by: Kent McKesson [ ]
Born in the swamps of Florida for hurricane rescue as the civilian Alligator, the LVT series of vehicles played a critical role during some amphibious invasions of World War II. They were designed to be lightweight, maneuverable in the water and on land, as well as reliable and simple to operate. While many of these terms are somewhat relative to the amphibious assault vehicles of more recent design, the LVT stands out for its accomplishments.
The LVT(A)-1 is actually based on the unarmored LVT-2 Water Buffalo developed in 1942. This version featured the same power train as the M3A1 light tank and a torsilastic suspension. It had improved hard terrain performance over the LVT-1 from a year earlier. Most importantly, the LVT(A)-1 had a armored hull with a turret similar to the M3 light tank. The main gun was 37mm M6 with a coaxial .30 cal machine gun. Additional armament consisted of two .30 cal machine guns mounted in rings at the rear of the vehicle. Due to these changes, the LVT(A)-1 was not meant as a transport vehicle, but purposely used to support the amphibious landings.
Dragon is the first to introduce a modern injection molded kit of this vehicle in 1/72 scale. As with many of their other offerings, it is likely to be the first release of a number of variants, with the LVT(A)-4 scheduled to be the next to be released very soon.
As with most Dragon kits, detail is sharp and well done. Within the limits of the injection molding process, many of the fine details are separate pieces including hand holds and cleats. Panels feature a fine texture where appropriate and weld lines. Most modelers might expect this in 1/35 scale, but it is a rarity in Braille Scale. On the down side, the finely detailed hatches are molded in the closed position. No interior is included, typical of most Braille scale kits. This may be the reason that Dragon chose to not have any separate hatches.
The main gun takes advantage of slide-molding so that it is molded with a hollow end and smooth sides to the barrel. Considering the relatively large caliber of the gun and fragile length of the molded barrel, this is something not to be overlooked.
Tracks for each side are two pieces. A bit odd, but this is probably an economical solution. Either way details on the tracks appear to be accurate for a LVT(A)-1.
As is common to Dragon 1/72 kits, the instruction sheet is well laid-out with painting instructions throughout the build. One thing that stands out with Dragon’s offerings are the full-color decal and exterior paint sections of the instructions. Decals included are for a number of versions, including both green and gray USMC versions as well as U.S. Army in the Pacific. Paints referenced include both Model Master and Gunze Sangyo (now GSI Creos) brands.
As the modern Marine Corps struggles to find an acceptable fourth generation of Amtracs, at least modelers can enjoy a quality model of its great-grandfather. This kit is one that you open the box and can’t wait to start building. I had difficulty not starting on it till I had completed this article.