This years Big Item in the static models category has got to be the Leclerc French Main Battle Tank. This deluxe model is based on reference materials obtained from the French military by Tamiyas French designer, giving us a truly privileged opportunity to add this unique model to our 1/35 modern battle tank selection.
The 6-12th Cuirassier Regiment traces its origins back to the early 19th century and the Napoleon Army. This unit is currently part of the 2nd armored brigade, formerly known as the 2nd armored division which was led by General Leclerc during WWII. The regiment is equipped with 80 Leclerc main battle tanks organized into 2 groups of 40, which is further sub-divided into 3 squadrons of 13 tanks, plus one tank for the squadron commander.
After meeting up with Tamiya Europe staff in Orlans, we headed to the base and underwent identity checks before obtaining clearance to enter. I was very honored to be able to visit this unit as it is recognized as one of the most capable units of the French Army. We were then introduced to Colonel Charles Beaudouin, commanding officer of the 6-12th Cuirassier Regiment, and Lieutenant-Colonel Pierre Frouin, the executive officer. Colonel Beaudouin graduated from Saint-Cyr, the prestigious officer school of the French Army, and was closely involved in the Leclerc's development, having been in charge of the program for 2 years before assuming command of the 6-12th Cuirassier Regiment. He was very happy to help Tamiya in developing a 1/35 scale model of the Leclerc as he has been making models since he was 10-years-old.
After a brief meeting came the moment to start working on the Leclerc. The Leclerc is quite a complex tank featuring a lot of details, so it took the whole day to take all the pictures we needed. We were very lucky because during our visit one Leclerc was undergoing maintenance, allowing us the opportunity to take pictures of the suspension and underside panel. We stayed at Olivet until 5:00pm before going back to Orlans where we stayed for the night. After a good nights rest, we went back to Olivet to finish off our photo shoot of the Leclerc. This day was mainly used to measure the actual dimensions of the tank, the best way to make sure we offer Tamiya fans a replica as accurate as possible. With our main jobs achieved we were given a tour of the facility including a presentation of simulators used to train crews. We then said goodbye to our hosts and started our long journey back home.
With this being my first photo shoot, the experience was quite unique. I had the opportunity to see one of the most powerful tanks in the world and meet dedicated people whose job is to defend their homeland. I packed these feelings of excitement and respect with me as I headed back to Japan, all the time thinking about the best way to turn these photos and feelings into a quality 1/35 scale model that all can enjoy.
French Tank Leclerc Series 2