by: Matthew Robeson [ ]
The AEC Armoured Car was a proposal built in 1941 using the successful Matador artillery tractor chassis, and adding a 2-pdr gun turret from a Valentine Mk.2 tank. Later versions of the AEC added more armour, and the gun from a Crusader tank, upping the gun size to a 6-per. The AEC Mk.1 was introduced in the North African campaign in 1942, and served through the war until being replaced by the Saladin after the war. The Lebanese Army continued to operate AEC Mk.2s until 1976
This is actually a first for me, as I have never looked through a Miniart kit before. The kit comes in a nice, stout cardboard box, without the contents being forced in. There is enough breathing room around the parts that you can get them back in the box after taking them out to inspect. The box-art simply shows an overall yellow Mk.1 sitting in the desert, which isn't amazing, but gets the point across nicely. It also states that there are 496 parts in the box, 60 of which are Photo-etch bits, some of which are microscopically small
Cracking open the box, the first thing you see is the instruction guide. First plus for this kit is that the painting instructions are provided in full color. You're given four painting options, two in Russian green, and two in desert camouflage schemes. Since this vehicle spent the beginning of its career in the desert, that is probably one of the options I will choose. The rest of the instructions are in the standard black-and-white line drawings, and can be a bit confusing in spots. I would suggest darkening of the few of the positioning arrows to make sure you know exactly where a piece needs to go. Not much is given in the way of color call-outs, so hopefully you can find some sort of walk around to provide interior color info.
Looking at the sprues, the first thing that you see is how small this vehicle is. It is larger than most other scout cars, but it's still not an overly large vehicle. The hull is built up from multiple plates, but there are bulkheads inside that should aid with keeping everything aligned nicely. There are ejector pin marks inside of the hull sides, so if you're opening up the tank, be wary that those will need to be filled in.
Looking closer at the sprues though reveals a wealth of detail for such a small vehicle. Most armour kits seem to be going curb-side like cars, which means no engine or transmission detail for underneath. This kit has that in spades. A great engine assembly is provided, along with a full gearbox and steering mechanism. And for those who would like to show all of this off, luckily the hatches on the back can be easily opened. The great detail work continues onto the inside, where the driver's position is nicely appointed, as is the rear bulkhead.
The real star of the interior though is the turret. Parts of this assembly are borrowed straight from Miniart's Valentine kit, along with many new parts to fill out the AEC turret assembly. You're given the radios for inside the turret, along with a full gun assembly. You're also given the ammo storage ring around the base of the turret pedestal, plus rounds to go in there. This would hinder the view inside if you add all of the rounds, so weigh your options here I would say. There is though a delightful amount of interior detail, that will keep all but the most neurotic scratch-builder happy.
Moving back to the outside of the tank, the running gear assemblies are next in the box. The suspension looks simple in the box, so let's hope that this simplicity carries over to the actual build. In order to avoid tread seams, Miniart supplies the four wheels as one piece tire assemblies, that the hubs are then added to. While this does remove the seam from the tread, it just moves it inboard to along the tire sidewall. Hopefully these assemblies go together seam-free, as preserving the detail will be tricky if filling and sanding become necessary.
There are a few negative points with this kit that I feel like I should address. On my kit, the driver's seat frame came broken because it is so fragile, so make sure to check your kit for damaged parts. I'm not 100% sold on the tire design, we'll have to see how the molding works in practice. Also, the lack of color call-outs in the interior is a huge pain, so having external references is almost a must if you plan to display the interior open. These aren't deal-breakers though, there is more than enough good in this kit to balance out the small problems.