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Armor/AFV: Modern - USA
Modern Armor, AFVs, and Support vehicles.
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DML M103A1 - disappointment
Vodnik
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Warszawa, Poland
Joined: March 26, 2003
KitMaker: 4,218 posts
Armorama: 3,815 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 05:19 AM UTC
I received the DML M103A1 kit a couple of days ago. Today I decided to take a closer look at it. And... what a disappointment!

The hull is completely inaccurate. The upper hull in front of the turret ring is identical to the M48A3 kit hull. This means that it is inaccurate. This also means that the position of the idler wheel and all other wheels in fact are wrong too... Because DML have not moved the idler forward, they had too extend the hull behind the turret ring to fit all the wheels - again wrong, as the actual engine deck should not be extended that way. The result is that the turret ring is too far forward on the hull - DML tried to compensate for this by changing the shape of the turret bottom part, so that the turret seats further to the rear on the ring than in should

DML have noticed that the final drive cover is different in M103 from that in M48, so they provided new parts and a small correction sheets for the instructions. Unfortunately they missed the whole point of that new final drive cover, i.e. the modified position of the sprocket wheel (lower and further back than in M48) and their new part looks different, but does not change the position of the sprocket... It is very noticeable, as on the real M103 the upper tracks run visibly slopes downward from the last return roller to the sprocket wheel top, while in DML kit it is horizontal - as in the M48...

The turret shape does not look right to me either. And if one can trust drawings in the Hunnicutt's "Firepower" book, the gun barrel is MUCH too short and too narrow.

So once again we have a kit that will look impressive and certainly look like M103 once built, but in fact is seriously inaccurate. So we have the T28 situation once again...

Some of the points illustrated below (the drawing is from the DML kit instructions, but I verified that it is based on the same CAD drawing that was made to tool the kit, as the dimensions match, so it can be used to represent the kit). And the photo shows the M103A2 of course, not A1.
DerGeist
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Ohio, United States
Joined: January 21, 2008
KitMaker: 735 posts
Armorama: 707 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 06:41 AM UTC
Hmm this is troubling to say the least. I'm glad I didn't pay full price for mine or else I'd be pretty angry. I'll just make the best of the build, it will look like a 103 when it's done if you don't compare it to a real one. What is Dragon's problem with their new modern armor(T28 included)? Are their WWII project guys taking a vacation and the interns were assigned to the T28, M48 and M103 projects? I'm really worried that the KPz-70 is going to turn out poorly now...


Erik
Petition2God
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Colorado, United States
Joined: February 06, 2002
KitMaker: 1,445 posts
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 06:51 AM UTC
Thank you so much for your critique, Pawel. I am glad that I did not buy this kit. It is truly sad that DML produced an expensive piece of junk, while promoting it as "black label"- whatever that means. We'll again hear their excuse that the modern armor market is so small compared to German WWII armor and they do not give a damn. Disappointing, indeed.
rfbaer
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Texas, United States
Joined: June 12, 2007
KitMaker: 1,721 posts
Armorama: 1,568 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 06:57 AM UTC
Well, I had no idea the kit was full of so many inaccuracies that people were going to pass on it, en-masse.
No prob, it'll just run the price of the kit down enough so that I can afford one, and I'll have a blast building it.
Thanks guys. Really.
Vodnik
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Warszawa, Poland
Joined: March 26, 2003
KitMaker: 4,218 posts
Armorama: 3,815 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 07:19 AM UTC

Quoted Text

and I'll have a blast building it.


I'm sure you will. As I wrote above the kit will certainly look impressive once built and be clearly recognizable as a M103A1, so if accuracy isn't important for you, then you can certainly have fun building it. I actually envy you, as for me all the joy of building this kit in lost now
urumomo
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Texas, United States
Joined: August 22, 2013
KitMaker: 675 posts
Armorama: 667 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 07:20 AM UTC
to Baer :
You're welcome !
Cheers !

Ha ha -- I still love the tank and await some other release ... but I might just get it anywaze to have some fun with the parts ...
ninjrk
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Alabama, United States
Joined: January 26, 2006
KitMaker: 1,310 posts
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 07:23 AM UTC
Yeah, I was getting the T28 vibe from the kit. Fortunately, this is not one of my grail tanks so I'll build it and close enough is fine for me. I suspect the Black label will be like this, kits of experimental tanks that will look good, fit OK, and have plenty of small inaccuracies because they won't put the research and tweaking time into a kit that won't sell like a Panther or the like.

God help me when they take that approach to a T29 kit though, which is a grail kit for me. . .
cameraflage
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United States
Joined: April 13, 2012
KitMaker: 5 posts
Armorama: 5 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 08:19 AM UTC
Hey, that's the M-103A2 in front of the Euclid Public Library in Euclid, Ohio...I was just there last weekend taking photos of this beast (it's about 20 miles from my house). The library ladies were nice enough to let me climb all over it for reference photos.

I concur on your assessment. I picked up the DML kit from Sprue Brothers on the first day they had it. I was surprised at the lack of casting numbers on the turret, which are pretty prominent (and the whole reason I was clambering all over the thing.) It definitely feels like they rushed this into production.

(I believe this is my first post on Armorama...I'll try to provide some constructions photos of my progress and possibly some other items as well.)
18Bravo
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Colorado, United States
Joined: January 20, 2005
KitMaker: 6,410 posts
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 08:24 AM UTC
A1, A2, it doesn't matter. Both used the turrets off of the M103. That's why the bulge for the gunner's periscope has such prominent welds around it. That whole section was cut out and replaced.
Sooo... Dimensions should be the same for either variant, and yes, they are off.
I've photographed and meticulously measured three myself. Might have to get up to Ohio someday.
HeavyArty
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Florida, United States
Joined: May 16, 2002
KitMaker: 16,760 posts
Armorama: 13,019 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 08:26 AM UTC
I agree that the kit is not the best Dragon has put out, but I would rather see an actual, built model compared to a photo of an M103A1. I don't hold the instruction drawing to be the exact same as the actual plastic. Also, an M103A2 is different than an M103A1 as the kit represents. To me, it seems you are comparing apples to oranges; or at least a giant Red Delicious apple to a green Granny Smith apple.
18Bravo
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Colorado, United States
Joined: January 20, 2005
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 08:38 AM UTC
Not really. I photographed A1's as well as the aforementioned A2's. There are no differences in the suspension measurements or of the major components. Obviously the engine decks are different, but I think Pavel's assessment will hold up.
HeavyArty
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Florida, United States
Joined: May 16, 2002
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 08:41 AM UTC
That may be, but I would still like to see how the actual plastic compares.
18Bravo
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Colorado, United States
Joined: January 20, 2005
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 08:46 AM UTC
Pavel, you want some measurements?
Vodnik
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Warszawa, Poland
Joined: March 26, 2003
KitMaker: 4,218 posts
Armorama: 3,815 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 09:27 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Pavel, you want some measurements?


Yes, I'd like to compare the kit parts to something more precise than my current references.
Buzz
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Georgia, United States
Joined: December 22, 2005
KitMaker: 57 posts
Armorama: 56 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 10:12 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I received the DML M103A1 kit a couple of days ago. Today I decided to take a closer look at it. And... what a disappointment!

The hull is completely inaccurate. The upper hull in front of the turret ring is identical to the M48A3 kit hull. This means that it is inaccurate. This also means that the position of the idler wheel and all other wheels in fact are wrong too... Because DML have not moved the idler forward, they had too extend the hull behind the turret ring to fit all the wheels - again wrong, as the actual engine deck should not be extended that way. The result is that the turret ring is too far forward on the hull - DML tried to compensate for this by changing the shape of the turret bottom part, so that the turret seats further to the rear on the ring than in should

DML have noticed that the final drive cover is different in M103 from that in M48, so they provided new parts and a small correction sheets for the instructions. Unfortunately they missed the whole point of that new final drive cover, i.e. the modified position of the sprocket wheel (lower and further back than in M48) and their new part looks different, but does not change the position of the sprocket... It is very noticeable, as on the real M103 the upper tracks run visibly slopes downward from the last return roller to the sprocket wheel top, while in DML kit it is horizontal - as in the M48...

The turret shape does not look right to me either. And if one can trust drawings in the Hunnicutt's "Firepower" book, the gun barrel is MUCH too short and too narrow.

So once again we have a kit that will look impressive and certainly look like M103 once built, but in fact is seriously inaccurate. So we have the T28 situation once again...

Some of the points illustrated below (the drawing is from the DML kit instructions, but I verified that it is based on the same CAD drawing that was made to tool the kit, as the dimensions match, so it can be used to represent the kit). And the photo shows the M103A2 of course, not A1.

Buzz
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Georgia, United States
Joined: December 22, 2005
KitMaker: 57 posts
Armorama: 56 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 10:14 AM UTC
Seriously? What's wrong with you guys? It's a great kit. For those of you that don't rivet count and actually build kits. Ignore this guy,
18Bravo
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Colorado, United States
Joined: January 20, 2005
KitMaker: 6,410 posts
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 10:22 AM UTC
Apparently it is not a great kit, any potential measurement errors notwithstanding.
This is the process that insures the next kit will be even better.
Pavel, send me a list of seven or eight measurements that I'm likely to have done (Not turret length for example) and I'll see if I have them.
urumomo
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Texas, United States
Joined: August 22, 2013
KitMaker: 675 posts
Armorama: 667 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 10:26 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Seriously? What's wrong with you guys? It's a great kit. For those of you that don't rivet count and actually build kits. Ignore this guy,


with respect , Mike
Why do you consider it a "great" kit ?
Keith
rfbaer
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Texas, United States
Joined: June 12, 2007
KitMaker: 1,721 posts
Armorama: 1,568 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 11:06 AM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

and I'll have a blast building it.


I'm sure you will. As I wrote above the kit will certainly look impressive once built and be clearly recognizable as a M103A1, so if accuracy isn't important for you, then you can certainly have fun building it. I actually envy you, as for me all the joy of building this kit in lost now



Accuracy IS important to me, but as we've seen over and over, on this forum and others, many things can be corrected with a little creativity. And honestly, while I would have loved to have seen some foundry marks and such on this thing, I can handle that part myself. I enjoy making small, or even not-so-small additions to a kit that's needy. I just consider it part of modeling, and while Dragon appears to have cranked this kit out in a hurry and cut some corners, it's (to me anyway as a modeler with at-best average skills) still better than trying to deal with a resin kit.
I myself sometimes have problems with kits that have errors that are obvious to me, especially when I have good subject knowledge, that can totally spoil an otherwise highly anticipated new kit for me. I feel your pain.
I'll bet these M103s start popping up on vendor's tables pretty soon, so when I do grab one, at a good price, I know there will be a good, reliable list of fixes right here on Armorama.
Pawel, I appreciate the research that went into your first post, and I, and probably others as well, will be using it to make what corrections we can or wish, as we work through what appears to be a rather sub-par effort from Dragon. This "thank you" also goes out to everyone here who's been evaluating this kit.
Spades
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California, United States
Joined: February 08, 2003
KitMaker: 771 posts
Armorama: 472 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 11:35 AM UTC
Pawel. Glad to see that you pointed those inaccuracies. And to other who count rivets, well, dont buy the kit, what else can one say right ?

But.

Im soooooooo glad I no longer rivet count. Found out long ago that when I first started building, I wasnt counting rivets. I just wanted to build a model and enjoy. Than, I began to rivet count and that alone was taking the fun out it for me. I currently have the 103 and am excited to build. Had I been now what I was once before, your review would had stopped me from building and or just destroyed my anticipation. No. Not anymore.

Some count rivets, some dont. I prefer to enjoy the build and not worry about this or that.
tankmodeler
#417
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Ontario, Canada
Joined: March 01, 2004
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 11:38 AM UTC
Pawel,

Thanbks so much for doing this and Robert,I'd love some measurements as well.

I scratchbuilt one of these beasts some time ago as a master for a resin kit that never got produced. I'm going to buy a kit and, if need be, chop up the hull into as many pueces as necessary to correct it. I have one copy of my resin turret and, after checking the shape, I'll replace the kit turret with that one.

I _will_ have an M103A2, dammit! And an accurate one as well!

Paul
mpeplinski
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Michigan, United States
Joined: January 17, 2006
KitMaker: 487 posts
Armorama: 182 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 12:56 PM UTC

Quoted Text



Im soooooooo glad I no longer rivet count. Found out long ago that when I first started building, I wasnt counting rivets. I just wanted to build a model and enjoy. Than, I began to rivet count and that alone was taking the fun out it for me. I currently have the 103 and am excited to build. Had I been now what I was once before, your review would had stopped me from building and or just destroyed my anticipation. No. Not anymore.

Some count rivets, some dont. I prefer to enjoy the build and not worry about this or that.



I'm in agreement there,some like to build replicas,I like to build a model,just the fact it looks like one is close enough for me.

Mike
jwest21
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Pennsylvania, United States
Joined: October 16, 2006
KitMaker: 3,300 posts
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 02:13 PM UTC
I finished building mine, and it wasn't all that fun to build. I had warped parts and needed a lot of filler.
DerGeist
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Ohio, United States
Joined: January 21, 2008
KitMaker: 735 posts
Armorama: 707 posts
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 02:25 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I finished building mine, and it wasn't all that fun to build. I had warped parts and needed a lot of filler.




I just started mine this afternoon, and I've found it rather enjoyable. The lower hull and engine deck couldn't have fit together better. I think it's pretty evident the QC of this kit is all over the place...
Petition2God
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Colorado, United States
Joined: February 06, 2002
KitMaker: 1,445 posts
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Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 04:27 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

and I'll have a blast building it.


I'm sure you will. As I wrote above the kit will certainly look impressive once built and be clearly recognizable as a M103A1, so if accuracy isn't important for you, then you can certainly have fun building it. I actually envy you, as for me all the joy of building this kit in lost now



For many who do not mind inaccuracies of newly released kits, this posting should be ignored and there is no need to criticize Pawel's opinion and his feelings of disappointment but for the rest of us, we appreciate an honest critique like this from Pawel. DML's description of the kit says, "The irregular form of the turret is accurately shaped, and it has just the right degree of a subtle cast texture." The manufacturer itself claims that its model is accurate even though in the eyes of expert, it is not. That seems like a misrepresentation to me.
When someone pays a top dollar for a new kit in this day and age when so many new accurate model kits come out almost monthly (for instance Meng's products), it really is disappointing to see rather obvious inaccuracies like barrel length, incorrect turret and hull shapes. That's what this forum is for- to give product reviews and exchange ideas. Whether you are a rivet counter or not, you want to get the best product you can get for your money as a consumer. We all know DML can produce a kit that is better than this. Pawel is saying that he's rather disappointed. For many modelers, I am reading that this kit just didn't meet the expectations. That's all. No disrespect here.