ARM: Review - DML 1/72 AAV-7A1 Somalia 1993

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/72 Armor Series Kit No. 7221; AAV-7A1 USMC
Mogadishu 1993; 98 parts (75 in grey styrene,18 in black vinyl, 3 steel screws,
2 diecast metal hull sections); price about $8.95
Advantages: first mass-market kit of this vehicle in this scale; includes
optional parts
Disadvantages: diecast hull will make assembly more difficult; interior is
barren
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: For all AMTRAC and USMC fans, as well as fans of modern armor
F I R S T L O O K
While the new and improved USMC amphibious armored personnel carrier that went
into service in 1972 as the LVTP-7, started off their career slowly, from their
US combat debut in 1985 (Grenada) to the present they have been heavily
involved in nearly every US major operation involving the Marine Corps.
Redesignated as the AAV-7 family, they have remained in constant service for
over 30 years now and are still providing good service.
Designed around a more seaworthy hull than their predecessor, the LVTP-5
series, they were also powered by diesel engines and shared some parts and
component with the US Army's M2 Bradley fighting vehicle family. This rendered
them more cost efficient and easier to modify/upgrade as new components were
developed. While an original A1 version saw a few items change ? mostly
involving some work to the bow of the vehicle and changes to placement of the
headlights as external indicators, the vehicles have undergone constant
upgrades. The most significant were done right before Operation Desert Storm in
1990, when the vehicles received the ability to mount supplemental armor
protection and also an upgraded firepower suite via the "UWS" or upgraded
weapons station. This combined a 40mm grenade launcher and a .50 caliber
machine gun in one turret.
While the LVTP-7/AAV-7 has been well served in HO scale by Trident and in 1/35
by both Tamiya and Academy, this is the first kit of this vehicle in 1/72
scale. DML has done a nice job of turning out this big beast (think
self-propelled garage and you have a rough idea of the size and bulk of the
vehicle) as part of their continuing 1/72 series.
The hull is provided as two sections of diecast metal held together with
screws. This makes any modification or correction the modeler desires a bit
difficult, as it is much harder to clean parts made of metal than styrene or
attach the plastic components to it. DML has come up with a partial solution in
that some of the supplemental hull parts are made of styrene (such as the sides
with the road wheel arms and the bow section below the headights). This serves
two main functions: one, it is now far easier to cement the parts on using
standard model cements vice ACC or epoxy, and two, it prevents damage to the
fragile road wheel arms that would come of their being cast in metal due to
their location.
The kit does provide a number of options. While the kit comes with directions
to install the UWS, the parts for the commander's hatch for the earlier version
with a .50 caliber cupola are included. (Note that neither supplemental armor
or its prominent hull mounting brackets are part of this kit.)_The wave-breaker
can be installed either closed (part A3) or deployed (A4), as can the water jet
drives (A21/22 open, A23/24 closed).
The rear ramp operates, but the top hatches have to be cemented in position
either open or closed. Room has been left for installing an interior but none
is provided. (Note: the screw mounts are more or less discreetly situated on
the sides of the hull and in the bow, but the directions do not tell the
modeler how to install them or when; since two of them are right above the
running gear, I suspect it means leaving the wheels off until you have screwed
the hull together. They are held on by vinyl bearings a la Tamiya, so it should
not be a big deal.)
Tracks are black vinyl and seem pretty well done. Surprisingly, even with the
amount of shared parts none seems to be from the M2/M3 series kits.
Markings are provided for two vehicles in Somalia during Operation Restore
Hope in 1993; one left in Desert Storm sand and wedge markings, and one in the
NATO tri-color scheme.
Overall this should be a nice adjunct to the USMC Abrams, and with some work a
version from OIF with applique armor could be produced. A more industrious soul
could also fashion an interior in it, making it a gem.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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