LVT (A)1 Alligator
Italeri Kit No. 6384

1/35th Scale
First Look by Peter Brown

The Vehicle:
Italeri have released another amtrac and have chosen the first amphibian tank or "amtank". This was developed from the LVT-2 cargo cum troop carrier, the LVT(A)-1 was designed to provide fire support to the carrier amtracs on beach landings. The open compartment of the base vehicle was roofed over and the vehicle armed with a small turret mounting a 37mm gun plus two machine guns in open mountings. First used in February 1944, they were not that common as only 500 were built but these served in the Pacific island-hopping campaign with Army and US Marine units for the rest of the war, often alongside the later and more common LVT(A)-4 series which mounted a 75mm gun with its better firepower. Note that far more (A)-1 and (A)-4 went to the Army than to the Marines.

The Kit:
This kit uses the soft two-part tracks from the older LVT-4 "Water Buffalo" kit No 379, and one of the three styrene sprues has been modified to change the shape of the hull bottom and inner hull sides while the suspension parts remain the same. Two more sprues are new toolings which reflects the fact that the original vehicles were similar in some ways but different different in others.
The new kit consists of three main sprues, two for the hull and suspension with the third having parts for the fighting compartment and turret. Italeri's style is to be good and reasonably priced and this is no exception, so there are no very fine parts or etched sprues but serious modellers can still add detail and replace small items if they want.

Construction looks to be straightforward and should present few problems, as I have yet to build my model I cannot comment on fit of parts and overall dimensions. Tow rope is moulded in styrene and not provided as a length of cord. The kit offers few options apart from the driver and co-drivers and turret hatches modelled open or closed. There are basic details for the 37mm gun breech and a complete co-axial machine gun but nothing much else inside. Rear machine guns are also complete and come with shields, their mountings are basic and coming from the LVT-4 kit are not entirely right for an LVT(A)-1, there are no ammunition boxes and no crew figures included.

Looking at photos there was some variation in the appearance of the original vehicles. The kit gives engine compartment air intake covers and an optional bow machine gun, making it is a "later" vehicle as early ones had simple louvers. Referring to photos on this maybe more than most models will be a good idea if it is intended to model a specific vehicle but the variations give plenty of scope for small changes as well as detail improvements. Italeri

Colours and marking options are for two plain green vehicles without any detail of the units using them. The set as per the box art gives just small tactical numbers and a name which seems to be patterned on a vehicle of the Marines 3d Armored Amphibian Tractor Battalion (Provisional) on Peleliu on 15th September 1944 but the style of wording is wrong. The other option is very basic, white stars and the wording US ARMY but with no serial numbers.

Summing up, a good kit allowing a model of an unusual subject to be built with or without extra work. Looking at the parts breakdown there are some intriguing things to see. There is some detail moulded on the insides of the main compartment even though the vehicle is closed apart from the small hatches. With the upper part on a separate sprue it would be easy enough to replace these with different pats to produce the later LVT(A)-4 or an LVT-2 series cargo vehicle. I cannot say if this is Italeri's deliberate intention, while another kit is a possibility I have to leave the future to come on its own. You have the option to remove the turret to make an LVT-2 series vehicle or rebuild the upper hull with a leftover Tamiya M8 "General Scott" turret to make an LVT(A)-4 assuming you do not want to wait and see if either version will follow. Beware the myth that the LVT(A)-1 turret came from a Stuart if you end up with a spare one, though!

Luckily several published references for amtracs are available, look for

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