LVT-4 Landing Vehicle Tracked Late Production
|Kit # 7389||Preview by Simon
Edited by Rob Haelterman
Picture from HenkofHolland site, used with permission.
Before I start reviewing the kit, I shall start by saying that I am not going to review the jeep although I will pass a comment. I know there has been a lot of talk as to the scale and without even checking you only have to look at the size of the LVT .50 cals and the jeep.50 cal to see the difference, why Dragon has made such a stupid mistake I don't know, although I will see if I can fit the Airfix 1/72 scale jeep into the cargo area.
Note: Anybody wanting to correct this kit should look at Bruce Crosby's' article about the italeri kit , as nearly all the faults from that kit are replicated in this one
So to the LVT, what is it? It is a very late production, OK for those that want to model the French in Indochina or Suez campaigns, not so good for those wanting NW Europe or a lot of the Pacific island hopping. The kit scales out well to 1/72, moulded in the usual grey plastic, with DS tracks that for some reason come in 4 lengths (2 either side), they are reasonable representations for this scale. The Instructions are the usual exploded view. All parts seem to fit well (although this is not a construction review).
The roof of the cab is moulded as one piece with the tops of the sides. I live in the vain hope that they will release an earlier version (although it will require a lot more than just a new roof). The 2 hatches are molded shut with the co-driver/gunners position having a hatch mounted periscope which is offset to the rear to allow for the bow machine gun. Missing is the perspex dome that fits over the periscope, I know that these were sometimes dumped, but they can often still be seen fitted. Behind these are two moulded on boat hooks. One problem with the roof is that the cabin roof is shown as being welded on, which would make engine access nigh on impossible; it should be bolted. The round bump stop at the front of the hull top should be hollow as they are the outlets for the bilge pump. There is no demarcation line for the front mudguards as they are separate to the hull and so a line will have to be scribed running from the edge of the cabin roof, forward to the front to show this feature. The stowage lockers at the rear? Well, one side is a locker, the other gives access to the ramp winch. They have an incorrect pattern of locker lids. The hull top sides are separate items to be added; the kit items are about 1mm too deep, with the real things supposed to be exactly 12 inches deep, this equates to 4.16mm in 1/72nd scale, the kits side measure to be 5.1mm.
The hull tub come as a single moulding with a separate cargo area to be inserted. This insert has a moulded on tread plate, which it shouldn't have as the floor was smooth. There are also 3 rectangular shapes moulded in the middle, which doesn't correspond to any drawing or photo that I have seen and unless somebody can come up with what they are supposed to be, shouldn't be there either. The large seats/stands are also a very late option that normally have only been seen on French vehicles. The sides are devoid of any detail what so ever, missing are the manhole covers to get at the batteries in the sponsons and other ancillary equipment. Also missing is the armoured strip mounted above these manhole covers and the rear part is missing the fuel tank access plates and a few other details. The hinges at the rear of the tub are for a very late version, and should certainly for the 11 RTR option be reduced (a lot); they are OK for the French option. To be honest I don't know about the US version but I suspect not. Moving forward to the bulkhead this at least is a correct late pattern.
The rear ramp has some heavy welded seams, that seem a little OTT. Missing from the inside, are the pulleys that the ramp operated on. My main reference, the article by Bruce Crosby , states that there should be a weld seam in the in the middle on the inside of the ramp from top to bottom. However, the few pictures I have don't show this feature, so I am not sure. Also missing from the outside of the ramp is the tow rope or any fixtures as to where it is supposed to go. The ramp operating rope is supplied in the kit but is a little thick and could do with replacing, as the rope goes through the top of the ramp from one side to the other via a pulley system.
The sponsons mounting the wheels look very good and although the wheels are moulded in situ, once in place this is barely noticeable. The only problem with them is that they have the very late pattern armour plate which should be spaced and have a weld seam in the middle running from top to bottom, again no good for the 11 RTR option, The wash vanes at the rear are nicely done, if a bit thick. They could do with thinning out a bit, or - for the brave - rebuilding! All other details look nicely done.
Decal options for 3 vehicles: 1 US 1945, 1 French 1954 and 1 British 1944 ("Slough" from 11 RTR). The only picture I have of the British vehicle is from the rear quarter and it is unclear as to whether it is fitted with a bow MG. However, that said, to model this option would require a lot of work, as the sponson armour is the wrong type and it should also have an armoured cab as can be seen in this picture (the outline areas are the armour plates).
Decals are up to the usual Dragon standard.
A nice kit that should go together well. I certainly wouldn't opt for the British option and would be careful with the US option as well. The missing detail from the cargo bay as well as the tread pattern will have to be dealt with and there are some very good references for this. The kit has a lot of the faults from the Italeri kit which is based on the late version in the Saumur Museum. Whether Dragon has used this, I don't know. To model a British version is not unfeasible but will require a lot of work.
The Airfix jeep will still fit the cargo bay.
 Military Modelling Vol 32 no 4 vehicle special. In depth article into the LVT 4 with plans for cargo bay walls and mods for a British version by Bruce Crosby that can still be found on the Military Modelling website.
 Amtracs: US Amphibious Assault Vehicles, Steven J. Zaloga: Osprey-Vanguard: ISBN 0- 85045-748-3.
 Amtracs in Action Jim Mesko: Squadron/Signal Publications. ISBN 0-89747-298-5.
A lot of time searching the web for useful photos.