ITALERI 1/35 LVT-(A) 1 "ALLIGATOR"

MSRP: $35.00
GREATMODELS PRICE: $26.25

By Ray Mehlberger

HISTORY

The LVT (Landing Vehicle Tracked) was a U.S. amphibious landing craft. In the late 1930s, Donald Roebling, a U.S. engineer, developed a light and buoyant tracked vehicle capable of traveling in the swampy Florida Everglades. It was propelled on land by its tracks, and in the water by the paddle action of the same tracks.

An improved version was purchased in small numbers by the U.S. Navy for use by the Marines and in 1941 200 "Alligators", or LVT-1's, were ordered, made of steel rather than the duralumin of the prototypes. Experience soon showed that armor protection was desirable and with additional plating and the turret and gun of the M3 "Stuart" (37mm) added it became the LVT-(A) 1 (subject of this new kit). Two .30 caliber machine-guns were also mounted, on the rear deck of the vehicle, in two open ring mounts.

The LVT's were an essential part of the U.S. operations in the South Pacific. They first were used in Guadalcanal in August of 1942. In November 1943, at Tarawa, they were first used for the assault landings. Thereafter, LVT's were invariably involved in similar operations.

In Europe they proved invaluable in the operations around the Scheldt Estuary and in the Rhine crossings.

WHAT'S IN THE BOX?:

The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a LVT coming ashore with the personal marking "THE BLOODY TRAIL" painted on the side.

With the high price of kit molds, it is not surprising that a kit manufacturer will do several variants of a basic vehicle. This is true with Italeri and this new kit. It shares some common parts with Italeri's earlier release of the LVT-4 "Water Buffalo" (kit no. 379).

Large tree, letter "A" and Tree letter "D", which is the black vinyl treads, are the same in both kits.

Tree "A" holds the inner side sponson walls, road wheels, return rollers, drive sprockets, idler wheels, boggies, vehicle's floor, two x .30cal. machine guns, grab handles, boat hook poles, etc. (75 parts, of which six of the grab handles are shown as excess on the parts tree drawings).

Tree "B" holds the hull top, outer side sponson walls, rear wall, air intake screen, more boggies, seats, vents, tow cable, rear bumper rails etc. (30 parts)

Tree "C" holds the turret parts, main gun and breech, MG shields, MG open turret rings, hatch doors etc. (37 parts)

The above mentioned parts trees are all molded in dark olive drab colored styrene.

Tree "D" is the black vinyl tracks. They are molded in four lengths, so you will have to do two hot screwdriver rivet jobs on each side. Not a chore that I look forward too. One length, each side, would have been more welcome. However, I understand that ACCURATE ARMOR brand makes individual tracks for this vehicle.

A small decal sheet completes the kit. Two choices are given for markings: the box art drawing, with "THE BLOODY TRAIL" on the sides and "B7" on the hull top. This is identified only as a vehicle used in the Pacific in 1944/45, but no location is given.

The second choice is a pretty generic vehicle with only white stars and "U.S. ARMY" on it. I would have like some SNAZZIER marks!!

Hatches are all separate and can be posed open, but other than a very nice 37mm breech in the turret no interior detail is given. Maybe one of the after-market companies will honor us with interior stuff later?

The instruction sheet is a bifold affair that telescopes out into 10 pages.

Page 1 gives a single paragraph history, in a dozen different languages including English.

Page 2 begins with 12 paragraphs of general instructions, in the 12 languages again. This is followed by missing parts request coupons, to mail in for requesting any parts missing in your kit. The bottom of the page tells us what the alphabet letters, later in the instructions, translate into as far as colors.

Page 3 is the parts tree drawings and international assembly symbol translations.

Page 4 thorugh 8 give us nine assembly steps. The bottom of page 8 gives us decal application instructions in nine languages.

Page 9 is the painting and decaling drawings.

Page 10 finishes up with some hazard warnings in no less than 20 languages.

Conclusion

I highly recommend this kit to all armor fans of U.S. vehicles. My only reservations about the kit is the four part tracks and Italeri's insistence of not cello bagging the parts trees. My kit came with the outer side sponson walls ripped off the trees. Also, the factory used too little glue on the corners of the bottom tray of the box and it was falling apart once the cello wrap was removed and the lid taken off. The decal subjects are kind of ho-hum also.

This kit was purchased from Greatmodels Hobbies.


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