This is the nice MENG kit (the only thing not so nice about it being its tracks, which got replaced with Friulmodel’s).
The AMX-30 – Some Quick Background
The AMX-30, although enormously underrated as a modeling subject, is an important tank in more than one way. Together with the Leopard I (another quite overlooked subject, sadly), with which it shares part of its early origins, the AMX-30 development illustrates trends in tank design that influenced the late fifties up to the development of third generation vehicles in the early seventies.
For one, it marked a certain prevalence of firepower and mobility over protection, for it was thought that steady improvements in antitank ammunition, most notably hollow charge shells, rendered heavy armor more or less pointless. The AMX-30 was thus a very mobile platform with a powerful engine, capable of hauling its 36+ tons at a respectable 65 kilometers per hour over almost 600 km. The tradeoff was an average cast hull about 80mm thick, in stark contrast with the T-62’s 242mm at its thickest.
It also carried a powerful gun, in some respect perhaps even more powerful than the L7, at least in the latter’s early iterations. The secret of this firepower was mainly due to the development of the Obus G, a clever design that addressed many of the technical challenges of creating a truly efficient, long range and accurate hollow charge shell. The combination of the GIAT CN-105 F1 105mm rifled cannon and the Obus G meant that the AMX-30 could, in theory, take out T-55s and 62s at no less than 2500+ meters. Whether gunnery optics of the tank really allowed for consistent results at that range remains to be established. Overall, the main idea was that a highly mobile and well-armed platform could avoid getting hit and hit back in spade. These where also the premises leading to the development of the Leopard 1.
Compared to its contemporaries, the AMX-30 was thus markedly more swift, held the high ground in firepower but was thinly armored. Although it wasn’t to be tried much in operational conditions (with the notable exception of the first Gulf War, where it apparently fared well), the design was close to the Leopard 1, and both were relatively successful on foreign markets. 3500 AMX-30s where produced.
And last but not least, this tank design help retain some savoir-faire that would later be put to good use on the Leclerc.
In the modeling world, the only company to have dared model the AMX-30 is Heller. I have never seen Heller’s kit, nor any other from Heller, so I will refrain from speculating about its merits. (It had at least one: it was the only one available). I did try to get hold of the Heller’s offering to at least compare the two, but to no avail.