Kit: No. 6441
Manufacturer: Italeri, from Testor, 815-962-6654, www.testor.com
Comments: Injection-molded, 157 parts (2 strings), decals
Pros: Good detail and good overall fit, crew figures included
Cons: A few sink marks, .30-cal. guns are basic
One of the most important boats of World War II was the LCVP (Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel) or "Higgins boat." Italeri's new kit is molded in light-gray plastic and features excellent detail. The main hull is cast in one piece, making assembly easy. The front ramp can be built in either the raised or lowered position. Two types of string are provided, one for the ramp cabling, and another to mount the fenders if you choose. Decals include three boats in U.S. markings, and a British LCVP from the Normandy invasion. A pilot and two identical gunner figures are provided to round out the kit.
Assembly starts with the underside of the hull. It's better to install the propeller and rudder after painting, so I left them off at first. Much of the boat's inner structure is visible, so the ribs are attached to the inside of the inner side panels. I filled a few sink marks in the side panels with Mr. Surfacer 1000 and a notch in one panel with epoxy putty.
Installing the cable system for the ramp is suggested in step three, but I decided to wait until final assembly to make things easier to paint. I built the entire inner hull/deck as a separate assembly, adding all of the detail except the guns, boat hooks, wheel, and life preservers that were painted different colors. The rest of the model was painted with Testors Acryl "standard navy gray (1937)."
I decided to model the British LCVP, and although I couldn't document this boat, the color scheme matches those on other British vessels. I used Testor Marine acrylic "aircraft carrier type 21," and Tamiya flat white and flat black, masking each color for a hard edge.
I applied the decals over a coat of Future. The decals were a little thick, have a flat finish, and repelled my setting solutions. Despite this, they snuggled down over the rivets and panel lines.
The thread provided for the ramp cable is close to scale size and really looks like steel cable. Once it was installed, I brought together the deck/inner hull assembly and the hull. The fit was good, and only a few rubber bands were needed to hold the two together while the cement set.
With the front ramp installed, I added the other detail parts. The .30-caliber machine guns are basic, and advanced modelers might want to replace them with better ones. I was originally going to paint the pilot figure, but once I decided on the British vessel, I figured it wasn't dressed properly for a British seaman.
It took me about 13 hours to build my LCVP. The finished model matches the dimensions in Squadron/Signal's WWII U.S. Landing Craft in Action. The kit is well-done and far better than previous LCVPs in this scale. Even at the price, Italeri's kit is your best value.
- John Plzak