The publication of any images or informations related to nazism, fascism or any other totalitarian regimes must be understood as the reproduction of historical accuracy and not as apology to these regimes, leaders or symbols.
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

LVT(A)-4 - (Landing Vehicle Tracked) - case report

Marines and Soldiers!!
      Today we are going to meet a family of very interesting amphibious vehicles, which allowed Allied soldiers to fight in very adverse water and land situations. Let's get to know the Landing Vehicles Tracked, (LTVs) and especially the LVT(A)-4, a kind of amphibious howitzer motor carrier (HMC).

      The Landing Vehicle, Tracked (LVT) is an amphibious warfare vehicle and amphibious landing craft, introduced by the United States Navy. The United States Marine Corps, United States Army, and Canadian and British armies used several LVT models during World War II.
      Originally intended solely as cargo carriers for ship to shore operations, they evolved into assault troop and fire support vehicles. The types were known as amphtrack, "amtrak", "amtrac", etc. (portmanteaus of "amphibious tractor"), and "alligator" or "gator".
Two LVT(A)-4s in their natural element: sea and beach
      The LVT (Landing Vehicle Tracked) was firstly developed in 1935, known as "Alligator" , originally from a civilian rescue vehicle, by Donald Roebling. The Alligator was intended to operate in southern Florida where hurricanes often caused disasters.
Donald Roebling's civil Alligator - 1935.
     The civil Alligator could be used in the areas that inaccessible to both traditional cars and boats. After WWI, USMC has been studying amphibious warfare and considered landing on Pacific islands would be likely. Yet general use personnel landing vehicle (LCVP) was not suitable for amphibious warfare in rocky coral reef islands. A special platform will be needed. The Christie amphibian tank was put in test in 1923 firstly, followed by numerous modifications, yet it was never able to satisfy USMC due to poor performance in seaworthiness.
Christie amphibious tank, with 75mm Schneider field gun.
US Army Ordnance Exhibition  at Aberdeen Proving Ground - 1923 
     At the same time, USMC was attracted by a report on Life Magazine on Donald Roebling' s Alligator and Mr. Roebling was persuaded to work on a military version, with enhanced vehicle and tracks, as a private venture.
Alligator military prototype - tested by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1940
      As the war in Europe and Asia getting worse, the Congress approved funds on this project. After numerous modifications, the project was accepted as LVT-1 and started to mass-produce in July 1941.
LVT-1 carrying supplies from shore line to front.
Solomons Campaign - 1942-43.
Notice the rear drive sprocket.
      At the same time, a further modified model, LVT-2, was under development. It has front drive sprockets, torsilastic suspension and larger compartments to accommodate personnel. LVT-2 was nicknamed as Water Buffalo. Because the engine was located to the rear, personnel and material had to load / unload on sides.
A brand new unarmed LVT-2 Water Buffalo
A LVT-2 Water Buffalo armed with a .50 Browning in the cabin
and two .30 Browning in the sides of the hull.
      A new version, LVT-4 came with modifications - the engine was moved forward and a large ramp door was added to the rear, allowing troops to exit from the rear of the vehicle. Small vehicles and cannons can be loaded / unloaded through ramp. The LVT-4 was the most produced model among LVT family. It took part in the Battle of Saipan, and saw actions in all following battles in the Pacific, as well as river crossing operations in Europe and Netherlands.
LVT-4 Water Buffalo amphibious vehicles taking troops of the Canadian First Army
across the Scheldt in Holland, September, 1944.
Notice the rear ramp in the background vehicle...
Combat History:
      USMC LVT-1s were mainly used for logistical support at Guadalcanal. LVT-1 proved in this campaign its tactical capabilities, versatility and potential for amphibious operations. As LVT-1s were unarmed, the Marines decided to arm them using any available machine gun. Each one was armed with three .30-caliber machine guns (sometimes water-cooled models) and a .50-caliber machine gun. Organization of LVTs of the Amphibian Tractor Battalions for the assault:
  • Company "A" of 1st Battalion with thirty LVT-1 was assigned to the 5th Marines which was to land on Guadalcanal.
  • A platoon of LVT-1s would go ashore on Tulagi assigned to 2nd Marine Battalion.
  • Company "B" was assigned to the 1st Marine Regiment.
  • The remainder of the 1st Battalion remained with the 1st Division's support group.
  • Company "A" of the 2nd Battalion was assigned to 2nd Marine Regiment, the landing force reserve.
      In the amphibious assault on Tarawa in late 1943, the LVTs were first used for amphibious assault in order to negotiate the barrier reef and arrive to the most heavily defended beaches the Americans ever met in the Pacific. This was also the first use of the LVT-2 Water Buffalo in combat. 2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion LVTs took part in the first, second and third waves of landings, and carried the continuous supply of ammunition, reinforcements, and ferrying back of the injured. Of 125 vehicles used (50 new LVT-2 and 75 LVT-1), only 35 remained operational by the end of the first day. Still, a number managed to successfully ferry men and supplies across the coral reef and through the shallows to the beach.
      2nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion had only about 79 LVT-1 and 50 LVT-2 (directly shipped from San Diego) available for the assault, and most of the troops had to disembark from LCVP "Higgins boats", and wade across the reef chest-deep or higher water while under heavy enemy fire. American casualties were very heavy and many who made to the beach alive had lost their rifles and other essential gear.

Developments in the Pacific:
      After Tarawa, many changes were made. The USMC recommended that a battalion of armored LVTs, two companies of DUKWs and two battalions of cargo LVTs be assigned to each division in future amphibious operations. The number of LVTs by battalion was increased to 300; before Tarawa it was 100. Due to mechanical reliability problems after every landing, the Marines replaced all LVTs used in operations.
      As a result of Tarawa experience, standardized armor kits were provided for the LVTs to be used in contested landings. Other improvements were made in the damage repair area, machine gun shields and also in the LVT design, to increase crew and LVT survivability.
     The gun-armed "amtank" LVT(A)-1 and LVT(A)-4 were developed to provide fire support. Armed with a 75mm howitzer, the latter was introduced in 1944 just before the Marianas campaign, and was especially effective in this role as it was capable of destroying Japanese fortifications as it came ashore. Its howitzer complemented the 75mm gun of the Sherman tanks used by the Marines. However, the LVT(A)-4 had an open-topped turret, which left the crew vulnerable to artillery and infantry attack, especially to the latter, as it lacked any sort of machine gun armament. The lack of machine gun armament was eventually rectified, though the open-topped turret remained in order to save weight. Although usually used in a direct role during landings only (once inland the "amtanks" were assigned to artillery formations to augment their firepower), in the Marianas campaign "amtanks" were employed inland, much like regular tanks.

     In November 1943, US Marines landed on the island of Bougainville. 29 LVTs were landed on the first day, with a total of 124 LVTs operating with the Marines during the landing.

Marshall Islands:
   In the campaign for the Marshall Islands, the full range of the LVT models became available, including armed Amtrac LVTs based on the proven LVT-2 with a tank gun turret. This provided close-in firepower as the cargo LVTs neared the beach. The combination of armoured cargo LVT-2 and the armed LVT(A)-1 together helped to capture the Marshalls far ahead of schedule.

   Saipan saw the massive use of the LVTs by the USMC with six battalions of cargo LVT, including the new ramped LVT-4, and two battalions of armored Amtracs, employing the new LVT(A)-4 with a 75 mm howitzer.

   From the Peleliu campaign on, a number of LVTs were fitted with a flamethrower for use against fortifications. The LVT was usually flanked by a pair of gun tanks for protection. A number of LVTs were converted to armored ambulances carrying a doctor and three corpsmen. LVTs were also employed as guide boats for tanks unloading onto submerged reefs.

LVT(A)-4s in Peleliu
LVT(A)-4 of the Marine 3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion.
Beach at Peleliu  - 15 September 1944. 
LVT(A)-4 of the Marine 3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion stumbled a hidden Japanese
gun position on the beach during the landing at Peleliu on 15 September 1944.
The amtrack  knocked out the gun by ramming action...
LADY LUCK is the early version of the LVT(A)-4
with the .50-cal. machine-gun in a ring mount.
I loved this picture!!

Marine LVTA-1 and LVTA-4 amtracs on Peleliu
   The largest use of LVTs was in the Leyte landing in October 1944, with nine US Army amtrac and two amtank battalions deployed by US Army 6th Army. These US Army LVTs were later used in other Philippine islands landings. 54 LVT(4) tracked amphibious assault vehicles of the 672nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion as part of the raiding force on 23 February 1945 forged across Laguna de Bay and crashed the gates during the liberation of Los Baños Internment Camp. They ferried the weakened liberated civilians back behind the lines during the contested withdrawal.

Iwo Jima:
   The LVT-4 played a crucial role both as the assault vehicle to carry troops and as the chief logistical vehicle in the first days of Battle of Iwo Jima. Ashore, the LVTs were used to rescue wheeled vehicles that could not navigate Iwo Jima's soft volcanic ash and steep terraces. In addition, American troops used the LVTs to transport casualties from the front lines to evacuation sites on the beaches. The 75 mm howitzer on the LVT-4 provided important fire support as the Marines slowly advanced across the island.

   This was the largest landing in the Central Pacific drive. The new LVT-3, a redesign of internal arrangements, was used successfully through the long Okinawa campaign. Over 1000 LVTs took part in the Battle of Okinawa.

   In Europe, LVTs were mainly used for landings and river crossing operations as well as assaults in swampy zones. By the end of 1943, 200 LVT-1 had been delivered to the British Army for training, in preparation for future operations in Europe. The U.S., British and Canadian armies used the Buffalo in the Battle of the Scheldt (1944), during the Operation Plunder crossing of the Rhine, along the Po River in Italy, across the river Elbe, and in a number of other river crossing operations.

   LVTs were used in the Normandy landings, but their use by the United States was limited as the US Army doctrine in Europe viewed the Sherman DD as the answer to assault on heavily defended beaches. LVT-2s were used to help unload supplies after the landings on Utah Beach, from the cargo ships off the coast to the beach and through the nearby swamps.

   For the Rhine crossing, the British 21st Army Group had some 600 Buffalos available, most of them used to transport the assault infantry. As mud was expected to hamper the Sherman DD tanks, some LVTs were armed with a 20 mm cannon and two machine guns to give fire support until bridges could be constructed across the river. The "Specials" were assigned to the 79th Armoured Division (which operated all specialist assault vehicles), that also provided Buffalos fitted with "Bobbin" carpets to create temporary roadways over the mud.

   Five LVT-4 were supplied through Lend-Lease to the Soviet Red Army, which used them when assaulting the well-defended west banks of the Oder and Danube rivers.

North Africa:
   The first operational use of the LVT in North Africa was in November 1942. A small number of LVT-1 were used during the landings on the coast of North Africa during Operation Torch. Four LVT-1 and two bulldozers were assigned to each shore party engineer company. Their tasks were towing vehicles and boat salvage operations. LVT-1s proved useful in getting stranded landing craft afloat, but they also experienced many mechanical failures.
The first operational use of  amphibious tractors in the Mediterranean theater occurred in November 1942.
A small number of LVT-1 were used during the landings on the coast of  North Africa during Operation Torch.
They were used only for the transport of supplies, and not in an offensive role.
This LVT-1 was pictured at Fedala  - Morocco  - 4 December 1942.
South East Asia:
   Some of the reconnaissance units of the British Fourteenth Army in Burma operated LVT-1s. Although originally planned to fight against the Japanese on the Burmese coast at the end of 1943, this part of the operations plan was cancelled and no LVT-1s were used in combat.
   In 1945, the Royal Marines Amphibious support unit was created. Its LVT-4s and LVT(A)-4s supported Royal Marines landings in Burma and Malaya.

      Here, a very good film with David Fletcher about LVTs:
      The US Army used a different naming system from the Navy. Instead of using the usual Army system of Model or M-numbers, they referred to the LVTs by Mark number using Roman numerals rather than Arabic numerals. Hence the LVT-4 was the "Mark IV" (which was not the same as the "M4").

LVT-1 (1941):
      The first military model. Traveling at a respectable 6 knots (11 km/h) in the water and 19 km/h on land, it could deliver 24 fully equipped assault troops to the beach and supply supporting fire from two .30 M1919 Browning machine guns though it was only intended for delivering supplies inland until wheeled vehicles could be brought ashore. It was powered by a 146 bhp (109 kW) six-cylinder petrol engine, mounted in a housing in the rear cargo hold. The LVT-1 was propelled on both land and water by tracks which were fitted with Roebling patented oblique shoes that gave good grip on land as well as good drive in the water. Apart of the forward driver's compartment, the bulk of the unarmoured steel hull was given over to a 2,000 kg payload cargo hold which was divided into several watertight compartments. 1,225 LVT-1s were built between 1941 and 1943, 485 were transferred to US Army and 200 to British Army. LVT-1 had a maximum speed of 19 km/h on land or 11.1 km/h in water; and a range of 340 km on land or 100 km in water.
     No armor or weapons were included in its design as its role was cargo transport from ship to shore. Many vehicles were refitted prior to the Tarawa landing to hold two .50 (13 mm) Browning heavy machine guns forward, with the .30 guns aft. The vehicle was not armored and its thin steel hull offered virtually no protection, although prior to Tarawa some vehicles received 9 mm of armor plating to the cab. Tracks performed well on sand, but not on tough surfaces. The rigid suspension threw tracks and roller bearings corroded in salt water. Proper maintenance of the new machine was often an issue, as few Marines were trained to work on it, and early models suffered frequent breakdowns. As LVT-1 vehicles experienced many breakdowns they were gradually phased out of operational use before 1945.

LVT-2 Water Buffalo (1942):
British designation: Buffalo II
      This was an improved version of LVT-1. It featured a new powertrain (To save time and to simplify production it was the same as that in the M3A1 light tank) and torsilastic suspension. The aluminium track grousers were bolted on, making changes much easier since they wore out quickly on land and even more so on coral. Hard terrain performance was much better compared to the LVT-1. 2,962 units were produced for the US Navy, who then proceeded to transfer 1,507 to the US Army and 100 to the British Army. With a maximum speed of 32 km/h on land 12.1 km/h on water) and an operational range of 480 km on land and 320 km on water, the LVT-2 could carry a payload of 3,150 kg.
      LVT-2s participated in more campaigns that any other LVT variant, including Tarawa, Roi-Namur, Cape Gloucester, Northern Kwajalein, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and in some parts of Europe, such as the Rhine crossing of Operation Plunder.

LVT(A)-1 (1942):
      The first infantry support LVT. With the first experience of Pacific amphibious operations it was clear heavier firepower than the usual .50 in guns was needed. Based on the LVT-2, A standing for armored, this fire support version had an armored (6 to 12 mm) hull. It was fitted with a turret nearly identical to that of the Light Tank M3, with a 37 mm Gun M6 in an M44 mount, and also carried two rear-mounted .30 machine guns, 509 units were produced. The vehicle's hull was covered in 6-12mm of armor plate, and the vehicle was powered by a 262 bhp (195 kW) air-cooled petrol engine. Despite the limitations imposed by the turret, it could still carry a limited payload of 450 kg of cargo and had a quite respectable speed of 40 km/h on land and 10.5 km/h in water, and an operational range of 480 km on land or 240 km in water.
     These vehicles were intended to provide fire support to the assaulting Marines in the early stages of establishing a beachhead. It was common, however, for the LVT(A)s to commence firing whilst still in the water, which, considering the amount of naval gunfire that usually accompanied a landing, may have been a waste of ammunition.
      At Roi-Namur, the 24th Marines had support of LVT(A)-1s, but they could not close up enough to effectively support the troops from the beaches. Other LVT(A)-1s supported the 22nd Marines landing at Engebi. By mid-1944, all LVT(A)-1s had been replaced by much more capable 75mm gun armed LVT(A)-4s.

LVT(A)-2 Water Buffalo (1943):
      This was an armored version of the LVT-2 following the US Army request for an armored variant of the LVT-2 cargo Amtrac. Service in the South Pacific soon indicated more protection was needed. This version had the driver's cab protected by 13 mm of armor plate, and the rest of the hull with 6.5mm armor plate.
     By 1944, shields were added to protect the front gunners. Surprisingly the extra weight (12.200 kg total weight compared to the 11.000 kg weight of the unarmored LVT-2) had no impact on performance and only increased the craft drawing some 5 cm more water when afloat. Capacity 18 troops. 450 units produced.

LVT-4 Water Buffalo (1943):
British designation: Buffalo IV 
      FMC modified an LVT-2 in August 1943 by moving the engine forward and adding a large ramp door in the rear, allowing troops to exit from the rear of the vehicle. Capacity went from 16 troops in the LVT-2 to 30, making earlier LVTs largely obsolete.
      This innovation also greatly facilitated the loading and unloading of cargo. Some vehicles received armor kits. It was by far the most numerous version of the LVT, with 8,348 units delivered; the US Army received 6,083, and the British Army 500. Many of the British LVT-4 were armed with a 20 mm Polsten gun and 2×.30 Browning machine guns.
British Buffalo Iv with 20mm Polsten gun and 2 .30 Browning MG.
Operation "Infatuate" (november 1944) at the isle of Walcheren - Netherlands
      Since no major changes were made to the engine and transmission of the LVT-2, the LVT-4 was completed much quicker than the LVT-3, with the first machines going into action at Saipan in June 1944.

LVT-4(F) Sea Serpent:
      The Sea Serpent was designed by the 79th Armoured Division for use by the British in the Far East. Its armament was two "Wasp" flamethrowers and a machine gun. These would have been used by the "flame battery" of the 34th Amphibian Support Regiment, Royal Marines in any assault on the Japanese mainland but the war ended before they were used.

      Armored version of the LVT-4, never approved for production.

LVT-3 Bushmaster (1944):
      Developed by the Borg Warner Corporation as their Model B in April 1943. To allow for rear loading, the engines were moved to the sponsons and a ramp installed in the rear, and slightly wider to provide room for a Jeep to be carried in the cargo hold. Some received armor kits. First used in combat in Okinawa in April 1945. 2,962 units produced, with many remaining in US service until 1955 when they were finally superseded by the LVTP-5. Powered by the same twin 148 bhp Cadillac V-8 petrol engines and transmission of the M5 light tank, it could carry a payload of 4.000 kg or 30 fully armed soldiers. It performed with efficiency and greater reliability, as more maintenance time was generally available than during the hectic days of the major World War II.
     The LVT(3)C remained standard with the Marine Corps until the introduction of the first major post-war design, the LVT(P)5, in 1953. Overall weight of the craft was 12.000 kgs, and its maximum speed was 27 km/h on land or 9,5 km/h on water, with an operational range of 241 km on land or 121 km on water.

LVT(A)-4 (1944):
      The 37 mm gun of the LVT(A)-1 was inadequate for fire support version so the turret of the 75 mm Howitzer Motor Carriage M8 - armed with a 75 mm howitzer - was used to produce the LVT (A)-4. In some cases, the 75 mm was replaced with the Canadian Ronson flamethrower. A single .50 cal machine gun was installed on the ring mount above the turret rear.
     In the late production vehicles, the heavy machine gun was replaced with two M1919A4 .30 MGs on pintle mounts and one more in the bow mount. 1,890 units produced, and 1,307 were transferred to US Army and 50 to British Army.

LVT (A)-4s in action at Peleliu
LVT(A)-5 (1945):
      LVT(A)-4 with a powered turret and a gyrostabilizer for the howitzer. Some were upgraded in the late 1940s by changing the armor configuration. 269 units produced.

LVT-3C (1949):
     Modified LVT-3. An armored roof was fitted and the bow was extended to improve buoyancy. Armament included a .30 MG in a turret and a .30 bow MG in ball mount. 1,200 LVT-3s were converted.
LVT-3C waiting in the beach

Amphibian, tracked, 4-ton General Service (1944/45):

      A British vehicle based on the LVT-4 and known as the Neptune. Only a handful of the 2,000 ordered were completed. The Sealion was a recovery version, and the Turtle a workshop version.


Landing Vehicle, Tracked - LVT(A)-4
TypeAmphibious vehicle
Place of origin  United States
Production history
Food Machinery Corporation
St. Louis Car Company
ProducedJuly 1941 – August 1945
No. built18,616 of all variants
1,225 LVT-1
2,960 LVT-2
450 LVT(A)-2
2,962 LVT-3
8,348 LVT-4
509 LVT(A)-1
1,890 LVT(A)-4
269 LVT(A)-5
Specifications - LVT(A)-4
Mass18,000 kg
Length7.95 m
Width3.25 m
Height3.112 m
Crew                                                                  6 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, assistant driver, AA machine gunner)

Armor6 to 38 mm
1 × 75 mm M2/M3 Howitzer
3 ×.30-06 Browning M1919A4
machine gun
EngineContinental W-670-9A; 7 cyl., 4 cycle, radial gasoline 250 hp.
Power/weight13.9 hp/t
TransmissionSpicer manual transmission, 5 forward and 1 reverse gears
SuspensionRubber torsilastic
Fuel capacity400 l
200 km (road)
120 km (water)
Speed40 km/h  (road)
11 km/h (water)

      For this project, I used the old Italeri LVT(A)4 model it (#6396) , from my stash... This will be a super fast project with very few modifications ...
Italeri's box art

Kojak and his new challenge...
      Let's start with the sponsons, which in this model is shared by other models of Italeri's "amphibious lineage". The problem is that the model LVT (A) 4 had additional armor on the sides of the sponson, which the kit does not have. The solution: A thin 0.5mm thick plasticard plate.
Adding the extra armor in the sides of the sponsons.. 0,5mm plasticard...

Let's open the boarding steps spaces as a guide for the additional armor.
Internal wear with Dremel and tungsten dental drill for acrylic.

Wear performed. Now remove the thin layer of plastic to cut the plasticard 

First step cut and rectified ... Internal view

First step cut and rectified ... External view

Right side done... let´s go to the other side...

But, first, let's close the internal spaces...
As this will be invisible inside, there is no need for much caprice ...

The steps in the right side done... Time to repeat the process in the other side...

The two sponsons done!!

Gluing the sponsons in the chassis side...

The girl getting up for the first time !!!

Closing the hull...

The it is very easy to build... the tracks are in vinyl...

Turret and accessories...

The antenna made with acupuncture needle...
      Time to choose the stowage for this girl: As always, I love using Value Gear Details accessories.
The little roll-bags will be put in the turret's side (red arrow)

The resin details in place...dry-fit ...

Primming the girl: Vallejo White Primer.

Adding some details to the turret...
     Now, my favorite time: situate the vehicle in time and space. Historical research is always a pleasure for me ... And as I said before, this photo has thrilled me ... 
LVT(A)-4 of the Marine 3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion ramming a Japanese
gun position on the beach during the landing at Peleliu on 15 September 1944.
A fearless decision!!
      The courage and bravery of Lady Luck's crew striking out at a gun in a Japanese bunker at the Battle of Peleliu really inspired me... Even more than the girl is the same model as the kit, ie with additional plain armor on the sponsons and a .50 on the rear turret ring. Decided: My kit will represent this angry  Lucky Lady:
Steven Zaloga and George Balin's reference

Markings profile
Green shades of bravery...

Lady Luck was born!! left side...

Right view...

Rear view
      And the it was ready: Meet LADY LUCK, LVT(A)-4, from Marine 3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion - vehicle n. 12 - D Company, fought in Peleliu, in September, 1944.
LADY LUCK, LVT(A)-4, Marine 3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion
vehicle n. 12 - D Company - Peleliu - September, 1944.

LVT(A)-4 with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

Indeed, Kojak have many toys...and this one is very big!!!

LVT(A)-4 with Cromwell, for size comparisom...
the Marine amtrack is very, very huge!!!
LADY LUCK, LVT(A)-4, Marine 3rd Armored Amphibian Battalion
vehicle n. 12 - D Company - Peleliu - September, 1944.

Semper Fi!!