DML 1/72 AAV-7A1 USMC Mogadishu 1993 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||June 2004||Manufacturer||DML|
|Subject||AAV-7A1 USMC Mogadishu 1993||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||7221||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||First mass-market kit of this vehicle in this scale; includes optional parts||Cons||Diecast hull will make assembly more difficult; interior is barren|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$8.95|
While the new and improved USMC amphibious armored personnel carrier that went into service in 1972 as the LVTP-7, started off their career slowly, from their US combat debut in 1985 (Grenada) to the present they have been heavily involved in nearly every US major operation involving the Marine Corps. Redesignated as the AAV-7 family, they have remained in constant service for over 30 years now and are still providing good service.
Designed around a more seaworthy hull than their predecessor, the LVTP-5 series, they were also powered by diesel engines and shared some parts and component with the US Army's M2 Bradley fighting vehicle family. This rendered them more cost efficient and easier to modify/upgrade as new components were developed. While an original A1 version saw a few items change – mostly involving some work to the bow of the vehicle and changes to placement of the headlights as external indicators, the vehicles have undergone constant upgrades. The most significant were done right before Operation Desert Storm in 1990, when the vehicles received the ability to mount supplemental armor protection and also an upgraded firepower suite via the "UWS" or upgraded weapons station. This combined a 40mm grenade launcher and a .50 caliber machine gun in one turret.
While the LVTP-7/AAV-7 has been well served in HO scale by Trident and in 1/35 by both Tamiya and Academy, this is the first kit of this vehicle in 1/72 scale. DML has done a nice job of turning out this big beast (think self-propelled garage and you have a rough idea of the size and bulk of the vehicle) as part of their continuing 1/72 series.
The hull is provided as two sections of die cast metal held together with screws. This makes any modification or correction the modeler desires a bit difficult, as it is much harder to clean parts made of metal than styrene or attach the plastic components to it. DML has come up with a partial solution in that some of the supplemental hull parts are made of styrene (such as the sides with the road wheel arms and the bow section below the headlights). This serves two main functions: one, it is now far easier to cement the parts on using standard model cements vice ACC or epoxy, and two, it prevents damage to the fragile road wheel arms that would come of their being cast in metal due to their location.
The kit does provide a number of options. While the kit comes with directions to install the UWS, the parts for the commander's hatch for the earlier version with a .50 caliber cupola are included. (Note that neither supplemental armor nor their prominent hulls mounting brackets are part of this kit.). The wave-breaker can be installed either closed (part A3) or deployed (A4), as can the water jet drives (A21/22 open, A23/24 closed).
The rear ramp operates, but the top hatches have to be cemented in position either open or closed. Room has been left for installing an interior but none is provided. (Note: the screw mounts are more or less discreetly situated on the sides of the hull and in the bow, but the directions do not tell the modeler how to install them or when; since two of them are right above the running gear, I suspect it means leaving the wheels off until you have screwed the hull together. They are held on by vinyl bearings a la Tamiya, so it should not be a big deal.)
Tracks are black vinyl and seem pretty well done. Surprisingly, even with the amount of shared parts none seems to be from the M2/M3 series kits.
Markings are provided for two vehicles in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope in 1993; one left in Desert Storm sand and wedge markings, and one in the NATO tri-color scheme.
Overall this should be a nice adjunct to the USMC Abrams, and with some work a version from OIF with appliqué armor could be produced. A more industrious soul could also fashion an interior in it, making it a gem.
Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.