Hobby Boss 1/35 AAVP-7A1 with EAAK




$62.00 SRP


Two options


Blair Stewart


Complete Interior



The Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) - officially designated as the AAV-7A1 (formerly known as the LVT-7) - is a fully tracked amphibious landing vehicle manufactured by FMC Corporation (now BAE Systems Land and Armaments).

The AAV-7A1 is the current amphibious troop transport of the United States Marine Corps. It is used by USMC Assault Amphibian Battalions to land the surface assault elements of the landing force and their equipment in a single lift from assault shipping during amphibious operations to inland objectives and to conduct mechanized operations and related combat support in subsequent mechanized operations ashore. It is also operated by other nation’s military forces (e.g., Brazil, Argentina, Italy, and South Korea). The amphibious capability of the AAV makes it unique among all DOD systems. This forcible entry amphibious capability is the unique capability that sets the US Marine Corps apart from the other services.

The primary responsibility of AAVs during an amphibious operation is to spearhead a beach assault. They disembark from ship and come ashore, carrying infantry and supplies to the area to provide a forced entry into the amphibious assault area for the surface assault element. Once the AAVs have landed, they can take on several different tasks: manning check points, Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) missions, escorting food convoys or mechanized patrol. The standard AAV is equipped with a MK-19 grenade launcher and an M2 .50 caliber machine gun. With a 10,000 pound capacity, the AAV can also be used as a bulk refueler or a field expedient ambulance. It is easily the most versatile vehicle in the Marine Corps.

The LVT-7 was first introduced in 1972 as a replacement for the LVT-5. In 1982, FMC was contracted to conduct the LVT-7 Service Life Extension Program, which converted the LVT-7 vehicles to the improved AAV-7A1 vehicle by adding an improved engine, transmission, and weapons system and improving the vehicle’s overall maintainability. The Cummins VT400 diesel engine replaced the GM 8V53T, and this was driven through FMC's HS-400-3A1 transmission. Electric motors replaced the hydraulic traverse and elevation of the weapon station, which eliminated the danger from hydraulic fluid fires. FMC strengthened the suspension and shock absorbers as well. They made the fuel tank safer, and added a fuel-burning smoke generator system. Eight smoke grenade launchers were also placed around the armament station. The headlight clusters were housed in a square recess instead of the earlier round type. Other changes included an improved instrument panel for the driver, a night vision device, and a new ventilation system. These upgraded vehicles were originally called LVT-7A1, but the Marine Corps renamed the LVT-7A1 to AAV-7A1 in 1984.

Another  added improvement was the Cadillac Gage weapon station or Up-Gunned Weapon Station (UGWS), which was armed with both a .50 cal (12.7 mm) M2HB machine gun and a Mk-19 40 mm grenade launcher.

The AAV-7A1 was heavily used in the war in Iraq and was criticized for providing poor protection for the crew and passengers compared with other vehicles such as the M2 Bradley. Several of them were disabled or destroyed during the Battle of Nasiriyah, where they faced RPG, mortar, tank and artillery fire. At least one vehicle was destroyed by friendly fire from USAF A-10s. Eighteen Marines were lost. AAV-7A1s were also used extensively in the Persian Gulf War and in Operation Restore Hope. As a result, Enhanced Applique Armor Kits (EAAK) were developed for the AAV-7A1, and the added weight of the new armor necessitated the addition of a bow plane kit when operating afloat. This new armor package consists of a set of removable corrugated steel plates, bolted to the vehicle’s armor. All AAVP7A1s were equipped with EAAK installation brackets (small rectangular metal blocks with holes for bolts in them) welded to the side and top armor surfaces, but not all vehicles received the actual armor plate kits. This became a problem during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where some USMC units had to improvise and use flat armor plates instead of EAAK sections.

All of these changes to the original LVTP7 design caused significant increases in vehicle weight, which placed excessive strain on the vehicle’s suspension and power systems. For example, the vehicle’s ground clearance was reduced from the original 16 inches to less than 12 inches. To address these problems, the Assault Amphibious Vehicle Reliability, Availability, Maintainability/Rebuild to Standard (AAV RAM/RS) Program replaced the AAV-7’s engine, transmission and suspension with the Army’s M2 Bradley components modified for the AAV. As a result, the vehicle’s ground clearance was returned to 16 inches and its horsepower-to-ton ratio was improved from 13 to 1 to 17 to 1. The AAV RAM/RS rebuild encompassed all AAV systems and components to return the AAV to the original vehicle's performance specifications and ensure acceptable Fleet Marine Force (FMF) AAV readiness ratings until the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) is operational in 2015. Introduction of the Bradley components and the rebuild to standard effort is expected to reduce maintenance costs for the remaining life of the AAV through the year 2013.

There are currently three variants of the AAV-7A1 used by the USMC: AAVP-7A1 (personnel); AAVC-7A1 (command); and AAVR-7A1 (recovery). The AAVP-7A1, the subject of this review, is the most common AAV. It carries four crew radios as well as the AN/VIC-2 intercom system. The AAVP-7A1 can carry 25 combat-equipped Marines and its three crew members: driver, crew chief/vehicle commander (also the gunner); and the rear crewman.


 After reviewing a “ton” of Dragon kits for MM, it is a pleasure to find another quality entry into the 1/35 armor kit manufacturing arena. Hobby Boss has really stepped up to the plate with its current series of AAV kits, and upon opening the box, one is immediately overwhelmed by just how many parts there are in the kit. There are 15 sprues of parts molded in gray plastic, 4 sprues of black plastic (the track pads), 2 clear plastic sprues, 180 individual track links, one set of photo etched (PE) parts, a length of rope, and a decal sheet. The upper and lower hulls are beautifully molded as separate parts. All of this stuff is choreographed by a 19-step instruction booklet, and 2 full-page exterior color guide sheets (unfortunately, there is virtually no information provided about interior colors, and this kit contains a full interior). All parts are crisply molded, and I found no virtually no flash on any of the parts as I assembled them. 


The lower hull is first on the assembly agenda. I glued all 12 of the road wheels together and assembled the two propulsion units used when the vehicle is “swimming.” After attaching all of the suspension system’s torsion bars to the hull, I then glued the wheels and drive sprockets to the lower hull. At this stage, the instructions say to assemble 166 track links, consisting of the link and a road pad. That equates to gluing together 332 plastic parts, and, given my dread of individual link track assemblies, I decided at this point to delay this task.

At this point, I began assembling the vehicle’s detailed interior. The interior walls include the replication of a number of equipment items that are mounted to the walls of the real vehicle. I then assembled the bench seats to the interior floor and mounted this in the lower hull. Next, I moved to the assembly of the driver’s compartment and the lower section of the gun station. To give you some idea of how complete the interior is on this kit, steps 5-12 in the 19-step instruction sheet are devoted to the interior’s assembly. 

After completing the interior, it was time to paint it, but I had no idea what colors to use. I searched the web, and managed to find a number of great interior photos of the AAVP7, along with some discussions of the interior colors (see items 3 and 4 in my references). The primary interior color is “Sea Foam Green,” which eerily reminds me of the interior color of an underground Minuteman ICBM launch control center I have seen more of those than I could ever wish for, and I wasn’t even on a launch crew!). A good match for this almost pastel green is Tamiya XF-21, Sky (and I must admit, I don’t recall ever seeing a sky this color). I sprayed the interior with Tamiya Sky and set it aside to dry (yeah, I know: the old man is finally moving towards acrylic paints; but I still thin them with lacquer thinner. Some habits can’t be broken). I then hand-painted various interior equipment items such as black boxes and fire extinguishers. Finally, I dabbed on puddles of Future and applied the interior decals (I used this “puddling” approach to avoid having to completely gloss the interior, and the decals will adhere nicely to the painted surfaces as the puddles of Future dry).

Next, I moved on to the exterior details. I started mounting the various pieces to the upper hull, including the two large PE screens. In Step 13, you assemble two side antenna stands that will provide a total of 4 antennas for the vehicle, but I found that only 2 antenna bases are included in this kit. I don’t know if this is because Hobby Boss just neglected to include them or 4 antennas are only found on the command version of the AAVP-7, which, if this is the case, Hobby Boss may be intending to release at a later date. At any rate, I spent a lot of time looking for the non-existent parts, which was a little bit inconvenient, to say the least. Also in Step 13, Part D13, one of the external stowage assembly end braces, is mislabeled. Finally, one needs to be very careful not to reverse Parts R8 (Step 13) and R11 (Step 14) when assembling the vehicle’s two large top hatches. Another minor instruction sheet glitch is that Parts Q8 and Q9 need to be reversed.

Continuing with the top of the vehicle, I mounted the two left side hatches over the driver’s compartment. I then assembled the exhaust stack, including the two very nice PE screens that go on the sides. Be careful here: it is easy to reverse the exhaust stack. I had read this on another web review of the kit, so searched the web for pictures of the real thing to understand how this assembly is oriented on the vehicle.

At this stage, it was time to glue the upper and lower hulls together. This was the first time I encountered a fit problem: no matter what I did, I seemed to have gaps between the upper and lower hull. After wrestling with the problem for some time, I concluded that the later installation of the EAAK would hide these, so I pressed forward. My advice is to carefully fit check this assembly before applying any glue, and to make whatever modifications you can to make them fit better. After this struggle, I assembled the rear door, mounted it in the drop down ramp, and set it aside.

Step 17 instructs you to glue the EAAK plates to the side of the vehicle, but since I had delayed assembly of the tracks, I skipped this step and finished assembling the remaining exterior components. I then moved to Step 18, which guides you through the assembly of the very detailed, complete UGWS. The UGWS is a model within the model, and it takes quite a while to assemble; but once completed, it is worth the effort. I mounted the UGWS in its station, placed the rear ramp on the vehicle in the closed position, and then painted the exterior color. I then took a black Sharpie and painted the rubber road wheels.

No longer able to avoid it, I set out to assemble the tracks. I found these tracks to be particularly difficult, given the fact that: (1) each link is two pieces; and (2) the fit of the links to each other is not very precise, requiring one to shave off some mold lines to make them fit better. While I would prefer not to hassle with individual link tracks, I believe if one must deal with them, Dragon’s Magic Tracks are the best fitting of all of them (although I have yet to build a Tamiya kit with individual track links). After numerous armor kits, I’ve decided that Dragon’s DS flexible track is my preferred track approach.

After several nights and more than one hassle, I finally had the tracks mounted to the vehicle. I then glued on the front side skirts and the EAAK panels. I used clear Tacky Glue to attach the windows to the driver’s station and the rear crewman’s station. I painted the window inserts of the UGWS with Tamiya’s X-25 Clear Green, and, while this was drying, I pressed in the clear window panels.


The color guide shows two different vehicles in the traditional green-brown-black camo scheme; however, I had seen photos of AAVP7s painted in Desert Storm tan while in combat in Iraq, so I decided this was the color for my model. Once painted, I glossed the entire model with Future to accommodate applying washes and the few exterior decals.

When applied, this color scheme is not very exciting, so I decided the model needed to be spruced up with some contrasting color. I concluded that the best way to do this was to add various pieces of olive drab and green equipment and ammo boxes to the exterior storage bins. I just happen to have one of Tamiya’s MM266 Modern US Military Equipment Sets on hand, so I opted to paint various items from the set and glue them to the vehicle. To provide even more contrast, this set includes sleeping bags, sleeping mats, and plastic water cans that are dark gray. It also includes paper Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) cartons that you can cut out, fold, and glue together.

I decided to display the model with all of the hatches open. The large rear upper deck hatches, the rear crewman’s hatch, and the driver’s hatch are made to open and close, but the rear ramp and the UGWS hatch need to be glued in the open position. For the rear ramp, I used Super Glue to attach the small rope that is used to raise and lower the ramp.

The final touch was to cut two lengths of guitar string for the rear-mounted radio antenna ands superglue them to the antenna mounts on the rear deck.  


Hobby Boss has hit a home run with this kit, and once assembled, it is impressive (I am amazed how big the real vehicle is when set next to a 1/35 scale M1 tank). The parts count alone will take your breath away, so be prepared for the long haul if you opt to assemble this kit. Needless to say, some assembly experience is recommended for those intent on tackling this kit. The kit’s interior is something to behold, and it is a nice, unique addition to my armor collection. I highly recommend this kit to armor and military vehicle buffs. Way to go, Hobby Boss!


1.      Assault Amphibian Vehicle Personnel Model 7A1, Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Military Analysis Network, April 14, 2000.

2.      Primeportal.net, 2009.

3.      KitMaker Gallery - AAVP48, September 12, 2009.

Blair Stewart

April 2010

My thanks to Squadron Products for the review kit. Get yours at your favorite shop or ask them to order it for you.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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