ACE has recently issued a 1/72 scale AMX-13/75, which was a welcome news since the only Braille scale models of this tank I know of are a few, quite expensive resin kits which are also quite difficult to get, and an old Heller kit, which is inaccurate and also not easily available.
The AMX-13 light tank had a long service history, produced for over thirty years between the 50s and 80s, undergoing multiple rounds of modifications and modernization. The most apparent of which was the increase of gun caliber from 75mm to 105mm. The full designation of the tank is Char 13t-75 Modèle 51, referencing the weight (13 tons), and the caliber of the main gun (75mm).
This is my second ACE kit; so I was curious how it would turn out.
The plastic is soft, but not too soft; it is easy to work with. There is some flash on some of the parts – take care removing it as the soft plastic is very easy to cut. And while the plastic might be a bit soft, the details are most definitely not; I have to say I was impressed with the surface detail. (Except for the 50 cal machine gun; it looks a bit bare.) There are seam lines on every part you will have to deal with, though.
The model gets PE as well, which is a very welcome addition, as it adds some very convincing detail to the tank: engine grilles, and headlight protectors and a few other details.
The tracks are the rubber band type, but plastic glue works on them. This is something I welcome wholeheartedly; none of that nonsense with tracks that cannot be glued.
Personally I do prefer plastic link-and-length tracks (or PE…) but these work fine, the detail is somewhat weak, but still OK.
The assembly is relatively quick and straightforward. The fit is great, so there is no complaint there; I elected to fill in a few seams on the connecting surfaces of some panels, but I am not sure they would show up if I had left them as they were. The model is a pretty “old-school” design, so no slide-molds and elaborately shaped plastic parts are present; every complex shape is put together from flat panels. ACE did a very good job designing the model, as at the end you will have a very nice representation of the AMX-13/75.
The oscillating turret is very nicely reproduced -with one serious issue of the kit: the very prominent canvas cover protecting the joint between the two parts of the turret. This had been occasionally removed from the real vehicles, and you can certainly omit it from your build. If you go this way, be aware that there is detail under the canvas: the seam and the attachment points where the canvas is fixed to are quite visible. (These details are not present in this kit.) As the shape is quite complex, the model’s canvas cover is supposed to be assembled from four parts. The assembly did not exactly go by the book. First, the canvas detail is too big; it should not be this thick and bulging (it also looks very “orderly”; not at all how canvas is folding). It is a thin sheet of canvas, after all. Second, the parts do not connect… (see photos.) They are too short to go around the turret, leaving prominent gaps, which have to be filled. I glued them on as best as I could, and then used putty and green stuff to fill in the missing parts. It does the job, but the detail is still over-emphasised. I think there are two options, really. You either leave it off (as virtually all builds I have seen online did it), and accept that the detail is not perfect, or just make your own using some putty. Since this is a review of the kit, I installed the kit part as best as I could.
Here is a very nice photo of the canvas cover on the turret -from a different vehicle, but the turret is identical.
A side note: that driver with his helmet and googles looks like a skull… every time I see this photo it draws my eyes to him.