Author Topic: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940  (Read 380 times)

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Offline Dizzyfugu

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1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« on: October 30, 2019, 12:59:11 am »

1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr



Some background:
Latil was a French automaker specializing in heavy duty vehicles, such as trucks, tractors and buses. Beyond the design and production of vehicles for civil use, Latil also built after World War I a number of military vehicles. For instance, in 1911, Latil designed and built its first four-wheel drive vehicle. This type of vehicle interested the French Army in 1913 for its ability to tow heavy artillery on every field and the TAR (Tracteur d'Artillerie Roulante) was built.

Beyond a number of field tractors, Latil also designed and built an armed combat vehicle for the French Army, the armored AMD-37 scout car. The origins of this design can be traced back until December 1931, when the French Cavalry conceived a plan for the future production of armored fighting vehicles. One of the classes foreseen was that of an Automitrailleuse de Découverte (AMD), a specialized long range reconnaissance vehicle. The specifications were formulated on 22 December 1931, changed again on 18 November 1932 and finally approved on 9 December 1932. They called for a weight of 4 metric tons (4.0 t), a range of 400 kilometers (250 mi), a road speed of 70 km/h, a cruising speed of 40 km/h, a turning circle of 12 meters (39 ft), 5–8 mm armor, a 20 mm gun and a 7.5 mm machine gun.


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


In 1933, several competing companies responded (including Latil, Renault, Panhard and Berliet) with their proposals. Being rooted in rather heavy machinery, Latil proposed two designs: one was a 4x4 vehicle which would meet the required specification profile, but it was eventually rejected due to poor off-road performance in favor of the Panhard design, which would become the highly successful Panhard 178.
The other proposal fell outside of the specification limits. It was a bigger and much heavier 8x8 design, certainly influenced by the German SdKfz. 232 heavy scout car family. However, despite falling outside of the requirements, the Commission de Vincennes was impressed enough to order a prototype of this vehicle.

The Latil prototype had basically a conservative layout and was ready in October 1933. It was presented to the Commission de Vincennes in January 1934 under the name Latil Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1934 (AMD-34). The AMD-34 was, despite its 8x8 chassis and tank-like silhouette, based on modified Latil truck elements. Onto the ladder frame chassis, a hull made of screwed cast armor elements with a maximum thickness of 25 mm was mounted. The leaf spring suspension as well as the all-wheel drive were based on components of Latil’s heavy duty trucks. The eight large and steerable wheels were spaced apart as far as possible, with almost no overhang at the front and at the rear for a very good off-road performance and climbing capability. The crew consisted of three men: a driver and a radio operator, who both sat in the front of the hull, plus the commander, who, beyond directing the vehicle, also had to operate the weapons. The radio operator also had to support the commander as loader in the event of combat.

Power came from a water-cooled V8 petrol engine, an uprated version of Latil’s own V3 truck engine from 1933, with an output of 180 hp (132 kW). The engine was in the rear of the hull, separated from the fighting compartment at the front by a firewall bulkhead, and flanked side-by-side with two self-sealing fuel tanks with the large capacity of 80 and 320 liters capacity (the smaller tank fueled the engine and was constantly replenished from the bigger tank). A novel feature was an automatic fire extinguishing system, which used several tanks placed at critical spots of the vehicle, containing methyl bromide. The vehicle’s armament was mounted in a standardized, cast APX-R turret (which was also used on several light tanks like the Renault R-35) and consisted of a short-barreled Puteaux 37mm/L21 SA 18 gun as well as a coaxial 7.5 mm MAC31 Reibel machine gun. 42 armor-piercing and 58 high explosive rounds were typically carried, plus 2.500 rounds for the machine gun.

The hexagonal turret had a 30 mm thick, domed rotatable cupola with vertical vision slits. It had to be either hand cranked or moved about by the weight of the commander. The rear of the turret had a hatch that hinged down which could be used as a seat to improve observation. Driver and radio operator (who had an ER 54 radio set available) had no hatches on their own. They entered the vehicle through a relatively large door on the vehicle’s left side.


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


After testing between 9 January and 2 February 1934 and comparison with the lighter 4 ton types, the AMR-34 was, despite its weight of almost 10 tons, accepted by the commission on 15 February under the condition some small modifications were carried out. In the autumn, the improved prototype was tested by the Cavalry and in late 1934 the type was accepted under the name Latil Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1935, better known under its handle “AMD-35”. Production started on a small scale in 1935 and by the end of the year the first AMD-35’s reached the Cavalry units. After complaints about reliability, such as cracking gun sights, and overheating, between 29 June and 2 December 1936 a new test program took place, resulting in many more detail modifications, including the fitting of a silencer, a ventilator on the turret and in the main cabin and a small, round hatch for the driver which allowed a better field of view when the crew did not have to work under armor cover.
The main weapon was also changed into a SA 38 37mm cannon with a longer (L33) barrel, since the original Puteaux cannon had only a very poor armor penetration of 12 mm at 500 meters. In this form, the vehicle was re-designated AMD-37. Several older vehicles were updated with this weapon, too, or they received a 25mm (0.98 in) SA35 L47.2 or L52 autocannon.

Overall, the AMD-37 proved to be an effective design. The eight-wheel armored car with all-wheel-drive and all-wheel-steering had a very good performance on- and off-road, even though with certain limits due to the vehicle’s weight and resulting ground pressure. The cabin was relatively spacious and comfortable, so that long range missions of 500 km (319 ml) and more could be endured well by the crews.

However, several inherent flaws persisted. One problem (which the AMD-37 shared with almost every French combat vehicle from the pre-WWII era) was that the commander was overburdened with tasks, especially under stressful combat conditions. The French Cavalry did not see this as a major flaw: A commander was supposed to acquire such a degree of dexterity that his workload did not negate the lack of need to coordinate the actions of two or even three men in a larger turret crew or the advantage of a quicker reaction because of a superior rotation speed. At first, a two-man-turret was required, but when it transpired that this would reduce the armor protection, it was abandoned in favor of thicker steel casts. However, the AMD-37’s armor level was generally relatively low, and hull’s seams offered attackers who knew where to aim several weak points that allowed even light hand weapons to penetrate the armor.  Another tactical flaw associated with the turret was the hatchless cupola, forcing the commander to fight buttoned-up or leave the vehicle’s armor protection for a better field of view.


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Operationally, though, the AMD-37 suffered from poor mechanical reliability: the suspension units were complicated and, since they were based on existing civil truck elements, too weak for heavy off-road operations under military conditions. The AMD-37’s weight of almost 10 tons (the comparable German SdKfz 231 was bigger but weighed only 8.3 tons) did not help, either. In consequence, the AMD-37 demanded enormous maintenance efforts, especially since the cast armor modules did not allow an easy access to the suspension and engine.

On 10 May 1940, on the eve of the German invasion in mainland France, the AMD-37 was part of 14 Divisions Légères Mécaniques (Mechanized Light Divisions; "light" meaning here "mobile", they were not light in the sense of being lightly equipped) battalions, each fielding dedicated reconnaissance groups with four to ten vehicles, which also comprised light Panhard 178 scout cars.
45 French AMD-37s were in Syria, a mandate territory, and 30 more were based in Morocco. The tanks in Syria would fight during the allied invasion of that mandate territory in 1941 and then partly be taken over by the Free French 1e CCC, those in North Africa during Operation Torch in November 1942.
The majority of AMD-37s in Western Europe fell into German hands, though: 78 were used as “Panzerkampfwagen 37R(f)” and mainly used in second line units for policy and security duties or for driver training. A small number of these German vehicles were sent to Finland, fighting on the Eastern Front, where they were outclassed by Soviet KV-1s and T-34s and quickly destroyed or abandoned.

Plans to augment the AMD-35’s armament with a bigger turret and a more powerful 47mm SA 35 gun (basically the same turret fitted to the SOMUA S-35 medium tank and the heavy Char B1bis) or an additional machine in the front bow for the radio operator were, due to the German invasion, never carried out.




Specifications:
    Crew: Three (commander, radio operator/loader, driver)
    Weight: 9,600 kg (21,145 lb)
    Length: 5.29 m (17 ft 4 in)
    Width: 2.52 m (8 ft 3 in)
    Height: 2.44 metres (8 ft ½ in)
    Suspension: Wheeled (Tires: 270–20, bulletproof), with leaf springs
    Wading depth: 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in)   
    Trench crossing capability: 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)
    Ground clearance: 350 mm (13 3/4 in)
    Climbing capability: 30°
    Fuel capacity: 400 l

Armor:
    9-30 mm (.35-1.18 in) cast steel

Performance:
    Maximum speed: 75 km/h (47 mph) on road, 55 km/h (34 mph) off-road
    Operational range: 600 km (375 mi) on road
    Power/weight: 18,7 PS/t

Engine:
    Water-cooled Latil V8 gasoline engine with 7.336 cm³ displacement and 180 hp (132 kW) output

Transmission:
    Latil gearbox with 4 forward and 1 reverse gears, eight-wheel drive and steering

Armament:
    1× Puteaux 37mm/L33 SA 18 gun with 100 rounds
    1× coaxial 7.5 mm MAC31 Reibel machine gun with 2.500 rounds



The kit and its assembly:
This build was inspired by a drawing that I came across at DeviantArt a while ago, created by someone called MedJoe:




The picture showed a Somua S-35 tank, set on eight wheels that heavily resembled those of the SdKfz. 234/2 “Puma”, in French colors and markings and designated S-35bis. I found the idea weird (since a full-fledged S-35 would certainly have at ~20 tons been too heavy for a wheeled chassis), but the overall look of this combo was very convincing to me. I kept the idea in the back of my mind, until I came across a cheap Heller Somua S-35 in 1:72 scale and decided to take the concept to the (model) hardware stage and offer a personal interpretation.

Work started when I was able to acquire a sprue from a Plastic Soldier SdKfz. 231 kit, which provided a total of nine wheels in a suitable size and style, as well as suspension elements.

Building the hull was a straightforward affair: The Heller S-35 was built OOB, just the parts for the tracked suspension were left away. Some details and attachment points in the lower hull sections had to be removed, too. From the SdKfz. 232 I took the leaf spring suspension parts (these came as two frames for four wheels each, rather crude and solid parts) and cut the outer leaf spring packs off, so that their depth was reduced but the attachment points for the wheels were still there. These were simply glued into the space for the former tracks, similar to the drawing. This resulted in a slightly wide track, but narrowing the lower hull for a better look would have been a complicated affair, so I stuck with the simple solution. It does not look bad, though.

In order to make the vehicle’s role as a scout car more plausible and to avoid a head-heavy look, I decided to replace the original S-35 turret with a smaller APX turret from a Renault R-35. I found a suitable resin donor at ModelTrans, which was easily integrated to the S-35 hull. I perfectly fits into the S-35’s rounded cast armor style, which is so typical for many early French WWII tanks. Unfortunately, the resin R-35 turret had an air bubble at the rear, which had to be filled with putty. In order to differentiate the turret a little and modernize it, I added a longer gun barrel – in this case a piece from a hollow steel needle.


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit) - WiP
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit) - WiP
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit) - WiP
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Other small mods include a pair of scratched rear-view mirrors for the driver, the spare wheel at the front (certainly not the best position, but the only place that was available and practical, and other armored vehicles of the time like the British Humber scout car also carried a spare wheel at the front) and an antenna at the rear, made from heated black sprue material.


Painting and markings:
This was not easy and it took a while to settle on a design. There were rather gaudy camouflage designs in the French army, but due to the model’s small scale I did not want a too complex design. I eventually decided to apply a rather simple scheme, inspired by the painting suggestions from the Heller kit: a disruptive two-tone scheme in a pale beige tone and a rather bluish dark green, which was confirmed through museum tanks. An odd quirk of the Heller kit is that the instructions and the box art show the same camouflage, but in inverted colors!?

I stuck to Heller’s suggestions and decided to follow the box art camouflage, which uses dark green (Humbrol 30) as basic color with light sand blotches (Humbrol 103) on top, which I found more appropriate for the middle European theatre of operations. I assume that these two tones were in real life separated by very narrow black or dark brown lines for more contrast – but I did not try this stunt on the small 1:72 scale model, it would IMHO have looked rather awkward. And there are French vehicles of the era that show these colors without any additional lines, too.


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit) - WiP
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit) - WiP
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit) - WiP
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Markings/decals were mostly puzzled together from the scrap box, since the Heller decals turned out to be rather stiff and lack any adhesion to the model. I only used the “license plates”, which were fixed to the model with acrylic varnish, the rest are spares.

The kit received an overall washing with dark brown and a careful dry-brushing treatment with light grey.
After the final coat of matt varnish had been applied and all parts assembled, I dusted the lower areas with a dull grey-brown mix of artist pigments, simulating dust.




1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Latil AMD-37 (Automitrailleuse de Découverte, Modèle 1937) scout car; vehicle “08” of the French Army’s Cavalry 3rd Cuirassiers, 3rd Division Légère Mécanique; Montcornet (French Ardennes), May 1940 (Whif/modified Heller kit)
by dizzyfugu, on Flickr


An experimental build, since drawing a whif is easier than actually building it, where parts have to fit somehow and you cannot change the size of them. Even though the resulting 8x8 scout car looks a little weird with its minimal overhang at the front and the rear, I like the result a lot – it looks very plausible to me. I also think that the smaller turret underlines the vehicle’s role as a rather lightly armed reconnaissance vehicle. It lowers the size and the silhouette, and subdues the S-35 origin – but without neglecting the typical French cast armor look. Certainly not a 1:1 copy of the inspiring drawing, but true to the original idea.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2019, 01:15:51 am by Dizzyfugu »

Offline buzzbomb

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2019, 01:28:43 am »
Oh yeah !

that works

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2019, 01:52:02 am »
As BT said, "That works!" & it fits the look & feel of the French Army's armoured doctrine of the era. Good job, Dizz! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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Offline NARSES2

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2019, 01:53:56 am »
I like that Dizzy, the turret certainly gives it that French look, I can imagine a photograph of De Gaulle in the turret, except there's no hatch  ;)

I can imagine the German's selling captured ones to their Eastern Front Allies ?
Decals my @r$e!

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2019, 03:10:55 am »
 :thumbsup:
Fred

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

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Offline Dizzyfugu

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2019, 08:37:58 am »
Thank you!

Offline Rheged

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2019, 09:42:36 am »
Zut alors! Cette voiture blindee est magnifique!!    or of you prefer  Great heavens, this armoured car is magnificent.

(There should be , I think, an acute accent over the penultimate  e in blindee, but I am not yet conversant with non-English character sets)
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Offline salt6

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2019, 01:55:59 pm »
 :thumbsup:
Steve B


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Offline brisbane syndrome

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2019, 09:40:41 pm »
That really looks the part, looks 'beefy'. Really like the model and camo job.  :thumbsup:

Offline Dizzyfugu

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2019, 12:46:46 am »
 Merci bien!

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Re: 1:72 AMD-37 8x8 scout car of the French Army's Cavalry, 1940
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2019, 01:04:03 am »
That SO looks the part, including the slightly 'awkward' look. Well done!  :thumbsup:
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