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Tamiya AMX-13

The AMX-13 was designed as an air-deliverable tank with maximum firepower to handle the global conflicts facing France after World War II. In order to mount a 75mm gun on such a small chassis, the gun was fixed in the upper half of an oscillating turret. The gun was the first auto-loading gun mounted on a tank. The vehicle proved popular, with more than 7,700 produced.

Until recently, if you wanted to model an AMX-13, the only options was an ancient Heller kit. Now comes Tamiya’s kit.

Molded in tan plastic, the kit features excellent detail. The single-piece tracks are molded in flexible plastic. Only one piece of photo-etch is included, a grille for the hull intake. A half figure is provided for the commander’s hatch, but there are no clear parts for the headlight or the periscopes.

Decals are provided for two vehicles in French markings. Besides the typical excellent Tamiya instruction booklet, a small pamphlet covering the history of the vehicle includes photos of the actual tank.

Assembly starts with the hull and running gear. All of the running gear is held in place by vinyl keepers, so it is easy to leave it off until after painting.

When installing the upper hull plate (B17), I had a small gap where it met the front plate (B4). I filled the gap with a tiny piece of strip styrene, but that was the only filler I needed for the entire build.

I added the rest of the details to the hull, leaving off only the headlight lenses, their brush guards, and the spare tire, so I didn’t have to mask any of that to paint the tank.

The brush guards are a little too thick for scale; I thinned them with a knife’s tip.

The turret is quick and easy to assemble. The main gun barrel is molded in one piece with a separate two-piece muzzle brake; no seams to worry about, just two minor mold lines to remove. Tamiya provides a multipiece plastic assembly for the canvas cover between the upper and lower turret. If you want to be able to raise and lower the gun, you need to leave this off (there are photos of AMX-13s without the canvas). Pose the commander’s hatch open if you want to use the semi-figure included in the kit.

I gave my model a coat of  Tamiya olive green (XF-58), then dulled it with an application of olive drab (XF-62), concentrating on the centers of panels and parts.

Decals were applied over a coat of Vallejo clear gloss. They settled easily with a touch of Micro Sol. After applying washes, I applied clear flat (Tamiya XF-86), then added tracks and running gear.

While the tracks are easy to assemble and paint, they do lack the slight sag in the upper run seen in photos of the real vehicle.

I painted the tools and lights and added the headlight lenses and brush guards.

The finished model matches published dimensions, and, aided by the excellent fit and engineering and single-color paint scheme, it took me only 14 hours to build my AMX-13. The kit would make an excellent choice for a beginning modeler.

It’s great to see modern kits of these postwar vehicles. I wonder if Tamiya will release any of the other variants based on the AMX chassis.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2016 issue.

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