Ref : Heller #81137
Conversion : Phebus #35VM15
This mine-clearing version of the AMX30 MBT has replaced the one in service during operation Daguet, the AMX 30 EBD (engin blindé de déminage : armored mine-clearing vehicle). The tank can be fitted either with rollers or with a RAMTA plow. It is remotely-operated from inside a VAB.
The Phébus conversion
consists of 142 resin parts from which 44 fix Heller kit flaws and 98 are used
for the conversion itself. The main parts are the half rear upper hull, the URDAN
rollers, the DEMETER magnetic mine-clearing system.
The 9-page instruction booklet is a mix of drawings, more or less readable pictures and explanations. Unfortunately, some pictures are useless as they are too dark. It is advised to get a good documentation prior to start building the kit.
The detail is good but the cast is rather mean concerning some parts like the rollers and the pushing arms which come with many air bubbles. First, the parts are identified with the instructions then thoroughly prepared.
The building begins with the
replacement of the rear of the Heller kit by the part provided by
Phébus. The rear of the kit is cut using the resin part as a template. The seam
needs some putty.
The running gear is assembled. Only some suspension resin parts replace the plastic ones. The sprockets and the tracks could be replaced by ones of the newer type to represent a current vehicle.
The plates molded on the front glacis are sanded and replaced by those of the kit along with their new supports. The driver station is detailed. Heller's vision blocks are replaced by resin ones. A correct driver hatch is provided. Two large lifting eyes are done with fuse wire.
Some details of the donor kit are improved : the driver mirror, the APU exhaust on the left side, the headlights guards which are replaced by some photoetched frame... All the accessories in the conversion are added to the sides.
The rear plate gets new resin taillights as well as two boomerang shaped brackets located at the upper corners. On the engine deck, two plastic strips are added along the outer side of the long hatches.
The mudguards are replaced by thin plastic card and set nearly horizontally unlike what Heller show in the instructions.
The turret is assembled according Heller's instructions. The gun mantlet is replaced by a resin flat part. The bustle bin is replaced by a resin one. A pioneer tool rack is added on the turret roof. The radio operator vision blocks glasses are done with clear plastic sheet. On the optical rangefinder side housings, two bolts are added. The smoke dischargers breech are detailed with their locking handles.
The rollers assembly takes time and is quite complex. The instructions, however, are sufficient even if a good documentation remains useful to detail the assembly. In fact, Phébus forgot the T-shaped locking handles of the stowage bins on the pushing arms as well as the emergency release rods. They are done with plastic rod. Two little eyelets are missing at the bottom of the pushing arms. The various chains come from naval modeling sets as Phébus do not provide them.
The DEMETER system is easy to build but its vertical supports are fragile, so take care not to break them which occurred twice during the painting stage.
No decoration being proposed in the instructions, I applied the AMX30 standard camouflage.