After a short drift in the land of fantasy, we’re getting back to reality with one of my favorite projects so far, the Panhard AML-90 from Takom in 1/35 scale. A tiny piece of kit, more appropriate when situated next to its 1/72 siblings, it proved quite a challenge to put together, but totally worth it in the end.
Searching through the roots of this vehicle, one will eventually dig up some pretty interesting facts. Panhard is one of the first automobile manufacturers in the world. Founded by René Panhard and Émile Levassor in 1887, their first product was basically a motorized carriage which, funnily enough, helped consolidate what is now considered the first modern transmission ever to be fitted on a vehicle. Also, ever heard of a little tank called the St. Chammond? Well, the engine on that monster was a 4 cylinder petrol unit supplied by none other than Panhard Levassor.
The AML and its siblings
While having built several civilian cars throughout its history, the company is best known for its military models. Several designs such as the 8-wheel sexyness EBR (Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance), the well-protected PVP (Petit Véhicule Protégé), the amphibious ERC (Engin à Roues, Canon), the resilient VBL (Véhicule Blindé Léger) and, of course, the AML (Auto Mitrailleuse Légère). After passing through the ownership of Renault Trucks Defense (which was actually not owned by Renault, but by Volvo), Panhard is now part of Arquus, a stand-alone military supplier company and continues to produce interesting designs for various militaries around the world.
Now the AML, short for Auto Mitrailleuse Légère, is probably one of the most successful armored car designs in the world with almost 5000 units produced in several variants. Among these, the famous AML-60 and AML-90, both available in 1/35th scale from Takom.
The small size, high mobility, powerful guns and relatively low production cost made it an ideal weapon for purposes ranging from civil wars to peacekeeping operations. As a result, units of AMLs have marked the history of 5 continents through countries and organisations ranging from Portugal, France, Argentina to The People’s Republic of Kampuchea (a former partially recognized state in USSR Cambodia).
When it comes to Takom’s offering, you get a pretty sweet deal. While not overly expensive, the kit is pretty well detailed and just snaps together flawlessly. Apart from the gray sprues, you’re also given a set of rubber tires (4+1) and a few clear parts. While there is no photo-etch, the amount of small, highly-detailed pieces certainly makes up for it.
Speaking of which, after several large kits, the AML-90 was a totally different experience. Its overall size is constantly reflected in that of the parts. As a tip, let’s just say that you should buy a proper set of tweezers before attempting this baby. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for a delicious carpet monster dinner.
I did face one issue though, and that is related to the tires. I’m not really sure what type of vinyl they’re made of, but it reacted badly with my One Shot Black acrylic primer. The paint would never dry, it would constantly be sticky to the touch. That’s the reason why the pigments I applied ended up sticking like they did. If I were to build the kit again, I would just sand the tires a bit and leave them unpainted.
Painting and Weathering
For finishing up this tiny beast, I wanted to try out my MIG Oilbrusher collection with a subtle dusty look. Where to better find dust, than in service for the IDF? Normally, this would have required a typical Sinai Gray color, but I really wanted a bit more contrast. What do you do when history doesn’t really help? You end up making up some alternate history, of course.
I imagined the IDF requesting a test sample of the AML-90, to which the French obliged swiftly by sending out one of their reserve vehicles, painted in a classic French green. Several days of sea travel later, the Israelis receive the Panhard, they slap a license plate on it (for some reason) and start testing it out in the harshest of settings.
This is how it looks after that. Pretty subtle weathering, but I think it goes hand-in-hand with the subtlety of the design itself:
And some detail shots: