by: Olivier Carneau [ ]
The EBR is a 8-wheel reconnaissance vehicle which entered service in 1949. The project had been developed by Panhard in the 1930ís as the AM 201, of which one vehicle was presented to Army officials in 1939 prior to being accepted for service under the denomination AM 40P. It was smaller than the EBR and had only two crew members. Unfortunately, the first vehicles could not be built before the war broke out. Panhard managed to hide the project all the war long and it is only in 1946 that it was resumed with an extended hull manned by a crew of four members.
For a long while, the only available model kits of this vehicle were resin ones. In 2012, Hobby Boss released the EBR with the FL11 turret under the denomination EBR-11 which is not an official one. While the kit is pretty correct, it depicts a late model fitted with the 90 mm F2 gun. To model an early type armed with the SA 49 75 mm gun, there is still no other choice than the Azimut conversion or a scratch job.
The Azimut conversion comes in a small black cardboard box, with a box art drawing replicating a photo of an EBR of the Foreign Legion during the war in Algeria. It comprises 17 light grey resin parts, a hollow aluminium tube, a sheet of photo etched parts and an instructions leaflet. The turret halves are wrapped with bubble wrap and the other parts come in a re-sealable plastic bag.
The carving and level of detail varies according to the parts. For example, the MAC 31 MG is very simplified. The molding is average, some parts have ill-placed excess of resin. while the upper part of the MAC 31 support has a hole which requires the part to be fully redone.
The PE parts are clean and the various bending lines are sharp. The PE sheet comprises straps for the turret bustle, marking plates for the hull - those of the Hobby Boss kit must be removed, the search light bracket on the vehicle commander cupola and the auxiliary sights.
The instructions sheet is very simple and consists of one page. In order to make the instructions clearer a second page would have been useful.
The turret comes with the base and the oscillating part, depicting an early type, the dust cover attachment system is not present. The rectangular plate at the back of the oscillating part is present. But the major issue is the gap between the base and the oscillating part. In fact, the oscillating part is too narrow. To be usable, its base should be thickened with putty. When closely looking at the turret, we can see it really resembles the United-Fun model one but this model did not have this gap.
The main reason to get such a conversion is the 75 mm gun. The muzzle brake comes in two parts. The rear one has an extension to insert into the aluminium tube. The molding leaves a lot to be desired and a large amount of resin has to be removed from the back of the baffle "wings". The gun opening must be drilled out. At the rear of the baffle, there is a sleeve which is too short. The front part is finely molded. The gun opening must be drilled out too. Due to the fineness of the part, it is better to do it after the muzzle brake has been assembled. The aluminium tube is too narrow compared to the mantlet opening. It will be necessary to secure it to have a proper alignment.
The second reason to get this conversion is the close defence MG ring mount armed with the MAC 31 Reibel. The ring itself is molded on the vehicle commander cupola. The MG support is made of a resin main bracket and a PE search light support. The instructions are a bit unclear and you will have to pay attention to the build, especially when attaching the MAC 31 to the cradle. The MG is disappointing with a poor level of detail. Moreover, the butt is the wrong type. On the EBR mounted MAC 31 there was an extension which enabled the vehicle commander to shoulder the MG. A round magazine is issued but the sprue attachment is ill-placed and the missing details will have to be carved after the part is cut.
Azimut also provides the four DREB (smoke-dischargers) whose ends are hollow. Each base needs to be thoroughly sanded to be perfectly flat and fit to the turret. The last parts are the radio antenna bases. Like the smoke-dischargers, the bases present some resin flash.
Azimut did a good job on some parts, but the conversion as a whole is disappointing. The MAC31 is disappointing but acceptable. But this is more because you have no other choice for the moment even if ETS35 via Shapeways could fill the gap. A finer MG would have been appreciated of course. The turret is nearly unusable without an extensive reshaping job.
It would have been better to only release the 75 mm gun and the MG mount and detail a bit more the MAC 31 itself. The turret itself is definitely not a must-have.