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1/72 Scale Guided Missile Models 
(from 1940s to 1990s)

Monogram 1/80 scale Snark Intercontinental Cruise Missile (1950s)

I don't have a clear explanation for my interest in guided missiles. Perhaps it is admiration for the "genuine, steely-eyed, missile-men" (Ed Harris; APOLLO 13) who conceived, designed, built and manned the missile defenses of the United States, from the 1950s to the 1980s. Books like RINGS OF SUPERSONIC STEEL and BLAZING SKIES are very interesting reading for me. Perhaps it is a fondness for the brightly-colored 1950s plastic kits of then state-of-the-art missiles, complete with realistic launch pads. I know I was fascinated by my father's description of the German V-1 cruise missile of World War Two.

In any event, once I had scratch-built a couple of AFVs, I got the idea that I could do the same for the missiles that weren't available in kits in 1/72 scale. Below are several of the guided missile models I have built, from kits and from scratch. I have a few more missile subjects I would like to build, someday. 

U. S. Army Pershing II IRBM and HEMTT Tractor

Pershing II missile on transport/launcher (Google)

The Pershing II was a nuclear-armed Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile deployed by NATO in 1983 to counter the SS-20 Saber IRBM fielded by the USSR in 1976. A two-stage, solid-fueled missile, the Pershing II could deliver a variable-yield 5 to 50 kiloton warhead to a target up to 1,100 miles away. The warhead was precision-guided by on-board active radar using internal radar maps, with an inertial guidence system as a ballistic backup. Accuracy was 100 feet. The Pershing II was 34 feet 9" long, 40" in diameter, weighed 16,451 pounds and traveled at over Mach 8. (WikipediA)

The M983 HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) is an eight-wheel-drive tractor designed to pull a wide variety of loads for the U.S. Army. First developed in 1981 and manufactured by the Oshkosh Truck Corporation, the initial production HEMTTs were delivered to the U.S. Army in 1982. By 2006, Oshkosh had produced over 18,000 HEMTTs. The M983 is 29 feet 3" long, 8 feet wide, 9 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 135,121 pounds, has a top speed of 62 miles per hour and a range of about 300 miles, based on the load being pulled. (Tankograd Publications)

Modelcollect Pershing II IRBM, transport/erector and HEMTT tractor

This Modelcollect kit was a mixed bag: I was very happy it was produced, and it made up into a nice model, but the kit had a number of interesting problems. In my opinion, it was very over-engineered, with a far too complex assembly of way too many parts for a 1/72 scale model. I think perhaps the inexperience of the model's engineers resulted in molding weaknesses in quite a few of the components, causing them to fall apart when removed from the runners, and possibly a lack of direct experience in plastic model assembly led to very poorly-designed or non-existent mechanical connections between many of the kit's pieces.

Lastly, I think compromises between accurate details on the one hand and maintaining an economical production budget on the other led to shortcuts in the finished product. If you want to see an example of what I mean, click HERE and scroll down to Replicating Open Gratings to see how I swapped out photo etch mesh and molded styrene open gratings for some of the solid plastic parts of the kit.

Parts for Pershing II, transport/erector and M983 HEMTT ready for painting

Because of an error in the kit concerning the design of the front wheels, I opted to use replacement resin wheels by Def Model. The kit lacked the colorful air hoses mid-chassis as seen on the real HEMTTs, so I fabricated them out of .010" diameter aluminum wire from Detail Master. All paint was Humbrol (I mixed No. 34 Flat White with No. 155 Olive Drab to create three different shades, one apiece for the HEMTT, the transport/erector and the missile), except for the kit's vinyl tires at the transport, where I used Testor's Acrylic paint. I used the kit decals, which applied very well but had odd flaws in the size and location of some of the backer panels under the text. MV lenses were installed at the headlights and spot lights. A final finish of Testor's Clear Flat Lacquer was applied overall to finish the model.

UPDATE: Months after I finished this model, I learned that the combination of a HEMTT tractor and a Pershing II transport/erector/missile only occurred in US Army training units within the USA. Also, the HEMTTs used with the Pershing IIs in the US had a crane installed on the chassis of the tractor.

The Pershing II missiles deployed in West Germany were towed by German-built MAN 8x8 tractors. Maybe someday I'll build the Modelcollect kit of the appropriate MAN tractor. Maybe someday (if the references confim this combination), I'll build an AOSHIMA Patriot PAC III to go with this now orphaned HEMTT.

Click on the thumbnails below for larger images.

Kit Bash Polish S-125 Newa SC anti-aircraft guided missile system
(2000 to present)

S-125 Newa SC System (SA-3 Goa missiles on a T55 tank chassis) (Google)

Starting in 2001, Poland began the manufacture of a mobile anti-aircraft system called the Newa SC, using the Russian S-125 Neva (NATO code name SA-3 Goa) anti-aircraft missile mounted on a Polish-built tracked chassis based on the Russian T-55 tank. The S-125 is a low- altitude-capable surface-to-air missile originally designed for the air defense of the USSR that was widely exported to Warsaw Pact countries and allies of the Soviet Union. The  T-55 was a USSR main battle tank of the 1950s, also widely exported by the Soviet Union.

Each S-125 missile is 6.09 meters (19 feet 11 inches) long, 375 millimeters (14.5 inches) in diameter, has a wingspan of 2.2 meters (7 feet 2 inches), weighs 953 kilograms (2,100 pounds), has a range of 35 kilometers (22 miles), a top speed of Mach 3 to 3.5, with a maximum altitude of 18,000 meters (59,000 feet).

The T-55 tank chassis, designated the WZT-1 Armor Recovery Vehicle in Poland, is 7.10 meters (23 feet 3.5 inches) long, 3.27 meters (10 feet 8 inches) wide, 2.1 meters (6 feet 10 inches) tall, and weighs 31,500 kilograms (31.5 tons) (not including S-125 system). (Wikipedia)

Kit bash of GRAN S-125 anti-aircraft missile launcher and Revell of Germany T-55A

I became very interested in this contraption after I saw a brilliant model of the S-125 Newa SC, built by Philippe Bonnet, displayed on the Braille Scale website. (Unfortunately, images of this model appear to be gone.) I think this machine looks like something the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force would shoot at Godzilla, or maybe something out of the Gerry Anderson TV show The Thunderbirds.

I searched for a kit of the S-125 on eBay, and eventually bought two kits by GRAN, a Russian plastic model kit company. I had a Trumpeter T-55, but before I started this kitbash, I heard that Revell of Germany was planning a state of the art kit of the T-55. I bided my time until I could buy the Revell kit, and then I started this project.

I searched the internet for images of the Newa SC. I studied the images of Philippe's model on Braille Scale, and I even found images of a computer-generated 3D model of the Newa SC on a site called TurboSquid (click HERE to see). This gave me enough information to start the project. Below are images of the unpainted build:


The GRAN kit was good but a little primitive by modern standards, and I replaced some of the thicker, out-of-scale areas with scratch-building in Evergreen plastic (the white bits on the grey missile launcher). I modified the GRAN launcher base to match my references and attached what remained to the T-55 chassis. The Revell kit was a delight to build, and I left off the un-needed T-55 parts (such as the external fuel tanks; not a good idea around rocket exhaust) and added details unique to the Newa SC chassis, also in white Evergreen plastic. 

After assembly was complete, I applied Humbrol paint, including pin washes and drybrushing to bring out the details, and then Johnson's "Future" Clear Acrylic Floor Finish to even out the washes and drybrushing, followed by Testor's Clear Flat Lacquer on the T-55 chassis and the Goa missiles. 

Unfortunately, while spraying Testor's Clear Flat Lacquer on the missile launcher unit, the assembly fell off of the tapered bamboo stick I was using to hold the launcher during airbrushing, straight into the shallow tin filled with lacquer thinner, waiting to clean up the airbrush. Much shrieking of profane and obscene words, as I quickly fished the launcher out of the lacquer thinner, but the damage was done: the paint/pin wash/drybrush/flat coat immediately began to blister away from the plastic at the rear of the base.

I used an old Poly-Scale product called ELO (for "Easy Lift-Off") Paint and Decal Remover to remove all of the paint on the launcher base, down to the bare plastic.  Nothing easy about it, and I had to first oh-so-carefully saw the delicate but unblistered launcher rails assembly from the boxy control base/counterweight, before I finished using the ELO to scrub off the paint (and not just a few of the Evergreen plastic details) from the GRAN parts. (The launcher rails assembly would never have survived the vigorous toothbrush scrubbing necessary with the ELO paint remover.)

Once the launcher base was clean and degreased, the broken/lost details were restored, plus adding some details I missed during the original assembly. When I glued the launcher rails assembly back on the base, I corrected a slight tilt to the array, noticeable in the front and rear views, so there was a tiny, tiny sliver of a silver lining to the vast torrential storm cloud of the lacquer thinner baptism.

A complete repaint/pin wash/drybrush/flat finish of the entire launcher assembly followed, as well as inking a red circle on the far, rear, right corner of the work table, where the tin containing paint/lacquer thinner/cleaner is now permanently banished. Once the missiles were installed on the launch rails, the model was done.

Oh, I can't wait to have that much fun again, soon. Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images:

German Fiesler Fi-103 (V-1) cruise missile
on scratch-built launching ramp
(World War Two)

Museum display V-1 cruise missile (U.S. Navy Loon version) (Google)
Museum display V-1 cruise missile on launch catapult (Google)
Dragon V-1 on scratch-built launch ramp

The V-1 Flying Bomb was an extraordinary surface-to-surface guided missile developed by the German army in World War Two. Built by Fiesler, the      Fi-103 was powered by an Argus pulse jet, an engine that combined atomized fuel and air brought in through a multi-vaned intake, inside a combustion chamber.  The fuel-air mixture was ignited to produce an impulse of propulsion, the force of which temporarily closed the intake vanes in the front of the chamber, channeling the gases out through the exhaust tube. The forward motion of the V-1 would then force open the spring-loaded vanes, admitting more air, and the process would begin again. This repetitive process of combustion and exhaust, almost 50 times a second, gave the V-1 its distinctive buzzing sound. To achieve the necessary forward velocity to sustain the pulse-jet at take off, the V-1 was launched from a 118 or 158 foot long ramp, under the force of a piston driven by very rapidly expanding gases created by combining hydrogen peroxide and rocket fuel. Guidance was by an internal gyroscope plus a timing system that kicked down the elevator, forcing the bomb to dive, when the missile had reached the desired range. The V-1 was 26 feet long, had a wing-span of over 17 feet, weighed 4,800 pounds, and could travel 150 miles at 400 mph. 30,257 V-1s were manufactured (Osprey Publishing; Crescent Books)

Click on the link below to hear an actual Buzz Bomb in flight:

Dragon V-1 on scratch-built launch ramp
Dragon V-1 on scratch-built launch ramp
Dragon V-1 on scratch-built launch ramp
Dragon V-1 on scratch-built launch ramp

I bought an Italeri 1/72 scale He-111 bomber kit, just to get the Dragon V-1 Buzz Bomb for this project. A splendid book V-1 The Flying Bomb had detailed illustrations of the V-1 launch ramp, which was the genesis of this project. I created an AutoCAD drawing of the ramp and its parts, and built the ramp out of Evergreen brand styrene plastic sheet, strip and structural shapes, around a brass tube at the core of the ramp that was both true to the ramp design and added strength to the model. I included on the diorama base the rusty rails and railroad ties that were installed for the wheeled derrick that was used to erect these "mobile" launch ramps through-out Northern Europe in 1944. 

The Dragon V-1 was assembled and painted, and supplemented with a resin gas generating unit from an otherwise dreadful resin V-1 ramp kit I bought, after I started this scratch-built ramp. All paint was Humbrol, and all scenery was Woodland Scenics. The Luftwaffe officer, added to establish a sense of scale, was by Preiser figures. The Kubelwagon was by Academy. This model received a Silver Medal at the 2002 AMPS Nationals, in Havre de Grace, Maryland where, curiously enough, the model was classified as a "conversion" of the Dragon V-1.

RAF Bloodhound anti-aircraft guided missile
(Cold War)

Operational RAF Bloodhound anti-aircraft guided missile (Google)
Museum display Bloodhound anti-aircraft guided missile (Google)

The Bloodhound was a two-stage, surface-to-air, anti-aircraft guided missile operated by the Royal Air Force for the home defense of the United Kingdom and Bomber Command air bases. Four solid rocket boosters accelerated the Bloodhound to a velocity and an altitude where the upper and lower ramjets could function as sustainers at Mach 2, over a range of 50 miles. Guidance was by semi-active radar homing: a radar receiver in the nose of the Bloodhound homed in on radar reflections of the target, from a radar transmitter on the ground. The Bloodhound weighed 5,000 pounds, was 28 feet long, and was operational from 1958 until 1991. (Crescent Books)

AIRFIX 1/76 scale Bloodhound anti-aircraft guided missile

This Airfix kit is 1/76 scale, but close enough to 1/72 that I wasn't willing to scratch-build it. I followed the kit instructions for painting, matching the museum display version seen above, even though I could see that the operational Bloodhounds were usually dark green, as seen above, also. The base is a disk of Evergreen sheet styrene, with Woodland Scenics turf. Paint was by Humbrol, and flat finish was by Poly-Scale.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images.

Scratchbuilt U.S. Army Nike-Ajax anti-aircraft guided missile
(1950s to 1960s)

The Nike-Ajax was a two-stage, surface-to-air, all-weather, radar-guided, anti-aircraft missile, deployed near large cities through-out the United States, from 1954 through 1964. With a range of 30 miles, a speed of Mach 2.3,  and an maximum altitude in excess of known enemy bomber ceilings, the one-ton, 32 foot long missile was steered into proximity to the target by ground-based radar, and was equipped with three high-explosive warheads, exploded by command from the battery control site. (Osprey Publishing)

Scratch-built Nike-Ajax anti-aircraft missile

This Nike-Ajax model was my first scratch-built missile, constructed from Evergreen brand styrene sheet, rod and strip. The missile was based on photos I took of the example on display at the Aberdeen Proving Ground AFV Museum, drawings from the internet, and my own Auto-CAD drawings. The launch pad was based on the Revell "History Makers" reissue of the Renwal 1/32 scale plastic kit. Paint was Humbrol, and flat finish was Poly-Scale. The figure included for a sense of scale was from a Hasegawa USAF Ground Support kit. This model won a Silver Medal at the (I think) 2003 AMPS National in Havre de Garce, Maryland.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images.

USAF Snark intercontinental cruise missile (1950s)

Northrup SM-62A Snark Intercontinental Cruise Missile (LIFE/Google)

The Northrup SM-65A Snark was an air-breathing USAF pilotless bomber designed to fly intercontinental distances, at a wide range of altitudes, at near Mach 1, and drop a maximum 20 kiloton nuclear warhead on the target. Two solid-fueled rocket boosters, each of 130,000 pounds thrust, lifted the Snark off of its air-transportable mobile launcher and accelerated the missile to a speed where the Pratt & Whitney 10,500 pound-thrust turbo-fan engine could sustain flight. The 26,000 pounds of fuel gave Snark a range of more than 6,000 miles. Guided by internal inertial navigation that was corrected through-out flight by star tracking, night or day, the Snark tested very successfully, and was operationally deployed in Maine from 1957 to 1959, only to be replaced by the Atlas ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile), which could achieve in thirty minutes the same distance the Snark needed ten or more hours to travel. The Snark was 76 feet long, had a 42 foot wing-span, and weighed 60,000 pounds, not counting the solid rocket boosters. (Crescent Books) 

Monogram 1/80 scale Snark Intercontinental Cruise Missile

This model was a very old Monogram kit I bought on eBay. The scale of approximately 1/80 was smaller than my preferred 1/72 scale, but not enough of a difference to warrent scratch-building. Choose your battles. I finished my Snark in the eye-catching, test-subject red, instead of the boring, light grey operational scheme. I had to replace the unusable, ancient Monogram decals with nearly identical decals from a much newer Revell "History Makers" Snark kit. These decals exhibited one of the worst cases of silvering I've ever failed to remedy on a model.

Inside the fuselage, I installed an all-but-invisible plastic engine intake fan, at the end of an intake trunk sculpted out of English Milli-Put 2-part epoxy putty. An aluminum tube at the rear completed the illusion of an engine, inside. I whittled away all of the inaccurate plastic molded around the tractor's wheels and tracks, to achieve the appropriate see-through effect. Having practically nothing in the way of references to correct or superdetail this model, I concentrated instead on having fun building this vintage kit. All paint was Humbrol, with the clear flat finish by Poly-Scale.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images. 

USSR SA-2 Guideline anti-aircraft guided missile
(1950s to 2000s)

Museum display SA-2 Guideline (Google)

Designated the S-75 Dvina when it was developed in the Soviet Union in 1956, the SA-2 (NATO codename "Guideline") is probably the most widely-used surface-to-air anti-aircraft guided missile in the world, still in use in the Middle East. The 5,100 pound, 32 foot long missile consists of a solid-fuel booster and a liquid-fuel sustainer, and has a range of  31 miles. Guidance is by radio-control, through location of the target by ground-based radar. The SA-2 was the principle weapon used against B-52s during the bombing campaigns of the Viet Nam war. (Wikipedia, Crescent Books)

Planet Models resin SA-2 Guideline

This model is the Planet Models resin kit of an SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile. Resin kits are assembled with cyanoacrylate glue (SuperGlue), since plastic cement won't bond to resin. The kit included the launcher. The terrain base was scratch-built of Evergreen brand sheet styrene and Woodland Scenics fine gravel. All paints were Humbrol, and flat finish was Poly-Scale.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images.

Scratch-built U.S. Army Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft guided missile
(1950s to 1970s)

Operational Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft guided missile (Google)

The Nike-Hercules was a tremendous upgrade to the capabilities of the Nike-Ajax. Deployed from 1958 until 1974, the solid booster stage was essentially four Ajax boosters clustered together, and the sustainer stage was also solid fueled. The Nike-Hercules was capable of delivering a nuclear warhead, which permitted the destruction of formations of enemy bombers, instead of one missile per bomber. Late model Nike-Hercules missiles could achieve a range of 90 miles and an altitude of over 100,000 feet, at 3.6 times the speed of sound. The Nike-Hercules was 27 feet long, and weighed 5,500 pounds. My freshman year college roommate had been an Army MP at a Nike-Hercules site in Florida. Thank you for your service, Don. (Osprey Publishing)

Scratch-built Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missile

This missile was constructed from Evergreen brand styrene sheet, rod, tube, and strip, with photo-etched screens at the base. The missile was based on photos I took of the example on display at the Aberdeen Proving Ground AFV Museum, drawings from the internet, and my own Auto-CAD drawings. The launch pad was based on the Revell 1/40 scale re-issue plastic kit. The upper stage was turned on a Sherline lathe, from a solid rod of styrene plastic from U.S. Plastics Corporation. Paint was Humbrol, decals were SuperScale, and flat finish was Poly-Scale. The figure included for a sense of scale was from a Hasegawa USAF Ground Support kit.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images.

Scratch-built USAF BOMARC anti-aircraft guided missile
(1950s to 1970s)

Testing phase BOMARC anti-aircraft guided missile (Google)

The BOMARC (BOeing Aircraft Company and Michigan Aeronautical Research Center) was a U.S. Air Force anti-aircraft guided missile in competition with the U.S. Army Nike projects. The BOMARC was more a pilotless aircraft than a typical guided missile, with a liquid-fueled booster that lifted the missile vertically to 60,000 feet. A pair of liquid-fueled ramjets then provided propulsion in horizontal flight. The later BOMARC B model had a solid-fueled booster. Guided by ground-based radar to within 10 miles of the target, the BOMARC then homed in with its internal radar, destroying the target with either a nuclear warhead or conventional explosives. With a maximum range of 440 miles, the BOMARC weighed 15,500 pounds and achieved Mach 2.8. The BOMARC was operational from 1960 through 1972. (Osprey Publishing)

Scratch-built BOMARC anti-aircraft guided missle

This model of the BOMARC was constructed from Evergreen brand styrene sheet, rod, tube, and strip, with photo-etched screens at the work platform. The missile was based on photos and drawings from the internet, which I developed into Auto-CAD drawings, and the launch platform was based on the Revell 1/40 scale re-issue plastic kit. The nose cone and ramjet engines were turned on a Sherline lathe, from solid rods of styrene plastic from U.S. Plastics Corporation. The bold black and white paint scheme represents the testing phase of the BOMARC program (as opposed to the boring, light grey operational scheme), with the monitoring cables at the nose cone disconnected to prepare for launch. Paint was Humbrol, decals were SuperScale, and flat finish was Poly-Scale. The figure included for a sense of scale was from a Hasegawa USAF Ground Support kit.

Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images.

Monogram 1/80 scale Snark Intercontinental Cruise Missile (1950s)

Scale 1/72

Email: AtomicCannon(at)embarqmail(dot)com