by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The MGM-5 Corporal missile was the USA's first surface to surface missile authorised to carry a nuclear or conventional warhead. With a range of about 80 miles, the Corporal entered service in 1955 and remained in the US Army's arsenal until 1964. Also operated by the Royal Artillery, the Corporal formed the British and American first line nuclear defence in Europe at the height of the Cold War, but was notoriously inaccurate and unreliable - the first year of British use resulting in only 46% successful test launches. Upon its retirement, the Corporal was replaced by the MGM-29 Sergeant.
The modelRevell's Corporal dates back to the late 1950s and the model arrives in a sturdy top-opening box with artwork taken from the original release. The parts are bagged and comprise:
Corporal missile - 9 x parts moulded in white styrene
Ground equipment & figures - 52 x parts moulded in a sickly olive green
2 x vinyl tyres
A small sheet of decals
These are 50-year old moulds, so you'll expect a few problems, but the missile actually isn't in bad shape at all. The hard white plastic is cleanly moulded, with little sign of flash and just one faint sink mark that I could find. Detail consists of raised panel lines and rivets, so you may want to re scribe it unless you're after a true "vintage kit" look. A test fit is encouraging, but I'd still recommend gluing the body in stages with a fast-drying "hot" liquid cement to ensure good alignment.
Sadly, the ground equipment is rather a different story. For a start, the garish styrene used is very peculiar. It has a weird translucent quality that I assumed initially was just to give a vintage look, but cutting a few parts off the sprues for a test fit reveals that it has a nasty "soapy" nature and is inclined to tear and leave feathery edges when you sand it. These parts also show a lot more flash, sink marks and some bad ejector pin marks on the exterior surfaces, so clean-up is going to be quite a chore.
The support arms etc. on the launcher are all intended to hinge for towing and the parts have prominent numbers moulded on them to identify where they attach to the base-plate deflector. The few parts I've assembled are a rather poor fit, so I think this could be a lengthy build to get a satisfactory finish.
Along with the launcher, the set includes a control console. I've no idea whether this is remotely based on the real thing, and it doesn't look much like a field-portable unit, but it would look quite at home in a laboratory in a 1950s B-movie. There's a chunky rotating scanner for the top and the operator perches on a small "tractor seat". The control panel is provided as a decal which is nicely printed, but obviously very 2-dimensional. Scratchbuilding a fascia for it with a few knobs and switches will definitely look more convincing.
The 3 figures included are quite nicely sculpted and detailed for the period, although each of them has a nasty sink mark to fill in the centre of their back. Once cleaned up, they should look fine when painted. .
What scale is it?According to front of the box, the scale is 1:35, but the original copyright is for 1958, so the scale immediately seems odd - particularly as Revell also released a 1:40 Corporal set around the same time that came complete with a trailer. Of course, Revell were noted for scaling their early kits to fit their standard boxes, but checking the height of one of the figures reveals a scale of, surprise, surprise, 1:40.
Nowadays 1:40 seems an odd scale to pick (on this side of the Atlantic, anyway), but a little research reveals it was a popular post-war size for toy soldiers in the US, so Revell's kit(s) would have fitted in nicely with the plethora of available figures. As for the quoted "1:35"? I leave it to you to decide whether it's a simple mistake by the printers, or a misleading marketing ploy pretending the kit will fit in with the popular modern military scale...
Instructions & DecalsThe instructions are clearly drawn in the modern Revell "international" style. It's a shame they couldn't have reprinted the original 1950s construction guide (or found some sort of compromise) to complete this "retro" package. There's a small sheet of decals included for the console as noted above, plus markings for the Corporal missile. These are semi-matt finished, and seem to be good quality with good sharp registration.
ConclusionRevell's "Classics" Corporal is something of a mixed bag. Overall, the impression is rather simplified and toy-like, but the missile is quite well moulded and will be an easy build, while the ground equipment is less well produced. How you view the kit is going to be very much subjective - you can build OOB for a "vintage kit" look, or use the parts as a basis for superdetailing. I'll probably go for the middle ground, re-scribing the Corporal for a more modern style and just trying get as clean a finish as possible on the ground units.
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