Hobby Master HG4403 US LVT(A)-1 Amtank Amphibious Vehicle -"Blue Beach 1", Saipan, Marianas Islands, 1944 (1:72 Scale)
"I have always considered Saipan the decisive battle of the Pacific offensive - (it was) the naval and military heart and brain of the Japanese defense strategy."
- Lieutenant General Holland M. Smith, Commander of the US Fleet Marine Force in the Pacific, July 1944
The Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) was a class of amphibious vehicles introduced by the United States Navy, Marine Corps and Army during World War II. Originally intended solely as cargo carriers for ship to shore operations, they rapidly evolved into assault troop and fire support vehicles as well. The types were all widely known as amphtrack, amtrak, amtrac etc., a portmanteau of amphibious tractor.
After much deliberation, it was determined that amphibious tracked vehicles were the only solution to this problem. Both the amtrac and the amtank were developed, designed to be able to climb onto a reef from the sea then advance across the rough coral to the beach without exposing the troops inside to small arms fire. The amtracs were responsible for transporting troops ashore where they could continue the assault. The amtanks, on the hand, led the way, firing at the enemy positions the moment naval gunfire and air strikes lifted.
Based on the LVT-2, the LVT(A)-1 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 machine guns. 510 units produced.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale US Army LVT(A)-1 amtank amphibious vehicle dubiously known as -"Blue Beach 1", which was pressed into service during the invasion of Saipan in 1944. Now in stock!
Length: 4-1/4 inches
Width: 1-3/4 inches
Release Date: December 2010
Historical Account: "Hell's Pocket" - Bombardment of Saipan began on June 13th, 1944. Fifteen battleships were involved, and 165,000 shells were fired. Seven modern fast battleships delivered 2,400 sixteen-inch (406 mm) shells, but to avoid potential minefields, fire was from a distance of 10,000 yards or more, and crews were inexperienced in shore bombardment. The following day, the eight pre-Pearl Harbor battleships and eleven cruisers under Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf replaced the fast battleships but were lacking in time and ammunition.
The landings began at 07:00 on June 15th, 1944. More than 300 LVTs landed 8,000 Marines on the west coast of Saipan by about 09:00. Eleven fire support ships covered the Marine landings. The naval force consisted of the battleships USS Tennessee and California. The cruisers were Birmingham and Indianapolis. The destroyers were Norman Scott, Monssen, Colahan, Halsey Powell, Bailey, Robinson and the Albert W. Grant. Careful Japanese artillery preparation - placing flags in the bay to indicate the range - allowed them to destroy about 20 amphibious tanks, and the Japanese strategically placed barbed wire, artillery, machine gun emplacements, and trenches to maximize the American casualties. However, by nightfall the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions had a beachhead about 6 miles (10 km) wide and 1/2 mile (1 km) deep. The Japanese counter-attacked at night but were repulsed with heavy losses. On June 16th, units of the U.S. Army's 27th Infantry Division landed and advanced on the Aslito airfield. Again the Japanese counter-attacked at night. On June 18th, Saito abandoned the airfield.
The invasion surprised the Japanese high command, which had been expecting an attack further south. Admiral Toyoda Soemu, commander-in-chief of the Japanese Navy, saw an opportunity to use the A-Go force to attack the U.S. Navy forces around Saipan. On June 15th, he gave the order to attack. But the resulting battle of the Philippine Sea was a disaster for the Imperial Japanese Navy, which lost three aircraft carriers and hundreds of planes. The garrisons of the Marianas would have no hope of resupply or reinforcement.