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Tiger Model Panhard VBL

Developed in the 1980s, the French Panhard VBL is a small, all-wheel-drive amphibious armored car still in service with the French army today. Tiger Model has just released its second version of the VBL, this one sporting a Milan missile launcher.

While the parts have excellent surface detail, they do show somewhat heavy mold seams. Parts cleanup adds some time to the build. But the results are worth the effort.

The tires are molded in soft vinyl and include both directional and nondirectional tread patterns. A small photo-etch (PE) fret has a grille for the hood-mounted fan, bins for external gas cans, and straps for some of the onboard equipment. Clear parts are provided for all the windows and lights, and the crew compartment features all the major interior fittings. However, decals provide for only one French vehicle.

Assembly starts with the interior. Tiger Model has done a good job of reproducing the raised-disc antislip rubber that covers most of the floor. Decals are provided for the instrument panel as well as several placards. I suggest you test-fit the dash when adding Part A33 in Step 2; it has to mate with Part A39 on the center console, and I had to tweak the positions of both to fit.

There is no mention of adding the gas filler tube (Part A22); it just shows up in place in Step 3. Also, the diagram for drilling holes in the floor in this step is incorrect. You need to drill out two holes that are farther inboard than the ones shown.

The main interior color of the French vehicles and most of the imports seems to be NATO green. The exterior camouflage is mimicked on the insides of the doors. You can find many good reference photos of the interior on the Internet.

Step 5 has you glue the upper and lower body halves together. I left mine apart until I had finished all the painting. The fit is good, and you can place the parts together to paint the exterior camouflage. Note in the instructions that if you plan on closed doors, do not add Part B21 to the doors. While all the doors and hatches can be posed open or closed, none are hinged.

Decals were applied to a coat of Vallejo polyurethane clear gloss, and they responded well to Microscale Micro Sol. I painted the various lights with Vallejo Model Air chrome silver on their backs. They were installed with PSA glue and painted Tamiya NATO black. Because the acrylic paint does not etch the clear parts (don’t try this with enamels), you can remove paint with a toothpick once it’s dry.

While I applaud Tiger Model for providing real wire for the tow cable, try as I might I could not form it into a shape to fit properly. So, I left it off.

I spent about 23 hours on my VBL. Cleanup of the parts, detail painting of the interior, and the complex paint scheme took most of the build time. Checking dimensions on Panhard’s website ( shows it is about 4 scale inches too tall, but length and width match perfectly. The model fills an important gap in a modern armor collection.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2017 issue.


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