Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Review Model - ACE 1/72, AML 90 Armoured Car

The AML -245 Armoured Car was developed in the late 50's as a private venture, over 6,000 were produced and it has been fielded by over 50 Nations participating along the way in a range of Cold War conflicts including;
It was employed by a number of NATO nations noteably the French, Spanish and Portuguese as well as being widely employed in Africa.  Initially armed with a 60mm breach loading mortar driven by French experience in the Algerian war, the SADF requested an upgrade to a more effective Anti Amour and direct fire support weapon and the AML90 was born, it was produced under licence in South Africa.  In SADF service it was known as the Eland and as a result of operational experience received a number of upgrades primarily to automotive components. The vehicles were operated both by 1 Special Service Battalion and 61 Mech Battalion Group and Squadrons could find themselves attached to a variety of organisations for both internal and external operations.  

The model comes packaged with both etched brass components and rubber wheels, truly a multi medi event.  Whilst it suffers from the usual fit and flash issues associated with ACE kits it seemed less of an issue than other models I have built such as the orignal production runs of the BMP 1 and 2. To some extent this is due to its small size, and the fact it is a wheeled vehicle both of which dramaticaly reduce the number of parts and mean that assembling two in one day was not a major challenge, something of a revelation with ACE Kits.

Assembly was generally straight forward with the usual caveats around preping components and testing fit before assembly, which will always bite you with ACE kits.  The principal challenge was assembling the wheels and getting them to sit correctly with relation to the models wheel arches.  For the assembly of the wheels I found that Fitting the Tyre to half the wheel hub then adding glue and inserting the other half was a lot easier than assembling the hub and then trying to fit the tyre.  Getting the wheel to sit in an acceptable position just requiers a degree of experimentaion in getting the wheel arm in the right place, painful but not a killer. The rest cetainly in terms of ACE was a breeze.

There are a number of stowage and equipment ideas that popped out of a review of the available photos.  The Eland in the later Mks had an external stowage box added and the engine decks redesigned and this can be seen in detail in a very useful net maquetts walk round. The Mk 7 also seemed to use a larger cupola.  As the turret for the AML 90 is a common component with their ERC-90 Lynx model ACE include parts for this cupola.

On operations Elands are shown with a fairly consistant set of stowage this included packs and tarpaulins around the turret rear and sides and a tarpaulin in the sand chanels, most pictures also show a .30 fitted between the commander and the driver.

I added the following features to my models;
  • The turret stowage box using plasticard strips. 
  • The cuppola seen on the Mk 7 using the ERC -90 Lynx cupola supplied in the kit
  • The pintle mount .30 using a .30 from the spares box, although Elhiem and S&S produce .30s that would fit the bill.

  • The tarpaulins seen in the sand channels using green stuff.
  • 58 pattern webbing large packs and Sleeping bags externally stowed on the turret using cut down Goffy US WW2 packs and some of their modern stowage items.  
Photographs of SADF AFV crews show them wearing a helmet very similar to the UK crew guard helmet so I used a number of Wee Friends Modern British AFV crews to crew the vehicle.

Whilst few pictures show any form of markings on the AMLs, I have found one or two which show call signs painted on the turret sides, these follow the usual pattern of:
  • Number (Squadron) 
  • Number (Troop) 
  • Letter (Vehicle) 
I now have picture sources with vehicles showing markings on the turret side either towards the front or the rear of the turret.  I have managed to source a few decal sets with white letters and numbers one from Pendraken Miniatures and the other from eBay.  I added call signs to the turret sides forward of the commanders/gunners hatch for all my vehicles.

I airbrushed the vehicles using Tamiya paints starting with a heavy black pre shade on the lower hull followed by Flat Brown over the whole vehicle, the panels are picked out in desert yellow before overspraying the whole hull in Flat Earth which is a good colour match.   The tyres, periscopes and .30 Cal MGs have been painted with Vallejo Black Grey and headlights with Skygrey

The detail was picked out with a pin wash of humbrols enamel dark brown wash.   The Tyres were washed on the sides with buff and dry brushed on the tops by a mix of Vallejo Khaki and Buff following Mig Jemez's rather handy tyre painting guide.  They were then washed with a dilute mix of brown and black grey and the whole process repeated until the desired effect was achieved. The vehicles were lightly weathered using chipping to intimate the beating they took from the Bush, once basing was complete the whole was given a light dusting of a lightened mixture of Tamya Khaki and white.

The Vehicle is based on a pre cut MDF base from East Riding miniatures which has been covered in sand and white glue and painted in a yellow ocher colour before drybrushing with a range of Vallejo Buff and Mid Stone.  With the Elands I added additional rocks painted Vallejo mid stone. I washed parts of the base in Games workshop sepia wash to provide a little more variety.  As we'll as the normal range of basing materials, static grass  and tufts of various sizes from 2mm to 6mm, I also added a representation of the low thorn brush plants using Horse Hair which has been threaded into holes drilled in the base glued trimmed and then dry brushed with Vajello light Flesh.

The critical bit with the base is to create a different colour to the wagon, the challenge being with the all brown palette is to get sufficient tonal variation to make it all look interesting. 

All up a very good little model, sadly both this and the AML 60 are increasingly difficult to find about the only place left being eBay as far as I can see, so something thats probably more difficult to buy than build.


Eland 90 in action video
Eland 90 Walk around
Eland Vehicle History and Upgrades
AML 90 Walk Around Prime Portal
AML 90 Walk Around Armourama
AML 90 on Scalemates
Eland Mk 7 Wikipedia

Jane's Armour and Artillery 2002/2003
The SADF Border War 1966-1989, L Scholtz



  1. What an excellent post - really enjoyed reading it - the finished models are superb!

  2. I like how you show how to make a better assembly and add details iinstead of just complaing about the kit's short-comings. :)

    Thank you for the review. :)

    1. nothing to complain about, i bizarrely find ACE models strangly therapeutic to build and the end effect is always great. Glad you enjoyed the review.

    2. I don't find that bizarre at all. Modeling and painting *are* my therapy, they are like meditation, plus you get a cool toy when you finish.

  3. Apparently you couldn't fire the 90mm gun with the turret rotated at 90 degrees to the chassis because the recoil would flip the AC onto the side. One of the reasons the Elands were eventually replaced by Ratel 90s. But they saw a lot of action on the Border from the late-70s through to mid-80s

    1. I am certainly not surprised by that nugget of information Mike, there is some good video footage of a MSG Stryker doing just that in I think Iraq and it has parked itself right next to a wall which is the only thing that seems to stop it doing the same thing.

  4. Also I don't know if you've seen Johan Schoeman's blog on the subject:

    1. I have seen Johan's blog which is one of a number of excellent web resources available on the war, his Orbat material is outstanding in its own right. I am working up to a post on the subject of Web resources for the Border war if you have others you regularly use drop me a message on face book or at coldwargamer@gmail.com. Thanks for the contributions

    2. For Rhodesian content:

  5. Andy, Shaun at S&S makes a nice Panhard, with a bit of work they tart up nicely!

    1. Sorry, wrong link >> http://i76.photobucket.com/albums/j17/wayswatcher/20mm%20Moderns/20mm%20Lebanese%20Civil%20War/Pan3.jpg

  6. Thanks for sharing this really nice and informative post,.
    Armored Vehicles

  7. I always love your Blog ,great information and photos