ARM: Review - DML 1/72 LVT(A

Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/72 Scale Armor Pro Series No. 7387; LVT(A)-1; 72 parts (66 in grey styrene, 4 DS plastic runs, 2
etched brass); pre-order price US$17.50 via Dragon USA Online
Advantages: first new kit of this type of vehicle in small scale injection molded plastic in over 40 years; nicely done rendition; design shows more variants to come
Disadvantages: some shortcuts taken with production; tracks appear simplified
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: for all Amtrac fans
    The Roebling family is renown in the US for their many engineering feats such as the Brooklyn Bridge and other long-lasting structures, but during WWII they made one lasting contribution to the war effort with their design of the Alligator amphibious tractor. The first version, the LVT-1, underwent service modification to produce the more serviceable LVT-2 series, and that was stretched during the course of the war to provide two cargo carrier variants and four armored versions.
    Three of the armored variants also mounted turrets with heavier armament for dealing with Japanese engineer works and armored vehicles. The first turreted vesion, the LVT(A)-1, mounted a modified M3A3 light tank turret (no radio bustle) with a 37mm gun and coaxial . 30 machine gun and behind it were two open barbette turrets mounting an additional .30 caliber machine gun each. These saw action throughout the Pacific theater.
    Over 40 years ago Airfix released one of their most popular 1/76 scale kits of an LVT-4 in British service armed with a 20mm Polsten cannon and carrying a Willys MB jeep in its cargo section. But it was complex to assemble with all of the wheels being separate, and was as were many Airfix kits of the time “blessed” with the silver vinyl tracks whose primary function in life seemed to be attacking the Airfix styrene and causing suspension meltdowns.
    Over the years interest and emphasis have shifted to 1/72 scale, but other than a few stabs in resin or wargamer vehicles (usually very much simplified) nothing else was offered until now.
    DML has just released what will be the first of several kits of this type, and it is a very interestingly done little gem. Parts breakdown shows that an LVT-2 will probably follow very soon, with later releases covering an LVT(A)-4 or -5. (The LVT-4 itself will require a new lower and upper hull based on parts breakdown).
    The lower hull comes complete (suspension and all) with the back half of the idlers (front) and drivers (rear) molded to them. The sponsons are also single piece parts with road wheels, suspension mounts and the idlers molded in place; standoff is such that the tracks will fit in between the toothed rings for a reasonable approximation of the intricate tracks used on these vehicles. The return rollers have their backing brackets separate but due to molding techniques there is some cleanup needed on the rear sides due to ridges and lines molded into the tops of the sponsons. Note however that weld beads are clearly discernable on many parts of the hull.
    The tracks are simplified a bit but in this scale that may not be as bad as in 1/35. Each comes in two sections - note that I cannot verify their length and if they will fit correctly or not. DML DS Plastic tracks tend to come long, but as they can be cemented with normal plastic cements this has not been a problem. If you have to tighten them by removing a link or two, I suggest hiding the new joint on the bottom of the track run over a road wheel.
    Oddly the turret comes with a complete 37mm gun including the coaxial .30 machine gun and gunner’s sight, but then the turret top is sealed so it cannot be seen. Go figure.
    The machine gun barbettes consist of four parts each: tub, keeper ring, machine gun and mount, and shield. The latter is offered as either a styrene or etched brass part. Note that the tubs are empty and no crew figures are provided, so you are on your own as to what to fill them with.
    Oddly again nearly all handholds, bits and brackets are separate but the tow cable is molded in place. Again, go figure.
    Five different finishing options are offered: 3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion, USMC, Peleliu 1944 (OD, white H-3); 708th Amphibious Tank Battalion, USA, Keise Shima, Ryukyus 1945 (OD, “Jim’s Girl” in white); Co. C, 708th Amphibious Tank Battalion, USA, Yellow Beach 2, Saipan 1944 (grey with yellow stripes and white stars, “Crazy Legs”); US Army, Pacific Theater 1944-1945 (OD, white B7 “The Bloody Trail”); and US Army, Pacific Theater, 1944-1945 (OD, generic stars and US Army).
    Overall this is a nice new effort and clearly something different. It will be up to modelers if they can live with its shortcuts or not.
    Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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