18 May 2008

LVTP-5 Project commences

Long delayed, I finally got his project started ahead of my imminent two weeks off. I've been looking forward to doing these for ages and after getting a technique I'm happy with with the M48s and Ontos, I'm ready to have a crack at these large beasts. Detailed pics of AMTRACS in country are somewhat hard to find, but I'll generally be going for a look like this one.

The models are by Peter Pig, are resin and come on a precast base (which I'll replace to match my other vehicles). I've cleaned them up and added the usual gear hanging off - 44 gallon drums, jerry cans, crates and stowages are metal by Skytrex, plus some plastic sand bags around the forward turrets too. One beef is the blocky front of the main turret. A metal barrel insert would have been much nicer. I've left one as-is for comparison and carved one off as an expriment.

Here is the review from the Eleven-Barco site (reproduced here in full now that the site has been taken down)


Peter Pig (AKA Martin Goddard and team!) have recently expanded their already comprehensive 15mm Vietnam range to include the LVTP-5 (Landing Vehicle Tracked, Personnel) AMTRAC amphibious tractor/APC used extensively by the US Marine Corps in Vietnam. The model is available in two versions – a full sized vehicle and a "waterline" version representing the vehicle in the water. The full model costs £4.80 while the waterline version sells for £2.50

I have recently updated my 15mm collection to include US Marines and I took the opportunity to buy a couple of the full size LVTP-5 models. I started collecting Peter Pig Vietnam models in 1990, when the company first started up and, over the years, Peter Pig have gone from strength to strength, in both quality of models (which are, in my opinion, some of the best detailed and sculpted available today) and in the extensive range available. The LVTP model is a worthy addition to their Vietnam range. However before looking at the model I must point out that I am primarily a wargamer and not a fine scale modeler. I am not overly bothered if a model is not 100% accurate as long as it looks right when it is painted and placed on my wargames table. In the case of the Peter Pig LVTP-5 cannot vouch for the scale accuracy of the model, firstly because I do not have any scale plans to check it with, and also because the resin casting medium may suffer from some distortion. So, allowing for this, on to the model itself....

The LVTP-5 Model

In their catalogue Peter Pig claim it is a big model and when compared to a 15mm figure it certainly is. The model is a one piece resin casting 85mm long, 35mm wide and 30mm high. The model is cast with an integral base. Although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the dimensions the model itself certainly looks right when placed next to some model soldiers and it really does give the impression of size, which is obvious in photographs of the real thing. Details are cast or engraved onto the model. In addition the detailing looks absolutely right, particularly the positioning of the hatches, cupolas and other external detail. My only real quibble is that the engraved line indicated the front hatch door and one of the side access panels (LHS) are not straight and look as though Martin was having a bit of an "off" day.

The model represents the standard APC version of the LVTP-5 and is modeled in a "clean" configuration with no external stowage or clutter and all of the hatches and doors closed. The level of detail is good, particularly around the area of the running gear/tracks and the MG turret and driver's/commander's cupolas. I particularly like the way Martin has modeled the vision blocks/episcopes on the machine gun turret. The models were very cleanly cast and required no cleaning up other than a bit of sanding to level the base and reduce it's thickness slightly.

Customising the LVTP-5

Although I was a bit disappointed to find the model had no stowage clutter included I realised that this was not necessarily a bad thing, as it allowed me to customise the model easily to what I wanted. Most photos of LVTPs in Vietnam show the top deck cluttered with sandbags, C ration boxes, fuel or oil drums, plus lots of marines. To produce this effect I decided to modify my two models with the addition of some sandbags, a few C ration boxes and some troops as passengers. I also added several radio antenna from thin steel wire as I think these really add to the overall look of a model armoured vehicle (actually the wire was from an old top E string off my guitar – it is very thin, flexible and strong enough to withstand the handling which most wargame models have to put up with).

The sandbags were simply made from Milliput, rolled into thin sandbag sized strips and then pressed into place with a couple of dental tools. The C ration boxes were made from balsa wood and superglued in place, while the soldiers were selected from my spares box (and are a mixture of figures from Peter Pig and QRF Models). I also wanted to show the passengers standing up in an open top hatch so I first needed to modify the model as follows:
  • Using a scalpel and file I removed the raised hinges/ribs on one of the two long upper hatches.
  • After referring to several photographs, I then cut a new hatch from plastic card, and glued it in the open position, adding the hinge details from plastic strip.
  • The figures selected as passengers were then (with the exception of the kneeling M-79 gunner) cut in half at the waist and drilled to accept a thin wire pin. The kneeling M-79 grenadier was cut from his base and drilled under the groin (ouch!) to accept a wire pin.
  • I then decided how the passengers were to be positioned and drilled corresponding holes in the open hatch and deck to accommodate the pins inserted in the models.

Painting the LVTP-5

Once I had added all the detail I wanted I glued the models to card bases and, once the glue was dry, I undercoated the models with a matt black acrylic spray paint.
Painting the models was simplicity itself. The detail is good enough that they almost paint themselves. The sequence was as follows:
  • Black undercoat.
  • Dry brush coat of olive drab, leaving the black showing in the engraved detail.
  • Cover the entire model with a wash of sepia/dark brown acrylic ink and leave to dry.
  • Dry brush with olive drab, progressively lightening each coat to highlight the detail.
  • Paint the tracks dark brown. When dry cover with a wash of sepia/dark brown acrylic ink. When dry drybrush with a steel/ gunmetal colour to represent worn/exposed steel.
  • Paint the vision blocks/episcopes with a light blue-green (to represent the armoured glass) and highlight with spots of white.
  • Paint on any unit markings, graffiti, or "artwork" (many LVTPs were adorned with paintings of scantily clad ladies – but these were beyond my ability to paint in this scale!).
  • "Weather" the vehicle by drybrushing the model with the same yellow ochre colour with which I would paint the base. Lighten subsequent coats with white to again highlight the detail.

Final Touches

Once the vehicles themselves were painted I drilled holes in the appropriate spots and glued the antennas in position. I also glued the passenger figures in place using the holes I had drilled earlier (the figures themselves had been painted earlier and were thus ready to be installed with no further effort).

The card bases were then given an undercoat of green paint and a sand/fine gravel mixture glued onto the base to blend the base and model together. The sand mixture was then painted with yellow ochre and lightened with white to highlight the detail. As a finishing touch the base was decorated with "static grass".
All in all there was quite a lot of work involved for what is essentially a simple model but I think the end result was worth it.


Conclusions? A good, solid no-nonsense model from Peter Pig which looks the part and is very easy to prepare and paint but which also offers great scope for conversions and modifications (I wouldn't mind building one of the engineer versions with a big plough/bulldozer blade on the front!). They are not cheap at £4.80 for a resin model but I think that they offer good value and Martin and his team are to be congratulated on producing an excellent model of such a useful vehicle.

Now Martin, what about a stowage and deck clutter pack for the Peter Pig M-48 and LVTP-5, plus a vehicle crew/passenger set (with crew members in t-shirts/flak jackets and AFV crew helmets, and passengers in various sitting/lying/sprawling positions)?
The full range of Peter Pig 15mm models can be found on-line at http://www.peterpig.demon.co.uk
Barrie Lovell
July 2000

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