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AMX-13DCA "Bi-Tubes"
Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun

54th Artillery Regiment, Ground to Air
Le 54e Régiment d’Artillerie, sol-air
(54th Artillery Regiment, ground-to-air)
French Army
Verdun, France early 1980's

Heller

This model added to kgwings.com on September 28, 2017

KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun

In the early 1960s, France began to develop prototypes for a Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun to provide forward air defense for French tank battalions. In 1969 the first AMX-13 DCA (Défense Contre Avions/defense against aircraft) was produced to fill that requirement.

KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun

The chassis of the AMX-DCA is identical to the chassis of the AMX-13 Light Tank. This tracked chassis provided good off road performance and allowed it to keep pace with the rest of the battalion at a maximum road speed of 37mph (60 km/h).

KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun

The fully enclosed steel turret provides protection from small arms fire and shell splinters and houses 2 x 30 mm Hispano Suiza HSS 831 autocannon which can be fired semi-automatically or in 5 to 15 round bursts at a rate of 650 rpm per barrel. Maximum effective range is 5 km.

KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun
Only 60 AMX-13 DCA were ever produced, all served with the French Army until the end of the Cold War.
KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun

About the kit: This kit was originally released in 1979 when molding technology was not what it is today. Some details are simplified or just completely missing.

KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun

The overall profile/shape of the kit is good, it resembles the real vehicle well. The worst feature of the kit is it's tracks and drive wheels, they are very toy-like and the first thing that needs an upgrade.

KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun
All crew hatches are molded shut, radar dish does not elevate or rotate however the turret can traverse and gun tubes can elevate.
KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun
The kit was devoid of rear signal lights, gas cans, tow hook, etc. so I used a combination of spare parts and scrap styrene to fill in the empty spaces.
KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun
One small wonder of this kit is the gun tubes, they are actually molded quite well with detail better than I expected.
KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun
The kit provided bustle racks but they are not very good so I fabricated my own then filled them with tarpaulins made out of Parafilm M.
KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun
This kit gets a fun-factor-mark since the barrels can be positioned almost to 90 degrees, if the radar could elevate with them I'd have to give it a Gold Star of Fun.
KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun
There are very few post WWII self-propelled anti-aircraft gun kits on the market so to me this kit is worth fixing up. I mean what fun is flying my helicopter kits around the room if nothing on my shelf is shooting at it?
KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun

I studied a lot of photos and noticed that WWII German Hetzers had remarkably similar tracks and wheels to the AMX. I purchased a UM Hetzer kit and found the parts fit the AMX with virtually no altering required.

KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun

This was my first time to use Parafilm M to make tarpaulins. The para film is thin and semi-transparent. It's really easy to fold and bend into shape. I was very impressed with how well it worked.

KG Wings - Heller 1:72 scale model of AMX-13 Self Propelled Anti Aircraft Gun

Although it took a bit of extra work, this was a very enjoyable project. Rare subjects are always interesting to me and this one is about as rare as it gets. I'm very happy to have it in my collection.




Heller AMX-13DCA Bi-Tubes 1:72 scale model 192
Heller
Kit: Heller #192
1:72 Scale Model
Scale: 1/72
Value:

This kit is a pretty rare find these days so I've seen it sell for $30.00 to $40.00(US), I suppose to a collector that's not all that bad, but as a builder that is ridiculous for a kit of this quality. I got extremely lucky and found mine listed on craigslist for $5.00, I had to drive 104 miles (167km) round trip to get it but it was well worth it.

The Kit:

Plastic parts are molded in green, soft vinyl tracks, 1 decal sheet, 1 instruction sheet.

The molds for this kit were made in 1979 so it's no surprise that many details are soft and simplified or completely missing, very common for kits of this age. One very noticeable problem is the headlights molded directly to the hull which end up shaped a lot like McDonald's golden arches. The other problem is the tracks, molded way too thick so they don't want to bend around the road wheels at all, with detail only on one side so they appear very toy-like.

The overall shape of the kit is pretty good, it looks like a DCA. I did not measure but I suspect it could be a bit underscale, but not much.

The gun tubes are molded very well with decent detail, somewhat of a surprise to me.

Assembly is very straightforward, no problems to speak of. I didn't even try to use the provided tracks my guess is they don't glue very well.

Modifications:

I replaced the Heller drive sprockets, return wheels and tracks with parts from a UM Hetzer kit. I drilled out all the turret hoist rings. I removed the molded-in headlights and replaced them with ones from my spares box. Headlight guards were made from small gauge wire. Smoke dischargers were made from styrene. The radar receiver was made from spare parts. Gas cans are from spare parts. Antenna made from stretched sprue. Vision block lenses made from pearl sequins. Bustle racks made from copper wire. Tarps made from parafilm.

Decals:

This kit was first released in 1979 so it is not surprising at all that my decals were unusable, unfortunately they aren't very good even if they had worked. The ID plate says "AMX13DCA" instead of an actual serial number, and the yellow unit number is way too large.

Conclusion:

This kit captures the general look of the real vehicle but some details are simplified to the point that it's a bit toy-like, if you plan to build it straight out of the box you won't be very impressed. If you don't mind making a few custom upgrades it can be turned in to a nice little scale replica. I'm very happy with how mine turned out and very glad I put in the extra effort.


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