Kit: No. 35279
Manufacturer: Tamiya, from Tamiya America, 800-826-4922, www.tamiyausa.com
Comments: Injection-molded, 276 parts (20 cast-metal parts), decals
Pros: Good moldings, good fit
Cons: Screen and mesh detail missing; must be produced with separately pur-chased photoetched-detail set
In World War II, Gen. Jacques Philippe Leclerc was to France what Gen. George S. Patton was to the United States. Like his American contemporary, Leclerc has a main battle tank named for him.
As Tamiya's latest modern-armor kit, the Leclerc brings us the usual well-engineered injection-molded plastic parts and a new wrinkle: cast-metal road wheels with molding seams already eliminated and gray primer applied.
I followed the steps in the excellent 16- page instruction booklet. The lower hull and road wheels were first; it looks as though Tamiya worked with manufacturer Giat Industries to replicate the running gear and suspension. The kit comes with a Tamiya "jig" which helps align the suspension to ensure the tank is sitting correctly after assembly. I assembled the suspension with no problems but left the road wheels off until after painting.
Step seven leads to the attachment of the rear hull to the lower, and here you should dry-fit carefully, otherwise you might have problems mating the two. Carefully sanding the left and right sides of the rear hull will improve the fit. You should also make certain the tow cable is glued before adding part D14. Otherwise you'll have to snip off half of the tow hook to get it under the part.
If I have a beef with this kit, it's that the instructions show the installation of photoetched parts not included in the kit. They're available separately for about $15.
There's no vinyl mesh substitute for the rear-deck vents and turret basket and no plastic straps for the exterior fuel drums, so without the supplemental photoetched parts, the model looks a bit naked.
The turret components, including the main-gun assembly, went together without a hitch.
The Leclerc in French service is painted in a three-color, hard-edged camouflage scheme similar to the NATO scheme applied to U.S. and German tanks. The instructions suggest the NATO colors, but my references show a lighter green, so I used medium green (FS 34102) for the base color, with the NATO black and brown over that. Both the hull and turret have the anti-slip coating molded into the topsides, but after painting, the texture seems a bit too fine for the scale.
I finished my Leclerc as a machine from the 2nd Armored Brigade, 6th-12th Cuirassier Regiment. When it was dry, I washed, dry-brushed, and applied Mig weathering pigments to complete the weathering.
I spent about 18 hours on my Leclerc, but the finished model really needs those extra photoetched parts to look up to date.
- Eric S. Tripke