Book Review
Japanese 4x4 LAV in Detail
Modern 4x4 Light Armored Vehicle of the JGSDF
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by: Mario Matijasic [ MAKI ]


Since the Toyota HMV Hayate and Mitsubishi Type 73 Small Utility Vehicle were found inadequate to provide protection from small arms fire, the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) began development of a new high-mobility light armored transportation vehicle in 1997. The result was the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV), designed and produced by Komatsu, and used exclusively by the JGSDF since 2002. The LAV made its first appearance in the wake of the US-led invasion of Iraq with the Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group (JIRSG), the first overseas deployment of Japanese troops since WWII. The battalion-sized JIRSG contingent focused on humanitarian and reconstruction duties in Iraq.


The parcel from WWP arrived in a hard cardboard box, additionally secured inside a bubble-wrap. At first glance the book looks amazing, printed on a high-quality paper, well structured, professionally presented and packed with large full color photos. Here are the basic facts:

Title: Japanese 4x4 LAV in Detail
Publisher: Wings & Wheels Publications (WWP)
Code: G024
Authors: Gordon Arthur & Koji Miyake
Format: softcover (22x24 cm)
Pages: 60
Color: full color
Language: English
ISBN: 978-80-87509-00-5
Retail Price: $30 (21)

The book covers a Komatsu LAV and several slightly different variants of the vehicle, photographed at JGSDF camps, training grounds, but also in Iraq during the JIRSG deployment. The book is organized in 5 chapters:

History and Development (002-007)
Walkaround (008-029)
Exterior Details (030-055)
Weapons of the JGSDF (056-057)
Uniforms of the JGSDF (058-060)

The first chapter is dedicated to LAV History and Development, explaining the origins of the vehicle, adding some technical info, as well as describing the deployment of the vehicle in Iraq. The Walkaround chapter is 22 pages long and shows several different vehicle types: company commander's vehicle, platoon commander's vehicle, machine gun vehicle, antitank missile vehicle, recon vehicle, and a PKF vehicle. The PKF (peacekeeping) vehicle is a configuration of LAV deployed to Iraq from 2004-2006. This chapter does not display the exterior in detail, rather portrays the different vehicle types from various angles and "in action" during the JGSDF training missions. Exterior Details comes next, a 26 pages long chapter showing all the details of the vehicle exterior: the front side details with the headlights and indicators, bonnet, windscreen and mirrors, rear hull side details, side door and window details, rear door details with spare tire holder, roof hatches and machine gun shield, gun turret details, rear roof storage rack, as well as wheels, axles and suspension details... absolutely everything a modeler could need for super-detailing the scale model. A big bonus to this book are two short chapters on Personal Weapons of the JGSDF and Uniforms and Equipment of the JGSDF. These contain photos which should definitely come in handy for those modeling the JGSDF.

This book is designated as a "photo manual for modelers", and it really is a great resource for all those interested in modeling the Tamiya's 1/35 scale kit. The kit is dimensionally accurate, but craves for some super-detailing and, with over 150 photos, this book is designed to help modelers perform this particular task. The images are large and clear, displaying just about every aspect of LAV in a great combination of walkaround and "in action" photos showing the general features of the vehicle, and the detailed images of vehicle exterior. However, due to the strict JGSDF security regulation, the title does not offer any shots of the vehicle interior. In two extra chapters, this book also contains photos of uniforms and weapons of the JGSDF, a great addition for modelers.
The information supplied on the LAV is short and concise; the intro gives interesting details on the origins of the vehicle, while the brief captions provide a very informative read, explaining various details presented in the photos.


It really is a no-brainer... If you are modeling the Tamiya's 1/35 scale offering, this is the reference photo book you need for going an extra mile with the kit. The book covers the LAV in great detail, featuring incredible amount of large full color photos of the vehicle, with the text kept to a minimum, but still providing a very interesting read.
Highs: Printed on a high-quality paper, well structured, professionally presented and jam-packed with large full color photos.
Lows: No interior photos, but those cannot be published due to the JGSDF security restrictions.
Verdict: Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: G024
  Related Link: WWP website
  PUBLISHED: Dec 13, 2013
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

Our Thanks to Wings & Wheels!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Mario Matijasic (Maki)

You wonder how did this addiction start? I was a kid when my dad broght home a 1/72 Concord airplane; we built it together as well as couple of other airplanes after that. This phase was just pure fun: glue, paint, decals in no particular order... everything was finished in a day or two. Then I disc...

Copyright 2021 text by Mario Matijasic [ MAKI ]. All rights reserved.


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