JGSDF Light Armoured Vehicle
Tamiya 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
The Komatsu light armoured vehicle is a Japanese military vehicle first produced in 2002. It is built by Komatsu Ltd. Defense Systems Division in Komatsu, Ishikawa, Japan.
The exterior resembles the Panhard VBL, used by the French army, but the LAV has 4 doors and a large cabin for carrying soldiers. The LAV can also be transported by air in vehicles like the CH-47J and the C-130H.
Currently used exclusively by the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF), it has seen use in the Iraq War. It made its first appearance in Kuwait when JGSDF units had deployed the Komatsu LAV prior to humanitarian operations in Samawah, a city in Iraq, 280 km (174 mi) southeast of Baghdad. An initial 400 LAVs were brought into JGSDF service in March 2005. JASDF base security units are also equipped with the LAV as a main vehicle for patrols.In February 2019, Komatsu announced it will no longer develop new models of the LAV, citing high cost in developing a new model and low profit return. *
F i r s t L o o k
Tamiya launched their Japanese LAV series in 2004 with a vehicle that was used in Iraq. This boxing contains new parts to permit a LAV in domestic service to be built.
Tamiya’s new 1:35 scale JGSDF LAV comprises 160 parts in olive coloured plastic, 16 parts in clear plastic, a die-cast metal lower body, four vinyl tyres, self-adhesive mirror, a number of metal screws and rivets and markings for four vehicles.
The one unusual aspect that leaps out is the die-cast metal lower body. This will offer scale weight to the model if that is a relevant factor to you, but there is no real downside as the screws that hold the body in place will be covered by plastic access hatches.
The upper body is an impressive one-piece plastic moulding.
The front and rear suspension units are well detailed. The steering is fixed in the straight ahead position. The vinyl tyres are cleanly moulded with only minimal waste and centreline seams. Wheels are secured with metal rivets in polythene caps, allowing them to rotate or be removed after assembly.
Interior details include four seats, centre console, instrument panel, shift levers, steering wheel and a nicely detailed driver figure. The four doors and the rear hatch are all separate so that you may display some of that nice interior detail.
The armoured glass windows are made up from a sandwich of a clear part trapped between an olive-coloured plastic frame and the body and doors. The doors are nicely detailed inside and out.
The roof cupola may rotate after assembly and the split hatch is supplied in two separate pieces. This may be posed open or closed. An optional MINIMI 5.56 mm machine gun with roof mount and front guard is included. Alternative aerial bases and roof racks are also offered.
The four side mirrors are supplemented with die-cut, self-adhesive reflective foil. This is a nice touch.
Markings are supplied for three vehicles, all finished in standard JGSDF camouflage of Brown and Dark Green.
Tamiya offers these colours in their acrylic bottle and TS spray can ranges. Each option has a slight different configuration and these are clearly pointed out in the instructions.
C o n c l u s i o n
The JGSDF LAV is a sleek sports car of the military vehicle world. The domestic service version is even more streamlined than the original Iraq War release. Detail is good and I have no doubt that fit will be perfect. This is another attractive and straightforward offering from Tamiya. Keep ‘em coming!
* Historical text adapted from Wikipedia
Thanks to Tamiya for the sample.
Text and Images by Brett Green