by: Darren Baker [ ]
The AEC Armoured Command Vehicle came into being in 1941 and quickly acquired the nickname "Dorchester" from troops. The nickname "Dorchester" was in reference to the famous London hotel and was said to be because of how comfortable it was. The AEC Dorchester was built in two types with the first being the 4x4 version built from 1941 and which is by far the best known of the two variants, the other version was a 6x6 version which entered service in 1944.
Both of these versions were built by the British Associated Equipment Company which was more commonly referred to as AEC, which is most likely best known for building the red London buses of the day. Three AEC Dorchesters were captured by German forces near Derna during the North African campaign with two of them being used by Rommel. These two vehicles were given nicknames by the Germans being called “Moritz" and "Max”. Both vehicles went full circle when the Axis forces in North Africa were defeated as they were found near Cap Bon and returned to British service.
AFV Club has followed on from their British AEC Dorchester offering with a kit that specifically covers the three vehicles captured by DAK Forces in April 1941. While this is basically the same kit as was previously released by AFV Club, it does have some unique additions, and I don’t mean just the decals.
This model from AFV Club of the AEC Dorchester is packaged in a large card box, on the top is a very nice artwork of the AEC Dorchester named ‘MAX’. the box is well designed but is not up to the rigours of the postal service and will need protecting. The contents of this model break down as follows;
A colour print of the box top artwork
A4 sized instruction booklet
4 vinyl rubber tyres
Photo etched fret
A bag of resin parts
A sheet of tissue paper
12 maps on a single sheet
A decal sheet
2 dark tan sprues
1 clear sprue
10 tan sprues
1 green sprue
This offering from AFV Club indicates that the moulds for the Dorchester are holding up well. I cannot see any moulding issues of note such as flash. There are mould seams presents, but nothing worth writing home about. There are some flow lines present on the larger mouldings, but again these do not appear to have left marks in the moulded service. The parts being packaged in their own plastic bag, except where a sprue is duplicated has resulted in damage free parts.
The chassis of the model has been well represented, and due to a multi piece chassis the detail is better than a single moulding would have been. Being a multi piece offering you do have the issue of making sure everything is square or issues will jump out at you later. The engine and gearbox is nicely replicated, but of course could be improved by the addition of some wiring by the modeller. The four wheel drive aspect of the model is also very nicely detailed.
The leaf spring mounts are going to be a pain I suspect due to their small size, but once in place and with the leaf springs themselves cleaned up this should be a pleasing area of the model for the modeller. The tyres are vinyl plastic and have a good and tread pattern present, but I also know some modellers have concern about vinyl rubber and today’s weathering products. The wheels are nicely detailed and so should really look the part. One thing that confuses me is why AFV Club supplied the rear brake drums in two halves! This would have been a single piece of metal and I cannot see why they did it.
One of my pet hates of late is the front wheels of vehicles not having the ability to be displayed turned; this model is unfortunately no different. The wheels are locked in dead ahead and will not easily be altered. One other concern about the first six stages of this model build is that it is quite busy, this will make it easy to miss something, or possibly attach a part that prevents the location of another part. The result however should look very good as the modeller sits back to admire their progress.
The control room interior of the model is one of the best I have seen from anyone, I particularly like that AFV Club didn’t just leave the model as is, they have altered the instructions and supplied resin German radio sets for the vehicle, this includes an enigma machine. The creamy white resin looks to be free of air bubbles and other moulding issues sometimes found with resin. AFV Club has even remembered to supply a phone handset with this offering, this is the only part that has broken from its pour plug, but there is no damage to it. The radios are very finely detailed and should really add to the look of the finished model. It is worth noting how thin the resin lid of the enigma machine is.
Other nice aspects of this model interior are items like the chairs, I would class these are high class chairs that look very comfortable, I would not be surprised to find that some of these were purloined into civilian offices and I don’t mean for the workers either. The desk has a nice lamp detail provided and there is also a selection of twelve scale maps supplied in the box. On the desk are four corner grips to keep the map still and unfurled. One thing I would like to see corrected is that there are locations where the modeller needs to drill some holes, but no drill size is mentioned; this leaves the modeller to the Mk 1 eyeball and guess work. The interior is only missing an air conditioning unit and a decanter of brandy, if only.
Compared with the luxurious command area of the model, the driver’s compartment is a case of ‘how the other half live’. AFV Club has done a very good job of this area of the model, it is just a case of the detail being fair less as in the real vehicle. The driver’s compartment is a functional area with all of the controls and detail I would expect is present and well replicated. One thing I would have liked to see is decals for the drivers dials, but as they are not I ma sure someone must have released a set for the previously released version of this model. I should say that AFV Club has done a good job of identifying detail painting as the modeller builds the kit, but I do not feel that this could make up for a good photographic reference source for the vehicle. One very finely detailed part in this area is the grills for the grill, this mesh is some of the finest photo etch I have seen and more akin to the look of a very fine mesh sieve.
The exterior of the vehicle has not been scrimped on by AFV Club as the detail continues. I should start by saying that AFV Club point out some details that will need to be removed depending on which vehicle you intend to finish this as and so watch out for these points. Perhaps the most note worthy detail provided for by AFV Club is an extended sun awning. AFV Club has supplied a sheet of tissue paper for this purpose, but you may wish to utilise a different material. The doors can all be open or closed depending on preference, and so there are plenty of options.
The roof of the vehicle gets some attention as the vents present can also be displayed opened or closed. These vents will provided a tantalising view of the interior and I expect to see some stunning examples of creative painting, you may even find the perfect place for that Hitler portrait hiding in your spares box. The roof storage racks are well represented and again offer some creative scenes with the finished model, these will also allow the modeller to personalise their build. Included with the model area number of jerry cans, these have the photo etched weld seam and come with separate handles and cap. A nice inclusion here is the pouring spout for attachment to the jerry cans.
The instructions for this model are on the busy side, but if you take your time and are careful you should be fine. I like that the detail painting is called out during construction, the German radio equipment getting special attention. The rear of the instruction book provides full colour painting guides for all three of the captured Dorchester’s, and while I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these guides, they are all different.
I really like this unexpected offering from AFV Club, it adds a nice alternative to the standard Dorchester, but at least you should be able to find very specific reference for these vehicles. Sure I have a few nitpicks about some of the parts, but none of them is serious and should be easily dealt with. I seem to recall concerns about some of the tool mounting points on the vehicle, but while I cannot argue with that I also accept that items do get moved if knocked off, or of course the reference vehicle for the model was restored offering. For me it is not what is in the model, but what is not there! Where is the figure of Erwin Rommel?