To my knowledge, except for Airfix’s veteran
Kit 2302, this is the first offering of this range of vehicles in
small scale plastic. (See the end of the review for informationon
ARMO’s and Wespe’s resin LVT kits.) The in-the-box review
will primarily cover DML’s (Dragon Models Limited) LVT(A)4 amphibious
support tank, though I will briefly cover two other related DML LVT
kits. The “A” in the vehicle name stands for armored;
LVT stands for Landing Vehicle Tracked. Though only lightly armored
compared to a medium tank the LVT(A)s provided valuable support in
combat and transport of troops and supplies between ship and shore.
The Boxart: What is supposed to be inside.
was a support AFV mounting the turret of the M8 Gun Motor Carrier
(GMC), a modification of the LVT(A)1 seeing service after March 1944.
The LVT(A)4 was commonly known as an Amtank. Starting at the top we
see an open top with a 50-caliber machine gun mount and two crew figures
(not included in the kit). Out of the gun mantlet is the short 75-mm
howitzer and the hole for the gun sight to its right (our left). There
is no coaxial machine gun next to the main gun. I imagine we could
steal this turret for mounting on an M5A1 light tank kit to produce
an M8 GMC (when someone gets around producing a 1/72-scale M5A1 instead
of just more German tanks).
The hull is totally covered by an armored roof unlike the LVT(A)1
and the LVT 4. At the front of the upper hull are roof hatches for
the driver and radio operator (r/o), a flexible whip radio aerial
(antenna). In front of the r/o position is a 30-cal. machine gun mount.
Many photos I’ve seen of the LVT(A)4 do not have this bow machine
The amphibious hull is boat shaped
with cleats for lashing lines and securing the AFV to a ship when
it is acting like a vessel on the water. The tracks and suspension
are reminiscent of the French Char B1bis tank and English tanks of
WW1. The track has deep treads which provided propulsion in the water.
This LVT(A)4 is painted in olive drab with markings identified as
from the US Marine 3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion assaulting Peleliu
from September to November of 1944. (For more information on this
battalion see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Assault_Amphibian_Battalion
or the Harry Yeide book) I can only find evidence that the LVT(A)4
was used by US forces in the Pacific Theater (the Allies second major
front) and none served in Northern Europe or were Lend Leased to the
This poster is borrowed from Dragon’s website and shows computerized
drawings of the kit features.
From DML’s website this is their poster of their LVT (A)1 Kit
#7387; an amphibious tank, or Amtank, with a turret from M5A1 light
tank mounting a 37-mm M6 gun. Though I do not yet have this model
kit, so I have not examined it’s parts, it appears that it is
the same as the LVT(A)4 model except for the upper hull and turret.
Besides having a fully closed turret and 37-mm tank gun, it has behind
the turret two open cupolas with 30-cal. machine guns with shields.
Like the LVT(A)4 kit, the driver and r/o hatches are molded closed
and there is no interior hull detail. There is no bow machine gun
for the radio operator.
The very nice boxart shows an LVT(A)1 in olive green and coming ashore
with two crew figures visible. On the starboard side near the bow
is the radio antenna. In the background are several unarmored LVT(1)
tractors carrying troops ashore. At bottom left are the water slide
Here we have the box art for DML’s 1/72 LVT4 Water Buffalo kit
#7389 which includes a 1/4-Ton 4x4 Truck (a.k.a. Jeep). At this time
this kit has not yet been released so I have not seen the parts to
comment on. I have heard that the Jeep is actually 1/76-scale but
have not yet confirmed that myself. This vehicle was commonly known
as an Amtrac or Amtrack, short for amphibious tractor.
The LVT4 was different from other LVTs
in having the engine moved up to just behind the driver, while at
the same time it had an armored ramp at the rear and armored cab.
With the earlier LVT2 the troops and cargo had to be loaded and unloaded
over the sides, we can see how a rear ramp would be much preferred
by the crews and troops! It was first used in the Pacific during the
Saipan landings in mid-1944, and also in Italy and Europe by US, and
British forces (known as the Buffalo IV). The LVT4 could carry a Jeep
and 37-mm AT gun, a 57-mm AT gun or a 105-mm howitzer.
The LVT4 is painted in olive green
with vertical yellow stripes amidships, a vehicle number and a name
that looks to be BEAUTIFUL QUEENIE. On the sides of the cargo compartment
are mounted two 50-caliber and two 30-cal. machine guns. At the rear
there are two red taillights.
This is the box art for Airfix’s 1/76-scale LVT4 Buffalo kit
which also comes with a Jeep. Looking closely there are a number of
differences in small features. The scene is almost the same as DML’s
box art. Though labeled 1:72 scale (i.e. 1/72) I compared the Airfix
parts with DML’s and they are significantly smaller; the Airfix
kit is indeed 1/76 scale. (Editor's note: it was even labeled as such
when it was first released.)
The Dragon LVT(A)4 kit contains 66 light-gray, injection molded styrene
parts on two sprues. There are also four parts to assemble two band
track lengths out of DML’s special track material. There are
no crew figures which is a shame considering that DML has shown they
can make superb 1/72 scale figures. There are no etched brass parts.
The scan shows the parts particular to DML’s LVT(A)4 kit and
shows the upper hull with the hatches molded closed (part C17), the
turret top and bottom in the center (parts C18 & C19), the 75-mm
howitzer parts (parts C4, C14, C25, etc.) and gunner and commander
seats. Molding quality and detail are very good. There is some nice
interior detail for the open-top turret but no interior detail for
the LVT interior, not even a floor. Make note that though the parts
diagram and assembly instructions call this sprue “C”,
the sprue itself at upper right is labeled sprue “B”,
go figure?! In the lower center is the 50-cal. Machine gun (parts
C16, C9 and C2).
At the very bottom is the lower LVT
hull (part B) common to all DML’s LVT kits. The hull side, suspension
axles and details are slide-molded in. One feature I am not fond of
is that there is a tow cable molded onto the rear of this hull part;
I prefer separate tow cables.
This second scan shows sprue-A which is common to the other LVT kits
released by DML. At right is the LVT deck and fenders over the tracks
(part A6). Two boathooks are molded onto the deck which disappoints
me a bit. Considering that this LVT model has fewer parts and less
plastic than a DML Sherman or PzKpfw IV kit, I think separate boathooks
and tow cable is not too much to ask for.
At lower left are the roadwheels and
suspension, all molded together (parts A15 & A16). This makes
it difficult to articulate the suspension over uneven ground. This
sprue has many small parts, like the deck cleats (parts A11) and grab
handles (parts A12), and antenna base (part A4). (An antenna can be
made from stretched sprue; or from a long, fine, plastic paintbrush
bristle which is my favorite choice for antennas.)
At the bottom of the scan are the LVT
tracks common to DML’s kits. I usually use cyanoacrylate (super)
glue to assemble my tracks but we are supposed to be able to use styrene
cement to attach the ends. One Dragon kit I have explains that if
the tracks are tight they can be carefully stretched to fit better.
I recommend you glue the track down to each roadwheel with a little
Here is a part of DML’s exploded-view assembly instructions
broken down into pretty clear and well laid out parts. At lower right
is part of the three-view color painting and marking guide. There
are additional markings for one three-color camouflaged LVT(A)4 for
the 2nd Armored Amphibian Battalion on Iwo Jima in 1945.
Overall I think this is a great kit
and long needed for small scale modelers. I do wish that DML had molded
the hatches separate. So far I have not heard from anyone about the
fit of the parts. Both this LVT(A)4 and the LVT(A)1 kits are perfect
for a good etched brass set and a full resin cast interior.
Both ARMO and WESPE make 1/72-scale
cast resin kits of LVT’s (kits AR72118, AR72119, AR72120 and
WS7269). Milicast make two sets of cast resin crew figures for LVT
kits in 1/76 scale but which are totally fine for 1/72-scale (sets
MILFIG14 and MILFIG 15).
THE AMERICAN ARSENAL, World War II
Official Standard Ordnance Catalog of Small Arms, Tanks, Artillery.
Greenhill Books and Stackpole Books (1996) ISBN 1-85367-470-2.
British And American Tanks of World
War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Chris Ellis, Cassell & Company
(1969); ISBN 0-304-35529-1.
THE INFANTRY’S ARMOR, The US
Army’s Separate Tank Battalions in World War II. By Harry Yeide,
Stackpole Books (2010), ISBN 978-0-8117-0595. Though mostly full of
information and stories about the M4 Sherman and light tank Battalions
this book also has several chapters devoted to the history of Amphibian
Tractor Battalions in both the Pacific and European theatres.
Bruce Simard’s review of LVT(a)-1 kit