During World War II the most common Armoured Command Vehicle used by the British Army was the AEC 4x4 ACV, known as “Vehicle, Armoured Command, LP, AEC”. Based on AEC’s Matador chassis, and entering production in 1941, the vehicle was used for the first time in the North Africa Campaign, remaining in service through to the end of the war. Big and comfortable, being twenty feet long and weighing over ten tons, it was nicknamed the Dorchester by the troops after the luxury hotel in London. Three ACVs of this type were captured by the German forces, with two of them being employed by Rommel and his staff throughout the African campaign.
what you get
I knew nothing about this vehicle until I saw this kit from AFV Club. The appearance of the vehicle as portrayed on the box art makes one think that the kit will be very plain, but when I opened the box, there’s an amazing 14 sprues inside, and that’s not including the etched metal parts, decals and rubber tyres. Of course some of that detail will go to make up the comprehensive interior, which takes 10 steps out of the total of 22 steps in the instruction booklet. So, the box is packed full of parts, as follows:
- Two sprue As provide the wheels, drum brakes and differential drives.
- Sprue B contains the detail pieces for the driver compartment, such as steering wheel, transmission shift stick, and so on.
- Sprue C has the main parts of the chassis, including the chassis frame and the lower hull.
- Sprue D consists of the main components of the upper hull.
- Sprue E holds other parts of the upper hull, such as the fenders and the armor for the driver compartment.
- There’s a supplementary sprue E, most of which is redundant and thus bound for the spares box, with the exception the radio. I do like the Bren light machine gun on this sprue however.
- Two sprue Fs are provided for the 20 litre jerry cans and other smaller cans.
- Sprue G is the metal etch for the roof rack, engine grille and handles.
- Sprue H has the clear parts for windows and lights.
- Sprue I consists of the suspension and drive shaft, including nicely executed leaf springs.
- J is the decal sheet, plus a some paper for canvas and maps.
- Two sprue Ks are the parts for the chair in the command compartment.
- Sprue L consists of other details for the interior, such as cabinets, desk and desk lamp.
- Finally, T is the rubber tyres.
The highly detailed interior is the highlight of this kit, but it may be difficult to fully do it justice in terms of display unless the modeller does some form of cut away. The next highlight is the well detailed chassis.
The build starts with the engine, then the chassis and the wheels over the first five steps. This section reminds me of the experience of building the M35 2-1/2 ton truck. The level of detail here will, I think, satisfy most modellers.
The process then moves to the interior, from the command room to the driver compartment. I found this section a bit weird, simply because there’s no gun, and no armor, but instead we have a desk, an office chair and filing cabinets; it is indeed literally an office inside a military truck. This takes us from steps 6 through to 15.
We then move back to the exterior with the upper hull. It looks plain enough, but in fact there’s quite a number of small parts that together build up into some impressive detail. There’s lots of opening doors and hatches, and many intricate vents, handles, hinges and so on, all faithfully replicated.
There’s an opened out collapsible sun shade provided for the left hand side of the vehicle, while that on the other side is represented as retracted. Also provided are twelve nicely printed maps which could be used to provide a bit of lived-in clutter for the table.
Three different sets of markings are provided, all for the British Army, with none to represent the well-known captured examples used by the Afrika Korps.
This model lacks any moveable features seen on some recently issued kits; it just keeps to the essence of the scale model kit to “faithfully replicate the real thing”. It seems bound to appeal to the modeller who likes to build something a little bit different while still keeping to a military theme. Personally I think it has great potential to be the centrepiece for a diorama, although of course you would need to add suitable figures. Note that the canvas on the roof rack shown on the box art is not included in the kit.
The kit lives up to the same quality standards we are used to seeing from AFV Club: lots of parts, highly detailed and thus not particularly suitable for beginners, but it provides the more experienced armour modeller with a substantial project away from guns and tracks.