Ref: Heller # 81137 AMX30-105
Azimut # 35193
Friul # ATL-115

The AMX30D is the recovery variant of the AMX30 MBT and entered service in 1973. Based on the AMX30B chassis, it features a front blade, a lifting crane with a 15-ton capacity and two winches.
Like all the AMX30s, the recovery vehicle has a deep fording capacity and is protected against NBC agents. Moreover, it can carry a AMX30 powerpack on its rear deck.
It is equipped with the same cupola as the MBT and armed with a remote controlled 7.62 mm AANF1 MG.

The kit
The Azimut conversion has been released in 2006 and comprises 171 light grey resin parts, 7 photoetched parts, 1 white metal part, a metal cable and a 10-page instruction booklet. No decoration scheme nor decals are issued in the box.
The detail level is very good and the molding satisfactory. There are few air bubbles and the pouring lugs are generally well located.
When opening the box, the impression is thus very good. However, Azimut made some mistakes which will be mentioned later on.
Obviously, the donor kit is the Heller one of which few parts will be used apart from the lower hull and the running gear.

The build

Step 1 : lower hull
We need to start with the cutting of the Heller lower hull according to the Azimut instructions. This step is quite easy. The resin parts fit really good. The transmission access hatch needs to remove the two large screws and their round protection as these are a AMX30B2 feature. There is also a horizontal line to delete.
The rear lights are badly molded and could be replaced. The tools latches are added.
To finish, the towing hook bracket is glued. Like the Heller's one, the resin one looks too wide.

Step 2
After watching the reference pictures, it is obvious that all the positioning holes and tabs on the left side till the spare track links are too rearward. The holes are filled and the tabs are sanded away.
Concerning the pulleys brackets, the rounded lower part must be thinned so it can go inside the groove of the pulley. The square shaped upper parts must be more angled to create a kind of flat V.
The spare track links brackets are entirely created. In fact, on the AMX30D they are slanted.

Step 3
The Heller cupola is assembled but will be glued only after the painting step to avoid any damage. The MG cradle is fully redone as Heller one is wrong.
The small searchlight at the front is modified while its bracket is redone.
Beside the driver's hatch, there is a grab handle to add. It features two horizontal bars unlike what show the instructions.
The rear hatch handle must be shorten to allow the locking of the hatch.
On top of the stowage bins for the pierced strips, Azimut omitted to depict the locking bars.
Azimut propose you to install a power unit. However, it is rarely seen nowadays.
The smoke dischargers are detailed in particular with the caps chains.

Step 4
The assembly of the winch requires some attention. The protection on the right side must be glued with the small rectangular part frontward and not upward as shown in the instructions.
The headlights supports are molded solid. They should be hollow at the back. Moreover, they are too short and hamper the installation of the horn on the right and a pulley on the left. Their front edge should be lined up with the front of the fenders.
The decontamination bottle is badly depicted.
Above the right headlight cluster there is a kind of eye used to fix a strut for the crane. Azimut part is too beveled. It is necessary that the part is aligned with the vehicle axis and not oblique.

Step 5
The driver hood is not used. Behind the crane base, there are two resin parts to glue. A dry test with the crane is necessary as the parts are located too frontward and prevent the crane to rest in the right position.
The Heller tool #10 is not set in place as it will be used in the step 8. It is necessary to make two others as one is attached along the side.
The crowbars are too long. They must be slightly shorten and dry tests help getting the right length.
The most difficult comes with the setting of the exhaust. In reality, the back of the fender is curved downward. The kit part is flat which prevents the exhaust to rest on its base. So it is necessary to saw the fender and to bend it with a soldering iron. As the resin is thick there, the iron allows to be precise and to control the heat better than a hairdryer. The mobile mudflap will be glued after the installation of the tracks.

Step 6
The operation for the exhaust must be repeated.
Between the bin supports, two braces are added. They are made from Evergreen rod.

Step 7
On the inner face of the large rear bin Azimut molded a line to help placing the bin att the right height. The line is to be removed otherwise the bin will sit too high and will hamper the installation of the photoetched basket. The bin is slightly too narrow so the Heller fire extinguishers #16 and 17 must be shortened. As those are badly represented, new ones are made.
The jerrycans holders are partly wrong. In fact, Azimut used Heller jerrycans and added some details. But the straps are still present which is a mistake. Moreover, the bottom of the holders should be openwork.
The S shaped hook which is issued to hitch the cable is replaced by two shackles coming from the spare parts box. In fact, this method is currently more spread.

Steps 9-10 : blade
All the housings for the axis of the blade arms must be enlarged. Dry tests are useful. It is advised to glue the vise once the blade is in place as it hampers the setting of a shackle.
If you choose the option shown by Azimut of setting the cable guide in the central position, it will not be possible any more to put the blade in the travel position.
When installing the blade in the travel position, it sits too high compared to the headlights and partly mask them. Unfortunately there is no other solution than lowering the blade.

Steps 11-13 : crane
The latches of the cables on top of the crane must be detailed.

Step 14 :
The hoist requires a lot of work. The tupe depicted by Azimut is rarely seen but is correct. If the crane is shown in the travl position, the central wall between the pulleys must be removed to gain 1.5 mm in thickness. This allows the two parts mentioned at the step 13 to fit in their slot on each side of the hoist.

The tracks are issued by Friul and comprise 83 links. They perfectly fit to the kit running gear.

The painting

As usual, the colors used to depict the French camouflage are XF-1 Flat Black, XF-5 Flat Green and XF-64 Red Brown. A wash of umber is applied to enhance the grooves and a drybrush highlights the reliefs.
The markings come from various Heller and Echelon decals sheets.
The vehicle is weathered with MIG Europe Dust and Gulf War Sand pigments.