This is going to be my third “Renwal” article. The first article was about the construction of the famous U.S Army Atomic Cannon “The Atomic Annie” . The second article was about the U.S. Army M55 8-inch Self-Propelled Howitzer “The Beast”. The 3th follow-up in this series is the U.S. Army Martin Lacrosse Field-Artillery Surface-to-Surface Guided Missile & Mobile Launcher. This is, no wonder, again an old Renwal kit.
The Lacrosse was in the mid 50s one of the newest U.S. Army surface-to-surface guided missile. It was extremely accurate because it is controlled by a forward guidance station which acts in a capacity similar to a field artillery observation post. Control by a forward guidance station enables Lacrosse to accurately hit a target without precise target data at launch site which other surface-to-surface guided missiles require.
The concept of the Lacrosse weapon system was developed out of the experience of the Pacific Campaign in World War 2, where U.S. troops had great difficulty destroying Japanese fortifications in caves and bunkers. The deadly accurate Lacrosse, with its surprise element based on a one-shot kill power, is an effective answer to the problem of destroying enemy strong points. Although originally designed for close troop support, its role has been expanded to include a general support, and the missile is capable of delivering numerous types of warheads, including nuclear. Lacrosse units are self-sufficient, highly mobile, and have a simple and efficient supporting system. All units are mounted on standard Army trucks and all the equipment can be airlifted to battle areas if necessary.
As an artillery weapon, Lacrosse units can keep the enemy under constant fire with deadly accurate missiles coming from many directions. Because of its mobility, it presents a difficult target for the enemy to find. Development of the Lacrosse missile program began in 1947. Two years later, however, the program was placed in limbo when the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a new missile policy giving the Army control of all guided missiles used in place of field artillery. The program came to a halt on 21 March 1950 when Secretary of Defence Louis A. Johnson approved of a new policy. Following the 29 June 1950 presidential order to commit ground troops to Korea, the Department of Defence began to take a greater interest in the development of battlefield guided missiles. On 31 August 1950 the Secretary of Defence transferred the Lacrosse program to the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps. Soon after this, in February of 1951, the Army issued The Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory of Buffalo, New York a formal research and development contract for the missile.
Development of the Lacrosse was extremely slow compared to the Honest John Rocket. It would take four years before the design had matured enough to even consider production. In April of 1955, because Cornell could not do production work, the Glen L. Martin Company (one of the pioneers in the American missile program, having developed the Viking, the Matador/Mace and the Vanguard) into the program and, on 1 June 1955, issued Martin the initial production contract for the weapon. The propulsion contractor was Thiokol Chemical Corp. and the guidance contractor was I.T. & T. Tooling and other production related problems delaying things further, preventing the first prototype Lacrosse missile, the XSSM-A-12, from coming off the production line until March 1957, and by 1958 produced the rate of nearly 280 per month. Testing with these missiles didn’t take so long, however, and on 22 July 1959 the first Lacrosse missile (the MGM-18A) became operational within the 5th Missile Battalion, 41st Field Artillery.
The U.S. Army had eight Lacrosse battalions in 1960 in Europe and the Far East. (The Lacrosse was also used by the Royal Canadian Army) For all the Lacrosse’S potentional, however, it had a number of shortcomings. Its high accuracy occurred only under the best conditions with experienced personnel at the controls. It never could hit a moving target. In the field it was a maintenance nightmare, a fact which greater diminished the missile’s reliability. Worst of all, however, because it was radio controlled, its guidance system could be jammed electronically, and the weapon made impossible to control. As a result of these shortcomings, the Army, in 1963, asked for funding to make improvements, funding which was never approved. So in the fall of 1963 the Army was forced to begin withdrawing the Lacrosse from service. The last missile was deactivated in Februari 1964. In retrospect, what can be said about the Lacrosse is that it was a great weapon in concept, but that technology was not yet ready to make it a practical weapon. The Lance Missile System replaced the Lacrosse in the end of the 60’s.
The “good” old Renwal kit
This Renwal kit of the Lacrosse Missile & Mobile Launcher dates, like all the Renwal kits, back to 1958. Scale 1:32 with over 200 parts. Kit number M560, price in 1958 $2.49. Normally spoken, all the Renwal kits 09-05 (16 kb)are rather coarse, normal for that time, and they have a lot of parts that are not detailed enough and that are not right. But, in a negative way, this Renwal kit breaks all the records. Why? Renwal had made a model of the M62 5-Ton 6×6 Wrecker Crane, kit number M559, price in 1958 $2.49. For “Renwal notions”, a reasonable correct and detailed model. Because of financial consideration they must have thought: “Can’t we release a second kit, based upon the M62 chassis & cab?”. I think a Renwal employer then must have got the “great” idea to release a Lacrosse Missile & Mobile Launcher. This Lacrosse Launcher-Truck does have a chassis & cab that reminds of the chassis & cab of the M62 Wrecker Crane, but is totally different, as well in measurements as being a model. And well, who would notice? And it’s cheap.
For clearness’ sake, the chasis & cab of the M62 Wrecker Crane is based on the M54 5-TON 6×6 Truck Series. And the chassis & cab of the Lacrosse Launcher-Truck is based on the M45 2,5-Ton 6×6 Truck Series. (The famous M35 Truck also forms part of this serie). The difference in weight is clear, immediately, but all measurements and some of the parts, are totally different! In general the M54 Truck Series is about 12% bigger than the M45 Truck Series. Moreover, the shape of the cab is different. Conclusion: The Lacrosse Launching-Truck is 12% too big!! In order to make the whole model look good, Renwal necessarily had to make the rest of the kit 12% bigger than it realy was (e.g. the launching-platform, the launching-arm and the missile). Now, the whole kit is wrong, not to speak of the details. Almost everything had to be corrected/detailed and/or replaced by new, self-made parts.
Fortunately, I’ve been collecting lots of photos and documentation (amongst other Technical Manuals), through the years. Without that, correct building hadn’t been possible. To be honest, I must say, that the building was a nightmare sometimes. But after finishing it, it does give an enormous satisfaction.
U.S. ARMY MARTIN LACROSSE FIELD-ARTILLERY SURFACE-TO-SURFACE GUIDED MISSILE AND MOBILE LAUNCHER
A) Primary role
K) System effectiveness<
L) Basis load of missiles
M) Rate of fire
P) Launching equipment trucks
Like already said, everything is 12% too big, so that also goes for the Lacrosse Missile. It wasn’t possible to use parts of the Renwal kit. That’s why everything is scratch-built.
The wheels/tires aren’t too big, like the rest, but too small. And they are too narrow. Now what? Though I say it who shouldn’t, I’m not clumsy, but to make 11 tires… But accidentally, my eye fell on the tires of the ADAMS 1:40 “Atomic Annie” kit. After measuring them, they were the right size, except for the width that was too big. Since I have some ADAMS kits and some re-issues of, a.o. SNAP and LIFE-LIKE, I could use the tires. But it gave me a great deal of trouble to narrow them. A hell of a job! Now, there were the wheels. Almost of the right size, were the wheels of the AFV-CLUB M35A2 kit. I only had to make some corrections in diameter.
After many adjustments, I could only use some of the parts of the Renwal kit. Further one, I could use some parts of the AFV-CLUB M35A2 kit, after enlarging them from 1:35 to 1:32. Further on, I mention the parts I’ve changed, reconstructed or scratch-built. To prevent confusion, I will use the original names of the US Army Technical Manuals as much is possible.
It cost me a great deal of trouble and time to build the cab. Firstly, I could only use 5 parts of the Renwal kit, after adjustments. On top of it all, the fenders were too wide, too long and made too coarse. Moreover, I made it myself extra difficult by not building a closed but an open cab. I had to make extra parts for as well the inside as the outside of the cab. Also the bonnet was totally wrong of size and shape. Fortunately, the bonnet of the MONOGRAM 1:32 M34 kit I used, was good of shape, but too small. I sawed it through and put a piece between it and provided it with details. Also entirely wrong was the grill and for this I also needed the MONOGRAM M34 kit. The grill was usable after thorough adjustment. The following parts are also changed reconstructed or scratch-built:
Except for 10 parts, the parts of the launching-platform can be thrown in the dust-bin right away. These parts also are 12% too big and often totally wrong in shape. The used 10 parts had to be handled thoroughly, again. The power-generator was wrong too. I scratch-built it, except for three parts. The story’s getting montonous, but also all the platform-grills and ladders were too coarse and/or wrong in measure and shape. They were scratch-built, again. The fire and testcables-reels and the checkout-set came from the spares box and were given an authentic appearence. I scratch-built some hundred parts to build the platform, which hadn’t been possible without detailed documentation.
Other important imprvements are:
Fortunately, I could use some parts of the lower part of the launching-arm, after some adjustments. The upper part and almost the entire launching-rails, were scratch-built. This was the hardest thing of the whole project. Reason: the launching-arm is at different angles with regard to the upper and lower part and also with regard to the pivotbase. In case of the slightest difference, the Lacrosse Missile lies slopingly on the launching-arm (see photos prior painting/ airbrushing).
I’ve been a modeler for more than 40 years, but this was the most difficult kit I’ve ever built. A kit for the real die-hards!! It cost a lot blood, sweat and tears, but it was worthwhile. It has produced a very exclusive model again. I regret it, that, as far as I know, there’s not one re-issue of the Renwal Lacrosse kit. Very occasionaly, you come upon an original Renwal Blueprint of 1958 against extremely high prices. Fortunately, you come upon a re-issue of Renwal of the so-called “White-box” period (1964-1969) from time to time. These are payable! For those who have Renwal model-plans another joyful announcement. Of the most old Renwals, there are re-issues from Revell and Matchbox. Also Revell Germany, re-issued a lot of Renwal models again in the eighties in their “History Maker Series”. Here in Holland, you can come upon these kits regularly, against payable prices.
For the base coat I used Testors Olive Drab which I always use, mixed with 5% Testors Matt Black and applied three thin coats. The first thinned with 25% thinner, followed by a layer with 40% thinner and finally one with 70% thinner. The second color-coat is Testors Olive Drab with 5-7% Testors Matt White and 5-7% Testors Matt Yellow and 100% thinner. This was applied in a “cloudy” pattern across the model. The dust coat was sparingly applied to the bottom of the model using Testors Matt Dark Earth. Once the various colours had dried (at least a week!!) a heavy wash of brown oil paint and some drops Matt Black was then applied followed by dry-brushing with a mixture of white (!) oil paint, Humbrol 63, 74, and 179. The Lacrosse Missile was first sprayed with Testors Matt White and 40 % thinner. The second coat, in a “cloudy” pattern with Testors Matt White and 3% Testors Matt Black and 100% thinner. The Warhead section is Orange. The wings/tails with Testors Matt Black and a second “cloudy” pattern with Testors Matt Black and 10% Testors Matt White.
The bottom plates are glass plates of 4mm thick. The bottom is covered with self-adhesive velvet and the top is attached with plasta. Before curing make the wheel prints etc. After curing smear with thinned white-glue and brown acrylic paint. Do not use glue in the wheel prints. After this strew sand and some stones. At last airbrushing and some drybrushing. The figures are from Dragon (DML). The trunks, arms, legs and necks were lengthened to brought them in line with 1:32. Personally, I prefer a rather simple diorama. The model must be conspicuous, that’s what it is all about, not the diorama. The diorama is provided with a nameplate with the text:
MARTIN LACROSSE SURFACE-TO-SURFACE
GUIDED MISSILE & MOBILE LAUNCHER
Testing at White Sands Missile Range
New Mexico USA, 3/1957
I know that I have not really discussed how to build and detail this kit, but the photos give a good idea of the work that went into it. Especially the photos prior aisbrushing/painting. If there are readers who are interested in this project, they can always contact me for more information. I have a lot of documentation, photos and Technical Manuals. Also very many photos of the model in progress and in finished state, under which detail-recordings.
Without their help it was not possible to complete this project.