French Main Battle Tank Leclerc Series 2
Tamiya 1/35 scale
Reviewed by Brett Green
The Char Leclerc is a main battle tank built by GIAT, now Nexter of France. It was named in honour of General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, who led the French element of the drive towards Paris while in command of the Free French 2nd Armoured Division in World War II.
The Leclerc is in service with the French Army and the army of the United Arab Emirates. In production since 1991, the Leclerc entered French service in 1992, replacing the AMX 30 as the country's main armoured platform.
The improved Series 2 LeClerc features:
With production now complete, the French Army has 406 Leclerc and the United Arab Emirates Army has 388.
The Leclerc has mostly seen deployment on low-intensity conflicts, including 15 Leclerc stationed in Kosovo (KFOR) and others in Lebanon (UNIFIL) within UN peace-keeping operations, where their performance was judged satisfactory by French officials.
Until 2010, 13 Leclercs were deployed in the south Lebanon for a peacekeeping mission with UNIFIL.
As of August 2015, Leclerc tanks of the United Arab Emirates were deployed in combat operations in Yemen (near Aden) as part of the Saudi-led coalition. It is estimated that 70 Leclerc MBTs were deployed by the UAE in Yemen, 15 of them equipped with the AZUR package. During one month, three tanks were damaged, two by antitank mines and one by an RPG, which damaged the grid without piercing the hull. In a single incident; one Leclerc tank was hit and penetrated in the driver's hatch by an ATGM, possibly of Konkurs or Konkurs-M type, resulting in the death of the driver and injuries to the legs of the commander. None of these tanks were completely destroyed.
The price in 2011 was €9.3 million, which made it the most expensive tank in history at the time.*
F i r s t L o o k
Tamiya released their 1:35 scale Leclerc Series 2 in 2005. The main difference between this latest release and the original kit is that the road wheels, which were originally presented in die-cast metal, are now plastic parts.
Tamiya’s 1:35 scale Leclerc Series 2 comprises 244 parts in olive coloured plastic, 13 parts in clear, two full-length flexible vinyl tracks and markings for four camouflaged vehicles.
Kit breakdown is conventional. The lower hull is a tub with a separate rear plate. Sponson covers are moulded in place.
The upper hull is a single piece with various vents and hatches moulded on the top. These look quite effective.
The turret is made up from a top main shell and a base incorporating the turret ring.
The road wheels and drive sprockets are held in place with polythene caps, which will make painting and final assembly easier.
The full length vinyl tracks looks good, with a high level of detail and being able to be secured with regular plastic cement. These are live track so they would not sag, making the vinyl tracks ideal for this vehicle.
A nicely sculpted Commander figure is supplied.
Clear parts include headlights, tail lights, sight windows and crew goggles.
Markings are supplied for four camouflaged Leclercs.
C o n c l u s i o n
I had not seen this kit before, and its quality of moulding and detail belie its origins from 13 years ago.
Tamiya’s 1:35 scale Leclerc Series 2 is a well presented kit that should just about fall together. It is big too, so it will look quite impressive in its three-tone NATO camouflage when finished.
* Historical summary adapted from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMX_Leclerc
Thanks to Tamiya for the sample.
Text and Images by Brett Green