The AMX 13 was designed just after the World War 2 by the Ateliers de
Construction d'Issy les Moulineaux. It met the French requirement for a light
tank capable of conducting reconnaissance missions as well as fulfilling a tank
In its oscillating turret, it mounted a very powerful 75 mm gun capable of piercing up to 170mm of armor. It featured an automatic loader composed of two revolving racks with 6 rounds each. The empty cases were ejected by a port on the turret rear plate. Its secondary armament initially was a 7.5mm MAC 31 coaxial MG.
It had a crew of three.
It entered service with the French army in 1953 and remained in service nearly 30 years. Its chassis served as a base for a whole range of vehicles including armored personnel carriers, 105 mm and 155 mm self-propelled guns, mortar carriers, ambulances and materiel carriers. The AMX 13 was exported to 30 countries.
On 26th July 1956, president Nasser of Egypt nationalizes the Suez canal. Consequently, France, Great-Britain and Israel signed a secret agreement according which Israel will attack on 29th October in direction of the canal. France and Great-Britain, then, will send an ultimatum to both countries for they withdraw from the canal region. In case of refusal, a military action will start on 31st October.
As expected, Egypt did not agree on the ultimatum and on 31st October, France and Great-Britain began bombing Egypt to force it reopening the canal.
The second phase started on 5th November, as an airborne operation, named “Amilcar” for the French and “Hamilcar” for the British, in the region of Port-Saïd and Port-Fouad.
The third phase was a landing on 6th and 7th November. Among the French troops which landed, 2 companies of AMX 13 tanks were deployed.
Under the pressure of the United-States who feared an escalation with USSR, on 7th November in the morning the cease-fire is implemented. The operation was a military success but a political failure. The French-British troops were relieved by UN troops on 22nd November.
The Heller kit depicts a late model with a chassis 2D which is unsuitable for a tank involved in the operation Musketeer in Suez. Indeed, at that time, the AMX 13 chassis was the type 2A with two return rollers only and a different suspension. The bins were the angled type. The turret did not have the dust cover. So both the hull and the turret need to be deeply modified.
The chassis 2A only has two return rollers and is fitted with a very different
suspension compared to the type 2D. Sp the modification begins with the filling
of all the positioning holes for the various parts of the hull sides. Then we
need to make the shock absorber attached to the front roadwheel arms. On the
right side, Heller have inverted the attachment point for the torsion bars. The
molded-on part must be cut and glued back in front of the arm axis. This
modification is valid for all the types of hull. To end with the suspension, ten
stops of two different types for the swinging arms must be made. The return
rollers can be glued.
On the right side, two round hatches with four bolts are added.
All the roadwheels, sprockets and idlers require a lot of work. The first type roadwheels were bolted. Each roadwheel gets 12 bolt heads. Heller have represented 6 bolts to fix the roadwheel to the arm whereas in reality these are nuts. A bit of plastic rod simply figures the threaded rod. Then the hub cover must be detailed. 6 bolt heads are added to the outer edge. In the middle, a grease nipple and its protections are added too.
The idlers must be changed for the first type with 6 holes. Those idlers are made of resin. The hub covers are detailed the same way as the roadwheels ones.
The sprockets are detailed too, particularly by adding a series of bolt heads on the outer ring.
At the rear, the track tensioning system must be detailed. The towing hook in the box does not match any type. An early type hook is done from a resin sprue. The large stowage bin is photoetched.
The all steel tracks are a Friul reference. They are nicely reproduced but require to thin the roadwheels and return rollers to fit properly.
The upper hull
The front of the hull is in turn modified. Heller have represented two hatches
in a recess. In reality they are flush with the glacis armor. Two plastic card
hatches are inserted and the bolts heads are added. The large hatch is depicted
by a line in relief which must be sanded down. A new structure line is carved to
figure the hatch. The lifting handles are redone from brass wire.
In 1956, there were no IR lights. A single headlight per side is necessary. The guard is totally different from the Heller offering. So it is scratchbuilt from plastic strips. On the left fender, a horn, the mirror and their guard must be added.
The last challenge is to reproduce the gun travel lock. The one provided by Heller is useless. The whole assembly must be done mainly from plastic rods. On the early type, the legs were longer. We must use reference pictures to have an idea of the right length.
The splashboard didn’t exist in 1956 so it is unnecessary to improve the Heller one.
The sides are equipped with angled bins. These are made of photoetched parts. The inner structure is reinforced which allows the lids to have a better support. The locking devices are made from brass rod and lead foil. On the right side, the exhaust shield is done with thin cardboard. Once in place, it is strengthened with a coat of CA glue. On the right rear fender, the infantry telephone is added.
The main difference with the Heller turret is the lack of the dust cover. The
kit one is molded on the oscillating part so it must be sanded down. The
trunions must be represented. On the front face, the gunner sight is drilled
out. The auxiliary sights of the kit are the late type. The early type ones are
made of metal rod and wire. The coaxial MG muzzle is added.
On the turret roof, the hatches are detailed, and particularly the opening system of the tank commander one. The ventilator dome between both reloading hatches is removed, redone and glued more frontward. The reloading hatches also are removed and redone. Some welded lines are added. The vision blocks protections are photoetched parts. The gunner central vision block is moved to its left and a chamfer is engraved in front of it.
On the turret sides, some welded lines are added. The tools and water can brackets are fully redone. The tools also are redone with plastic rod and parts from the spare parts box. The antenna bases are turned aluminum and then detailed.
The rear of the turret is detailed thanks to some photoetched parts. The bolts represented in relief by Heller are removed and replaced by holes. In reality, they are head cap screws flush with the armor.
To conclude with the turret, we must address the muzzle brake. Its shape is wrong. With the help of some pictures available on the Internet, it is quite easy to get a satisfactory result.
First the kit is sprayed with some XF59 Desert Yellow. Then the bottom of the
turret is painted black while the gun is painted XF58 Olive Green in the middle.
Masking tape is used to create the black stripe around the turret and the green
one around the gun. The base coat Lifecolor French Sandgrey UA144 is in turn
sprayed. A coat of gloss varnish is sprayed before the Bison decals are applied.
A second coat of varnish seal them before the weathering.
The latter is kept light because the vehicles in Suez were freshly repainted and the operation didn’t last long enough for them to be really filthy. Some Mig pigments mixed with Tamiya thinner XF20 are used to depict the mud on the roadwheels and the lower hull. Some oil dots help breaking the monotony of the base paint. To conclude, the dust effect is got with various pigments shades.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to G. Gibeau, H.H. Bühling and J.T. Rembert for their valuable help in this project.