M113A1 ACAV in 1/35...
...the kit from AFV Club
More good news from AFV Club, and a chance to get a close look at the contents of their new M113A1 ACAV (Armoured Cavalry Assault Vehicle). Like many of their kits, the subject comes from the equipment used during the Vietnam War. Combat experience of the South Vietnamese (ARVN) saw them add protective gun shields to the gun on the commander's turret, plus fitting shields and guns either side of the large roof hatch to the troop compartment. It turned a basic APC into a fighting vehicle. The US manufacturers took the lessons on board and manufactured standard kits to fit to the basic M113 to create the ACAV version.
As for the kit, another little beauty from AFV Club in my opinion. The build starts by fitting the torsion bar suspension to the hull, then the swing arms and running gear. Then build stages 4 - 8 take you though fitting the interior detailing for the crew compartment, with seats, internal fuel tank, driver's levers, radio etc. There is no engine for the engine compartment however. In stages 9 & 10 you add all the external details to the front of the vehicle, lights, lifting points and so on. In stage 11 you add the main roof panel, which is nice for including the instrument panel for the driver as well as other internal fittings. 12 to 14 sees you fit the external fittings to the roof, such as hatches, radio aerial mounts and such. That leaves stages 15 - 18 to work on the rear plate, with the large rear access ramp.
That gives us the basic structure of the M113 but now we get to a point where you have some choices to make, depending on the finishing marking choice you want to go for.
Stage 19 would have you fit the track guards, or not, depending on your preference. Stage 20 - 22 turns to the front mounted trim vane. This can be the basic fit, or with the extra buoyancy sections which were helped to counteract the added weight of the extra ACAV fittings. Then 23 builds the commander's cupola, complete with the added ACAV armour panels to protect the commander. Stages 24 & 25 & 26 give you another choice to make, as the cupola can be fitted with either the M2 .50cal machine gun or the M134 Minigun. It leaves stage 27 to add the two M60 machine guns and shields to fit wither side of the main hatch. Tracks are the single piece vinyl style, so easy enough to fit.
That completes the build itself, though there are a few extra accessories included in the kit. These feature 2 variations of the M16 rifle, the older M14 rifle, along with the M14E2 Light Machine Gun, which has a bipod like the older BAR, along with the M21 Sniper Rifle version of the M14 and finally an XM177 assault rifle.
The kit provides for 7 different marking options, though all are the same single overall colour of Olive Drab, and these also relate to options in terms of weapons fitted to the commander cupola, buoyancy aids or track guards.
A - 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division - carries the M2 .50cal machine gun, no track guards or buoyancy panels.
B - Very similar to A but a different vehicle and with track guards.
C - 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment - with the M2 .50cal gun, no track guards but this time with the extra buoyancy panels
D - a different individual vehicle but essentially the same as C.
E - This one lacks buoyancy aids and track guards but this time the M134 Minigun if fitted to the commanders cupola.
F - 1st Battalion, 17th Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division, Saigon, July 1969 - back to the M2 .50cal gun and no track guards or buoyancy aids.
G - Republic of China Army, 173rd Battalion109th Mechanised Division - with M2 .50cal gun and track guards fitted, though no buoyancy panels.
There are no crew figures included in the kit, but Hobby Fan, a range of resin figures by an associated company of AFV Club, does include a pair of figures for an M113 crew.