French AUF 1 155mm Self-Propelled Howitzer

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/35
MSRP
$47.99
Product / Stock #
TS-004
Company: Meng Model - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Stevens International - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

The recent release of the Meng AMX-30 B was quickly followed up by the AUF 1. It uses virtually the same hull as the AMX, so it’s an obvious follow-on to the AMX. In the 1970s, the French Army explored a new self-propelled howitzer to replace the MK F3 155 mm. Development of the AUF 1 was completed in 1972 and production began in 1977 with a run of 440 vehicles. Vehicles were also exported to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It’s armed with a 155 mm gun with an auto loader and a crew of four.

The kit is composed of eleven sprues molded in green and five sprues of track links and pads molded in brown, a small sprue of clear parts, a small fret of photo etch, and a lower hull and turret. There are decals for two vehicles, though the color profiles only feature one.

Assembly

I wrote the review for the AMX 30, so the assembly of the chassis and tracks is nearly identical to the AMX 30.

From what I can tell, the undercarriage of the AUF 1 is identical to the AMX 30 in its construction. The kit’s suspension is designed to articulate. To accomplish this, the road wheels are each attached to an individual torsion bar which flexes when moved. Four of the suspension arms are attached to hydraulic shock absorbers that also facilitate movement. Since there is a degree of complexity in the suspension, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully. Make sure that the installed torsion bar matches what’s in the instructions. The only other observation is that the previously mentioned shock absorbers do not snap in place. To prevent them from falling out, they must be glued.

The hull is virtually identical to the AMX 30, but there are some slight differences between the two. Pieces N34 and N35 are assembled with a different set of tools and track links than their cousins on the AMX. Unfortunately, since I built the AMX 30, I got a bit ahead of myself and installed the same pieces from the AMX 30 onto this kit. I did some surgery to remove them and attempted to put the correct pieces on. There are other, slight variations between the hulls of the two kits, most notably in the front where you will find a second hatch on the front, as well as a prominent air filter.

The tracks are assembled just like the AMX 30B. The tracks are individual links, 80 for each side. Each link is joined by four sets of teeth with tiny pins so, theoretically, the entire run should be flexible. Meng, in a very smart move, provides a jig to assemble the runs. Each link is composed of two parts. Part B2 fits into the jig, face down. Part B1 fits into B2 with just a dab of glue. Since you have to remove the individual parts from the sprue, run over each link with a sanding stick for a snug fit. That being said, the attachment points are so small, that when it came time to assemble the track run, the links kept separating. I would suggest some liquid cement in prevent the assemblies from popping off. This is, by far, the most challenging part of this kit.

Once you transition to the turret, the kit obviously deviates from its kin. Unlike on many modern self-propelled gun kits, Meng decided to provide a complete interior for this kit. It includes a gunner’s station, autoloader for the powder charges and shells, and various other accoutrements for the commander and crew. After a rather lengthy period of indecision, for the sake of the completing this kit, I opted to keep the hatches closed, including the rear hatches that allow for the easy reloading of ammunition. I looked online for reference photographs and couldn’t find any of the interior, so I can only assume that the interior configuration is correct. I built the interior just to see how it goes together. No problems. Everything went together without much of a problem. The turret has four slab sides that are individual pieces. They went together well. Once the interior is built, the rest of the turret goes together easily.

When I began to put on the bits and pieces on the exterior of the turret, there weren’t any problems, but the rear hatches, which allow access to ammunition storage, were not easy to install. There was a slight warp. By far, the most difficult part of the turret was gun barrel. The instructions show the barrel slipping into the breech of the gun, which are two parts – H6 and H7. There is a tab that should guide the barrel into the correct position. No matter how hard I tried, the barrel did not sit properly in the breech. I cut off half an inch and it fit perfectly. I am curious if anyone else has this problem.

Finishing

There’s only one color configuration for this kit and it’s a NATO pattern camouflage scheme. There are two sets of markings included in the box, but curiously, only one is included with the instructions. I use Tamiya paints, so the entire kit was sprayed with XF-67 (NATO Green), XF-68 (NATO Brown), and XF-69 (NATO Black). I put on a coat of Future for the decals. Unfortunately, this color scheme is nearly devoid of markings. There’s a tactical symbol on the fender and vehicle registration plates on the front and the back. A coat of Testor’s Dull Coat finished off the painting.

This kit has a level of detail that most modelers have come to expect from contemporary kits. While the engineering is fantastic, it takes time and patience to build this kit. The tracks are the most difficult part of the kit and, frankly, the most frustrating. Regardless, it’s a great kit.

My thanks to Stevens International and IPMS/USA for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.

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