by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
The SEAL FAV is based upon a civilian dune buggy built by the Chenowth Company out of southern California. It was developed during the 1980s as part of the United States Army's High Technology Light Division (9th Infantry Division) tests. The HTLD was given carte blanche to develop doctrine, decide force structure, and design equipment to move and equip a mostly on-foot Infantry Division. Chenowth delivered 120 FAVs to the US Army in 1982. These original FAVs only had a two-man crew. Further developments resulted in what became known as the SEAL FAV, with a third crewman on top of the engine. The SEAL FAV is a standard sand rail/dune buggy powered by a VW Beatle air cooled engine in the back with a lightweight tubular frame and fibreglass body. To this is added a third seat position above the engine for a gunner and side baskets for holding gear. They are also heavily armed; with a gun mount added in front of the passenger and two gun mounts (forward and rear) for the upper gunner, and a couple AT-4s mounted on the top sides.
These vehicles are lightweight and fast, making them excellent for reconnaissance, fast strikes and raids, and to insert Special Operations teams deep behind enemy lines. This unique vehicle was first seen by the general public in the Chuck Norris movie “Delta Force” in 1986. They also played a pivotal role in Operation Desert Storm (ODS) in 1991 hunting Scuds in the deserts of Iraq. Interestingly enough, the first U.S. forces to enter Kuwait City were United States Navy SEALs in FAVs. With the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2003, they were once again called upon for service. By this time they were called DPVs (Desert Patrol Vehicle) and had a SATCOM tracking dome added on the roof. The high operational tempo and high temperatures of the Iraqi deserts made them ineffective for extended use and most were quickly turned-in for highly modified Special Ops HMMWVs.
SEAL FAV kits
The SEAL FAV has been on a lot of modelers’ want list for many years. Shortly after ODS, in the mid-‘90s, Dragon Models announced a future release of one with box art and all, getting modelers’ hopes up. Unfortunately, it never materialized. There were more rumours over the years that other companies were going to produce one as well, but again, nothing ever came of them. Hobby Boss announced in the late 2000s that they were going to do one. Finally in 2018, Hobby Boss delivered, sort of. They released a kit they called a Delta Force FAV (82406), which is not really any type used by the US military. It is sort of like the original 2-seat FAV tested by the 9th ID in the ‘80s, but not really. It looks closer to something the Portuguese Special Ops use, but not exactly either. Either way, what Hobby Boss has billed as a Delta Force FAV just isn’t really correct for anything.
Black Ops Models to the rescue!
Black Ops Models out of Australia has released a conversion set for the Hobby Boss kit to convert it into a proper SEAL FAV. The set is very extensive and uses only the frame/lower body pan and engine from the Hobby Boss kit, along with a few other small pieces. The rest is all in the Black Ops Models extensive conversion set. The set comes packed in a 5 x 7 x 3 inch box with a picture of a SEAL FAV on top. Inside there are smaller Ziploc bags holding a myriad of very nicely cast pieces in a very smooth, relatively soft gray resin. There are no bubbles and no sign of flash or other imperfections. The pieces are laid out on multiple sprues and larger parts all labelled and shown in pictures with numbers in a 28 page instruction booklet. The booklet includes each assembly step shown on a clear photograph with the parts clearly labeled and brief descriptions of what has to be accomplished in the step. There are also a myriad of reference pictures of FAVs in ODS and OIF throughout. Everything you need to complete the conversion is in the conversion kit, or called out to be used from the Hobby Boss kit, this includes PE screen, plastic and copper rods, and solder for wires.
The kit includes the following sprues:
A 3 racing seats
B Various engine parts
C Body Shell
D Jack and frame parts
E Tubular frame part
F Fuel tank
G Various accessories
H Front axle
I Right side tubular frame
J Left side tubular frame
K Tubular frame parts
L SATCOM tracker dome
M Ammo cans and AT-4s
N Shock parts
P Radio and accessory parts
T, Q, R, S 4 Side baskets, 2 different ones per side with various (different) gear in them
U .50 cal barrel
V Mk19 barrel
W PE screen templates and suspension parts
X Weapons bodies
Y Weapons mounts and ammo
Z Empty side storage baskets
Six tires/wheels in two different sizes (two spares)
3 different sizes of styrene rod
5 different sizes of solder and brass wire
Brass PE mesh
The set looks to be very complete and should be easy to build by following the instructions. There are some really nicely done pieces in resin. The best looks to be the two side tubular frame parts. They look exquisite and are molded as complete sides. All you have to do is carefully cut them off a large, flat resin piece and trim the thin fillets of resin between the tubes. You are left with complete side pieces of tubular frame that look awesome. The set comes with a bunch of options as well. You get two different loaded stowage baskets per side with various different pieces of gear tied down in them. These include water and fuel jugs, ammo cans, tarps and tents, a couple M4s and other smaller gear. Conversely, if you want to use your own gear, two empty side stowage baskets are also provided. There are a few options for weapons as well. You get a very nice M2 .50 cal MG, a Mk19 Grenade Launcher, two M60E3 MGs and all the mounts, ammo belts, ammo cans, etc. for them. It is up to you how you want to outfit your FAV. Also, not really stated in the instructions, but you can build either an ODS FAV or an OIF FAV from this kit. If you leave the SATCOM tracking dome off, it is an ODS FAV. With the SATCOM dome installed, it is from OIF.
Thanks to Black Ops Models for this review sample.