INTRODUCTIONThe LAVIII is a well armed and fast Light Armoured Vehicle currently deployed with Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Built by Canada and entering service in 1999, it is a well armoured 8 wheeled troop carrier and advanced scout/reconnaissance vehicle with a 25mm stabilized M242 chain gun, a 7.62mm C6 co-axle mounted GPMG and also another C6, or sometimes an FN Mini Mitrailleuse, pintle mounted machine gun. This MG can either have a standard butt-stock attached or spade grips instead. It has very similar in appearance to the US Army Stryker with the addition of what is basically the same turret as in an LAV-25. New Zealand has a similar vehicle known as the NZLAV.
PRODUCTSThe base kit is AFV Club's Stryker M1126 ICV with the superb RealModel Canadian LAVIII-ISAF conversion set. The conversion set has a one piece, warp-free resin upper hull to replace the one in the Stryker kit, plus a full turret in resin, the proper grenade launchers, and a host of other resin parts and details. No less than 5 sheets of perfectly fitting photo-etch are included and it's these parts that really make the kit shine. Everything from hull-side bins and racks to armoured wheel covers and rims to turret basket screens are included. The only thing you really need to make this appear as an operational vehicle is stowage. Also included are a paper sheet of road signage and warning signs, a sheet of Canadian ration boxes, some brass wire and a Barrel Depot 25mm fluted barrel for the M242 gun.
CONSTRUCTIONApart from the myriad of parts and bits, the build-up was fairly straightforward. From the hull break line downwards is all AFV Club Stryker, while everything above that is the RealModel offering. A small problem arose when I realized that the resin upper hull at the rear was a bit short in height creating a bit of a fit problem with the AFV Club rear door parts, but with a bit of shaving, sanding and a small amount of grunting and shoving fixed that. Other than that problem, and I freely admit it may have been one of my own doing, the kits fit together extremely well all over. All grab handles and some tie-downs were replaced with wire except for the excellent items supplied in RealModel's PE set. The spare tire rack attached to the rear door was scratch built although the mounting brackets are in the PE set.
PAINTINGOnce the main construction was finished, I sprayed Tamiya fine surface primer from a rattle can and after 24 hours, I airbrushed a base of Tamiya NATO green followed by a satin Polyscale finish. After another 24 hours, I applied a filter all over the vehicle of 90% distilled water to 10% Vallejo German Camouflage Black Brown. This darkened the green down to the right shade and added tonal qualities to the finish to break up the monotone colour. I also area-filtered an acrylic wash of lighter green in certain areas such as the centre of some panels and hatches to give them a more faded look. I also used a black acrylic pin wash around details to define and bring out depth. After everything was dry, I brushed on a preliminary selection of Mig powders to give it that all-important dusty appearance and then started to assemble the stowage.
STOWAGEItems are made up of a selection of aftermarket suppliers I've come to know and love. Maple Leaf Models here in Canada produces very fine conversions and parts to make Canadian vehicles. I used their excellent folding stretchers, jerry cans, C7A2 crew weapon and antenna mounts. The water bottles are from Accurate Armour. They're wrapped in ordinary clingy kitchen wrap to make them look like packaged sets. I added padlocks from Hauler and Accurate Armour as Canadian vehicles are festooned with padlocks. The tarps are homemade items from latex rubber glove pieces and black poly-bags. The camouflage net is left over from a spares box Quartermaster Depot net I've had for years. Some additional pioneer tool items were taken from the Academy Allied and German tank supplies set and I included a scratch built bush saw. That's made from a bent piece of brass wire and a spare PE strip added with one side etched with a needle to give it a toothed edge. The water bottles and the wire antennas are there for the crew to insert chemical light sticks for night operations. I chose to show them with green light sticks in them so I drilled a hole through the top of each one of the Accurate Armour clear resin bottles at a natural angle. I then put some bright green paint on a thin wire and inserted it into the hole to apply the paint. Once that was done, a small piece of stretched sprue and some paint finished off the bottle cap. I used Aber buckles, Echelon Stryker mirror faces and MV lenses as well.
FINISHINGBoth the coax mounted C6 and the pintel mounted C6 have their muzzles replaced with hypodermic needle sections to make them look like the flash eliminators and to give a scale 7.62mm hole in the business end. The RealModel ration boxes were soaked for a few minutes in tea to give them a browner, uneven appearance. The TACNAV/GPS antenna is scratch built from a small piece of turned brass wire, the rear spotlight is scratch built with an MV lens added. I used masking tape painted Khaki throughout for tie down straps with Aber buckles. I also scratch built the link ejection chute area on the right side of the turret and replaced the armoured door. The C6 pintel mount is scratch built as well with styrene rod and I added PE details from spares. There aren't many markings on Canadian LAV III's but I used Archer transfers for the front and rear number plates as well as the small black maple leaf appearing on the front bumper and rear fuel tanks. The final finishing step was a coat of Polyscale flat and various patches of Mig powders to finish of the dusty appearance of the vehicle. The very last thing was adding the small Canadian flag on the turret made with thin foil and Archer transfers.
CONCLUSIONThis is the most fun I've had with a model ever. I always thoroughly enjoy my hobby, but this one was exceptional. The subject matter coupled with the excellent kits made this a truly rewarding experience. On Sept 13th, 2008 at the Alberta Armoured Fighting Vehicles Model Show (AAFVMS) here in Calgary, I was truly honoured when my LAVIII was awarded a Gold Medal in the AMPS judging and was also distinguished by the very special award of "Best of Show". I'm now looking forward to getting into my next project. Let's see, it will either be a Canadian Leopard C1 or a Command and Control version of the LAV III. Or possibly the LAVIII TUA, or maybe a Canadian Leopard 2A6M with slat armour...or maybe......
Copyright ©2020 by Bob Read. _OPINIONS Historicus Forma, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2009-02-24 00:00:00. Unique Reads: 20933