by: Anthony Sewards [ ]
In 1974, the Canadian Armed Forces issued a requirement for an Armoured Vehicle General Purpose (AVGP) to equip both Regular and Militia units. Three prototypes made it to the final evaluation from a field of fourteen: the Brazilian URUTU and the U.S. Commando fell by the wayside, with the Swiss MOWAG Piranha 6 X 6 winning the evaluation. General Motorsí Diesel Division undertook production of the AVGP family for the Canadian Forces, with the first vehicles rolling off the line in 1979. Production was completed in 1982, by which time 491 had been built in three versions.
The AVGP (Armoured Vehicle General Purpose) vehicles were based on the six-wheeled version of the Swiss MOWAG Piranha I ordered by the Canadian military in 1977. The three variants ordered by Canada were the Cougar (195), a tank trainer; the Grizzly (269) armoured personnel carrier; and the Husky (27) armoured recovery vehicle. The Cougar (Wheeled Fire Support Vehicle (WFSV)would incorporate the turret from the British Alvis Scorpion reconnaissance vehicle, and was armed with a 76mm L23A1 gun that fired HESH, Smoke BE and canister rounds. The Cougar had a crew of three: the commander and gunner in the turret, with the driver in the hull.
The turret was fitted with a 7.62mm coax next to the main gun, and 66mm smoke grenade launchers affixed to the front of the turret. The hull had a trim vane and marine drive for amphibious operations. With a weight of 10 tons, 6x6 and a Detroit Diesel 6V53T (6 cylinder, turbo-charged with an Allison MT 650 automatic transmission), the vehicle could reach speeds of 100Km/h with 10 km/h in water.
The AVGP Cougar went through a few upgrades between 1979 and 2004, until they were retired from Canadian Reserve Force service. The marine drive and trim vane were removed and replaced with tool boxes. The turret went through new gunnery upgrades, receiving the FN C-6 7.62mm coaxial MG and an improved Cadillac-Gage electric turret component package, including the installation of the TCCCS (Tactical Command and Control Communications System) radios. And a new stowage bin. By 1999, with the addition of the Coyote Lav-25 Reconnaissance vehicle in use with the Regular Force, the Cougars were used strictly by the Armoured Reserve units, and only a hundred were in service.
The AVGP series entered Canadian Service in 1979, and has been around the globe, especially with the United Nations Mission in Somalia, and Bosnia Herzegovina. The armoured recovery vehicle version of the Husky can still be seen giving stalwart aid when called upon. This kit from Trumpeter Models represents a mixed early/late version machine-fitted with the marine drive. While other companies have produced a kit of the AVGP Cougar, including Best Value Models (affiliated with ADV/Azimut), and Hobby Fan Models in 1/35 scale, and ACE Models in 1/72 scale, myself and many others were very happy to hear of this release of additional modern Canadian vehicles in plastic.
There standard Trumpeter-style box contains:
6 grey sprues with 221 parts
1 sprue of 17 clear parts
1 sheet of photo-etched parts
6 rubber tires
sheet of decals for two versions (a United Nation version and a regular Canadian version
12-page instruction book
colour painting and marking guide for the Cougar
Page two of the instructions gives you a sprue layout and a list of unused parts, so they can go directly to the spare parts box.
Things start with the lower hull assembly on pages 3-5, beginning with the wheel sub-assembly and finishing with the lower hull and suspension completed. The tires lack any markings on them. They were Michelin XM 325/85R16 tires (steel belted radial) for an early version, with the wider Michelin 325/85 R15 XML required for a later version. Pages 6-8 deal with the construction of the upper hull. This kit is supposed to be an early version, but shows various modifications that would represent a later one. The driverís vision blocks in the upper hull are lacking the armoured cover which looks like part B10 that was installed in the early 80ís to protect the sights when the main gun was fired.
The mirrors are square, but should be slightly rounded on the edges. The heater exhaust port shows a later version, were as the earlier version should have a two-piece curved exhaust. The upper hull is missing the license plate bolts where the CFR (Canadian Forces Registration) plate is attached. The upper hull is also lacking the trim vane mount where the air-assisted cylinder was located to raise and lower the trim vane. To model a later version, you will need a Leopard 1 tank telephone box, which was mounted over the left side pistol port cover on the rear hull.
Pages 9-11 deal with the construction of the Alvis Scorpion turret. For the early version, the upper turret wire cutters were not used until the mid-90ís. Part E18 represents a plug in the coax area, but there is no coax 7.62mm included. The antennas will require a little modification to represent the actual item.
Decals and painting
Trumpeter provides two painting and marking options. These are for the standard Canadian-based Cougar, which would be painted in a three-tone colour scheme (not the two-tone shown in the directions), and a United Nations white version serving with an Armoured Reconnaissance Unit.
This is a very welcome kit of a Cold War Canadian Armoured vehicle. But you will have to do your research, as there are some inaccuracies with the kit, as it is supposed to be an early version, but has some later conversions added. If you want a kit that builds up nicely OOB and looks the part, this will do (with a little work). The builder who shoots for accuracy will have to do some research. I have firsthand knowledge of this vehicle during my time in the Canadian Military as a crew member serving on domestic operations, including operational service in Bosnia.
My thanks to Cory at COMEX Hobbies in Edmonton, Alberta for the review copy of the kit.