The LVT (Landing Vehicle Tracked) was first developed in 1935. It was originally designed to be a civilian rescue vehicle. The "Alligator" was intended to operate in southern Florida where hurricanes often caused areas to become inaccessible to both traditional cars and boats.
After WW 1, The USMC began studying amphibious warfare and considered that landing on Pacific islands would be likely. The USMC was attracted to a report in Life Magazine on Donald Roebling's Alligator and they persuaded Mr. Roebling to work on a military version with enhanced features and tracks.
As the war in Europe and Asia was getting worse, the Congress approved funds. The project was accepted as the LVT-1 and mass production started in July of 1941. Shortly after, a further modified version was under development. The LVT-2 became known as the Water Buffalo.
Because the engine was located to the rear, personnel and material had to be loaded and unloaded over the sides. A new version, the LVT-4, came with modifications - the engine was moved forward and a large ramp door was added to the rear, allowing troops and cargo to exit from the rear of the vehicle. The LVT-4 was the most produced model among the LVT family. It took part in the Battle of Saipan and saw action in all following battles in the pacific as well as river crossing operations in Europe.
The kit features 438 plastic parts, 8 photo etch parts, 4 sections of track and a clear instrument panel. All of the parts are beautifully molded in green plastic. Superb detail is abundant throughout the kit. The track links are supplied in 4 sections and have wonderful detail on the inner and outer faces. Also included are markings for 5 vehicles. They are:
U.S. Army, Manila, Philippine, Feb. 1945
U.S. Army, 351st Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division, Northern Italy, Apr. 1945
U.S. Marine, Iwo Jima, Feb. 1945
R.O.C. Marine Corp, Oct. 1961
U.S. Army, 7th Infantry Division, Okinawa, Apr. 1945
Let me say right off the bat, this build is fairly fast due to the superb engineering of this kit. There is almost no flash present and the fit is really, really nice throughout.
Steps 1 thru 12 have you working on both of the sides of the hull and the running gear. There are a lot of parts used to construct the very detailed and functional suspension. Follow the instructions and you will not have any problems. Watch for knock out pins as you need to sand or fill several that will be visible on the inside of the main crew compartment. Also in step 3, you need to add part A16 to A17 the make a complete track guide. Only part A17 is shown in the instruction sheet. Parts C2 and C3 have numerous knock out pins that need to be taken care of as all will be visible on the final model. The suspension can be built to be fully workable.
Steps 13 thru 18 have you assembling the highly detailed drivers compartment. No problems were encountered here. AFV supplies you with a clear instrument panel that can be viewed through the open hatches if so desired. Most of this detail is visible on the finished model.
Steps 19 thru 21 have you finish up the interior. Again, the fit of this kit is just great!
Steps 22 thru 34 have you add the final details and assemble all of the large hull pieces.
Steps 35 thru 37 have you add the machine guns and install the tracks. The machine guns are little works of art! Each mount consist of 6 parts and the detail is amazing! Each side of the track links consist of 2 sections. The tracks are made of some of the softest rubber that I have ever used. And they glued up with Tamiya Extra Thin Cement without any problems. The track is soft enough that a little bit of sag is present! Outstanding!
I left off the hatches for painting. I did use a little filler on the front tube where it meets the front fenders, just to smooth out the transition.
PAINTING AND FINISHING
I opted for the USMC version for the finish. I mean, how often do you get to paint a tracked vehicle blue? I started with a base coat of Tamiya XF-18 Medium Blue. This was followed by 2 lightened coats of the Medium Blue lightened with white, mainly sprayed in the center of the panels. All detail painting was done next. I started the weathering process by applying a AK Interactive filter over the lower hull. This was followed with a pin wash over the entire vehicle with a rusty red mix. I sprayed my track links with my scale black mix and finished the weathering with a light application of some pigments.
Another brilliant kit from AFV Club! Detail is as good as it gets. Fit and layout are great. The instructions are laid out well and are easy to follow. I am a AFV Club fan, as the last several kits of theirs that I have worked on have just been a real pleasure from start to finish. Well done AFV Club!
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
My Sincere Thanks to AFV Club for the review sample!
Model built and painted by Dave Manter