Kyosho  L.A.V. - Half 8


J.G.S.D.F. Light Armored Vehicle











This truck is modeled after the Komatsu LAV, first produced in 2002, by Komatsu Ltd. Defense Systems Division in Komatsu, Ishikawa, Japan.  It is used exclusively by the Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces, and has seen use in the Iraq War.  It is a good looking truck and a great RC for the army vehicle enthusiast.  The truck uses the same chassis as the Mini Inferno ST.  This has been a very successful chassis based on the larger Inferno chassis.  The truck come in two colors the dessert camo as seen in my example and a green camo similar to the pictures of the real trucks.





The body comes as seen here, prepainted but without all the trim pieces attached.  The trim pieces need to be cut from a small plastic tree, an X-acto knife works very well for this.  Once they are cut out you glue them into predrilled holes on the body with a CA glue and the body is complete.

Now you have a very nicely detailed body that looks very similar to the real thing.  The truck is made to look like it has grenade launches on both rear sides and a hatch in the roof for a machine gunner to stand in during an attack.























As mentioned the chassis is the wonderful little 1/16 scale version of the Inferno.  In fact the only differences in this chassis from the Mini Inferno ST are the two tan colored body mounts that are required to mount this taller body to this chassis.  Otherwise you get all the great features of this chassis. 

It comes with 4 wheel independent suspension with 4 coil over, oil filled shocks that really dampen the terrain and allow the truck to move with ease over some large (for its scale) bumps.  The shock springs are adjustable with spacers that are included that allow for the adjustment of the ride height and the spring tension.  Long suspension arms which allow for easier movement of the wheels and longer suspension travel.  The chassis ride height can also be set using set screw stops that are located in the arms.  Parts are also included to adjust the front camber from the stock 20 degrees to 22 degrees, this can change the way the truck handles bumps and the way it turns and rear toe-in can be changed from 1 degree to 2 to 3 degrees, this can change how loose the rear of the truck is while exiting a corner.  This truck even has a small slipper clutch which will help keep the motor cooler and running longer























The radio that is supplied with the kit is a PERFEX 2 channel wheel type radio, it requires 8 AA type batteries.  The Radio was comfortable in my hand but it would have been great if it had a selector to move the neutral point of the trigger, this allows a smaller or larger hand to work the controller and both be able to be comfortable.  The radio has adjustments for steering trim and throttle trim located on two knobs to the right of the wheel.  It also has a steering dual rate trim which can increase or decrease that amount the front wheels turn when you turn the steering wheel.  This is very helpful if the surfaces you drive on are different, or if the track or space is tight and narrow or wide and fast.  But I did have a problem with where this trim was located.  The dial is located right where my left thumb would rest, I like to drive with a lot of steering but I found myself moving this little by little with my thumb unintentionally.  The radio also has normal or reverse switches for both the throttle and the steering, if you ever change servos, and they work backwards this switch in invaluable. 







The one thing I didn't like right away, and it has no impact on the drivability or the performance of the truck were the wheels.  Most racing wheels in this hobby are brightly colored and although the wheel caps look really good, they do not cover up the bright yellow entirely, and make for a strange eye catching mistake on an otherwise beautiful truck.  Also, the caps add rotating weight, weight in the wheels or tires make the engine work harder during acceleration and braking.  I know it is for cost concerns but a new wheel with the cap built in would have looked really nice. 















I have been driving RC cars for a long time, even have raced off-road for a few years in there as well.  So I quickly attached all the scale pieces and made the truck look great, that way the truck looks good when all the neighborhood kids come down to see it, and headed out to my front yard which happened to be all dug up.  The truck was quick on the pavement and exhibited a slight under steer, but I wasn't concerned as this truck is made for the dirt, so I turned into the yard and began making runs through the torn up yard.  At first I wasn't impressed but then I thought about it and these little 2 inch ruts were like hitting a 32 inch tall wall of dirt for a real truck.  The truck seemed a little under powered but was handling this rough yard and taking some nice smooth jumps off the curb.

So to give this truck a fair chance I headed to the elementary school and its ball field with a dirt infield.  This is when the truck really began to shine.  The suspension handled this smoother field just fine, there were still plenty of bumps and even  a quickly made jump, and the truck would just glide right over them.  The steering took some getting used to after driving mostly 2 wheel drive cars, but once comfortable with it I was doing 4 wheel power slides around corners, and hitting my line very well.

Now these trucks are definitely too small to run in a grassy field but if there is a dirt field or race track nearby, or even if you want to drive it on the street, they are a great little truck.  Kyosho offers many hop up parts for this chassis and the list is included.  I would immediately consider the rechargeable battery pack.  The truck takes 6 AA batteries to run where as the rechargeable pack is an 8 cell pack.  The 8 cell design will give you that much more power and speed, and will really bring this truck to life, and in the long run save you quite a bit on the cost of the batteries.  Also depending on the type of surface you are running the truck on, a different set of wheels and tires might be a good idea.

Lastly the manual is very detailed and extremely through, it even provides a full exploded view of every piece on the truck.  This is very useful if you ever need to change or repair something. 

If you are new to the hobby or looking for a small scale off-road truck, especially something that looks a little better than the average truck, look no further.  You get everything you need to go out and run, and rip up that dirt.



Thanks to Kyosho for the car to review.