you have to decide whether to display the model with the ramp up or down, as there is no easy way to change the length of the ramp cables.

I have to say my experience with Trumpeter kits has been a bit mixed, but this is one of the best Trumpeter kits I've built so far. Molding detail is excellent, and the fit of the parts, with a few minor exceptions, is very good. The finished model matched exactly the dimensions in Squadron/Signal's WWII U.S. Landing Craft in Action. It took me about 16 hours to build my LCM. This would be an excellent kit for a novice model builder's first ship. The finished model is impressive in size and detail.

- John Plzak

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