by: Eirik Sandaas [ ]
AAVP7A1 or Assault Amphibious Vehicle Personnel 7A1, is the result of a cross between an armored personnel carrier with a landing craft. Introduced as LVTP-7 in 1972 this was a development of the earlier LVT-5. US Marines often refer to it as Amtrack, an abbreviation of "amphibious tractor".
The vehicles main role is to carry a full platoon of 25 soldiers ashore and supply fire support, during an amphibious landing. In 1987 work began on enhancing the firepower, and a Cadillac Gage weapon station with a MK-19 40mm grenade launcher in addition to the usual M2 .50 caliber machine gun, was introduced. This upgrade is known as UGWS (Up Gunned Weapons Station). Various forms of extra armor known as EAAK (Enhanced Applique Armor Kit) has also been developed.
The original plan was to replace them with the next generation amphibious assault vehicles in 2013, but with the planned replacement, the EFV, shelved for the time being, they will remain in service for the foreseeable future.
Amtrack was used for the first time in battle by Argentina during the Falklands War, and the following year they were part of the successful invasion of Grenada. But they are probably best known as part of the US contribution to the Gulf wars and the UN operation in Somalia. There has been criticism that they do not protect the troops as much as more specialized, heavier personnel transporter like the M2 Bradley, but for US Marines, they provide an unprecedented flexibility.
In addition to the US Marines the vehicles are used by Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, The Philippines and Indonesia.
This is one of three different versions that were released by Trumpeter in 2011, as far as I can tell by the copyright notice of the box. This kit has the UGWS, but not EAAK.
The packaging and presentation is a bit unusual. The parts (10 in number) is not attached to a sprue, but is separated in a blister-pack. A type of packaging which I understand is more common in Japan than at our latitudes.
The quality of the parts is at first glance excellent. They almost looks like a resin-cast, so crisp are the details. (The color of the plastic and the shape of the parts also contribute to the effect.)
Upon closer inspection there are some small quibbles: A serious bit of flash, and a small rip at the sprue gate on one of the parts. A round with a diamond file and abrasive paper later, and the damage thankfully disappeared under a little glue and paint.
It is not a separate building instruction; rather it is printed on the back of the box. There is also no painting description, and you must interpret placing of the decals based on the illustrations on the side of the box.
A little quick googling reveals that the single profile included is an old staple: “A-36” in Desert Storm. Tamiya among others have used has used the same profile in their kits of the AAVP-7A1 in scale 1:35. There is no detailed description other than "US Marines, Operation Desert Storm, Iraq 1991" but it suffices.
These vehicles were painted in the color Tan686A, which corresponds to Federal Standard 595 Color FS 33446 "Desert Tan". I had an old box with a paint that looked roughly similar, and made sure to give the finish some life with a little careful weathering.
The fit is excellent and it is a hassle-free building process. Note that the decals are extremely thin, so they have a tendency to curl! Concentration and careful use of tweezers and brush are of paramount importance! Kudos to Trumpeter who has taped a slip sheet over the decals, so they won't get scratched in the box.
This is a kit that you can easily finish in an evening or two, and it is a pleasant break between more extensive builds.
The scale lends itself nicely to a small diorama, if you can source some tiny soldiers, or maybe present it together with a model of a modern cargo plane to give a sense of scale to both subjects. Highly recommended for anyone who is fascinated by miniature scale models of AFVs.