scale LVT(A)-4 is available online from Squadron.com
Steve Zaloga and I have debated the worth of the Italeri line of LVT kits for
some time now, since we both got to see one of the first LVT-4 kits released.
Italeri has tried to get a lot of stretch out of their kits, to be sure, but in
many cases Steve's criticisms are well deserved. These include such things as
only offering the kit with the mild steel side pontoon panels; the LVT(A)-1 and
this kit, the LVT(A)-4, both had two large panels of armor plate instead. The -4
also came with a postwar Italian designed interior and not the more desirable
WWII US one without the side seats and stands provided by Italeri. Lastly, Steve
correctly pointed out that the tracks were thin and not a good replica of the
original, being riddled with ejection pin marks to boot.
I can agree wholeheartedly on the first point, as the modified pontoon sides
should not have been hard to provide. But as for the tracks, I think this time
modelers probably brought that one on themselves. Many modelers have loudly
complained about single link hard styrene tracks, which would have been a better
(and more expensive) way to do the tracks. They have consistently harped for
"one piece vinyl" tracks, partly because some modelers are lazy and want to
finish projects now, and partly because single link tracks are tedious and do
take some of the fun out of modeling. Italeri has also been singled out in the
past for nearly inflexible vinyl tracks (the M107/M110 series comes to mind
first in this area) where the tracks are hard to wrap around wheels, hard to
install, and will not conform to the wheels in the case of unsupported track
In their defense, Italeri has tried to compromise and meet modelers half way,
and for most modelers their solution is fine. It DOES beat the rubber band
tracks with hints of the propelling cleats so well known on these vehicles, but
it is far from perfect. They are much more flexible, do have the "see-through"
effect and spaces between propelling links, and made a stab at the connecting
bars in the back. Most modelers will be happy with them as is.
But what most modelers will most likely not be happy with is the new turret.
Italeri got the shapes basically correct, but then they added the very early
model .50 caliber machine gun ring and rear panel that was quickly dumped when
it was found to trap crew members inside the turret if they had to bail out.
This will have to be removed, and if it is, the barren insides of the turret
will be all too apparent.
For some reason beyond me, Italeri detailed the BOTTOM of the turret basket and
base (part 44) with a race, gearing, and details, but then left ejection pin
marks and the turret attachment lugs on the topside. (They did provide three
relatively thin support arms and a non-slip base without ejection pins, to their
credit.) They do provide what are probably two bogus covers for the lug slots
(parts 83 and 84) but then there is little detail inside the turret. The 75mm
howitzer itself is mostly one very anemic piece (part 41). Most modelers of
intermediate or higher ability will want to swap most of the interior parts for
those from a Tamiya M8 HMC as they are more detailed, and the gun itself is much
Five color and decal schemes are provided – four Marine and one Army: USMC 2nd
Armored Amphibian Battalion, Iwo Jima 1945; US Army 7th ID, Okinawa 1945; USMC
3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion, Peleliu, 1944; and two generic USMC vehicles
from Iwo Jima. Four of the vehicles are in an attractive three-color scheme of
tan, field green and brown; the other is straight olive drab.
Overall, history shows this has been one of the more popular vehicles to
modelers, and many of us still like it since we built the 1/40 scale Adams (then
SNAP, then UPC, then finally Lifelike) kit of the USMC "Winnie the Whale" in the
late 1950s and early 1960s. But while it puts paid to the awful Nitto (and its
descendents) 1/35 kit, it is still not a perfect kit, and building an accurate
LVT(A)-4 will take some other kits and parts, plus a lot of patience. One could
also use it as the basis for a conversion to a Korean War LVT(A)-5 with bulbous
bow and covered turret if they did not want to accurize it!
Review Copyright © 2003 by Cookie
Page Created 23 February, 2003
Last updated 05 October, 2003
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