The LVT-(A) 1 was part of a series of US Marine Corps. and Navy amphibious assault vehicles developed during WW2. The idea for the military vehicles came from an original, civilian design by Donald Roebling, who designed his Alligator as a rescue vehicle for use in areas inaccessible to standard cars or trucks, such as swampland. LVT stood for Landing Vehicle, Tracked, and the main contractor during WW2 was FMC: Farm Machinery Corp. As well as the standard open topped tracked landing craft designed to bring troops and cargo ashore, there were also vehicles such as the LVT-(A) 1 which came completely enclosed, and armed with turrets. The LVT-(A) 1 (“A” for Armor) had the turret and gun of the M3 Stuart light tank, and the vehicle was also powered by an M3 Stuart engine. Just over 500 (A) 1’s were produced during the War, with a total of just over 18,000 LVT’s of all varieties eventually rolling off the assembly lines.
Dragon Model’s new 1/72ndscale kit is a little gem: two main sprues of very well detailed parts, all crisply molded and without any visible sink marks or ejection pin marks once the model is fully assembled. The kit consists of five main parts: Lower hull part “B” and main upper part A6, together with side hull parts A15 & A16 which have the bogies integrally molded onto them. Part C10 being the fifth part, a “top” that seals the hull shut. The remaining 60 or so parts are various hull fittings, often very petite, plus the M3 Stuart turret and two separate machine gun “tubs”. Rounding off the parts are the two DS100 glue-able “rubber” tracks. The latter fit my model very well.
Construction proceeded along smoothly following the 7 step instructions. But you must be extremely careful in removing the small parts from the sprues, as they are very fragile in some instances. In the case of Parts A12, grab handles, I carefully cut them off with my finest razor saw, and glued the parts onto the upper hull, Part A6, without trying to clean up the sprue attachment points. Once the glue had dried for 48 hours, I carefully sanded the attachment marks off with a fine grit sanding stick. That way the parts didn’t fly off into the carpet as trying to hold them in my bare fingers and sand just didn’t work, and holding them with a pair of tweezers, well………….
Regarding a couple of trouble spots: in Section 3 of the instructions, I did not use the alternative photo etched brass parts for the machine gun tub gun shields: there was no positive attachment points on the PE parts, as compared to the plastic alternative parts, C6. Also, the tubs themselves have no floor to them. My guess (I found no actual photos in my references) is that these tubs had some sort of grating in the bottom, to allow any water to drain down into the hull, where bilge pumps could then remove it. I certainly don’t think they were open as they come in the kit! I solved the “look through” effect by using some white Evergreen card stock, and making floors for the MG tubs. Inaccurate no doubt, but to me better than a black hole!
Once the entire model (tracks and all) was assembled, I primed the kit with Mr Surfacer 1200 gray primer. This provides a tough and very smooth finish on which to place the camouflage paint. The kit gives the modeler four different marking schemes, three overall Olive Drab schemes, and one Ocean Gray. I chose the latter for one simple reason: being a Sherman tank addict, I wanted a change from Olive Drab, and the Ocean Gray scheme also offered some additional color in the form of large white stars, and also some additional yellow recognition markings. For the Ocean Gray, I used Tamiya’s XF-18 Medium Blue, which despite its name, is a very blue gray color, and just perfect for representing Ocean Gray. I airbrushed on an overall coat of XF-18, then lightened the color with Tamiya XF-1 White, and airbrushed this into the center of panels etc., to break up the color scheme. A coat of Tamiya X-22 Clear Gloss was then airbrushed on to provide a nice base for the decals. The latter are produced by Cartograf of Italy, and were extremely thin, opaque, and well printed. They settled down nicely with the help of the Mr Color decal setting solutions, first the blue top bottle, then the green top bottle. Once the decals had dried for 24 hours, I applied more Tamiya Clear Gloss to seal the decals, after which some oil paint pin washes were applied to the model. The tracks were then brush painted Vallejo acrylic 304 Track Primer from their Panzer Aces series, before the whole model was sealed with Vallejo acrylic Matt Clear.
I will end this review where I started it: by stating that this is a gem of a kit. It goes together very easily, and is very well detailed for the scale. I highly recommend this kit to anyone who builds in 72ndscale and has a fascination, as I do, with the Pacific Theater of Operations in World War Two. My thanks to IPMS/USA and Dragon Models USA for the chance to review this lovely model.