Light armored vehicle (VBL)
Ref : Azimut VBL 4x4 Panhard

The VBL (véhicule blindé léger - light armored vehicle) is a light reconnaissance armored and amphibious vehicle. It replaced within the armored cavalry units the soft skin 4WD vehicles. It is now in service with all the combat units in many variants, the more usual of which being the following : reconnaissance, antitank, command, armament carrier .50 cal MG.
Its crew is of 3. It weighs approximately 3 metric tons. It has a range of 1000 km which makes it the natural stalemate for the AMX10 RC or the VAB.
Its standard armament is a 7.62mm MG. It can mount a turret with a .50 cal MG. The antitank variant mounts a Milan firing post on the roof rear.
It has been involved in all the French army late commitments from the Gulf War to the most recent conflicts.

The kit is produced by Azimut. It includes about 80 resin, white metal and photoetched brass parts. The instruction leaflet is clear and simple. It shows the 3-tone camo scheme without the up view. Azimut forgot to give a template for the various windows. As usual, no decoration is provided.

The moulding and the carving are good. The details are good even if Azimut missed some of them. Some small parts are very fragile, specifically the MG and its support, the suspension parts.

The building is quite easy and the fit is good even if my model has got trouble with the doors. The building starts with the interior to be painted before the final assembly (a light green being a mix of Tamiya XF5 and XF3). At this very stage, to represent a current vehicle, the radio set of the TRVP13 series needs to be replaced by a PR4G set to scratchbuild.
The exterior offers no trouble until the complex stage concerning the suspension and wheels assembly. The MG ring mount requires some attention as the supports are fragile. A locking handle, forgotten by Azimut, is added. The MG front sight is added. The commander hatch being open, the rubber seal is added from lead wire as well as the locking handle.
At the front, the wipers are made of plastic card and photoetched fret. On the antislip surfaces above the headlights are set the supports of the trim vane. They are used to fix the PSP plates (a ref from Verlinden). The engine air intake grille is replaced by one made of plastic mesh.
At the end of the building, you may install the satellite aerial of the Euteltrac system used by the French contingent of the Unprofor in Bosnia.

The vehicle is painted white to represent the VBL belonging to D company of the French Bihac Infantry Battalion of the Unprofor (Bihac pocket, winter 1993). Azimut states that the bags for the quick camo screens should be painted dark green while they are indeed black. All the markings are hand painted.

This kit is worth the money and the time you can spend on it, all the more that many countries have the VBL in service with their armies. This enables a wide range of decoration.