Ref : MENG  TS-003

Model, text and photos : Joseph BERTUCCI


Historical background:

Due to the available articles and documentation as well as the release of books about this tank, this will be a brief summary.

In 1950, the AMX 50 project is dropped in favor of a totally new type, the AMX 30. This ensues, in 1956, from the cooperation between France, Germany and Italy in order to rationalize the development of a tank which would be more mobile, lighter and better armed. The aimed weight was 36 tons.
Following some disagreements between France and Germany, each country started to build its own tank while Italy bought US tanks.

The AMX 30 was one of the first modern tanks to incorporate from the beginning of its design numerous new ideas, for their time, as regard with its contemporary competitors of the 60's and 70's. In particular, it meant that it would not be heavily armored due to the progress made by the antitank guided missiles and the hollow charges which could penetrate any type of armor.

The Atelier de Construction d’Issy-les-Moulineaux (AMX) was in charge of the design and the development. The two first prototypes rolled out in 1960. Seven more tanks rolled out of the plant until 1963. The production for the French army was launched.

The main armament is a 105 mm gun. It is effective against tanks up to 3000 m (HEAT round : obus charge creuse F1 also known as obus G) and against personnel up to 3500 m (HE round). The rate of fire is 7 to 8 rounds per minute.

The secondary armament is either a .50 MG or a 20 mm automatic cannon for grounds targets and anti-aircraft defense (1500 to 2000 m), and a 7.62 mm AAN-F1 MG on the tank commander cupola.

Powered by the multi fuel 680 HP HS-110 Hispano-Suiza engine, it can reach a maximum speed on road of 65 kph and an average speed in all terrain of 35 kph. It has an autonomy of 500 to 600 km on road and a combat autonomy of 16 hours (gas) or 19 hours (diesel fuel).

The crew is composed of a tank commander in charge of the target acquisition and the range finding, a gunner in charge of aiming and firing, a loader in charge of the weapons loading and the radio sets service and a driver.

The kit

The box is a true piece of art in quality as well as in quantity. The instructions, in colors, come as a well detailed booklet.
The parts are finely molded and carved. Some extra parts are included, maybe for the B2 version ... But this is where the instructions show some flaws. Some instructions lack in specific areas as well as some instruction symbols. A beginner could be lost. A decals sheet and a photoetched parts sheet are included too.

The decoration instructions show two models: one in overall green and another in the NATO three-tone scheme (this latter was introduced in the 90's for the B2 version and is not correct for a B).
A novelty for a manufacturer like Meng is the jig to assemble the tracks. If Meng advertises the mobility taken to an extreme of the tracked running gear, in fact for it to properly works it would have needed metal or vinyl tracks. In reality, the fragility of the links does not allow such a fancy feature. The criticism which could be addressed to Meng (it is one the main low points) is the assembly which requires self-control and dexterity.
The roadwheels are designed ŕ la Tamiya.

The build is easy and well-thought of, especially for the gun which includes a full breech as well as a rifled muzzle. The working torsion bars allow to adapt the running gear to the ground.
On the turret, some molding lines and ejection pinmarks require some sanding. The bustle bin is nicely reproduced as well as the side air intake grilles. All in all, the kit is up to the modelers expectations. It features fine details which help forget the low points.

Once primed, the model is painted overall green without any name. The rusty exhausts have purposedly been overdone to test a technique. The actual ones do not look like that.
The more demanding has been to depict as close to reality as possible the headlights and the vision blocks.

To conclude, I would have appreciated a more comprehensive  photoetched parts sheet as well as more explanations about the regiments on the decals sheet. This Chinese model kit is pleasant to build and true to the actual tank. Meng is up to the major manufacturers and will certainly bring new surprises in the coming years.