The AAVR7A1 is the recovery variant of the
AAV family which includes the personnel carrier and the command vehicle. It is
fully amphibious and swims thanks to two waterjets and two bilge pumps.
Its armor is made of aluminum and provides the crew with a protection against small caliber and artillery shell splinters.
The AAVR7A1 is made by FMC Corporation and the first vehicles entered service in 1983.
To fulfill its primary
mission, the AAVR7A1 is equipped with a generator, a hydraulic pump, an air
compressor, a welder, a telescopic crane with a capacity of 2700kg, a recovery
winch with a capacity of 13600kg and various tools to perform maintenance duties
in the field.
With all its capacities, it is a genuine mobile maintenance workshop for the AAV unit commander.
From 2002, like the whole AAV7 family, the AAVR7A1 benefited from the program RAM/RS (Reliability, Availability and Maintainability/Rebuild to Standard) which intended to improve the mobility and facilitate the maintenance. To do so, the AAVR7A1 has been fitted with a new and more powerful 525HP engine, a new transmission and a running gear derived from the Bradley one.
The crew is of 5. For its close defense, a M240 MG can be mounted on a pedestal on the right of the auxiliary station. The AAVR7A1 is also equipped with a DAGR positioning system and a PLRS position reporting system.
It comes in a sturdy cardboard box which has a separate compartment for the hull halves. It comprises 14 grey plastic sprues of which 3 are specific for the AAVR7A1, 4 black plastic sprues for the track rubber pads, 1 clear sprue, 1 lower hull, 1 hull roof, 90 track links, 3 sheets of photoetched parts (PE), 1 sheet of decals, 50cm of 0.8mm diameter string, 1 instructions booklet and 1 page of color instructions for the decoration.
The molding is correct as is the level of
detail. There are few ill located ejection pin marks and the molding lines are
generally thin. The fitting is rather good but there are many gaps to fill and
the putty proves useful.
In terms of accuracy, the kit is poor. Hobby Boss has taken in consideration some modifications peculiar to the AAVR7A1 but weirdly enough has omitted others easy to notice on reference pictures. The interior is basic and would need a thorough improvement work. Hobby Boss has omitted some important features and has over simplified others, for instance the air compressor and the hydraulic controls of the crane. On the roof, several parts are ill located as we will see later on.
For the decoration, Hobby Boss gives a three-tone US option and a overall green Italian one. Strangely enough, this one includes more markings. Various stencils for the interior are issued but many are useless as the words have no meaning at all.
The lower hull
It starts with the water propulsion system
and continues with the running gear. The pins for the both waterjets deflectors
broke which obliged me to glue them closed.
To facilitate the installation and the painting of the tracks, the roadwheels and the sprockets are not glued. The tracks are assembled by clicking the links - without the rubber pads - then they are installed to get the appropriate sag. To guarantee their strength, they are glued except both ends at the sprockets to allow further handling. Once the glue has set, they are painted XF-52 Flat Earth. The rubber pads are painted XF-69 NATO Black then glued to the links. The lower hull is painted XF-67 NATO Green then weathered with various pigments.
Hobby Boss tells you to start assemble the
interior at step 5 along with the tracks! The interior is composed of numerous
panels for the different front and rear compartments. I opted for building all
the panels and paint them before installing them. Unfortunately Hobby Boss does
not give any paint indication for the various parts. David Harper's book is an
invaluable source for this step. The overall shade is XF-21 Sky.
The back of all the panels has many ejection pin marks that you must sand to avoid fitting trouble.
For the front compartments panels, you need to thin down the positioning tabs for the seats C5 and W14. You also need to open the setting lever under the seats.
For the rear panels, the foldable seats for the mechanics C41 are flat. They should be redone with plastic card to get a more realistic look. At the rear of hull, above the waterjets there are two small PE grilles that you must bend and glue. However there is no bending marks.
The two cabinets on the left are not accurate especially concerning the shape and size of the grilles. Along the foremost there is the air compressor which is a fantasy. On the real one, the air tank lays on a tripod and the parts U17 and W15 do not exist.
Concerning the panels and the parts to attach under the roof, you need some putty for the fuel tank. The ramp locking hooks N11 and N12 must not be attached to avoid breaking if the ramp is closed for the painting step. Hobby Boss also provides the hooks in the locked position but only the joints should be visible.
Part W42 depicts the hydraulic part of the crane. It is over simplified but there is not much documentation to detail it. To conclude with the interior, you must glue the vision blocks to the three crew members stations. Hobby Boss provides wrong clear parts. The real glasses are simple armored direct vision blocks and not episcopes. You must cut away the lower half of each part if you intend to open the hatches.
Once all the panels are assembled and painted, you need to glue them in the hull. I advise to follow the order given by Hobby Boss to avoid any trouble. When they are all installed, we notice that some electric wires do not match from a panel to another. Unfortunately it is too late to fix that.
To fill the room inside, I added some accessories from a old Tamiya reference, a rope, traffic cones, a rag ad a tarp.
The upper hull
Unlike what Hobby Boss
tells, I glued the upper hull to the lower one before adding any details. It
allows to check and fill the various gaps with putty. When it is done, we can
start building the parts. On the roof Hobby Boss has located the fairlead in a
wrong position. It is too forward and should be closer to the engine access hatch.
The locking handle of this hatch is not where Hobby Boss molded it. Because of
the fairlead, it has been moved to the side of the hatch.
At the rear, Hobby Boss has also placed the mooring cleats and the winch assembly too forward. As a consequence, the central hatch can't be opened. among the other mistakes I noticed the position of the spare track link. On the AAVs, it is present where Hobby Boss shows it but on the AAVR7A1, there are two spare links which are behind the muffler. Fortunately Hobby Boss gives two links. The most important mistake concerns the legs of the driver hatch. When it is open, it is in contact with the superstructure of the vehicle commander station. So you can't show it open as it looks to float in the air. A similar mistake concerns the auxiliary station hatch which can't be opened if the crane is in the travel mode. The last, minor, mistake concerns the position of the floodlights supports on the headlights clusters. Hobby Boss provides modified parts from the AAVs parts but on the real ones the both supports are outboard. It is an easy fix but I noticed it when the paint was applied.
Finally, I swapped the roof hatches handles. Indeed, on most of my reference pictures the bent handles are on the outer face.
As far as omissions are concerned, I noticed the supports for the floodlights above the ramp, the 4 floodlight power receptacles, the mounting eye for the winch cable, an antenna base on the rear left side, the crane control levers, the handles of the driver, vehicle commander and auxiliary station hatches and the positioning hole for the muffler support.
I only added the mounting eye to fix the end of the cable with a shackle from my spare box.
The assembly of the crane is easy but
the installation of the cable depicted by Hobby Boss prevents the telescopic
part of the boom to move. So I cut the cable and the part has been glued. The
cable is made from the length of string provided in the box. The support of the
crane operator seat and the control box require a thorough cleaning of the
Concerning the winch, I advise to wind the cable before assembling the drum between its supports. The fairlead requires a lot of putty. I decided not to pass the cable through the fairlead. If you do it, do not follow the instructions at step 16, the cable end U6 must not be fixed to the bolted eye U25. For real, there is a shackle.
The build being done, it remains to paint the whole assembly with the ramp in the closed position. It will be opened after that and its retaining cable will be represented by a bit of piano string instead of the string provided by Hobby Boss.
The base color is XF-67 NATO Green. Then the XF-68 NATO Brown and XF-69 NATO Black are sprayed free hand with the help of reference pictures as the scheme provided is partly wrong.
The weathering started with several veils of sand and buff. Then a pinwash was applied to enhance the details. Finally some streaking is added with AK 123 OIF Streaking Effects.
To be really complete some markings should be applied. None were provided in the box.
Again Hobby Boss gives us an original but disappointing kit. Even though the documentation about the AAVR is not important, there are enough pictures or tehcnical manuals to avoid the big mistakes Hobby Boss made.
Daniel Attilio's album
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