VAB Milan
Ref: Heller #81130
Azimut #35181 VAB Milan
Azimut #VAB update set
Blast Models #35003K interior set n1
Blast Models #35004K interior set n2
Blast Models #35002K wheels set
Eduard #35535 VAB exterior
Verlinden #388 PSP

The VAB Milan is a modified variant to accommodate a load of 12 missiles and 2 firing posts. Externally, it looks quite identical to the personnel carrier variant. The only difference is a bracket welded on the roof between the two rear hatches. Initially, the CB52 turret mounting a 7.62mm AANF1 MG was fitted to all the VAB variants. Currently, the VAB Milan still have this turret and do not mount the .50cal MG.
The VAB Milan is amphibious and is fitted with waterjets and a splashboard. It is fitted with a radio set and carries a crew of 7.

The Heller kit is known and gives a honest rendition of the VAB despite its numerous flaws, its mean level of detail and lack of fineness. The Milan conversion is produced by Azimut and was originally designed for their resin VAB kit. It comprises 2 resin and white metal firing posts, 2 ready-to-fire missiles, 12 missiles in stowage condition, 1 CB52 turret and the particular seats of this variant. The firing posts brackets inside the vehicle as well as many stowage racks are missing and should be made from scratch.
The Azimut notice is simple. Curiously, it doesn't give any instruction for the setting of the MIRA thermal camera on the post.

The building

The interior

The driving compartment is a Blast set and fits well to the lower hull but needs some sanding to help fitting the upper hull. As ever, the carving and the details are very crisp. The PR4G radio set and a control box under the dashboard are not used to match the operation Daguet (French part to Desert Shield then Desert Storm) time frame. Blast issue a painting guide for the various panels and instruments.

Blast engine compartment requires a cutting in the Heller kit roof. Blast suggest an optional cutting that was done to install an Azimut part much more realistic than Blast one. The rest of the set is quite unused particularly the benches, the .50cal ammo boxes, the AT rockets and some accessories. The duckboard, the windows opening handles and the handles under the roof are installed.

The troop compartment is modified to accommodate 12 missiles and the firing posts. The shortened benches come in the Azimut set but the legs are from Blast instead of the kit ones. Between the legs, a horizontal bar made of plastic rod is added. The gunner seats are from Azimut but they come without their legs that you must scratchbuild. You also need to make the seat back brackets.

Under the right bench, a rack for the cooling bottles of the thermal camera is added. It is made of thin plastic card, the bottle container is a bit of sprue. A second rack is made and installed behind the battery compartment. On this rack, a thermal camera case is fixed.
Under the left bench, a case is made from thick plastic card. The handle is in brass rod. A second one is made and put between the bench and the driver compartment access corridor.
In front of the engine wall, 3 plastic strips are put on the floor to hold the missiles.

On the left side, the 7.62mm ammo boxes racks are added. A storage rack with its fabric cover is added on the right.

The upper hull inner face gets the Blast windows opening handles and roof handles. The firing post supports and the missiles holding system are scratchbuilt.

The interior is painted white then some wear marks are made with aluminum paint and graphite powder. The various accessories (firing posts, missiles, boxes ...) are painted in XF62 Olive Drab. The markings on the missiles come from the Accurate Armour set #A090. The seats are painted with a mix of XF49 Khaki and XF62 Olive Drab.


The exterior

On the lower hull are glued the Azimut waterjets and jerrycan holders. A little PE chain is added to each holder. The side bins are detailed : the 4 bolts to secure the bin to the hull are added as well as the locking system.
Small brass rings replace the kit ones (#103).
The towing system (the hook and its protection) is replaced by the Azimut parts. The hook is shortened to looks like the real one.
The Azimut resin rear lights replace with advantage the kit clear plastic ones.
At the front, the protective bars of the headlights are made of brass rod.

The upper hull requires much more modifications and additions.
The splashboard come from the Azimut set. The hinges locations are slightly sanded to ease the fit to the hull. Previously, the Eduard grill is installed.
The Azimut black-out lights are glued. The mirrors supports are made of plastic rod and card. Heller have simply carved locating marks to glue the supports rods. The mirrors are from Azimut.
The windshield shutters are thinned, the Azimut replacement ones are not used as the hinges are not opposite the kit ones.

On the sides, the front doors are modified. The plastic rods are cut away and replaced by a bit of piano string. The fastenings are redone. The PE handles come from the Azimut set. Above each door, a strip to prevent the rain infiltrations is added.
The windows shutters and their hinges are thinned. The Azimut PE shutters are too large for the Heller windows.
The various rings and handles are made of brass rod.

On the left side, the antenna base  and NBC system support is replaced by the Azimut one. So is the fire extinguisher.
On the right side, the pioneer tools rack and the tools come from the Azimut set as well as the chemical decontaminating device.

At the back, a rain protection strip is added too. The reflectors and the Renault brand markings come from the Azimut PE plate. For the hull assembly stage, a gap between the hull halves must be filled with plastic card.

On the roof, we begin by filling large sinkmarks with CA gel glue. The hatches rods are sanded away and replaced by brass rod. The hatches inner faces are detailed with the locking device. On the Milan version, both rear hatches can be fully flipped to prevent any during the firing sequence. All the PE handles are from Azimut. They have to be shaped prior their installation.

The firing post is assembled according the instructions then set on its support. The thermal camera which is not true to the original is not installed.

The CB52 turret is detailed with 3 small brass eyelets and the shield locking device.
The engine grilles are from Aber. All around the engine compartment is an aluminum strip represented with some plastic strip. It helps keeping the engine protection tarp in place. On the current versions, it has been removed.
The fuel tank access hatch comes from the Blast set.
Around the square plate on the roof, 4 welded bits of strip are added. The exhaust protection grilles are from the Eduard set. The exhaust end is drilled.

To complete, the rear doors closing are detailed. The opening system, very simplified by Heller, is replaced. The whole handles are made of plastic strip and the rods are of brass.
The Blast wheels are installed and vertically fitted with the help of some bits of sprue.


The painting and finishing details

The sand shade is a mix of XF60 Dark Yellow and XF3 Flat Yellow. The brown patches are in XF64 Red Brown.


The VAB is washed with Raw Umber and Van Dyck Brown. Some strains are made with brown and ochre oil paint.
The last accessories are installed : the homemade towing cable, the tools, the antenna, the PSP plates and the homemade armored vehicle crew waterproof bags.
A gloss coat is sprayed before applying the numbers of the registration plates. They come from the Echelon Fine Details set for the Leclerc.
After the application of a mat varnish coat, some XF57 Buff very highly diluted with water is sprayed and begins filling the recesses giving the sand accumulation effect.
The final dusty look is made with artist pigments.