The AMX 13 was designed as an air
transportable tank by the Issy les Moulineaux factory which determined its small
size and its light weight to keep it loadable on board of the transportation
However, the project of an air transportable tank was soon cancelled and the AMX 13 was issued to armored reconnaissance units.
Its design included several novelties like the oscillating turret and the autoloader which allowed to limit the crew to three. Its main armament was the 75 mm SA 50 gun which was derived from the Panther gun. The autoloader was fed by two rotary magazines of 6 armor piercing rounds each which were located at the rear of the turret. The reloading of the magazines was done from the turret roof. The manual loading was possible and it was mandatory for the explosive rounds.
The secondary armament originally was a 7.5 mm MAC 31 coaxial MG.
Built from 1951, the production AMX 13 had 4 types of hulls (2A, 2B, 2C and 2D). It underwent 2 main upgrade programs (1R and 2R) for the hulls 2A to 2C. The turret also evolved in the gun controls and to accommodate the 90 mm gun too or SS 11 antitank missiles ramps.
The AMX 13 had a long operational life in the French forces but also in foreign armies where in 2017 it is still in service. About 7.700 vehicles have been built. The AMX 13 has also been the base for a large family of vehicles including APC, engineer vehicle, armored ambulance, self propelled guns, anti aircraft guns and a recovery vehicle.
The kit by Tamiya comes in the usual box containing 4 light beige plastic sprues, 1 hull, 1 upper turret, vinyl tracks, polycaps, 1 photoetched part, 1 sheet of decals, 1 instructions booklet and one historical background leaflet.
The molding is perfect except on the turret where Tamiya has represented some foundry texture which does not exist. The level of detail is excellent even though Tamiya has simplified some details. The kit features a type 2A tank which has undergone an upgrade program (1R) with the addition of IR lights and the additional armor plate under the hull front. The track model with rubber pad places the tank in the 60s timeframe. Tamiya made some mistakes which will be mentioned later on.
Only one PE grille is issued while 5 are needed. This certainly is the weakest point of the kit.
The decal sheet allows two decorations but it is incomplete for the tank named Duroc and the second registration plate is fictitious.
For a modeler in a hurry, it won't take more than two days to build the model from the box. The fit is perfect and I only used putty to modify the gun elevation.
The running gear is really easy to build. The rear face of the roadwheels gets a polycap to keep moveable. The weld beams on the outer face are too sharp compared to the actual ones. The tracks are not installed at this stage.
At step 2, the towing hook is wrong but Tamiya does not offer any other option.
At step 8, it is advised to paint black the
engine fan C74. The tabs on the rear fenders may be kept to glue the cat eyes.
Indeed, according to reference pictures, those cat eyes were often at the rear
when the IR lights were fitted.
It is also necessary to add some plastic card rectangle to figure the vision blocks glasses.
At step 9, you have to thin the protection grilles of the horn and the rear view mirror.
At step 12, I advise to paint the glasses of the lights then to mask then before gluing them on the hull. Indeed, when their protection is glued (at step 14) it will be very hard to access the glasses. Those protections C29 and C30 must be thinned.
Starting from step 16, the turret assmebly starts. The gun elevation was too high to my taste so I decided to change it by lowering the gun. To do so, I glued the osicllating part without the dust cover. Once dry, I placed the dust cover from the front rearward and I filled the gap with putty.
At step 20, I added the glasses of the vision blocks with plastic card rectangles. The auxiliary sights are molded solid and would benefit from PE replacement parts.
At step 21, I did not use the NBC decontamination bottle C78. Its support is not right.
The figure is not used as it is not good for a French tank commander.
The base shade is a mix of XF-13 JA Green, XF-15 Flesh, XF-58 Olive Green
and XF-3 Flat Yellow. A filter of ochre is applied and a bit more on the
horizontal surfaces. Then the markings are applied. Tamiya only gives one Duroc
marking so another one must be printed. I also added the railway class markings
by spraying the white discs. The numerals 3 are leftovers from a decal sheet.
Then the weathering is done with several layers of XF-57 Buff. Some streaking and oil and grease stains are added with some X-19 Smoke.
The tracks are painted XF-84 Dark Iron and get many washes of various shades. The rubber pads are painted XF-69 NATO Black. Once weathered, they are put in place. The sagging effect is made by fixing a metal pin in the hull sides.
Tamiya did a very good model easy to build. The nitpickers will be to fix the few mistakes and those who dislike the vinyl tracks have some references at their disposal.
I personally regret that Tamiya did not give the option of the early single lights which would have allowed to depict a model different from the Takom ones.
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