by: Mario Krajinovic [ ]
The key component of marine operations is amphibian – transporting squads of Marines from ships directly to the fight, keeping them secure from small arms fire and fragmentation damage. This is the task of the Amtrac, or as people call them Tuna Boats – lightly armored, fully tracked amphibious vehicles, deploying door-kicking Marines to the world’s hot spots since the early 70’s of last century.
Tankograd’s latest title by Carl Schulze gives the reader information about the early history and development, prototypes and the operational history as well as all the updates to the vehicles during its timeline.
As all of previous Tankograd’s editions, this is a soft - cover book, spreading over 64 pages with 127 pictures (106 color and 21 black and white) and 6 color graphics. The language is dual, with German and English translation. All of the pictures are clearly depicted and of adequate size, so no detail is distorted. The paper is a thick, glossy kind and stands up to all modeling purposes as a workbench reference book.
Starting off the book, the reader learns more about the development of the LVTP7 – Landing Vehicle Tracked Personnel Model 7. Reading on, the reader will see that the USMC is big on abbreviations, and one nice example will be discussed a bit later. The LVTP7 was conceived by the late 60’s and the needs of the Vietnam War. Armed with a 12.7 mm M85 machine gun and with the length of 7.94m, 3.27m width and 3.26m height it is able to negotiate slopes and rises up to 60 degrees and cross 2.5m wide ditches, as well climb obstacles almost 1 meter tall. Power to the 24 ton hull is provided by a powerful Cummins diesel engine propelling the large vehicle to max speed of 45 mph on land and 8.2 mph in water. There are 14 photos of the basic version with 5 more photos of the command version LVTC7 and a single photo of the recovery versionLVTR7.
By 1985, the USMC changed its operational doctrine and found to be lacking dedicated armored personnel carriers. That vehicle had to be able to deliver Marines to their objectives deep inside the battle zone and provide adequate fire support. To suit the change, the LVTP7 was renamed to AAVP7A1 – Amphibious Assault Vehicle Personnel 7 Model A1. Upgrades added were the UGWS – Up Gunned Weapon Station, Cadillac Gage turret with a .50 cal M2HB machine gun and a Mk.19 40mm grenade launcher providing the necessary firepower.
Protection was also improved by the P900 AAK – Appliqué Armor Kit, 2 layer perforated steel plating similar to IDF Toga armor kit. By 1989, it was also replaced with EEAK – Enhanced Appliqué Armor Kit, composite armor panels protecting the passengers from 14.5mm armor piercing rounds and 155mm shell fragments from a distance of 15 meters. Eventually, the lifetime of earlier vehicles came to its end so a rebuild program was introduced in the mid-90 era. RAM/RS stands for Reliability, Availability and Maintainability/Rebuild to Standard. In this program new running gear and transmission was introduced originating from Bradley vehicles, a more powerful engine with 525 hp and a new cooling and exhaust system. With all upgrades the basic version is now called AAVP7A1 UGWS EEAK RAM/RS. Told you they were big on abbreviations :)
The basic AAVP7 is featured on 8 pages with 16 photos and illustrations with nice camouflage examples ranging from MERDC to white winter as well as desert tan camouflages of the 1st Gulf War. The command version is featured on 4 pages with 5 photos as is the recovery version with 9 photos. TheP-900 AAK and EEAK w. UGWS are a 4 page feature with more recent dates with 15 photos and very detailed captions that provide a wealth of information.
A special feature is a very nice walk-around section for an AAVP7A1 UGWS EEAK vehicle from SFOR in 1998, Bosnia. 27 pictures of the interior and exterior will greatly help a modeller that wants to detail their kits. All of the detail shots are nicely sized and are an example of useful shots.
A specific version for clearing minefields and routes is the Mk154 Linear Mine Clearing Kit (MICLIC). Unfortunately this interesting version is only described by two photos.
All of the RAM/RS versions are also present with 17 pictures with pointed out differences of the earlier versions and great angle shots with roof details, interior as well as in-action shots.
With the uncertain future of the new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the Tuna boat will stay in the USMC inventory for a while, with more upgrades like mine-protection kits, new electronic components and probably more firepower making the Amtrac even more combat prepared. It’s a great reference book to have especially if you’re modeling the latest Amtrac kits (Hobby-Boss) or sprucing up the earlier Tamiya kits with aftermarket parts. If you are interested in the subject I recommend this book as a good reference source.