Atelier de Construction Roanne AMX-13 Recon Light Tank
by Tim Wing
While it seems odd to be covering a tank designed right after World War II in a publication dedicated to the Robotech Era, it is not without good reason. The French AMX-13 Recon, built from 1953 to 1985, was procured in large numbers by a variety of overseas militaries. Significantly, many countries in South America operated these tanks. Due to the excellent mechanical reliability and underfunded weapons procurement budgets, many of these tanks were still in operation on this continent during the Global Civil War, the Unification War and the Malcontent Uprisings. Argentina, and its successor state the Merchant Republic, operated theirs all the way up to the Invid Invasion. These tanks, subsequently, saw use by freedom fighters throughout the occupation period. While the AMX-13 Recon was certainly outclassed by contemporary armored vehicles and mecha throughout these periods, they were seen on the battlefield nonetheless.
- Type: Light tank
- Place of origin: France
- Designer: Atelier de Construction d’Issy-les-Moulineaux
- Designed: 1946
- Manufacturer: Atelier de Construction Roanne
- Produced: 1952–1987
- No. built: 7,700 (Total)
- Weight: 13.7 t empty, 14.5 t combat
- Length: 6.36 m with gun, 4.88 m hull
- Width: 2.51 m
- Height: 2.35 m
- Crew: 3 (Commander, gunner and driver)
- Armor: 10–40 mm
- 1 x Canon CN 105/57 105 mm with 32 Rounds, 12 ready to fire
- 1 × 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun with 3,600 Rounds
- 1 × 7.62 mm AA machine gun (optional)
- 2 × 2 smoke grenade dischargers
- Operational range: 400 km
- Speed: 60 km/h (37 mph)
The AMX-13 was a French light tank produced from 1953 to 1985. It served with the French Army, as the Char 13t-75 Modèle 51, and was exported to more than 25 other nations. Named after its initial weight of 13 tons, and featuring a tough and reliable chassis, it was fitted with an oscillating turret built by GIAT Industries with revolver type magazines, which were also used on the Austrian SK-105 Kürassier.
The AMX-13 was designed at the Atelier de Construction d’Issy-les-Moulineaux (AMX) in 1946 to meet a requirement for an air-portable vehicle to support paratroopers. The first prototype ran from 1948. The compact chassis had torsion bar suspension with five road-wheels and two return rollers; the engine runs the length of the tank on the right side, with the driver on the left. It features an uncommon two-part oscillating turret, where the gun is fixed to the turret and the entire upper turret changes elevation. The turret is set to the rear of the vehicle and holds the commander and gunner. The original 75 mm gun was replaced first by a 90mm gun, then finally by a Canon CN 105/57 105mm gun in its final iteration. The late model AMX-13/105’s upgrades included a new diesel engine, fully automatic transmission and new hydropneumatic suspension were introduced.
The AMX-13/105’s antiquated cast steel armor was no match for modern weapons systems. With a maximum thickness of only 40mm, the front slope provided protection up to 23mm Zentraedi Autocannon only. It provided poor protection against 55mm and up. The tank was especially vulnerable to HEAT rounds, though this was mitigated somewhat by the addition of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) in Merchant Republic service. These ERA plates only protected the front and sides however. During the Invid Occupation, this was exploited by Invid forces who could easily attack the vulnerable 10mm thick armor on the upper surfaces of the tank.
The AMX-13/105 main gun was not a weakness. It was capable of using a full range of modern 105mm ammunition, to include Armor Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) and High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT). Combined with a rudimentary, but effective, fire control system featuring a Laser Range Finder (LRF), day and night sights with Infrared (IR) detection and a fire control computer, The AMX-13/105 was more than capable of destroying any mecha on the battlefield. This included Reguld Battle Pods, Destroids and Battloids of the UN Spacy and United Earth Defense Forces (UEDF) and all Invid mecha (though it must be pointed out that airborne mecha such as those used by the Invid were extremely hard to hit due to slow engagement times inherent in a conventional tank main gun design).
While the AMX-13 tank was phased out of service with the French Army in the 1980s, over 3,400 examples were exported to other countries. The AMX-13 saw battle during the Suez Crisis, the Algerian War, the Dominican Civil War, the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Lebanese Civil War and both the Six Day War and Yom Kippur War. The AMX-13 took part in no significant actions during the Global Civil War (GCW) or Unification War. After the end of the First Robotech War, the sole remaining operators were Argentina with 58 AMX-13/75s, Ecuador with 108 AMX-13/105s, Indonesia with 175 AMX-13/75s, Peru with 30 AMX-13/75s and 78 AMX-13/105s and Venezuela with 36 AMX-13/75s and 31 AMX-13/90s. Though the AMX-13s in Indonesian service were retired by 2015, those in South America saw heavy use during the Malcontent Uprisings.
The national militaries of Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela operated their tanks under the command of the UN Spacy throughout the Zentraedi Control Zone. In this theatre of operation, the AMX-13’s qualities of reliability and fire-power enabled it to contribute to the fight. When used within the constraints of the types strengths and weaknesses, the AMX-13 proved to be reasonably effective. Used in the defensive role, the AMX-13 could effectively engage Battle Pods and Zentraedi Infantry effectively from dug in battle positions. In the hull down position, the AMX-13’s high mounted main gun could see over the berm while exposing very little of the tank’s turret. From this position, it could effectively engage enemy targets while exposing a very small target to return fire. When operating in pairs, AMX-13 teams were able to mitigate the slow reload times of their 12 round rotary magazines. One AMX-13 would provide covering fire while the other tank would back down to its reserve position so that the crew could dismount and reload. When used on the attack, the AMX-13’s weaknesses were quickly exposed: literally, any adversary mecha on the battlefield could kill it with one shot.
After the United Earth Government consolidated all member state militaries under the command of the United Earth Defense Force, all AMX-13s were divested of in favor of newer types such as the M-21 Anaconda. Argentina happily purchased every single AMX-13 on offer and added them to their parade of antiques. In Argentine service, all were upgraded to AMX-13/105 standard. These upgrades were carried out by Fábrica Argentina de Aviones with assistance from Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. Upgrades included a low pressure 105mm gun based on the British L7 tank gun, a Soviet source fire control system and ERA blocks on the front and sides of the turret. None of these tanks saw battle in Argentine, and later Merchant Republic, service apart from yet another failed attempt to invade the Falkland’s. During this brief action, all twenty of the AMX-13/105s involved in the amphibious assault were destroyed on the beach by four UEDF CBH-4 Salamanders, who suffered only one loss in return. During the early years of the Invid Occupation, former Merchant Republic AMX-13s were used by local freedom fighters. However, the type was ill suited to guerilla warfare against the Invid, and it is estimated that by 2036 all had either been destroyed or abandoned.
- Wikipedia (English): AMX-13
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Artwork – Graphic Training Aid 17-2-13 CH. 1 Armored Vehicle Recognition
Content by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2018 Tim Wing