Kits that are sold as 1:72 but are 1:76 (or useably so)
by Peter Davenport
It seems to be a law of nature that straightforward issues get complicated. The common British and American scales were logical in a world of feet and inches. 1:32 is ” to a foot; 1:48 is ¼” to a foot; 1:72 is 1/6″ to a foot and 1:96, 1/8″ to a foot. I am myself puzzled by the origins of O scale. 1:43.5 or 7mm to a foot? Where did that come from? But we all know how, in a roundabout way, that gave us 00 scale or 1:76 (see Tankette 43/5). Why Trix (the model railway company that introduced 00 in the 1930s) didn’t just go for 1:72 I find very puzzling. I suppose they were faced with 3½mm to the foot and just upped it slightly to 4mm. If they had gone for 1:72, then we would all be using a logical small scale for everything from planes to railways and military subjects. The introduction of metric measurements made things even worse. Model cars can now be 1:24 (½” to a foot) or 1:25 (40mm to a metre), military items 1:32 or 1:35 (would you believe 1.125″ or 28.57mm to a metre?).
So, we have all these scales and we have to live with it.
Some model builders or collectors, and certainly some manufacturers, do not seem to think it matters in small scale whether a model is 1:76 or 1:72 (see some of the Revell models described below). But I do! Although I do not think that either scale is intrinsically better than the other, if you are interested in accuracy in a group of models, then it seems to me that you have to build in one or the other. Any model in one scale, from a BMW motorcycle combination to a Maus, looks plain wrong, if put against another in the other scale. The difference between the two is 5.5%, so 5.0 scale metres in 1:76 is 5.27 scale metres in 1:72, or nearly a foot difference. So you need to be clearly in one camp or the other if you want a consistent collection. Of course, if you are only interested in making or owning a particular vehicle, then I suppose it is all right to use whatever scale is convenient, but don’t display them together!
For historical reasons I make 1:76 scale models and this is still, just, the traditional British scale, so my interest in 1:72 scale models is whether they are useful for my scale.
The old Airfix models set the military standard as 1:76 back in the 1960s. But even so, when they came out they were labelled “HO (1:87 or half 1:43.5) and 00 gauge” but soon dropped the HO and were called “00 scale”. When re-issued they have sometimes been labelled 1:72, but if they are the old models then they are, allowing for inaccuracies, 1:76, e.g., the refuelling and crash tender sets. In the latter case they wanted to fool aircraft modellers that they would match 1:72 aircraft.
Manufacturers since then usually claim to produce either 1:76 or 1:72. Occasionally they produce a nominally 1:72 model that turns out to be 1:76, and that is what I have tried to sort out below. However, a surprising number seem to mix up the scales in one model. Revell do this deliberately, but then they were never consistent with scales anyway, and, of course, also market the old 1:76 Matchbox models under the Revell badge, and confuse the heck out of me. Hasegawa did it in their Churchills I and III, where the turret is 1:76, but the rest is 1:72. AER/Omega also seem to do it. Schatton Modellbau are a very good company who don’t mix up scales but do sell models and accessories in both scales, so make sure you check.
Below I have listed by manufacturer all the 1:72 scale models that I have come across myself, heard about or seen reviewed in Tankette over the years and which are 1:76 scale or have useful elements in that scale. This isn’t the first time this has been done (John Burrows provided a list in Tankette 27/2), but I thought an update would not come amiss. I haven’t chased through other modelling magazines, and I haven’t looked at 1:76 models that might be 1:72 either.
Zis 5. John Baumann in 31/2 said this was 1:76. After some comments by others in 31/5, John checked this against factory drawings and showed in 32/1 that basically it was oversized but as the cab was 1:76 and the body width very close it was a reasonable proposition to turn the vehicle into 1:76 with some old fashioned cutting and shutting. Ian Sadler reviewed these in 33/6 (I think: they were presented as Zil 5 and 5V), with no comment on the scale.
Zil 157K (post-war). In 35/2, John Baumann compared this to scale drawings and said that this model was “more biased to 1:76″ and it seems that the width and cab were that scale but the length and wheelbase were 1:72
Grant Parkin also reviewed this is 36/6. He thought it was 1:76 but did not give chapter and verse. Grant also reviewed the K/ICM and the BTR 152K in 37/5 and it is clear that the BTR is 1:76. David Clark agreed and showed it matches Geoff Lacey’s plans perfectly (36/3). I assume this makes sense to enthusiasts for Warsaw Pact stuff.
In 25/5, M. Lempereur claims that the Henschel Cab 3T (is this a three ton closed cab lorry?), the Fiat 508C, the Gaz 67B Jeep and the BA64 are “compatible with” 1:76.
In 27/2 (John Burrows) the following are listed as 1:76: the turret of the T34/76 model 1943; Dodge 4×4 Weapons Carrier; M6 37mm GMC; M12.
“Near 1:76″ are: Marder III Ausf H; Hetzer; Skoda 35t, Centurion. I wonder what “near” means.
M4A1: the suspension is 1:76 and the gun mantlet: M4A3, ditto and “some parts”.
In 26/6 John Rulton points out that the track work of the SdKfz 251/7 and front suspension are “most acceptable” for 1:76 and can replace Matchbox or other substandard model parts.
Tom Cole tells me that the Churchill I turret is 1:76 and this was also flagged up in 27/2. I know that the Mk III turret is also 1:76
John Burrows said that this and the Daimler armoured car are “easier to convert to 1:76″ (rather than correct to 1:72 is the implication, falling somewhere in between). The M12 is 1:76 as is their Centurion, and their 2½ tonner GMC is “easily converted to 1:76″. (27/2).
The Flak 18 is 1:72 but the sonderanhaenger are close enough to work into 1:76 (John Rulton, 47/3).
Only one entry from this manufacturer: the Italian 90/53 artillery piece. Not a great kit and may well be 1:72 but John Rulton says, when comparing it to the Airfix 88, “they look compatible for size”.
GMC 353 and Studebaker US6 2½ tonners. John Rulton has these as “with the 1:76 camp” in 38/2.
Ford 6 model 1943 truck. A poor model it seems, but could form the basis for a 1:76 conversion (John Rulton, 38/4).
As I mentioned above, Revell, in particular, seem to practice mixed up scales.
PzKpfw IVH: is “as good as” 1:76 (“for those who really care” said John Rulton in 37/6:- I care!). and “better than the Hasegawa”. But if it is “as good as”, what scale is it actually, i.e how accurate? Well moulded though, like most recent Revell stuff. It might cross kit with the Fujimi I reviewed in 47/1.
Jagdpanther SdKfz 173. 1:72 in length but almost all rest is 1:76 (John Rulton 36/2), good for improving the old Matchbox version, or major rebuild of the fighting compartment and hull.
Tiger 1. John Rulton in 35/4 reviewed this as a mix of scales. “Chassis, hull and turret” are the larger scale, suspension etc being 1:76, so a useful source of well-moulded parts in the smaller scale.
The T80B is 1:76 (Bob MacWilliams 30/5).
M4A1 76mm “a mix of scales and accuracy”, useful for the T23 turret, plastic tracks and sprockets in 1:76 (as above).
The Tiger Ausf B is essentially 1:72 but the track and road wheels are 1:76 (me in 44/6)
The Flak 36 has wheels that are 1:76 and very good (John Rulton, 47/3).
Looking back at the entries, I ought to co-credit this article to John Rulton, with acknowledgements to John Burrows. The late and lamented John Rulton is cited so often because he was a regular contributor to Tankette and his “preferred scale [is]1:76″ – just like me.