A key component of operations in the Pacific will undoubtedly be the US Marine Corps and a key component of their operations involve ship to shore transfer and assault landings of various descriptions. My war games and modelling interests nearly always spread beyond the immediate land battle and representation of insertion transport whether afloat or in the air provide some interesting modelling challenges.
Having already built an LCAC (to be covered in a later post) I started to look at the USNAVYs LCU fleet as something that could be built into both ship to shore games and riverine warfare and anti pirate operations. However they are big beasts.
The LCU came into service around the beginning of the Vietnam war and have been busy moving the USMC from ship to shore ever since. They can carry 125tones of cargo which equates to 2 M1s, 10 LAVs or 400 troops. They can carry a range of fixed small arms Machine guns and mini guns primarily for self defence. Within the Pacific 7th Fleet they form part of Task Force 76 which is the Expeditionary Strike group. This includes two Assault Craft Units, which I assume provide both the LCU and LCAC force components. They will also be found working with the Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons and the Amphibious Readiness Groups that transport USMC's MEUSOCs.
The basic dimensions of the beast are 134 feet long by 29 feet wide which I roughly converted to 22.3 inches long and 4.8 inches wide. I use the word roughly as I am unclear where exactly the measurements are taken from whether they refer to the waterline or the absolute length.
I managed to find some plans and did most of my dimensioning by blowing these up untill the picture was 22.3 inches long. The broad shape was then sketched out onto MDF which would form the base of the craft. The block sections for the Bow and superstructure were also sketched in.
The bulk of the vessel is of a sheet metal construction so fairly easy to reproduce less the main superstructure and the bow section. The super structure, bridge engine room and accomodation, was constructed with plasti-card to a pattern created from the dimensioned drawings. The bow section seemed a little more difficult so was cut and sanded out of balsa wood, before being clad in plasti-card on the upper surfaces. The Bow ramp was also cut from balsa and based on a quantity of wine being consumed ended up being a little longer than needed. The M1 gives an impression of scale.
I also started to detail up the first part of the hull wall from plasticard with detailing cut from plastic strip, turned out there were quite a few triangular hull supports to make for the complete vessel.
The remainder of the hull was then built out using plasticard, with the stern ramp again being modelled in balsa.
It then became a job of building out the detail which was either cut from card stock or came out of the spares box.