LVT-4 Water Buffalo and Willys MB Jeep

Published: January 17th, 2012     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Jim Pearsall, IPMS# 2209
Scale: 1/72
Company: Dragon Models
Price: $24.95
Product / Stock #: 7389

Usually, when I get a Dragon 1+1 kit, it contains two of the same plane or AFV.  Not this one.  It contains the LTV-4 amphibious landing vehicle and a Jeep, which can be put in as cargo or, with the ramp down, can be shown loading or unloading.

The LVT was developed as a civilian ambulance/rescue vehicle which would operate in swampy areas where "normal" wheeled and tracked vehicles were useless.  It had a watertight hull, with propulsion in water provided by the movement of the tracks.  The unit could go directly from water to land to water with no problems.  The Marines in the Pacific Islands found this particularly useful, as many islands had offshore coral reefs which would stop landing barges well offshore.  The "Amphtracs" (or "Amtracs"), as these amphibious tractors were called, could cross the reefs and go up on the beach as far as needed.

The LVT-4 was a huge improvement on the earlier models because of the addition of the ramp in the rear which allowed fast on and off loading of troops and equipment.  Many LTVs had armor plate added to the front and driver's area, as early versions had no real protection.

The LVT was first used at Tarawa, and over 1,000 were used in the Okinawa invasion.

(Plug)  The LVT series was built by FMC Corporation.  My daughter works for FMC.  The AFV division has been sold to BAE systems.

The Willys MB Jeep 1/4 ton 4X4 was also built by Ford as the GPW.  It was used everywhere, by everyone, and it's an icon.

Interesting fact:  The distinctive grill/headlight setup which is still used by Jeep as a trademark, and is featured in their advertisements, was originated by Ford for their Jeeps, and adopted by Willys.  Postwar, the grille design was changed from 9 slots to 7 to avoid trademark conflicts.

The Kits

I built the Jeep first.  I was pleasantly surprised by the single-piece body.  I was very pleased with how well the frame and running gear fit to the body.  I have to give kudos to Dragon for a really well-designed and easy-to-assemble kit.  I did have a problem getting the back seat to fit, but I eventually figured out what the Dragon engineers were thinking.

I painted the entire chassis and body assembly OD, put on the wheels, and added the seats, steering wheel, spare tire, and gas can.  I put Future on the areas where the decals went and put on the decals.  I left off the windshield, the mirror and the blackout headlight until this was done to prevent damage.

The decals are from Cartograf, and they were marvelous.  I had a problem figuring out which decal went where, as they used white to indicate which decal is which, and with that light blue paper, I had a heck of a time reading the low-contrast numbers.

I put on a coat of clear flat, added the windshield, the mirror and the blackout light, and it was almost finished.  The kit comes with 3 armament choices - a .30 cal machine gun, a .50 caliber, and a double bazooka.  These sit on pedestals between the seats.  I chose the .50 caliber, as the firepower just can't be beat.

The Water Buffalo

Here again, Dragon has produced a kit with very few assembly problems.  We'd be disappointed if there were NO challenges, wouldn't we?

The hull and interior are marvelous, and the only problem I had was mounting the grab rails on the top of the hull.  These tiny parts have the sprue attachment point in a nearly unreachable spot, and cleaning up those miniscule parts was a challenge.

The only choice on this model is to build the ramp either up or down.  I decided up was probably more secure.  The Jeep fits in the cargo hold very nicely.

The Dragon Tracks take paint pretty well, but for this kit you get 4 sections, two for each side that have to be attached and installed.  The first, done on the bench was easy and very clean.  The next trick is that if the track is too long, you cut off a link until it fits.  If it's too short, it can be stretched.  I had to stretch mine about 1/2 mm.  Then I had to repaint the track, as the stretch showed as unpainted.  The connection that had to be done on the vehicle was not as clean or easy.  Fortunately the hull covers the track at the top, and covers up my failure to get a clean joint.

Decals were on the same sheet as the Jeep, and with the same great quality but with less problem figuring out which decal was which, as the markings are either yellow or larger than the Jeep's.

The final assembly of the machine guns and it was all done.

Overall Evaluation

Highly recommended.  I was really impressed with the engineering that went into these two kits.  Fit was super, and the parts almost fell into place.  The subject matter is interesting, and I really like how these kits turned out.

Thanks to Dragon for the kit, and to IPMS/USA for letting me build it.

  • Jeep body
    Jeep body
  • No decals yet
    No decals yet
  • Jeep finished
    Jeep finished
  • Left front
    Left front
  • Left rear
    Left rear
  • To scale
    To scale

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