Scale Matters, Part III

Big and Small

Let’s call this, a grown man playing with his toys on a Saturday afternoon.

The largest and smallest kits I’ve built. Maybe not 100% true, I have bought just single figures in 1/48. But this is the most extreme scope of hardware I’ve done.
The largest and smallest planes to serve on a US Navy aircraft carrier during World War II. The F3F at left had only just retired from fleet carrier service on December 7, 1941; but it continued on with fleet training units for several years. Of course the TBF was the Navy’s brand new torpedo bomber in June 1942. So these two would have overlapped in service for a couple years. Interesting, they are both Grumman products.
The largest and smallest armored fighting vehicles I’ve built. Maybe not quite true, I’ve also finished a Dingo which was slightly smaller than the Universal Carrier; but the Dingo was unarmed. So the Universal Carrier and Jagdtiger are the extremes of armed AFVs. Notice the plastic cement, that’s the inevitable consequence of moving these things around!
Largest fighter with smallest bomber? Not sure if that’s literally true. There are a few German night fighters that may be bigger (Ju 88, Do 217) and perhaps some smaller bombers, depending on what counts. But certainly these are the biggest and smallest I’ve built so far. I’d also mention these overlapped in service late in the Pacific War. I’ve had cause in a few wargames to have a Dauntless squadron escorted by Black Widows, the image makes me laugh.
I think the Ohka is best classified as a missile. But if we call it a bomber its surely the smallest! And it could easily have wound up being chased down by the largest single engine fighter of the War! The Ohka’s usual attack profile involved gliding for some distance prior to firing its rockets as it approaches its terminal dive. So there is a legitimate period of vulnerability to conventional intercept.
This is the comparison that really inspired the post, but its more biggest to biggest. The Jagdtiger weighs in at 75 tons, according to Boeing the maximum take-off weight for a Superfortress was 70 tons. So by that measure the Jagdtiger is more massive! Although I just read in Ian Toll’s “Twilight of the Gods” that when Bock’s Car took off for Nagasaki it was beyond max at 77 tons! So believe it or not, these two are about the same size?!

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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19 Responses to Scale Matters, Part III

  1. Jeff Groves says:

    Interesting comparisons! This also makes the case for working in a common scale, as these type of comparisons would lose their meaning if the scales were mixed.

    • atcDave says:

      My mind loves the comparisons! So yeah, that’s exactly why I use just the one scale.

      • Pierre Lagacé says:


        Off topic
        You commented on Inch High Guy that a 1/48 scale B-17E was in the making.
        Is that fake news or real news?

      • atcDave says:

        That’s real news, but I haven’t seen dates.
        HK Models did an “early” B-17G (the same variant as the old Monogram kit). It was a scaled down version of a kit they previously did in 1/32 scale (that has to be a big bird!). But they also did two other B-17 kits in 1/32; a “late” B-17G and a B-17E/F.
        So when they released the kit in 1/48 they notified their dealer network that all three kits would be scaled down. So no dates, but it should be forthcoming.

        BTW, HK has also done the whole B-24 family in 1/32 scale.

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        Well you have someone who is quite uncontrollably excited here Dave…

      • atcDave says:

        Me too!

  2. ericritter65 says:

    Sticking to a single scale was my intent when I got back into scale models at the start of this COVID stuff, but I really like 1/72 for planes and 1/35 for armor (even though I have one tank and one anti-tank ‘88 in 1/48). For me it comes down to availability of the various pieces I want to make (there are just so many more figures for 1/35, and ground vehicles just don’t look right without some grunts hanging around).

    • atcDave says:

      I think that’s actually very normal. I’m the odd duck! But I’m really an airplane guy first, the vehicles and armor are more a happy accident at the number that are available.

  3. What a great comparison. To think that a B29 is close to the Jagdtiger in weight is quite an eye opener!

    • atcDave says:

      Armor is often shockingly heavy, at least compared to things that fly! But yeah, I almost choked when I saw that; my biggest vehicle and biggest plane weigh about the same!

  4. Ernie Davis says:

    My primary interest was European theater armor, so 1/35th was pretty much the default for me. Except for those occasions when some jerk decided that 1/32nd was so superior they just couldn’t be bothered… (pet peeve). But for aircraft, 1/48th was the default, both from the standpoint of available kits, and reasonable size. I’m sure the two were linked. Nobody would build a 1/35th B17. For ships it seemed all bets were off.

    • atcDave says:

      I have seen a small number of aircraft in 1/35, mostly helicopters and light support types.
      Have you really seen armor in 1/32? That really seems like a bonehead move!
      Can you imagine ships in 1/48? I have visions of the Hornet with 16 Mitchell’s on board….

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I couldn’t swear to the kits, it has been far too long, and maybe it was just figures (but that would be just as boneheaded) but I swear the frustration of that slight difference when trying to mix the scales in a diorama will stay with me forever. I do have a memory of a diorama with a crashed plane, it may have come about through that one. I’d also always planned to do a PT boat diorama, but I never did master water and the scale of it was a pipe dream on my budget. I did do a 1/35th Huey in anticipation of a Vietnam era diorama, but again it was a nightmare to get any properly equipped figures (the Huey came with none). Maybe the Huey was 1/32nd.

      What scale is the torpedo boat you are doing?

      • atcDave says:

        I’m sure I’ve seen Hueys in both scales. A number of mostly armor companies have done aircraft in 1/35.
        The PT boat is 1/48. 80’ isn’t that horribly long, but it is massive and a very different sort of thing.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I am looking forward to seeing that one.

      • atcDave says:

        Maybe a week out? Maybe more. Its very different for me.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It was just a general comment, not a request, but thanks for the update anyway.

      • atcDave says:

        I know, but I’m happy to provide the guess!
        It’s funny, with airplanes, and even vehicles now, I usually can say pretty precisely when down to that last week. The Fw 190 WILL be done the next time I sit at the bench (probably around 2 o’clock today), even the C-47 I have a fairly good idea (maybe 10 days). But the PT Boat is so different. I feel like I’m nearing the end (sub assemblies complete; now I’m starting to attach things to the hull and deck), but I don’t even know what pitfalls may lay ahead.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I’ve experienced the same thing at work for years. Give me a problem of a certain type or class I can tell you a schedule that will be accurate within a day or so. Add a new twist, that adds some uncertainty. Throw in a new element, and I have to basically guesstimate.

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