French LECLERC MBT Series 2
Tamiya 1:35th Scale Kit No.35279

Review by Terry Ashley

The Kit:

It’s been over a year since the last 1:35 kit from Tamiya as they have concentrated on their 1:48 range but we now have this kit of the French Leclerc MBT to make up the big foursome of current generation Western MBTs along with the C2, Leopard 2A6 and M1A2.

The kit consists of 222 parts in the usual olive drab plastic, 10 clear parts and a small clear sheet plus 24 die-cast metal road wheels with poly caps and full length vinyl track along with the decal and instruction sheets. Tamiya have also released a separate etched set with 11 etched parts (set #35280) but as you can’t assemble the kit as per the instructions without it you have to wonder why it’s not included in the kit like recent kits from AFV Club and Dragon instead of having to pay extra for it.

Clear parts
Etched set #35280 (Sold Separately)

The standard of moulding is generally very good with clean crisp details and a minimum of pin marks but there are a few to deal with on some parts but these are generally shallow when they do appear. Surface details such as the non-skid panels are well done as well as nice grill work and louvers around the rear hull but some detail is quite simplified typified by the drive sprockets which are all but devoid of details and some missing weld seams and larger bolts heads have to be added which will leave those wanting to add this detail something to do.

Lower Hull:

The large lower hull tub includes the hull bottom and sides with axle mounts as well as the lower sponsons and upper hull sides for what is an impressive moulding but there is no underside detail apart from a basic escape hatch.

The suspension units are separate parts with the return rollers having separate mounts and separate rear shock absorbers while the front idler wheels have a large piston unit incorporating the front shock absorber but the details on these are very basic. The separate final drive housing is completely devoid of any detail and are simple cones that glue onto the hull sides.

The separate axles have accurate shape and what seems like a large pin mark on the front of each axle should actually be there so don’t be tempted to remove this.

A nice inclusion is the two alignment jigs provided to ensure the axles all line up parallel and this will make this job easy and of course you can re-position the axles to depict animation in a diorama setting.

The drive sprockets as mentioned have very basic details with bolt heads on the outer disc only and none on the back of the outer disc or on either side of the inner discs while the small central hub fitting has grooves both vertically and horizontally on the real part but only the vertical grooves are on the kit part, granted it would be difficult to add these given injection moulding constraints.

The twenty four road wheels are supplied as die-cast items with a light grey primer already applied and while this means you don’t have to clean up the sprue attachments the hub detail is not as crisp as on recent normal plastic wheels and there is no detail at all on the inner wheel rims. The road wheels, idler wheels and drive sprockets attach to the axles using the normal Tamiya poly caps that are trapped between the inner and outer wheels during construction.

The rear hull panel has excellent louver detail as well as separate clear part light clusters and the large curved exhaust outlet on the left corner. The external fuel tanks mounted on the rear hull are in two parts each with separate end discs mounted on four part hull mountings with separate attachment strap clips. No retaining straps are provided in the kit but the instruction show to add the etched straps which obviously are not included but the instructions in this sequence don’t tell you they have to be purchased separately and give the impression they are in the kit, quite misleading.


These are in full length vinyl with very nice details on both sides for this medium and can be glued together using normal plastic cement. The guide teeth don’t have the lightening holes included but these are probably impossible to include in vinyl using normal moulding techniques.

Vinyl Track

Upper Hull:

A single piece flat upper hull panel includes nice non-slip surfaces, weld seams and recessed side panels as well as nice intake grills and louvers on the rear hull with the part moulded without any warping. The fit if the panel to the lower hull tub is excellent as we have come to expect from Tamiya. Again you need the separately sold etched set for the engine deck intake mesh (the instructions do say this here) but the etched screens are way over scale in any case as the real mesh screens are extremely fine and would be difficult to replicate even with etchings.

A separate driver’s hatch is provided with separate periscope covers and the periscopes faces represented by flat clear plastic sheet you have to cut to the required size yourself and not provided in clear plastic which seems to be the norm in other current kits. The real hatch has a thin ‘lip’ around the front edges and this is again only provided on the separate etched set so if you don’t have this set this detail is simply missing altogether.

At the front is a separate mud guard assembly with the ‘rubber’ flaps having the lower edges bevelled for a thinner appearance as well as separate head light clusters with clear light lenses and nice detail on the rear side of the clusters although there are also a couple of pin marks that should be easy to remove plus two fire extinguishers, a horn, rear view mirror and front and back towing shackles.

Full length side skirts are provided that incorporate the flat rear segments and front hinged armour panels (fixed into position) and lower ‘rubberised’ sections. These included bevelled lower edges for a better scale appearance as well as subtle contours and fasteners for a good effect.


The large turret shell is another impressive moulding that includes the large rear air conditioning unit of the Series 2 and the main gunner’s sight enclosure. The turret has excellent non-slip coating, weld seams with engraved panel lines, raised bolt head and louver details with separate parts for the side facing periscopes, rear corner smoke grenades and covers as well as the main sight doors to give good detail definition. There are a few areas where some other detail such as weld seams and bolts are missing as well as a fairly prominent fitting just in front of the Commander’s front periscope but this gives the super detailer something to do.

The lower turret section includes stands under the crew hatches to make it easy to add crew figures and at the front is the internal gun mounting which is held in place with poly caps allowing the gun mounting to elevate. Not really sure why Tamiya went to this trouble because once you attach the gun it can’t elevate anyway with the design of the mantlet box resulting in the gun being fixed in the neutral position.

The two side facing periscope cluster mountings are inserted from the inside the turret with the periscope faces again having to be cut from the clear sheet provided while the main sight optics are in moulded clear plastic and again inserted and painted from inside before attaching the lower hull section.

A rear turret panel and side armour panels are also separate for good definition and all fit perfectly in place to complete the main turret shell.

The rear corner mounted smoke grenades are separate parts with separate outer covers with the holes included and these are quite well defined with the covers also included non-slip panel on the top as with the real things.

At the back are a two part storage box and four part bar storage rack and upper wind sensor mast. The storage rack raises the etched part issue again as the instructions show mesh to cover the bottom of the rack but if you didn’t buy the separate etched set there is no alternate mesh in the kit and your rack will be bare.

The rear of the air conditioning unit has an alternate cover with moulded on screen or a bare frame to use the etched screen, at least here you can still assemble the kit without the separate etched set.

On the top are the two crew hatches which have basic details on both sides as well as a couple of pin marks to be removed from the inside with the base of the panoramic site also incorporating the inside Commander’s periscope covers. This base traps a poly cap against the turret roof for attaching the sight assembly allowing it to rotate. The panoramic site has the main dome with clear optics at the front with separate door that can be positioned open or closed with the main gunner’s fixed sight also having the outer frame and doors which can be positioned open or closed but you have cut the doors in two before hand.

To the gun which is in two halves that includes nicely rendered canvas section and the upper box which in turn has separate top and front section that does leave a join seam around the top to fill and some weld seams to be added to the front.

The rear mantlet has a two part concertina section which as mentioned prevents the gun from moving once attached while on the hollowed out muzzle is the muzzle reference systems included which unfortunately is not the correct shape but shouldn’t be too hard to correct with the right reference pics.

Additional parts are a nicely detailed 7.62mm machine gun with separate mount and ammo box plus short and long snorkel containers fitted to the rear turret basket and also a single full Commander figure that has nice uniform details included for a standard kit figure.


These are the usual Tamiya exploded view drawings that are very clear and easy to follow but as with any instructions you should study these before any assembly to avoid any mistakes or misinterpretation.


The small decal sheet is again typical Tamiya with well printed markings and the usual thickish carrier film and has markings for four Leclercs as well as five view plan drawings showing the NATO camouflage scheme and the two tone sand camouflage scheme, with each of the four vehicles having three view drawings showing the decal location.5 vehicles, 2 German and 3 French. These are basically the same markings as included in the 1:48 kit with 1 extra.

A large data sheet is included with development history and technical data as well as some reference photos that will come in handy during assembly.
  • A: 2nd Armored Brigade, 6th -12th Cuiassier Regiment, 3/6 Squadron, France 2004 in three colour NATO camouflage scheme.
  • B: 2nd Armored Brigade, 6th -12th Cuiassier Regiment, Rapid Reaction Platoon, France 2004 in three colour NATO camouflage scheme.
  • C: 2nd Armored Brigade, 6th -12th Cuiassier Regiment, 1/12 Squadron, France 2004 in three colour NATO camouflage scheme.
  • D: Technical Section of the French Armee de Terre (Army), Qatar 1998 in two tone sand camouflage.

Overall this is a typical Tamiya kit with clean crisp details with well engineered and fitting parts but some parts are quite simplified such as the drive sprockets and there are some additional details required as with most kits.

One issue that I mentioned above concerns the separate etched set required to complete the kit as per instructions. Three sections of the kit, the driver’s hatch lip, rear fuel drum straps and storage rack mesh don’t have alternate parts supplied so if you don’t buy the etched set you simple don’t get that detail.

But the kit will certainly build into an impressive looking Leclerc and be welcomed by modern armour modellers and is a big improvement on the ancient Heller offering.


The Sprues:

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Detail images
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Book LECLERC - The French "Ground Dominance" MBT
by Stefan Marx.
Tankograd French Special No 8001
Soft cover, A4 size, 64 pages
Ground Power

Ground Power Magazine #135 - 8/2005
Published by GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd.
2-2-13 Misaki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Includes a 55 page detailed article on the Leclerc.

Ground Power Ground Power Magazine #136 - 9/2005
Published by GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd.
2-2-13 Misaki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Part 2 of the extensive article on the Leclerc.

Ground Power Ground Power Magazine #137 - 10/2005
Published by GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd.
2-2-13 Misaki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan

Part 3 of the extensive article on the Leclerc.

Thanks to my credit card and the excellent service fromRainbow Tenfor the review kit.

Page created July 26, 2009