by: Carlos Martin [ ]
The full title of the book is AMX-13 in Lebanon, Multiple rusting and heavy weathering painting techniques for abandoned military vehicles models, and has been written by Moustafa El-Assad and Federico Collada. The content covers both history and photos of the real vehicle in different contexts, and building and painting kits both at 1/35 and 1/72.
It comes perfectly wrapped in a plastic bag, inside the usual postal envelope so it arrived with no damage at all. It is a softcover volume of 106 pages, all of them are printed in colour, of a size slightly smaller than A4. The binding is good, after reading it forth and back several times for this review, there is no sign of deterioration. The paper is glossy and of a good quality.
The whole book uses a good sized font, and whenever the background is dark (like in some photos), it has been printed over a white box. All of these means that the book is very easy to read.
Most of the historic photos are in colour, except a few ones from Israel during the 50's. In any case all the photos are crisp and clear, and most of them take half of a page (some even span for the whole page).
The step by step photos of the model build and paint are smaller, but still clear and informative. The book is predominantly graphic: except for the historical introduction and a few paragraphs, the rest of the text are captions. Even the painting section is made of a sequence of numbered photos with detailed captions.
The book alternates sections of photos of real vehicles with sections about models, which makes reading more interesting and varied.
All 1/35 kits used are from Takom. The authors intended to use a Tamiya model as well, but it did not arrive in time. As most of the modelling part is devoted to painting, this should not be a problem for anyone.
The products used throughout the book are all acrylics from the Vallejo range, from primers to paints, washes, chipping medium, etc. with the sole exception of a rusting agent.
The first section is a brief historic introduction to the vehicle. Three pages that explain the development and variants of the AMX-13, and the different countries that have had it in service over the time. It is easy to read, short and informative. Due to its size, it is more an introduction for those of us who are not familiar with the vehicle so do not expect any in depth information here.
Then comes a series of photos of the AMX-13 with the Israel Defence Forces, both in service and preserved in museums.
The next section is divided in two with a model article in the middle, and is the longest of the book. 35 pages of a dump yard in Lebanon. The vehicles show different states of damage, from rust and colour fading due to abandon, to fallen and removed parts.
Most of them are of the AMX-13, but also from its Armoured Personal Carrier variant, the AMX-VTT, and some other different vehicles.
The captions highlight the particularities of the photo, as many vehicles had distinct features or markings. A small glitch is that many photos are taken using the same angle, general views from top to bottom. As the vehicles are among tall grass, it is hard to see any detail of the lower hull. There are few close ups as well.
In the middle of this section we find the first model, 10 pages explaining how to build and paint an AMX-13 with 75mm gun from Takom at 1/35. It represents one of these dump yard vehicles, damaged and heavily rusted. The building part is just 2 pages, focused on the addition of some improvements to the kit. The painting part is longer and more interesting, as it aims for a heavy weathered vehicle depiction. Written with the less experienced modellers in mind, it clearly shows in step-by-step photos the whole process.
The sequence is easy to follow and it does not seem to require special skills.
Considering that these kind of finishes seems always hard to get, it is good to have a simple and detailed explanation like the one we have here. More advanced modellers who still have not ventured in this kind of extreme finishes can benefit also from the techniques presented.
This chapter offers also four different methods for simulating rust.
The next model is after the second part of the dump yard photos, and is again an AMX-13 from Takom at 1/35 but with the 90mm gun. This time the reference chosen is a South Lebanese Army tank, that carried a curious light blue camouflage.
Like the first one, there are two pages for the detailing without using aftermarket additions. The paint process shows again an abandoned vehicle and is similar to the previous one, although the colours used are quite different.
Next section is a live fire exercise from the Lebanese Army, in which the AMX-13 and other old vehicles are used as targets. There are photos before and during the exercise, with some tanks in flames.
Next there is another kit, this time a 1/72 Model Miniature AMX-13 with 75mm gun. It shows a fast method of painting, with wargaming in mind where you need to prepare several equal vehicles and do not want to spend a lot of time with them. It is not a heavy weathered, abandoned vehicle like before, but a tank in service. The process is very simple yet effective, using only paint and washes to get a convincing result.
There are then two pages with 16 walkaround photos of AMX-13's in Swiss Museums, very crisp images and some of them focused on details.
Lastly, another Takom AMX-13 with 90mm gun is shown. A tank in service with the 9th Brigade in Lebanon. Although the vehicle is weathered, it does not have the extreme finish of the first ones.
As before, the painting process is explained through detailed captions on the numerous photos.
Profusely illustrated with large, clear and full colour photos, this book is obviously interesting to those who want to represent an AMX-13 in Lebanon. On a single volume you get information and photos from the real vehicle and detailed instructions for painting the kit, either as abandoned or in service. And it can be applied to other vehicles of the same Army and era.
But it goes beyond that, as it is a useful guide to paint abandoned (not destroyed, as there are no fire or impact effects) vehicles of any time and place, in a way suitable for modellers of any level.
As a bonus, the book includes a separated print with more than 40 Lebanese posters of different sizes, seen between 1975 and 1990. They are excellent to dress a urban scene in this country.