AUF1 Self-Propelled Howitzer
Meng, 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
Although the French Mk. 3 155mm would remain in production through the 1980s, by the early 1970s the French Army realised there was an urgent need for its replacement. The Mk. 3 155mm lacked an automatic loading system, but more importantly it lacked nuclear-biological-chemical (NBC) protection for its crew, and could carry only two of the four crew members needed to operate it (the remaining two having to be transported in support vehicles). Development of the GCT 155mm began in the early 1970s, and the first production version, known as the AUF1, was introduced in 1977. About 400 have been produced, with 70 having been upgraded to the AUF2 variant.
The GCT 155mm AUF1 is based on the AMX-30 main battle tank (MBT) chassis and equipped with a 155mm 39-caliber gun with an auto-loading system, giving a rate of fire of 8 rounds per minute, and a sustained rate of fire of 6 rounds per minute. It is also equipped with a roof-mounted 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun. The AUF1 has an effective range of 23,500 meters firing conventional rounds and 28,000 meters using Rocket Assisted Projectiles (RAPs).
The first production AUF1s were delivered exclusively to the Saudi Arabian Army, while the French Army received their first deliveries in 1980, deploying the GTC 155mm AUF1 in regiments of 18 guns each. In addition, the Iraqi Army received a small number of GTC 155mm AUF1 variants in 1980, which they employed during the Iran–Iraq War.
A battery of 8 AUF1s from the French Army's 40em Regiment d'Artillerie was deployed in support of the Rapid Reaction Force on Mount Igman during the 1995 NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The battery provided rapid counter-battery fire against Serb artillery units during the siege of Sarajevo, the long range of its guns allowing it dominate the surrounding terrain. *
F i r s t L o o k
Meng Model’s 1:35 scale AUF1 follows hot on the heels of their excellent AMX-30B. The kit comprises a whopping 507 parts in green plastic, 360 parts in brown for the individual track links, 17 in clear, 20 polythene caps, two photo-etched frets and markings for three vehicles.
All the plastic parts are cleanly moulded and sprue attachment points are fine, so clean-up will not be a chore.
The suspension is very impressive with workable shock absorbers and torsion bars. Wheels are attached via polythene caps trapped between the halves. Tracks are workable too, being made up from two pieces for each link. An assembly jig is supplied to assist assembly and alignment. A painting mask is offered too, so that the rubber track blocks may easily and quickly be painted a different shade. Nice touch!
The complex engine deck is particularly well done with its network of vents, grilles and mesh covers.
The massive turret has a substantial interior, with seats, a breech, textured floor, photo-etched mesh protection walls, various controls, ammunition and racks, radios and even small arms.
The big turret hatches are all separate and may be posed open to display the nice detail, including stowed ammunition from behind the turret.
Clear parts are provided for vision blocks, lights and more.
The instructions provide marking details for one vehicle in French Army service. It is finished in a NATO three-colour camouflage scheme.
Strangely though, there are additional markings for at least two more vehicles on the decal sheet, including prominent IFOR stencilled lettering.
C o n c l u s i o n
Meng’s 1:35 scale 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer AUF1 looks amazing in the box. The sheer number of parts and level of detail might seem a bit daunting, but judging by reports from those who have worked on their earlier releases, should be a pleasure to build for experienced modellers to build.
* History courtesy of Wikipedia. More details may be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GCT_155mm
Thanks to Meng Models for the sample www.meng-model.com
Text and Images by Brett Green