Master Modeler Glenn Bartolotti has created quite a series with his "Step-By-Step Finishing Armor" series. Each of the nearly 30 volumes is a mini-master class in painting and weathering a specific armor kit. The paints, powders and washes are all clearly identified, along with pre-shading and other painting techniques. His latest venture is into the area of scratch-building with the AEC 4x4 armored command vehicle.
Essentially an armored version of a bus wedded to a Matador truck chassis, the AEC served from North Africa in 1941 until the end of the war with around 415 being built. Because it was big and roomy, Tommies nicknamed it "Dorchester" (after the famous London hotel). Unlike with previous volumes in the "Step-By-Step" series, there is no kit of the AEC Dorchester available currently, and the entire model was scratched together from sheet styrene, rivets and items from the spares box.
what you get
Modelers download a PDF file that can be printed-out or used on a laptop or other portable computing device, including a smartphone.
The volume opens with a one-page description of the AEC, then plunges right into the scratch-building. Aside from the fact that these buses were used throughout the war, building one makes for an interesting "scavenger hunt," with the resin wheels from Accurate Armor and the chassis from an old Testors/Italeri Bedford lorry kit. Other bits are from the spares box, while the body rivets come from a railroad source that would scare off anyone without a lot of patience.
As straight-forward as the techniques have been in the other volumes of this series, this volume takes us into multimedia territory with a You-Tube-style video that can be clicked on p. 18. The video covers detailing washes that highlight specific locations and don't change the overall color.
Previous volumes ended with the finished weathered vehicle, but this one provides four pages of research on AECs in both British and captured German service. Of particular note are "Max" and "Moritz," the Dorchesters captured outside Derna by German recce troops, both of which were adopted by Field Marshall Irwin Rommel and used in the lead-up to Operation Crusader that relieved Tobruk in December, 1941. There are photos of the originals, as well as color camo schemes for both the British and captured versions.
The volume then ends with a 1/35th scale line drawing that can be used as a template for scratch-building your own Dorchester.
One of the criticisms of the "Step-By-Step" series has been it's too basic for many modelers. This volume helps to set the different course, both for its multimedia format and its foray into scratch-building. I recommend it, if for no other reason, the techniques apply to any desert vehicle, and the price is still a steal.
Thanks to Glenn Bartolotti for providing this review sample. Be sure to mention you saw it reviewed on Armorama when ordering.
Highs: An excellent mini master class that includes a video demonstrating techniques. Those techniques can be applied to many different scenarios, too. Lows: More expensive than previous editions. A subject that's not available in kit form.Verdict: Definitely recommended. The techniques are applicable to different vehicles, not just this fascinating oddball.
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