Today Lee takes a look at some more of S&S MODELS upgrade kits for 1:100 models.
I’m going to start this review with an apology. Shaun at S& S Models sent these kits to me months ago but the review got held up by my need to source a LAV kit. Thankfully I finally got one and some time to sit down and write up my notes!
Anyway, like I said, Shaun sent me a jiffy bag containing some white metal goodness in the form of conversion kits for the Soviet BMP and the US LAV. As we have covered previously, S&S Models are fine purveyors of stowage, WW2 and Cold War conversion kits, plus the only M548 logistics vehicle on the market.
The conversion kits are designed to work with the Battlefront plastic kits, allowing a player to build up a variety of command, engineering and logistics variants that make excellent objective fodder.
BREM-2 (BMP chassis) Armoured Recovery Maintenance Vehicle
The BREM-2 (bronirovannaya remonto-evakuatsionnaya mashina) Armoured Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle is, as its acronym suggests, a conversion of the BMP-1 chassis to provide a vehicle able to both recover and maintain the BMP IFV. The conversion deleted the turret in place of flat plat incorporating a crane and smoke launchers, added a storage area over the passenger compartment and added a dozer blade to the front hull to help anchor the vehicle whilst in the recovery role.
The S&S Models kit contains six parts to replicate this version; the turret plate, the crane, the stowage area with pre-sculpted stowage, the dozer blade, plus what I assume are a folded A-frame and some sort of stowage box. The pieces are generally cleanly moulded, though the stowage box did require a little cleaning of its sides.
The kit goes together on the BMP-1 top plate of the plastic kit with little trouble; I was able to assemble the kit using just a few reference photos from the internet. Given it only uses five parts from the plastic kit, this makes for a very quick build! As all the parts attach to the BMP-1 top plate you could also have this as a swappable item with a fully assembly BMP-2 top if you didn’t want to fully sacrifice a gaming model, the dozer blade largely being out of sight on the lower bow of the model.
One thing I especially liked about the kit was the stowage compartment which contained a good mix of cleanly sculpted items including Jerry cans, wooden crates, a tarp roll and some POL containers. Much like the flat bed modules S&S do, it provides some character to the model without needing to spend an evening filling the stowage bin manually!
The only real nitpicks was that the vision block on the turret plate was a little soft in its detail. The stowage bin should also really replace the hatches of the top deck, not sit over them, but it makes for an easier build for less experienced modellers and an experienced one could easily cut the two tabs off the bottom of the stowage bin, shave off the hatches and glue the bin directly to the now flat top. Like I said, its nitpicks rather than any real issues.
There are no rules for ARV in Team Yankee at the moment, though I imagine some could easily be house ruled (use BMP-OP stats and allow them to move “destroyed” tank markers). Otherwise this provides the basis for a fantastic objective for the red deployment zone. I’d certainly recommend this (along with the Zvezda Ural truck bodies previously covered) for any Warsaw Pact player who was interested in upping their objective game!
The LAV-25 is an eight wheeled scout/APC vehicle developed from the Canadian AVGP, itself developed from the MOWAG Piranha 1. The LAV-25 gave the Marines a dedicated light recce vehicle with amphibious capabilities to act in the recce screen role for post landing manoeuvre warfare. The LAV-25 also provided the basis for a variety of variants. Team Yankee has already seen the LAV-M mortar carrier, LAV-AT TOW launcher and LAV-AD air defence variants introduced but there are also a variety of non combat variants including the LAV-C2 commad vehicle, LAV-LOG cargo carrier and, of course, a recovery variant in the form of the LAV-R.
S&S Models have introduced a conversion kit to cover the three support vehicles and all three exploit the modular nature of the excellent Battlefront LAV-25 kit, using a “drop in” white metal top plate, plus some additional parts as required.
LAV-C2 Command vehicle
Featuring an extended roof to allow room for additional VHF, UHF and HF radios and map boards, the LAV-C2 acts as the battalion command vehicle.
The LAV-C2 conversion is the simplest of the three conversion kits, being a single “drop in” piece to recreate the penthouse. All the hatches are modelled close and the antenna mounts are largely present, though they will need some attention from a pin vice to add the aerials.
As always mixing mediums is never an exact science and there are some gaps to fill but that is not unexpected. There is a mould line running around the side, plus some protrusions that I now realise are part of the mould tooling, not aerial mounts, but these are easily fixed with a file (recent experience with soft plastics has made me almost nostalgic for cleaning metals).
The only real disappoint with the model (and indeed the other two variants) is the cupola, which lacks a pintle mount for an MG (easily fixed) and the hatch lacks detail (hinges, etc) when compared to the plastic equivalent.
There isn’t a large role for this to play in a company level game, but could act as a command team for a large multi-formation game. I’d treat it as having the same stats as a LAV-25 but only armed with a defensive AA MG and without Scout and Spearhead.
Overall, the model is a good reflection of the command variant and will suit those looking for this particular type. It suffers a little from not being an especially interesting model in real life but it is a great blank canvas to pile with stowage as the photo at the start of the section showed.
LAV-LOG Logistics vehicle
The LAV-LOG logistics vehicle has an extended roof much like the command variant but dominated by a single, oversized roof hatch, a revised rear hatch and the addition of a folding out lifting crane. It’s main purpose is to supply forward deployed units with POL, ammunition and, of course, a ready supply of MRE and crayons to sustain the troops.
This is a two part kit featuring a “drop in” roof piece and the, stowed, lifting hoist which is glued to the top of the roof piece after fitting. The existing rear place is retained from the plastic kit so technically the rear hatch arrangement is incorrect but a keen modeller with a sharp knife and some plasti-card could quickly fix that.
The top plate is nicely detailed, capturing the three part roof hatch well. oddly the smoke launchers are omitted but they can be easily cut off of spare mortar carrier roof plates and added. There is a minor mould likne around the vertical edges but this was easily cleaned. Like the command variant, the pintle MG mount is missing and some gap filling will be required for best results.
I wish the kit had an unfurled hoist and optional open top hatches to really make for a compelling objective piece but the kit does reflect a “moving” LAV-LOG well enough.
There isn’t much of a role for logistics in Team Yankee. If players want to incorporate these into a scenario then I’d suggest again using normal LAV stats with just an AA MG for armament and without Scout and Spearhead. Mostly this will be a centrepiece for an objective and it will serve that role well.
LAV-R Recovery vehicle
The LAV-R takes the base LAV chassis and adds a raised area to the rear compartment, a crane and deployable feet to stabilise the vehicle during recovery.
The LAV-R recovery vehicle is the last of our review pieces and probably my favourite of the three LAV kits. The ARV kits just look so much more interesting than the command and logistic variants!
The LAV-R has a higher part count than the others, having not only the roof piece and a crane arm but also additional anchor spades (a stowed pair cast as a single piece) plus the drop down support legs which are a pair of fiddly bits!
Assembly is mostly easy, with the drop in piece going in, the crane dropping into a hole in the top and the stowed anchor legs going on the back of the roof piece. The support legs are as fiddly as one could expect. I found the diamond shaped part that sticks to the lower hull needed a little trimming to get them to sit right and a pair of tweezers definitely helped.
The top piece had many of the same minor issues as the other two variants, a small mould line that needed cleaning, a few gaps to fill, MG pintle and smoke dispensers conspicuous in their absence. However, these are minor quibbles, easily resolved by even an inexperienced modeller.
The AFV is a great looking kit that would definitely serve well as a centrepiece objective. Like the BREM-2 that opened the article, there are no rules for in-game use in Team Yankee but could easily be house ruled in, especially for a unique scenario.
Hopefully this provides some food for thought for US and Soviet players looking for interesting support models to add to an existing force.
The LAV-R and BREM-2 both steal the show in my opinion by being visually interesting models with plenty of scope for being a centrepiece objective. The LAV-LOG and LAV-C2, through no fault of the sculptor, have less of a visual impact but, deckled out in stowage, would no doubt still be equally rewarding a build.
Once again, apologies to Shaun for the delay in getting this review done but thank for the review models. Of course, now I’m pondering adding some LAVS to my (still to be done) US force, even though it lacks a USMC contingent…
Hmm… 82nd did experiment with the LAV as a Sheridan replacement…