Sunday, July 21

In-Boxed: 1/35th Panhard AML-90 Light Armoured Car from Tiger Model

Always one for a delightful distraction - Andy Moore has taken up the challenge of the new 35th scale Panhard AML-90 Light Armoured Car from Tiger Model. Today he presents us with a look inside the box before he starts to build the kit in his "In-Boxed" review...

In-Boxed: Panhard AML-90 Light Armoured Car
Manufacturer – Tiger Model
Kit Number - 4635
Scale - 1/35
Price - £52, ¥6,750, US$65, €58 from Hobbylink Japan
This new kit includes;
• Full Interior
• Poseable crew hatches
• Metal Barrels
• Photo-etched detailing
Tiger Models have been steadily increasing their range over the last few years and, in that time, they seem to have developed a liking for Cold War/modern French subjects. We've seen various AMX-10's and Panhard VBL's, and now the latest to join the roster is the Panhard AML-90 armoured car. I do like this trend, as it makes a pleasant change from the usual Russian and American choices for modern armour models, so I was keen to see what Tiger's latest release held in store.

The AML (Auto Mitrailleuse Légère, or Light Armoured Car) is a fast and long-ranged armoured car designed by Panhard in 1959. Developed initially as a private venture, and based in part on the Daimler Ferret, the design went into full production in 1960, By the time the production line closed around 1980, over 4,000 vehicles had been built, with examples serving in the armed forces of over 50 nations.
Several versions of the AML were developed over it's lifetime, with the designations generally indicating the main turret-mounted weapon. The AML-90 was fitted with a DEFA low-pressure 90mm rifled gun, and was designed to engage and destroy Soviet light airborne armour such as the ASU-57 and ASU-85. The main gun was backed up with a coaxial mounted 7.62mm machine gun.
Powered by a 90 hp Panhard 4 cylinder petrol engine, the AML has a maximum speed of 37 mph (60 km/h), with an operation range of around 370 miles (600 km). The armoured hulls were assembled from 13 welded panels, with the driver seated centrally at the front of the vehicle and the turret basket directly behind. The engine sat at the rear, separated from the fighting compartment by a removable firewall.

The Kit
The model comes in a fairly compact box, adorned with some attractive artwork. The boxtop illustration and general packaging design is very reminiscent of that used on Tamiya's 1/48 armour range, and makes a very good first impression. Inside you'll find six sprues in a sand-coloured styrene, plus one clear sprue for the periscopes and lights. In addition, there are several individual styrene mouldings for the larger components. Beyond the plastic parts, you'll find a set of synthetic rubber tyres, and an intriguing bag of goodies that contains some things you'd expect, along with some things you probably wouldn't. Rounding out the contents are the instruction manual and separate painting guide.

Sprue A
The first sprue holds a lot of the larger external components, such as the wheels, side doors, and the front-mounted sand channels. There's also the onboard tools and some nicely sculpted tarp rolls. Tiger seems to have done a good job of keeping the parts on each sprue dedicated to specific sections of the build, rather than having parts randomly spread across all the sprues. Top marks there, and something that other manufacturers should take note of.

Sprue B
Here we've got parts for the engine and transmission, along with a host of small detail parts for the crew compartment. This is a full interior kit, which isn't always everyone's cup of tea, but Tiger seems to have kept the detail to a sensible level, and the construction looks to be pretty straight forward.

Sprue C
While the previous sprue held most of the parts for the main hull interior, sprue C does the same for the turret. The quality of the moulding across this, and all the other sprues, is very high. The details are sharp and well defined, with no flash or other nasties to be found.

Sprue F (x2)
Two duplicate sprues holding the styrene tyres, which can be used as an option to the synthetic rubber alternatives. It's really nice to see a manufacturer giving the option of styrene or rubber for the tyres, as many modellers have preferences for one or the other.
The detail on the styrene tyres is some of the best I've seen, with the subtle rippling on the sidewalls, and a full set of manufacturer logos present. There's also no amusing spelling mistakes to get around licensing issues. I don't know if Tiger has actually licensed any of the brand names appearing on the kit (my guess is they haven't), but it's great to see the correct logos in place all the same.
Tiger has also used a very neat assembly method for the tyres, where the tread blocks on the side walls extend over a separate central tread ring. That should help hide any assembly seams.

Sprue H
The last of the sand-coloured sprues just hold the two main hull halves. These have been moulded with surface detail on both the inner and outer sides.
The detailing on the inner side is very nice, featuring control boxes and cabling running fore to aft. There are quite a few ejector pin marks too, but given how little you'll see of these areas, even with the hatches open, it's probably not worth going too crazy on cleaning them up.

Sprue Q
The final sprue holds the clear parts for the periscopes and the lenses for the headlights and searchlight. Not much to be said here – they're all cleanly moulded and clear, which is all you need them to be.

The larger parts of Hull & Turret
The remaining styrene parts are individual mouldings for the larger components. The upper hull comes as a single piece with the front fenders moulded integrally. The turret is supplied as a single upper part, with a separate lower plate, and a mounting ring for the hull.
The upper hull as cut-outs for the driver's hatch and the engine access panels, so you'll be able to make the most of the interior details.
The floor panel for the main hull features some very nice tread detail which should remain fairly visible through the side doors.
The vinyl tyres are fine and will be a fast option for those who want to use them. Personally, I'd recommend sticking with the styrene alternatives as they'll look better, and be far easier to paint and weather. The vinyl tyres do have one advantage over the styrene ones in that the outer tread blocks around the shoulders have an angled edge, which is the correct profile. The corresponding blocks on the styrene tyres are square, probably due to moulding limitations. In the grand scheme of things though, I think that's a small negative set against the bigger positives of using the plastic versions.

Nestled in amongst the sprues, you'll find a resealable bag holding all the extra goodies included with the kit. Some of the contents are fairly routine, such as the decals and the clear sprue we looked at above. There are, however, a few more unusual additions too in the form of metal barrels for both the main gun and coaxial MG, and a set of metal springs for the suspension. Rounding out the package are two small photo-etch frets.
The barrels are nicely done, with the 90mm in aluminium, and the coaxial MG in brass. The MG barrel is a little simplified compared to what you'd get from an aftermarket supplier, with basic drilled indentations representing the holes in the cooling shroud, but metal barrels are welcome additions all the same. There's no styrene alternative for the main barrel, although you do get a plastic option for the MG.
The suspension springs are, well... springs. Critically, Tiger has got the wire gauge and appearance correct, so they actually look like a suspension spring. It's important to note that the kit doesn't include working suspension, so the springs are only for cosmetic purposes, but they certainly look much better than having the springs moulded as part of the suspension strut.

Photo Etch
Two small frets of PE are included, one in plain brass, and a nickel-plated one carrying the rear stowage bin.
As I mentioned earlier, Tiger hasn't concerned themselves with licensing issues, so you'll find a nice little Panhard makers plaque on the PE fret.

Only a small decal sheet is included, as there aren't many markings on the two included schemes. What's on there though is fairly well printed – maybe a few small registration issues, but nothing that would really show up on the finished build.

Instructions and Markings
The instruction manual comes in the form of a stapled black and white booklet that is oh-so reminiscent of Tamiya, featuring the same kind of clear line drawn build steps as the big T. 24 steps cover the build, all of which look pretty straight forward and simple.
You get a choice of two marking options, both French Army examples, one in over-all olive drab and one in NATO tri-colour camo. The colour painting guide has been produced in cooperation with AMMO, with the colour references listing their paint range. Unfortunately, there are no colour call-outs for the interior details, so you'll have to find your own references in that regard.

This looks to be a really nice release by Tiger Models and, as mentioned at the start, it's great to see something a little more unusual coming from manufacturers, rather than more Panthers and Tigers. The quality of the mouldings is very high, and those extras make the kit feel a little more special. For a full interior model, the build also looks to be fairly straight forward and hassle-free. We'll find out for sure when I get started on the construction, but from what I've seen so far, the kit comes highly recommended.

Andy Moore