by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
LAV HistoryThe Family of Light Armored Vehicles (FOLAV) are 8x8 wheeled light armored combat, combat support, and combat service support vehicles used primarily by the United States Marine Corps, Canadian Army, and the Australian Army. The LAV-R is the recovery vehicle version. It is an all-terrain, all-weather vehicle with night capabilities. This vehicle is be capable of safely uprighting overturned LAVs while minimizing additional damage. It has the tactical mobility to reach and recover/support disabled vehicles. The vehicle is capable of towing a disabled LAV with suspension damage. It is air transportable via C-130, C-141, C-5 and CH-53 E.
When combat loaded there are 200 ready rounds and 800 stowed rounds of 7.62mm ammunition. There are 8 ready rounds and 8 stowed rounds of smoke grenades. The vehicle can be made fully amphibious within 3 minutes. The power plant is a Detroit Diesel 6V53T diesel engine developing 275 horsepower coupled to an Allison MT653, 6 speed (5 forward, 1 reverse) automatic transmission with driver-select gear ranges. Power is delivered through a single transfer case to 4 differentials. The four rear wheels drive the vehicle on a full-time basis, but eight-wheel drive is selectable. The United States Marine Corps has a total of 45 in their inventory. The FOLAV is expected to remain in service in the USMC till at least 2015.
The KitThe sturdy cardboard box contains 4 main sprues in light gray plastic; a small decal sheet of markings for 1 vehicle; 8 soft rubber tires; 2 small PE frets; a bag with 1 metal axle, a section of brass wire, and a long section of black coated wire; and upper and lower hull halves. All the above items are individually bagged to keep them from being damaged during shipping. The multi-fold, 15 step instructions manual and a 1-page, color Paint & Markings guide round out the package.
The instructions are clearly written and have good illustrations on for parts placement location. The only issue I see with them is the assembly sequence. The instructions have you install all the lower hull fittings and parts first, then set it aside. Next, you are instructed to build and install all the upper hull fixtures. Next, you install the rear plate and all its fittings to the lower hull. Finally, in step 15, you are left to mate the complete upper and lower hulls together. This will invariably lead to broken smaller items and makes filling seams and sanding almost impossible. I recommend you mate the lower hull, upper hull, and rear plate before proceeding to step 5, if not sooner. This will allow a sturdy hull to fill, sand, and attach all the other parts to.
The decals look to be in perfect register with very thin film. Only 1 marking option is given for a generic NATO-camouflaged vehicle with no unit or post of assignment information given.
The PartsThe individual parts on the sprues look to be sharply molded and free of any flash. The two largest sprues are the same as in their LAV-25 kit consisting of one sprue of suspension parts, and a sprue of common fittings for the hull. Also included are the rear hull plate from the LAV-25 and its rear doors and hatches that are not used on this version. The two new sprues include one large one with a new rear plate for the LAV-R, the crane, rear doors and roof hatches, and tools. The second new sprue contains many parts that were omitted from the LAV-25 kit, but are common to both versions. These include an M240G MG and its mount for the TC, a pair of mirrors, and 2 wire cutters for the hull. It also includes a nice pair of smoke grenade launchers and some other tools and smaller fittings for the recovery version.
The PE frets are very nice. The larger one includes parts for 2 large engine screens, exhaust pipe heat screens, 3 jerry can racks and straps, front light assembly mounts, optional wire cutters (you can now use one set for the LAV-25), and a few other small fittings. The second PE fret has mounts for the mirrors and hinges for the top hatches.
The soft rubber tires are well molded and represent the originals well. They do have the prominent side wall stiffening bands on them. However, the word “Michelin” and size and rating codes are noticeably missing from the sidewalls.
The kit has a new lower with hullcut outs where the the stabilizer jacks mount. It is well molded and my sample is in perfectly square and free of warpage. The upper hull is also all new. It has the raised rear area for extra storage and to give the mechanics somewhere to work out of. This part is also sharply molded and looks really good. All of the hatches are separate pieces to allow them to be built open or closed. The hatches do not have any interior details though; this may be an issue when building them in the open position. Likewise, there is no interior to display either.
Overall the kit looks very detailed. The crane and its parts, to include the hoses and cabling for it, look to be very nicely detailed. The crane can also be built so it is still movable to allow it to be placed in almost any position for lots of diorama possibilities. The included recovery tools and fittings bring the vehicle to life as well and could be used to accurately attach it to a towed vehicle as well.
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