Tamiya has done a fantastic job combining a terrific subject with superb engineering and excellent attention to detail. I built the kit primarily stock box with the exception of a few bits from the Lion Roar photo etch set. The kit really didn’t need them to be a first class kit but they did save me time fabricating some tiny bits and bobs.
The real LAVs are painted in a dark green but in Iraq between the dust and intense sunlight fade to a lighter shade (at least the ones I saw did). Tamiya XF-51 Khaki Drab replicated this very well. I post-shaded with this color lightened with XF-57 Buff and heavily thinned with Tamiya lacquer thinner.
The kit comes with the notorious Tamiya signature die cast chassis. It really didn’t present a problem here like it does on some other kits though it does make the undercarriage and interior a little less detailed than it might have been otherwise. The one hitch was copyright data that is prominently displayed just inside the rear hatch. I wanted to display this door open so I had to cover the anachronistic markings since removing them from the metal would be nothing but a big pain. This was accomplished with a folded sun shade made from tissue paper. We used sun shades like this everywhere in Iraq so I thought they would look right at home on this vehicle. I placed similar tarps on the bustle rack for good measure.
The decals are a huge part of the look of this vehicle. The large Japanese flags on the doors jump right out and give the truck a distinctive look. Like all Tamiya decals I found them to be a bit thick and prone to silvering. Luckily, since most of them were perfectly square I could trim them very closely. With a heavy dose of Micro Set they settled onto the surface nicely.
The interior is sparse but since I was building the vehicle with all but the back door closed that didn’t bother me too much. The exterior is quite nice and only needed a few handles and the window pistons to make it pop. I did add a sling seat for the gunner. I made this from brass wire and lead foil.
After applying the decals I gave the whole thing a wash with black artist oils thinned with mineral spirits. I followed this up with mud on the underside and in the wheel wells made from ground pastel chalk and selective dusting with pastels to pick out the highlights.