As the Americans began their island hoping campaign in the Pacific they had to overcome many obstacles in their path. One of these was on the island of Tinian, part of the Marianas. The two small beaches had been heavily fortified by the Japanese. The rest of the coastline was made up of coral embankments 15-20ft high. Captain Paul Halloran was the commander of the SEEBEES based on nearby Guam, and he was given the task of figuring out how to scale these coral embankments.
What he came up with, in 54 hours, was the LVT-2 Doodlbug. This was a standard LVT-2 with a portable ramp attached to the top of it. As the LVT-2 came up to the embankment the two legs would be unshackled from the side and dropped into the sand. The LVT would then reverse, then legs would dig into the sand and the wooden platform would then fall from the front of the LVT onto the two legs forming a ramp. The LVT would then drive up the ramp and over the embankment. 12 LVT-2s were modified for this task, which they performed admirably.
So armed with a couple of photos I set about building one of these. It so happened I had a spare Airfix 1/76 Buffalo IV and Jeep kit in the stash. I had picked it up for £3 from my local Hobbycraft. First off I would have to convert the Buffalo into a LVT-2. This entailed making a new rear engine compartment from plastic card. The front driver’s compartment was shortened by about half. An engine prop was fitted between the front and rear compartments. Other bits and pieces were added so the end result looked like a LVT-2. Most of this will be hidden by the ramp anyway, but I know it’s there. Once the basic LVT-2 shape was done I set about the ramp itself. I was lucky enough to find two sets of drawings for the ramp which was scaled up to 1/76 and printed off. With this I could measure out the size of the wooden planks and main supports. On either side of the LVT running the whole length of the vehicle are two guide rails for the ramp. The first three planks are secured to the top of the framework and the rest are left unattached.
The planks were made from balsa wood strips. Each plank had three holes drilled in them and wire was threaded through each hole to join them all together into the flexible ramp. Various types of Evergreen strip was used to make the framework and it all came together rather well. I decided to paint the LVT in the dark sea grey scheme, although this tended to fade to a light grey and was very visible once the vehicles were on land. No markings seem to have been carried by these LVTs so none were added to the model. One of the photos shows the LVT-2 conversion next to a standard Airfix Buffalo IV. Another unusual model to add to the collection.