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1/35 Military Miniature Series No.279 (ITEM 35279)

Overall length: 306mm
(Picture shows fully assembled and painted model)

One of the world's leading MBTs beautifully reproduced as a highly accurate 1/35 scale assembly model Die-cast road wheels enhances weight, capturing the awesome power of the full-size tank. Cupola and smoke dischargers reproduced in intricate detail Set includes 1 tank commander figure
Detailed Pictures click to enlarge (images show assembled and painted model)

Detailed Picture Commander's post features rotating commander's sight, periscope with clear lenses, and 1 commander figure. Detailed Picture Detailing includes recessed smoke dischargers, storage racks, short and long snorkel, and air-conditioning unit unique to Series 2 tanks.
Detailed Picture Rear hull includes finely detailed engine grille and surface imperfections reproducing the non-slip finish of the actual tank. Detailed Picture Intricate rear hull detailing includes rear panel grille, tow cable, external fuel tank, fuel tank pipe stay and fuel tank stays.
Detailed Picture French developed 120mm smoothbore gun with thermal sleeve accurately reproduced. Clear parts for headlights, tail lights and periscope lenses. Detailed Picture Our first 1/35 scale kit to come with die-cast metal road wheels. Wheels come pre-coated in surface primer for easy finish.

Overall length: 306mm
(Pictures show fully assembled and painted models)

At left: package featuring beautiful illustration. Box size: 383mm x 245mm x 68mm At right:
Color Marking Guide as featured in Tamiya News

Click to enlarge
1/35 Leclerc Photo-Etched Parts Set
ITEM 35280
The 1/35 Leclerc model was designed to be compatible with this optional photo-etched parts set. The made-to-fit design of this parts set allows photo-etched parts to be easily attached with no adjustments, sanding or trimming of model necessary. Parts include engine grille, air-conditioner grille, turret basket netting, fuel tank straps, rim of commander's hatch and name plate. Assembly instructions are included in main instruction manual for Leclerc kit.

Mr. Kase Sho's Diorama

While the U.S. M1 Abrams and British Churchill tanks have gained much exposure from the events in Iraq in recent times, modelers are probably less familiar with tanks currently employed by West European powers such as France, Germany and Italy.

When asked to create a diorama for the Shizuoka Hobby Show using the Leclerc, I searched the Internet for material to use as reference. The first thing I found was a series of photographs depicting the Leclerc engaged in a river crossing exercise using a pontoon bridge. Those pictures made a strong impression on me, and no matter what else I looked at, I could not get the vivid image of a model Leclerc crossing a pontoon bridge out of my mind. I knew I had to make this diorama!

Starting the project in early April, I had about one month to complete it in time for the Hobby Show. First things first, I eagerly opened up the Leclerc kit sent to me by Tamiya. The model featured a turret with low silhouette, awe-inspiring 120mm smoothbore cannon, surprisingly complex undercarriage, interestingly-shaped exhaust pipe and external fuel tanks mounted on the rear in a style similar to that of Russian tanks. All in all, this kit offered an impressively accurate reproduction of the French army's latest and most cutting edge tank. The wonderful detailing of the shaped armor panels around the smoke dischargers particularly caught my eye as an example of the high quality of craftsmanship always found in Tamiya models. I would particularly like to see what they would do with a French Panhard armored car; Mr. Tamiya I hope you are listening!

In order to keep the diorama at a reasonable size, I had to revise my initial calculation of 120cm to 80cm in length. That meant that I would only be able to depict a drawbridge at one end to have enough room for the vehicles. In order to recreate the distinctive patterning of the bridge surface in a timely manner, I used photo-etched parts.

To prevent the parts from warping in the future, I glued them to acrylic board, and further added aluminum reinforcement on the underside. This was a surprisingly easy construction, and one that I would love to see included in a mass-marketed kit, but I suppose no one but fanatics like me would buy it. Pontoon bridges like these are used by armies around the world to engage in river crossings. The floating bridge sections are much stronger and more stable than crossings involving boats or rubber floats.

On this particular pontoon bridge, each section features two outboard motors to counteract movement caused by the flow of the river and vehicles crossing over. Each motor is controlled by a lever, meaning that if precise control were required, such as in the case of strong-flowing rivers, one soldier would have to be assigned to each motor control. On each side of the bridge is a hydraulic-powered drawbridge. I had no information about how to depict details like the compressor and hydraulic pipes, and with no time to waste I chose to leave them out of the diorama. Oh well, a challenge for another time.

I have long enjoyed building dioramas that feature "gimmicky" aspects such as working electric lights and such, and I planned on giving my Leclerc working headlights. However, the picture I saw of the Leclerc crossing the floating bridge showed all manner of sirens, hazard lights, side lamps and brake lights all flashing away like a Christmas tree! Inspired, I called up my friend Takahashi, who has helped me with past work involving complicated LED devices. It took a lot of time, but with his help, I was able to make my vision reality. All I can say is thank you Takahashi!

As soon as I plugged the lights in, my Leclerc diorama just came alive, and I knew it couldn't be any other way. Of course the Leclerc doesn't use these lights during combat, but when traveling on civilian roads and waterways, tanks are classified as large size vehicles and must display flashing lights, warning lamps and so on. A new type of LED that accurately recreates the look of light bulbs has recently gone on sale. I hope that more modelers will incorporate LEDs into their works, and that Tamiya will offer an easy and accessible way to add such "gimmicks" to our models.

Older LEDs gave off a bluish light, but recently available LEDs accurately mimic bulb lights. And, they are wonderfully easy to use! 4 tiny yellow LEDs mounted on plastic sticks flash in order, simulating a siren light effect. Takehashi's work is amazingly intricate!
Infrared transmitter and receiver are both made from clear parts. However, infrared is by and large invisible to the eye, making use of LEDs here unnecessary. The bridge surface is metal, while the sides are made from lightweight FRP. The entire bridge is painted in 3-color NATO camouflage.
Handles for the outboard motors feature throttles. The drawbridge is powered by 2 hydraulic cylinders. Handrails are installed as a safety feature. I scratch built the P4 using plastic boards for sides and rear, while taking parts from a Premium Classixxs Wolf model to make the undercarriage and other details.

Profile of Kase Sho: Born in 1954 in Niigata, Japan, he currently works as a graphic designer. His military diorama work was first featured in Tamiya News in May 1983, and has since been showcased in a number of modeling publications.

Tamiya Weathering Master & Weathering Stick
Weathering means adding realistic-looking effects to your models, such as dust on tank hulls and mud-caked tracks. These new Tamiya Craft Tools offer by far the easiest way to achieve realistic weathering effects. Weathering Master comes in a pocket sized case with 3 colors and special applicator tool. The pen-type Weathering Stick offers up to 5mm of easy-to-apply color by simply twisting the tip.

History of French Armor

The French main battle tank Leclerc is the latest cutting-edge "third generation" MBT, following the likes of the German Leopard 2, U.S. M1 Abrams and British Challenger 2. Packed with the latest advanced technology, the Leclerc is widely considered the most innovative and high-tech of the third generation MBTs.

Following first use by the British in the early stages of WWI, research into tank use spread rapidly throughout the world. While the British Mk.I was the first model to see practical use, the French were quick to begin development of their own tank, with the Schneider CA1 and Saint-Chamond tanks arriving as early as 1917. Featuring highly limited maneuverability on rough terrain, and fixed guns with many blind spots, they were soon replaced with the Renault FT, the world's first tank with a 360deg rotating turret. The FT established the basic form to be followed by all modern tanks, and was successful in an infantry support role during late WWI.

The importance of armored vehicles was reduced during the interwar years with France retreating behind the Maginot Line. Just before the outbreak of WWII, the main French tanks were the light tanks Renault R35 and Hotchkiss H35. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and would turn on France the following May. The highly mobile German tanks and superior Blitzkrieg (Lightning War) tactics would hand the French a resounding defeat. Although the French tanks were superior in many aspects, such as the Char B1 heavy tank and the Somua S35, their tactics of deploying tanks across a widely dispersed front led to the units being isolated and defeated by concentrated German forces.

French tank development was placed on hold during the 4 year German occupation, yet quickly progressed once again after the war, with the AMX-13 light tank entering production in 1952. Although the US supplied France with M47 tanks, they did not suit the French tactical needs, so France entered an MBT development agreement with West Germany in 1957. After much disagreement, both countries eventually reverted to domestic tank development, resulting in the French AMX-30 and the German Leopard 1. First deployed to active units from 1967, the AMX-30 was mounted with a 105mm main gun and featured a compact design, weighing just 30 tons.

Text as featured in instruction manual.

About the French MBT Leclerc

LECLERCDevelopment of the successor to France's AMX-30 tank first began in 1977, under the designation EPC (Engin Principal de Combat). Originally a joint development project with West Germany was planned, but the project was cancelled in 1982, with development of the new tank subsequently taken over by French arms company GIAT. A prototype was unveiled in 1986, and was officially named "Leclerc" in honor of General Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque.

Weighing only 56 tons, the Leclerc is lighter and more compact than its foreign counterparts, the Leopard 2, Challenger 2 and M1A1. Powered by a SACM V8X-1500 4-stroke liquid cooled V8 diesel engine capable of 1,500hp, the Leclerc's acceleration capabilities exceed the Leopard 2, accelerating from 0 - 32km/h in 5.5sec. The innovative hydropneumatic suspension system allows the Leclerc to reach a top speed of 72km/h on-road and 50km/h cross country. Incorporating more computer technology than any previous MBT, all vital components of the Leclerc, including firing, loading, steering and communications are fully computerized, with the Leclerc capable of real time direct communication with commanding headquarters and friendly vehicles. The Leclerc is fitted with a French developed CN120-26 120mm smoothbore 52 caliber main gun which is capable of firing standard APFSDS ammunition at 1750m/sec and OFL 120 F1 tungsten ammunition at 1790m/sec. The Leclerc also features an auto-loading system mounted in the turret bustle which contributes to a more compact silhouette. The automatic loader can fire 6 rounds in 35 seconds, while on the move. Removable modular armor is placed directly on the tank allowing easy and quick replacement if damaged.

The first mass produced Leclerc tanks entered service in January 1992. Currently 5 French battle tank units are equipped with the Leclerc tanks, with a special modified Leclerc also used by the United Arab Emirates. Packed with the latest advanced technology, the Leclerc is widely considered the most innovative and high-tech of the third generation MBTs currently in use by the western powers.

Development & Production of the Leclerc MBT

Production of the Leclerc MBT began in 1991. The 132 units produced up until 1996 are categorized as Series 1 tanks. From 1997, production on Series 2 tanks began, with improvements including air-conditioning unit for the computer system added to the tank turret and armor added to the hull. By 2003 a total of 178 units had been produced. The most modern version of the Leclerc MBT is Series XXI, featuring new multi-layered armor and revolutionary battle management system.

Series 1: T1: Pre-production testing model
T2: Pre-production testing model
T4→ RT4: A modified T4
T5→ RT5:A modified T5
Series 2: T6
Series XXI: T10

Leclerc Images Click on image to enlarge

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Images may not be duplicated or modified without authorization

Photo shooting the Leclerc as retold by Tamiya's French designer

In July 2004, I had the honor of visiting the 6-12th Cuirassier Regiment of the French Army to undertake a 2-day photo shoot of the French MBT Leclerc. The 6-12th Cuirassier Regiment is based at Olivet, a small town just south of Orléans. Orléans is a beautiful town located on the Loire river, and is renowned for the 1429 Siege of Orléans, one of Joan of Arc's most famous victories.

The 6-12th Cuirassier Regiment traces its origins back to the early 19th century and the Napoleon Army. This unit is currently part of the 2nd armored brigade, formerly known as the 2nd armored division which was led by General Leclerc during WWII. The regiment is equipped with 80 Leclerc main battle tanks organized into 2 groups of 40, which is further sub-divided into 3 squadrons of 13 tanks, plus one tank for the squadron commander.

After meeting up with Tamiya Europe staff in Orléans, we headed to the base and underwent identity checks before obtaining clearance to enter. I was very honored to be able to visit this unit as it is recognized as one of the most capable units of the French Army. We were then introduced to Colonel Charles Beaudouin, commanding officer of the 6-12th Cuirassier Regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel Pierre Frouin, the executive officer. Colonel Beaudouin graduated from Saint-Cyr, the prestigious officer school of the French Army, and was closely involved in the Leclerc's development, having been in charge of the program for 2 years before assuming command of the 6-12th Cuirassier Regiment. He was very happy to help Tamiya in developing a 1/35 scale model of the Leclerc as he has been making models since he was 10-years-old.

After a brief meeting came the moment to start working on the Leclerc. The Leclerc is quite a complex tank featuring a lot of details, so it took the whole day to take all the pictures we needed. We were very lucky because during our visit one Leclerc was undergoing maintenance, allowing us the opportunity to take pictures of the suspension and underside panel. We stayed at Olivet until 5:00pm before going back to Orléans where we stayed for the night. After a good nights rest, we went back to Olivet to finish off our photo shoot of the Leclerc. This day was mainly used to measure the actual dimensions of the tank, the best way to make sure we offer Tamiya fans a replica as accurate as possible. With our main jobs achieved we were given a tour of the facility including a presentation of simulators used to train crews. We then said goodbye to our hosts and started our long journey back home.

With this being my first photo shoot, the experience was quite unique. I had the opportunity to see one of the most powerful tanks in the world and meet dedicated people whose job is to defend their homeland. I packed these feelings of excitement and respect with me as I headed back to Japan, all the time thinking about the best way to turn these photos and feelings into a quality 1/35 scale model that all can enjoy.

Product & Parts Detail (prototype/unpainted)

Images courtesy of TAMIYA MODEL MAGAZINE No.117

Another Addition to Tamiya's 1/35 Modern MBT Tank Series
Comparing up close tanks from different countries around the world is a joy that only modeling can bring. By building tanks from different countries, you not only discover the difference in design and form, but you also get an insight into different political and military strategies. Tamiya's fantastic collection of MBTs features the most modern and technology advanced tanks from around the world. Start your collection today!

Challenger 2 | JGSDF Type 90 | Leclerc Series 2 | M1A2 Abrams | Leopard 2 A6

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