KIT: Heller, 1/72 AMX-30/105 MBT
KIT #: 79899
PRICE: $It was a gift
DECALS: one option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


Perhaps the most successful post-war French armored vehicle design, the AMX-30 main battle tank was designed by GIAT Industries with a focus on good firepower and superior mobility. In addition, it was designed to be able to operate with minimal support services. The downside of the design was the limited armor protection, unable to protect the tank against contemporary main battle tank weapons of NATO or the Warsaw Pact.

Design features included a fully sealed hull, allowing operations in nuclear, chemical, and biological contamination areas. The tank is also capable of fording water up to 2m in depth. The armor is made of rolled plates and castings, completely welded. The turret is entirely cast and highly shaped for maximum protection. The AMX design was the result of French specifications for a new main battle tank to replace aging American tanks in French service since the end of World War II. Like the Germans during the same period, the French subscribed to the theory that even the heaviest armor would prove unable to keep up with rapid development of anti-tank weaponry, and that the best way to protect tanks within a reasonable design was to enhance their maneuverability. Thus the design solution was a tank with less heavy armor, but greater speed and an accurate powerful weapon that would allow quick destruction of the enemy.

An additional design requirement, as with most French military designs, was for the design to be able to attract wide export markets, as French weapon design relied heavily on foreign sales for financing. The AMX-30 was successful in this regard, being widely exported in many versions.

The design has been supplanted in France by the Leclerc, but is still in world-wide use. In addition to the more than 2,000 tanks produced, more than 1,000 chassis were used as the basis for a range of self-propelled artillery and other derivatives.

Thanks to  for the historical background.


Opening the box shows a nice aggregation of medium green-grey parts and one silver rubbery-looking thing (allegedly the tracks). There are sink areas all over the inside of the running gear parts and ejector pin marks on the outside of this and a number of other pieces. Some will be easy to fix, some won't. The ones on the barrel should be easy to take care of and the end cap is recessed to look as if it is hollow. It could stand a bit more drilling out once the barrel is complete.

There are road wheels galore as you'd expect on a tank and all the return rollers are separate as well. The turret is nicely molded with an upper and lower section. The seam will have to be attended to as I think that the turret on the real tank is a single casting. The turret is very smooth. The tracks are a joke. They look like refugees from a Caterpillar earth mover and not something that has been seen on a tank since Mother (tank people will know of what I speak). I'm sure there are no aftermarket replacements.

Instructions are of the exploded drawing variety with four construction steps. Parts are identified by number and all the painting information is Humbrol color numbers without a clue to the rest of us what the shades are supposed to be, but it seems as if black and green are the predominant ones from what is shown on the box art. There is one set of decals that are typical of the matte markings provided with Heller/Airfix kits. They should work OK as I've rarely had real trouble with Heller decals other than yellowing and way too much carrier.


One sees very few military vehicles from France so I guess we should be glad that there is one of these at all in 1/72. I'd have to say that it will probably build into a nice model, but those tracks will ruin any other work done by the builder. Shame on Heller for foisting those things on us.

February 2005

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