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LVT-4 Water Buffalo Kit

Italeri 1/35 LVT-4 Water Buffalo Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review March 2008 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject LVT-4 Water Buffalo Scale 1/35
Kit Number 0379 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat subject with good detail Cons Mostly post war marking on decal sheet. No crew figures or cargo load. No clear parts for headlight lenses
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $44.00

First Look

LVT-4 Water Buffalo Kit
LVT-4 Water Buffalo Kit
LVT-4 Water Buffalo Kit
LVT-4 Water Buffalo Kit
LVT-4 Water Buffalo Kit

The Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) was an amphibious vehicle used by the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Army during WWII. It was widely known as amphtrack, amtrack, amtrac etc., abbreviations of amphibious tractor.

The LVT had it’s origins in a civilian rescue vehicle called the Alligator. Developed by Donald Roebling in 1935, the Alligator was intended to operate in swampy areas, inaccessible to both traditional cars and boats. Two years later, Roebling built a redesigned vehicle with greatly improved water speed. The United States Marine Corps, which had been developing amphibious warfare doctrine base on the ideas of Lt. Col. Earl Hancock, “Pete” Ellis and others, became interested in the machine after learning about it through an article in Life magazine and convinced Roebling to design a more seaworthy model for military use.

After more improvements to meet requirements of the Navy, the vehicle was adopted as Landing Vehicle Tracked, or LVT. The order to build the first 200 LVT’s was awarded to the Food Machinery Corporation (FMC), a manufacturer of insecticide spray pumps and other farm equipment which built some parts for the Alligators. Eventually, the company became a prominent defense contractor, United Defense (now a part of BAE Systems Land and Armaments).

The first LVT’s could hold 24 men or 4,500 pounds (2,000 kg) of cargo. Originally intended to carry replenishments from ships ashore, they lacked armor protection and their tracks and suspension were unreliable when used on hard terrain. However, the Marines soon recognized the potential of the LVT as an assault vehicle. Armored versions were introduced as well as fire-support versions, dubbed amtanks, which were fitted with turrets from Stuart series light tanks. These were designated as: LVT(A)-1 and M8 HMC’s LVT(A)-4. Among other upgrades, were a new powerpack, also borrowed from the Stuarts and a torsilastic suspension which significantly improved land performance.

Production continued throughout the war, resulting in 18,621 LTV’s delivered. In the late 1940’s, a series of prototypes were built and tested, but none reached production stage due to lack of funding. Realizing that acquisition of new vehicles was unlikely, the Marines modernized some of the LVT-3’s and LVT(A)-5’s and kept them in service until the late 1950’s.

Italeri is a prolific model company based in Italy.

This kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The boxart shows a LVT-4 parked on a beach with the rear ramp down. No crewmen are pictured. It is in a very weathered overall olive drab. A large white star is on the top of the bow and on the sides. On the driver’s side of the nose is “A16” in small white letters. High on the driver’s side is the hand-written word “SIP” in white. It looks like some soldier may have done this in chalk. What it means is a mystery. Side panels of the box hold one-paragraph history of the LVT, in 12 languages. These are labeled with color illustrations of the flags of the countries that speak these languages. The kit has the copyright date of 2000 and is aimed at modelers 10years old and older.

Inside the box are 3 olive drab trees of parts, 2 trees of rubber-band type treads, a length of string, the decal sheet and the instructions. Nothing is cello bagged in the kit. This is an on-going thing with Italeri kits. They don’t cello things and parts get busted off the trees.

The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 10 large pages.

Page 1 begins with Italeri’s address. This is followed by the history of the LVT-4 in 12 languages (including English).

Page 2 begins with general instructions in the same 11 languages, followed by service coupons in 6 languages to send to Italeri about any problems with the kit. The bottom of the page has a listing of Italeri/Model Master paint colors suggested to use to finish the model.

Page 3 is the parts tree illustrations and a few international assembly symbols, with their explanations.

Page 4 to the top of page 8 give a total of 11 assembly steps.

The bottom of page 8 has a 4-view illustration for a paint scheme of a U.S. Marine Corps LVT-4. This is the one on the boxart (already described above). The caption with it only says “U.S. Marines, 1944”. Talk about vague!!

Page 9 has two more schemes, also as 4-views. One is for a LVT-4 with the French Army, 1956 (that’s all the caption says for this one). It is in overall olive drab. On the bow is a black license plate that begins with the French tri-color flag and IC-99521 in white letters. This is repeated on a slightly larger license plate, high on the sides towards the rear. High on the sides, also, but towards the bow is another rectangular black plate with the white letters NAM on it. On both the rear fenders is a shield in the French tri-colors that has a white flame on it and below that a circle with the number “1” inside it.

The last scheme is for another post-war LVT-4. This time for the Italian Army, 1957 (and that’s all we are told about it too). It is also in overall olive drab. It has a small Italian flag on the bow on the passenger side, which is repeated on the stern on the passenger side also. On the driver’s side of the bow is the black number EI-10 over 4475. High on the stern is the number EI-104475 also in black letters.

Page 10 has “Important information concerning this kit” in no less than 20 languages, including English.

Olive drab parts tree letter A holds: return rollers and their mounting assemblies, drive sprockets, small road wheels, the hull bottom piece, suspension arms, boat hook poles, the bow machine-gun’s barrel, hatch handles, sponson bins, headlights, 2 x .50cal. machine-guns, 2 x .30cal. machine-guns with their mounts, rear loading ramp parts etc. (89 parts)

Three of these parts are shaded out on the parts illustration as being excess.

Olive drab parts tree letter B holds: the fighting compartment floor, the hull top piece, shields for the machine-guns, rear sponson plates, hull nose plate, front tow shackles, periscope guards etc. (31 parts)

Olive drab parts tree letter C holds: the front fighting compartment wall, sponson tops, wood fighting compartment side walls and their supports, mooring posts etc. (26 parts)

The wood side walls can be posed up or folded.

The vynil tracks are on two trees with 2 runs per tree. This means we are faced with hot riveting these twice for each run. They are nicely detailed on both sides however.

The length of string and the decal sheet (already described above) complete the kit’s contents. The string is used as cables to raise and lower the tail gate. However, the string is an option if you don’t want to use the 2 plastic rods (part no. 72B) instead, when showing the gate open.

There are no clear parts in the kit for the headlight lenses, nor any crew figures. With such a large cargo area, you would think that Italeri could have given you something to put in it and busy it up a bit. Especially at the rather high price of the kit.

Highly recommended otherwise.