Hobby Fan
AAV R7A1 Recovery Vehicle
Conversion Kit
Hobby Fan 1:35th
Kit HF-062
Review by Terry Ashley


This extensive update set from Hobby Fan is designed for the Tamiya kits LVTP7A1 (kit #35136) or AAVP7A1 (Kit #35159) and is basically three update sets in one with the full AAV7A1 RAMS/RS Running gear which will be released separately as Hobby Fan set #HF 063 plus the AFV Club Big Foot late track set for the AAV7A1 (set #AF 35133) and the conversion parts for the AAV R-7A1 Recovery Vehicle.

Which ever base kit you choose will entail some surgery to take the new parts, even more so if you use the RAMS/RS Running gear and some experience in conversion work and working with resin would be an advantage as this set is not for the beginner.

The set has over 200 parts for the AAV R-7A1 conversion in light cream resin with a further 68 resin parts for the RAMS/RS suspension as well as a fret with four etched screens, lengths of twine and plastic tubing as well as the Big Foot individual track set and a 14 page instruction booklet to help put it all together.

Hobby Fan
Hobby Fan

Quality of the resin casting is superb without any warping on any parts apart from the lower hull suspension panels that we’ll get to shortly and only a few small air holes that you can basically count on one hand. The resin parts have the usual casting blocks to be removed but as the resin used if of the softer type the cleanup goes very easily but there are many very fine parts that will need care during cleanup and fitting.

Included in the set are optional parts to make the earlier AAV R-7 Recovery using the earlier kit suspension with optional early or late hull top exhaust outlets, early or late crane operator’s station and early and late rear hull winches giving further options for the set.

As the RAMS/RS suspension will be available separately we’ll have a look at this initially as there are quite a few alterations required to fit this to the Tamiya kits.

Hobby Fan HF063 AAV A1 RAMS/RS Suspension
The set includes replacement lower hull side panels with the revised suspension mounting brackets plus the Bradley style drive sprockets, Road Wheels and Idlers and again the quality of the resin casting is excellent although you have to be careful when removing the casting blocks from the drive sprocket halves as this is between two teeth and damage can result easily if care is not taken.

Detail on the parts is excellent with the lightning holes and inner hub detail of the drive sprockets matching closely to photos with the road wheel rim detail again excellent and also includes the undercut around the outer rim and well defined hub bolts for a good representation of the wheels. The idlers are also nicely detailed and there is very little cleanup needed other than to remove the casting blocks and some very fine resin film inside some of the cut-outs in the drive sprockets and idlers that a quick pass of the X-Acto #11 will fix.

The small return rollers have the two styles, with single and double wheels with again very good hub details and minimal cleanup required.

One thing to note which is not mentioned in the instructions is the drive sprockets, road wheels and idlers are designed to take the Tamiya poly caps for fitting to the axles and if you don’t include these the wheels will not fit very well as they flop about with nothing to hold them in place. But adding the poly caps also gives the benefit of easy fitting just as Tamiya intended with the kit wheels.

One small issue with the road wheels is a few of the inner wheels were slightly larger in diameter than the outer wheels but after gluing the two together (trapping the kit poly cap between them) it’s very easy to reduce the diameter of the inner wheel using the outer wheels as a guide, there were only about five wheels in total needing this alteration.

The two long hull side suspension mounting panels have the mounting brackets included on a very thin backing sheet which should remain so don’t be tempted to remove this. As the backing is very thin there is quite a bit of distortion in this panel but only in the thin backing and not on the axle mountings themselves.

After careful removal of the casting block I used a small steel ruler to make sure the upper edge was perfectly straight but don’t worry about the warping at this stage.

You now have to remove all the old axle mountings from the kit hull sides except for the final drives which is quite simple with a sharp X-Acto #11 but as the new axle locations are different I also plugged the old axle locating holes with short lengths of 3mm plastic rod to make drilling the new holes easier.

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To attach the new resin suspension panel it’s best to glue the rear section in place first as this has the small underside bracket making it easy to line up and using cyanoacrylate glue this firmly in place which eliminates the warping on the thin panel backing in the process.

I then glued the first axle mounting in place ensuring it lines up correctly with the lower hull and then progressively in small sections glued the lower and upper edges of the panel in place using cyanoacrylate which again eliminated the warping in the process ending with the perfectly flat panel on the hull sides. Working in small sections of about 12mm (1/2inch) at a time ensures you can firmly hold the thin panel hard against the kit hull as the cyanoacrylate cures.

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You will need to drill small 3mm holes to take the new resin axles using the holes in the axles mounting brackets as guides and the only thing to watch is to get the axles to sit at the correct height as no locating pins or other guides are included but you can use the four shock absorbers per side as indicators for the correct ride height.

After the wheel and idler axles are firmly glued in place the wheels can simply be slipped on at any time using the pole caps you included while assembling the wheels, didn’t you?

Refer to the review of the AFV Club Big Foot track (set #AF 35133) for assembling these which fit perfectly to the resin drive sprockets after assembly.

AFV Club
Resin Suspension Parts
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AAV R-7A1 Recovery conversion
Before adding the conversion parts there are a number of mounded on details on the Tamiya kit hulls to be removed with the instructions showing these and pose no real problems.

The fit of the resin parts is excellent making the assembly as straightforward as a resin conversion can be and as mentioned there are alternate parts to take into consideration depending on the version you are building.

The hull top winches have the alternate early and late parts for the rear hull mounted winch assembly and the large winch assembly mounted on the front hull which needs a hole frilled through the main mount and turnbuckle for the twine supplied but there were no problems with this assembly. Also at the front are new head light assemblies to replace the kit parts for added detail plus the lower front hull fittings.

Hobby FanHobby Fan

For the hull top there are three new cupola hatches with nicely detailed interiors plus the Commander’s vision cupola is replaced with an etched item with clear green resin periscope glass with the instructions showing this should be repositioned on the hull needed minor alterations to the kit parts for this.

Hobby Fan

There is also a choice of early or later style exhausts, the later type with long muffler has an etched mesh heat shield to add over the top as well as resin bracket that somehow escapes being noted on the instruction parts list or the assembly instructions of the exhaust but photos in the Hard Corps Models Amtracs book shows where this should live.

Hobby Fan
Late and Early exhausts
Hobby FanHobby Fan
Photos: Modern American Amtracs Hard Corps Models

There are a number of other fittings for the hull top including the two large etched intake grills and the different crane fittings stowed on the upper hull sides when not in use with these made up of multiple parts for nice detail definition.

The main crane jib which forms the centrepiece for the recovery version is very nicely detailed with all the major parts perfectly formed with the fit again being very good without the need for major trimming or alterations. The extendable crane jib fits neatly into the large jib and slides in out freely depending on your preferred location and the design sees it sit at the correct angle even when fully extended.

The small winch drum at the base is covered with the small etched wire cover with the details on the round base matching photos well, the only thing to watch is to drill the holes indicated for the twine cable but you will need to drill another inside the main crane arm not indicated and you should also string the cable though the jib parts during assembly as it’s virtually impossibly to string these after assembly.

There are many small fittings and linkages for the main crane assembly with the instructions show where they are located but careful study of the instructions will be needed before hand so you understand where everything goes.

Added to the undersides of the crane assembly are many hydraulic lines using the plastic tube provided with four photos of the assembled parts provided to help in adding these but even so it could get a bit confusing? There are clear photos of the hydraulics also in the Hard Corps Models Amtracs book that should prove useful.

The crane operators stations again gives you the choice of early or later configuration with a nicely done seat with open holes and many smaller fittings and controls to be added for quite a bust little assembly but there shouldn’t be any problems if the instructions are followed.

Hobby Fan

You have a choice of positioning the crane in the stowed position or any operating position and the length of cable added to the assembly should be enough for the final crane position and you will have to decide on this fairly early to allow for the cable length.

The instructions are a combination of line drawings and photos of the assembled model to show the location of the parts and in most cases this is more than adequate but careful study of the instructions and some additional reference will be more than helpful.

No markings are provided and you will have to source these elsewhere using references for the applicable units and markings.

This is very comprehensive conversion that not only gives you the recovery vehicle parts with some choice of early and later configurations but also includes the complete RAMS/RS suspension and Big Foot tracks to build a current vehicle as well as an earlier type.

As mentioned this conversion is not for the beginner and some experience in conversions and resin work will be a big advantage but will build into a very impressive AAV R7A1 Recovery Vehicle.

Highly recommended

Resin AAV R7A1 Recovery Parts
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Modern American Amtracs
Hard Corps Models
David E.Harper
Fine Detail
ISBN: 0-945808-00-3

Hobby FanThanks to Hobby Fan for the review kit.

Page created January 4, 2007

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