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1/35 AMX-30B French Main Battle Tank


nmayhew
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AMX-30B French Main Battle Tank


Meng Model
Catalogue # TS-003


Available from Creative Models for £44.99

 

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Meng are not a company to follow everyone else it would seem. Their 1/35 scale releases have included an experimental German WWII minesweeping vehicle, a pseudo Toyota HiLux pick-up truck, and a British super heavy assault tank that came too late to serve before VE Day. And whilst they have also done some more mainstream armour in the Israeli Merkava (IDF does indeed seem 'a la mode'), Cold War French armour is not something that any other mainstream manufacturer has attempted as far as I can recall.

 

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The AMX-30 was designed and built in the 1960s, serving with both the French Army and a number of foreign countries into the 1990s. It served in the first Gulf War (Operation Desert Storm), but before you get all in a lather about Norman Schwarzkopf & Co, this was the AMX-30B2: you cannot build this out of the box, and the only conversion is by Azimut for the ancient Heller kit. The AMX-30 looks like a cross between an American M48 and some of the early Russian Cold War tanks – I guess because that's what it is in effect. Nothing particularly ground-breaking here – v-shaped hull, domed turret, rear engine and rear drive sprocket. That being said, I can see the aesthetic appeal.

 

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So what do we have in the box? There are seven main sprues, plus a further five for the track links; a small fret of PE; a clear parts sprue for commander's cupola and headlamps etc; a flexible rubber / plastic part for the mantlet cover; some poly caps and a small decal sheet with two schemes. The hull tub is moulded as a single piece, whilst the turret is a two part affair. Sprues are bagged separately and the parts fit fairly well in the box – no DML craziness here. There is a 21 page instruction booklet with clear line drawings – think a mixture of Tamiya and AFV Club – and some colour profiles showing the markings.

 

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The parts are moulded in a mid green plastic, and first impressions conjure up images of an AFV Club kit: little or no flash, some very small parts which are extremely delicate, very sharp moulding but plastic perhaps softer than some would like, when compared to Tamiya for instance. Construction will be fairly straightforward and as long as you are happy handling some eminently breakable parts, this is a kit that is fine for most intermediate modellers I think.

 

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The suspension will be workable to a degree, although of course you can always glue parts in place if you want it completely fixed. There are both torsion bars and hydraulic shock absorber assemblies which will be moveable. It should be worth leaving the suspension as intended, because the tracks are also designed to be fully articulated. They are moulded on the sprue, so there will be a lot of clipping and snipping, but not that much clean up. Each track link is made up of an inner and outer part, with the inner overlapping two outers. Assembly is made pretty easy by the inclusion of a jig: you simply insert a run of 'outers' (part #B2) - which are not glued together – and then overlay and glue the inner part which has the guide tooth (part #B1). If you are careful, your tracks will be fully workable.

 

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Lots of these to cut from the sprues!

 

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Laying the outer track pads in the jig provided

 

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Inner part overlays the outer pads and is glued; the resultant link will be fully workable

 

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These parts were snipped from the sprue and 'assembled' (I have not glued them) with no clean up – fit was excellent

 

The tank does not come with interior, but the turret does have the breach for the main gun. All three guns are moulded in plastic (no turned metal here). The main gun is telescopic, but moulded top and bottom, so careful clean up will be required. The small calibre MG on the commander's cupola looks very neat, and probably doesn't need a replacement, whilst the 20mm co-axial cannon is probably best displayed with muzzle cover on unless you can find suitable aftermarket.

 

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Both the commander and driver have vision blocks provided as clear parts, and turret hatches can be displayed open or closed. The turret baskets which adorn either side are probably the most delicate parts, just because they are quite large, but also very thin. Again, clean up will be fiddly but very important here. There are prominent casting marks visible on the turret top, front and back. The rain guard for the gun mantlet is a flexible rubber part which should be conformed to the turret contours and glued. At first I was a bit suspicious of this, but it really is quite 'floppy', so as long as it takes CA glue, there should be no problem.

 

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Mantlet with flexible rubber rain guard

 

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One of the two turret baskets

 

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Main gun tube parts

 

Hull assembly will be pretty simple – there is a main plate plus engine deck. Tools are moulded complete with clamps / tie-downs, but look pretty convincing, and I am sure there will be PE upgrades from the usual suspects if you want extra detail here. Engine deck grills are a combination of PE – which will need some bending – and also plastic parts which have gills moulded crisply and discretely.

 

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The small decal sheet provides markings for two schemes, but no meaningful information is given about either. The first is in overall olive drab and I presume a French Army tank; the second a NATO tri-colour scheme in green / brown / black. Markings are generally the weakest point of nearly all manufacturers' offerings, so no real surprises here. It is a bit disappointing though as the rest of the kit seems so good.

 

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Conclusion

The vast majority of construction will be straightforward, but there are quite a few small parts that will have the carpet monster licking his lips! The tracks will be a test of patience rather than ability. Meng have chosen a slightly off the wall subject, but have done it thoughtfully so that even out of the box you will get a tank that looks great, with no real need for aftermarket (always refreshing). This really looks a very good kit.

 

Highly recommended

 

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With thanks to Meng Model for the review sample.

 

Nicholas Mayhew

 

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I have a strong suspicion that the game World of Tanks is helping drive the new kits being released. This AMX-30B is not currently in the game, but the AMX-50B is (as are the AMX-13 75 and AMX-13 90). Meng's earlier release, the Tortoise, was recently added to the game. Trumpeter has many/most of the paper panzers which are also in game.

 

It doesn't hurt to have many of Dragon's and Trumpeter (and some others I cannot remember) now come with World of Tanks gift cards too.

 

Just theorizing, of course...

 

Thanks for the review!

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