by: Jason Bobrowich [ ]
Originally published on:
The Canadian LAV III has been deployed to Afghanistan since 2003. Since the beginning of the deployment the vehicles crews have become more and more ingenious when stowing kit and equipment on the outside of the vehicles. As the missions changed from the confines of the Kabul area to the other Provinces while conducting missions from the Forward Operation Bases the need to carry more equipment quickly became a reality.
From a modelling perspective modellers have typically have had to rely on multiple accessory sets or pieces from the spare parts box to compile sufficient stowage for a vehicle. While there are many stowage sets available, there are few available for specific modern vehicles. This means the modeller must spend more money on different sets and then make attempts to fit the stowage or modify it to fit the kit parts. This can be frustrating as many accessory parts are not designed to take into consideration the angles and details on specific kits resulting in some parts looking like they are “floating” on the kit when attached.
Black Dog, based out of the Czech Republic, has been producing resin stowage sets for modern and WWII 1/35, 1/48, and 1/72 vehicles along with a variety of aircraft update sets and figure sets for a short while now. Using their excellent casting skills, Black Dog have now released a dedicated 1/35 accessory set for use on the Trumpeter LAV III kit.
the ACCESSORY SET
The Black Dog Canadian LAV III Accessory set comes packaged in a small 4” x 6” box. The resin parts are further packaged in zip lock type baggies and there are multiple Styrofoam chips included in the box to limit movement when shipping. The box top provides a single right side image of a Trumpeter LAV III fitted with the resin parts. There are no instructions included in the kit and no breakdown of what exactly is included in the kit. In total there are 24 parts included in the kit. It should be noted that while only one image is provided on the box top, there are four images showing the set attached to the Trumpeter LAV III on the Black Dog site.
contents in detail
The resin parts in the kit are very well cast. The details are very crisp right down to folds and straps being easily visible. There are casting blocks on nearly all of the parts that will need to be removed by the modeller so this is not a set that you can just take out of the box and add to the kit.
The kit contains the following parts:
■ 2 x 25 mm ammo box liners; well cast and good details.
■ 2 x plastic water cans; well cast but the handle appears a bit too thin and the back appears to be too squared off. The bottom of the cans do not have the correct pattern (see comparison photos with Maple Leaf Models water cans).
■ 2 x sets of four folded cots; very well cast and they look naturally strapped together.
■ 1 x large folded tarp; the casting is well done and visible are the straps and buckles. This part appears to be made specifically for mounting on the front right hull cam net pole rack on the LAV III.
■ 1 x medium folded tarp; again the casting is very nice with multiple long folds. This part appears to be specifically designed to fit on the upper hull rear portion of the engine deck. The tarp end is designed to drape over the hull side.
■ 1 x small folded tarp; this part is designed to be mounted on the right rear hull over top of the pioneer tool rack. On the back of the part is an indentation made to fit over the LAV III parts to give it a snug fit.
■ 1 x sleeping bag and “Thermarest” mat; This part provides a full sleeping bag valise with a sleeping bag mat attached with straps. I found the details on the bags very impressive. The one issue I have with the sleeping bag valise is that is appears to have openings on both ends. The actual sleeping bag valise should only have a draw string opening on one end and a rounded bottom with a carrying strap on the other. Missing on the valise is the unique crossed draw strings for compressing the sleeping bag when it is in the valise. Black Dog images show this part attached to the left hull side over top of the pioneer tool rack. The part again has specific indentations on the rear to ensure a good fit over the LAV III parts.
■ 1 x dual small packs; this part appears to be two CF small packs strapped together. The moulding is very nice. The part appears to be designed to fit on the left hull side next to the tool rack with some overhang below the hull side.
■ 1 x tow cable; This part actually consists of three parts in total, the coiled tow cable, a tow cable end, and a small tow shackle. The part is nicely cast with a natural look to the coil. The separate tow cable end will have to be further drilled out to fit the cable end and then the tow shackle attached. The one thing that struck me about this part is that it looks more like a rope than a metal tow cable. The way the braided twists occur give the impression thin diameter string was used to create the master. If the braid was tighter and smaller it would look much more like a metal tow cable. This part is designed for the flat front deck area of the LAV III hull.
■ 1 x rear hull bin combined stowage; This part is impressive to look at for the first time. It appears to consist of four sleeping bags, two rolled sleeping mats (one in a bag and one just rolled), a medium sized pack, a small MOLLE style pack, and a hydration pack. All of these are moulded into on part designed to fit on top of the rear hull stowage bin. The details are terrific and this will be a great part to paint. A couple of issues stand out. #1-the hull stowage bins aren’t used in Afghanistan so it will have to be modified to be used on the more typical stretcher that is carried on the mounts. #2-the sleeping bags again all appear to have very visible openings on both ends.
■ 6 x clear water bottles; plain and simple and nicely produced. These bottles can be used anywhere on the LAV III or on any modern project but they are specifically designed to fit into cast holes on the turret stowage bins. There are no decals included for the water bottles.
■ 1 x right side turret stowage bin; First off there are specific right and left bins. The bin is completely moulded with the frame, stowage, and ballistic covers all in one. The inclusion of the ballistic covers is a first and a very common sight on the LAV IIIs deployed to Afghanistan.
The right side bin includes the following moulded in:
▪ Sleeping bag valise
▪ Small folded tarp
▪ Small rolled tarp
▪ 7.62 mm ammunition box
▪ C8A2 Carbine
▪ 3 x holes for clear resin water bottles
■ 1 x left side turret stowage bin; The left bin is cast just as well as the right bin but includes different stowage.
The left side bin includes the following moulded in:
▪ Small rolled tarp
▪ Small folded tarp
▪ 2 x 7.62 mm ammunition boxes
▪ Single small pouch
▪ 2 x holes for clear resin water bottles
The bins will require cleanup by removing the casting blocks. Test fitting and some adjustments will be required to get them to fit the LAV III turret. Modellers will likely find themselves having to remove the turret side bin mounting pins on the Trumpeter kit and possibly some of the add-on armour bolts. Take your time with these parts to ensure you get a proper fit.
■ 1 x rear turret stowage bin; This bin is very well cast and chock full of stowage but there is a fatal flaw which I will explain.
From looking at the bin Black Dog has taken the assembled Trumpeter LAV III bin and filled it full of stowage and then cast it as a solid piece. Portions of the wire frame of the bin are visible as are portions of the jerry can racks on both sides.
The bin contains the following stowage:
▪ Small folded tarp
▪ Medium folded tarp
▪ Small rolled tarp
▪ 3 x sleeping bags
▪ Medium sized MOLLE style pack
▪ 2 x medium sized packs
▪ Antenna mount
The unfortunate issue with this very well cast bin is that Black Dog did not include a gap or a spot for the Laser Warning Receiver (LWR) on the back of the turret. This sticks out right away and I found it very peculiar since they actually included the antenna mount in the cast. I tried to figure out why they omitted this very important part. Some images of LAV IIIs in Afghanistan show loads of kit piled on the turret bin. Some angle of images show the LWR or a portion of it visible but when seen from some side or rear angles the LWR appear as if it is covered over or surrounded by kit. This will not be an easy fix for this part and will require the modeller to cut, sand, and chop away into for sure the center sleeping bag and the packs on top of it. This will detract from the overall look of the stowage and not look natural with kit moulding around the LWR. The quick solutions are either to not use this part from the set or pile on more kit to make it look like the LWR is actually covered or surrounded by gear. Another solution that will require some very delicate work and planning might be to cut the LWR and mount so only a portion of it is visible as can be seen in images. These are only options and I am not recommending any of them. Each modeller will have to choose how they proceed to deal with this issue and make the kit look accurate if they choose to use this part.
I test fit the stowage bins to a Trumpeter LAV III turret to show how they are mounted and to look at fit issues. There is no way the LWR or the LWR mast or mount in the LAV III kit can be fitted with the resin piece. The stowage is not high enough and not shaped correctly to show the LWR covered. You cannot simply drill a hole in the resin and pop in the LWR, it will not look correct and will destroy some of the stowage. The rear stowage bin mounted straight on to the LAV III turret did produce a gap. It appears to me that the rear add-on armour will have to be sanded and modified to get this part to fit correctly. If Black Dog is considering correcting the LWR issue I would also suggest they modify the LAV III kit turret rear add-on armour part to fit the stowage rack, attach it to the master, and recast the entire piece so it will attach directly to the rear of the LAV III turret.
The side stowage bins are a bit of a better fit but some tweaking will still be required to get them to sit flush against the add-on armour on the turret sides. Once again, it would have been wise for Black Dog to have cast the turret stowage bins with the add-on armour attached so it would simply attach to the bare turret side.
I also test fit the water bottles into the turret stowage bins. They went in pretty easily and only needed a minor bit of scraping and sanding on the turret bins to have them fit properly. This may be the result of mould shrinkage.
It is great to see a dedicated stowage set for a specific vehicle, in this case the Trumpeter LAV III. What is less desirable is that it is apparent that superb casting skills went into the production of the set by Black Dog, but the crucial feature of the LWR omission is evident. Smaller details such as the tow cable braiding, the water can shapes, and the sleeping bag valise issues are overall minor but speak of inaccuracies that add up when looking at the complete set.
This set will for sure enhance a LAV III build if modellers can accept that all of the parts are not 100% accurate. Modellers may find some of the parts can be used on other projects and that the set parts will be able to be used on the majority of Real Models’ LAV III conversions with minor modifications.
There is no painting guide or references of real gear for a modeller to look at. The modeller is left to source references in order to paint the large amount of equipment, in particular the complexity of the CADPAT on some of the small packs.
Again, to reiterate, the set needs some work to be fully recommended OOB. The level of casting is top notch but it is overshadowed once some of the individual parts are looked at. All of the issues identified can be corrected by Black Dog and hopefully they take the time to refine the product and get it out to modellers who have LAV III kits awaiting stowage.