USMC LAV-25 "Piranha"
Trumpeter Kit No. 00349

1:35th Scale

Review by Terry Ashley

Trumpeter continue to release a good variety of subjects and the announcement of this kit a while back created some excitement as until now the modeller had to settle for the Italeri LAV-25 kit (and Revell re-boxing) which was quite basic or the dreadful ESCI offering which thankfully disappeared some time ago, so lets get right into it to see how this kit shapes up.

The kit consist of 199 parts in light grey plastic plus another 78 for the figures (from set #00407) along with eight soft vinyl tyres, a sheet of mesh and pre-cut thin plastic sheet for the periscope lenses and of course the decal and instruction sheets.

The standard of moulding on the plastic parts has nice crisp and well defined details although there is some thin flash around quite a few parts mainly due to the finesse as there are many very small and finely moulded parts.

There is also some thin excess flash around the edges of the turret and hull mouldings with the thin front edge of the upper hull suffering a bit but overall there is nothing that will be too difficult to clean up and as mentioned there are numerous very small parts to add nice detail definition.

The hull is spit into upper and lower sections with the lower hull having all the underside contours for the suspension and drive train which is entirely made up of separate parts.

The central drive train with differentials and drive shafts are nicely detailed but as mentioned there is some thin flash to be cleaned off the drive shafts with the large front wheel spring supports well defined with separate suspension arms and shock absorbers, as well as steering rods which are moulded quite thin.

The two rear torsion bar suspension units have the drive shafts and axles with the offset applicable to the torsion bar arrangement which is quite small in 1:35 being only about 1.5mm but it is there. But make sure you use the correct axles on the correct mountings to get this offset; the axles are numbered differently on either side so take note of the instructions here.

The hollow soft vinyl tyres have very good tread pattern included as well as side wall details with the separate hubs in normal plastic and these also have very good hub details and you can leave the wheels off until final construction if you wish.


At the back is a separate panel with separate crew entry doors which in turn have separate latch handles inside and out, there are four pin knock out marks on the inside of the doors but these are easy to remove.

Other separate details on the rear plate are the taillights and guards, central tow hitch and tow shackles which include the small securing ring as well as separate grab handles above the doors.

The two water screws are very nicely moulded with fine detail on the screw mountings and the twin steering vanes to add further to the detail here.

At the front is a separate trim vane panel which has the sides bevelled for a more scale thickness as well as separate towing eyes with again nicely detailed tow shackles.

The instructions show to attach the upper hull before added the detail parts with the fit of the two hull parts being very good with only some minor work needed on the pointed front hull join as the edge of the upper hull was a little rough.

Detail on the upper hull is excellent with well defined engine intake grills and open driver's periscopes with separate top guard and you should remember to add the clear plastic periscope faces before gluing the hull parts together. While the detail is well done there is no weld seams depicted on any of the plate joins although these are quite small on the actual vehicle and hard to see unless up close.

All the doors are separate on the upper hull and this includes the engine compartment door, the front winch door, side and top crew hatches although there is no interior included in the kit but having these hatches separate will allow the inclusion of an interior quite easy to add.

All the hatches have separate latches or grab handles for excellent detail but also have some pin marks on the inside to remove if you want to show the hatches open with the pin mark on the inside of the domed driver's hatch being the only one that will require a bit of effort to remove.

There are many smaller detail items for around the hull such as top ventilator and nicely represented head light clusters with separate main head light that includes the rear view mirror post with all the lifting eyes around the hull being separate parts. The separate pioneer tools are particularly noteworthy with the clips and tie downs included and look quite good.

On the right side of the hull is the large exhaust pipe made up of three parts with the muffler being in two parts which allows the end of the pipe to be fully hollowed out for a good appearance. The two part winch guide on the hull front is nicely detailed and you get three jerry can racks with moulded in cans with separate handles for the hull sides.

The upper turret moulding is nicely detailed with a separate lower turret ring that traps the gun mounting as they are glued together and again the two crew hatches are separate parts with separate latches and grab handles.

The Commander's periscopes and the side facing gunners periscopes are hollowed out with the faces provided in clear plastic that are inserted from the inside and the two main sight boxes are moulded separately with separate doors but no inside optics are provided so you can't show these open without adding the optics yourself.

The 25mm gun shield is nicely contoured with a two part mantlet that allows the inclusion of the upper MG trough and flat underside with holes included while the separate barrel has only two flutes included with one side smooth. The muzzle is moulded solid and is a little long but is hollowed out using slide moulds for a rather basic appearance and no doubt a barrel will be available from one of the aftermarket producers to fix that issue.

There are separate lifting eyes, antenna mountings, smoke grenade launcher mounts and grab handles in front of the hatches as well as an intricate rear basket with the mesh supplied for the bottom and rear with the instructions having printed templates to help cut the mesh to the right size. The basket does have some flash to be clean off but shouldn't present too many problems.

Also included is the figure set #00407 U.S. Marine Corps Iraq 2003 and I will just refer you to the review posted earlier on these instead of wasting time here as there really isn't much more to be said for these. It is strange why these figures are included as contrary to the box top image no markings are provided for a vehicle from OIF.

The markings provided are quite vague with a full colour sheet included with one vehicle in three colour NATO cam and the other in overall white UN finish.

The sheet has SFOR markings but no indication on what vehicle they are to be used on and there is also a personal marking for a vehicle named “Bertha” but again no indication on it's use and so additional reference material will be needed to sort out the markings.
Update: I have compared the majority of the parts to available 1:35 plans from Panzer Magazine and this sees the hull dimensions (width, height, length) either spot on or less than 1mm of the plans and well within any discrepancies due to printing etc. The turret also matches the plans given the same allowances with only a few differences of up to 1mm which again is well within acceptable tolerances.
The wheel diameter and width match the plans exactly as do all the hatches and other smaller details to make the model as good dimensionally as you could probably get.

Despite minor cleanup needed on some parts the overall detail level is quite high with many fine detail parts that add good definition to the finished kit but there is scope for improvements as with any kit.

The suspension and wheels are particularly well done as is the turret with the lack of open main sights and barrel muzzle being the only real minuses and the kit should prove popular among modern vehicle modellers.

I have compared this kit to both the Italeri LAV-25 and ESCI LAV-25 kits (yes, I still have one gathering dust) and this kit is light year ahead in all areas so there isn't much point doing an actual comparison.

Highly recommended

The Sprues:

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Thanks to the guys at Rainbow Ten for the usual prompt delivery of the kit.

Page created 22 August 2005

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