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When researching my article on Renwal’s series of models of post WWII US military equipment (OTS Magazine, Vol 42, 4, pp 39-44) I came across mention of a 1/32 scale kit for the US Pershing missile, together with its tractor and launcher. This kit is extremely rare and was produced by the Martin Marietta Aerospace, Orlando Division, Florida. Martin was the company responsible for producing
the real missile. The Martin Marietta Corporation was founded in 1961 through the merger of Glenn L. Martin Company and American-Marietta Corporation. The combined company became a leader in chemicals, aerospace, and electronics. In 1995, it merged with Lockheed Corporation to form Lockheed Martin.

An example was offered on eBay a few years ago with a very large price tag. It came with the following description: “The kit was designed as a marketing and promotional tool and builds into a desktop display model for the Top Army Brass! According to some, the deployment of the Pershing pretty much
ended the cold war, resulting in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. This model kit is a pre-production prototype from the EPL (Engineering and Prototype Laboratory) of Martin Marietta Aerospace. Only a few have found their way on to the open market. Dad was an Aerospace Engineer/
Designer who was on the team that created this monster! Extremely rare model, complete parts in the box with all the decals and instructions. The EPL built a few for the Generals in the Pentagon, but I don’t know if the general public ever actually had a chance to get one of these.”

The kit was marked EPL-1 and dated November 1973. The kit is moulded in polystyrene like the Renwal series. Give the specialist nature of the task the EPL may well have sub-contracted a specialist kit maker to produce moulds and inject the polystyrene. However, the details remain shrouded in mystery due to the high-tech nature of the project. Could this have been Renwal?

It was a limited production run, and according to some accounts only 100 were produced. This seems a very short production run, but given the involvement of the CIA and the overall budget for the project, not beyond the realms of possibility. It was publicly announced as follows:

ANNOUNCEMENT US Army Pershing SCALE OF MODEL 1/32 1-A Transporter-Launcher … itself is unclassified 1. This model depicts the Pershing 1-A Transporter-Launcher and Tractor for the US Army Pershing … Bulletin for the Pershing System. The model was produced by the Engineering Prototype Laboratory.

Many plastic modellers have been desperate to get their hands on an example ever since. A few have surfaced and been constructed (see the article in Fine Scale Modeler,, although it is unclear if this particular project was ever completed!)

In exchanges on the Fine Scale Modeler website one correspondent reported “I worked for a large hobby shop in Orlando, FL from 1970-77. Martin/ Marrieta (MM) called us one day and wanted to send someone to talk about model cement and model paints which were readily available at that time. I asked what they were working on and couldn’t get a positive answer. Kinda hard to make paint recommendations if ya don’t know what the project is. I finally talked to some one and found out it was a Pershing missile which was to be made available to employees only. I did get to see a complete kit in a plain box with no instructions or decals. At that time Renwal was still in business and since MM chose 1/32 scale for their Pershing, the quality and style of molding and the engineering all looked like Renwal had done the molds for the kit. Also heard a rumor that the molds may have been destroyed after the production run but don’t know if that’s true or not. Anyway, I tried real hard to get a kit (worked the “compensation for tech, advice” angle) but no luck. Martin/Marietta almost treated the model project as though it were “Top Secret”…. “

Another correspondent reported “Yes it was made by Marietta for a select few…. I have been told less than 100 were made. I have been fortunate enough to have owned 4 of them – 3 I bought in the 70’s for around $70 to $80 each, kept 2 for myself and sent another to a good friend in Japan, one came with a
walnut base. I lost mine in a fire in 2005 that destroyed my collection that I had amassed over 35 years …”

A company called Marcos Miniatures later produced a resin copy. This was itself only available for a very short period. The scarcity of the model has resulted in a considerable inflation of prices. As a result, when they do appear in the market they tend to fetch a premium. Good examples have changed hands in recent years for prices well into 4 four figures. I was therefore delighted to pick up a fine and complete example for a modest price. Whether I will ever get around to building it is a moot point! Nevertheless, I have the satisfaction of having tracked down something I have hankered after for many years.

The Kit

Like the original Renwal series this is a really well designed “working model” (fortunately without a nuclear warhead!), and in the same 1/32 scale. Modules can be assembled and displayed separately or snapped together as a complete assembly. The kit is designed for the person who appreciates fine model detail. It is not a toy, but a precision model of museum quality. An extremely rare and desirable

The accompanying images show the kit and its various parts. Also included are some images of a made-up model (although this is a 1/72 scale version of the standard Pershing II tactical missile with U.S. Army M1001 tractor, rather than the Martin Marietta 1/32 scale model). While I am sorely tempted to assemble my model, it would unfortunately cause a dramatic depreciation in its value to collectors. So, for the time being at least, it remains in bits in its original box!

The CIA’s 3D Modelling Program

The CIA made an announcement at the same time as this model was released about a three dimensional modelling program, designed to help in targeting the missiles. The accompanying
contemporary images provide a fascinating insight into the thinking at the time these weapon systems were being introduced.

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