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 =93blessed=94 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=92s 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, =93Jim=92s Girl=94 in white)=
;
Co. C, 708th Amphibious Tank Battalion, USA, Yellow Beach 2, Saipan
1944 (grey with yellow stripes and white stars, =93Crazy Legs=94); US
Army, Pacific Theater 1944-1945 (OD, white B7 =93The Bloody Trail=94); 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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AMPSOne
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