As its really too cold for any serious mechanical works - so it is about time the 'fun' of fitting the armaments to the turret began!
The AML turret takes x2 AA52s firing belt fed 7.5mm rounds - later to take 7.62.. I infact found a round and belt clip wedged into the turret basket from when this vehicle was operational. The AA52 was the successful french version of the GPMG that came out in the early 60's and the HE60 turret had the two in a single mantle to the right of the mortar tube.
Other versions of the AML turret encorporated single machine guns or infact did away with the mortar as well to have a large automatic cannon. My Panhard weapon configuration was dictated to me by the aperatures in the mantle and the size of the cooling sleeves that form part of the turret.
Therefore I am to have one 60mm mortar and two AA52's
In the first picture you can see my AA52 'copies' have been put in place, the barrels are clamped in position by three adjusting bolts (you can see in black) that pinch the barrel and hold it true. Inside it becomes clear that the two weapons are intended to be mounted slightly on a diagonal and not in line. This is obviously to help with the belt feeding and cartridge extraction, as two machine guns next to each other could impact on the others operation.
Real deactivated AA52s are available in France but they are over £1k each, and my budget needs to be spent on more useful things (like mechanical parts and spares) than on two expensive 'paperweights'. Therefore I had a company make up two copies that look the part.
The Mortar is a different story..
I ordered in the hot rolled steel pipework from a local suppplier in three diameter measurements and designed / built a realistic copy.
It definately now looks the part - is perfectly balanced within the mantle (more by accident than design) and was finished with a coat of black powercoat paint . There was over 10 hours work in the design, fitting and finishing of this one part alone.
I had measurements from the Bovington tank so I was able to make sure its as close as i can get to the original.
The third picture is of the dash that has been overhauled, restored and refitted - see my earlier blogs for the work on this..
Over the christmas I have also had lots of pictures sent to me from friends/ fellow enthusiasts, of AML's in service - so I have included a couple here to give this project some context. Thanks everyone that have helped so far!
The last piture is of the donor vehicle that is worth its weight in gold as a reference tool - next step is remove the turret on it so I can get at the fuel tank and fuel pipework!!