|Type Light tank|
|Place of origin France|
|Wars Suez Crisis
Dominican Civil War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Six Day War
Yom Kippur War
Western Sahara War
Lebanese Civil War|
Designer Atelier de Construction d'Issy-les-Moulineaux
Manufacturer Atelier de Construction Roanne
The AMX-13 is 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 tonnes, and featuring a tough and reliable chassis, it was fitted with an oscillating turret built by GIAT Industries (now Nexter) with revolver type magazines, which were also used on the Austrian SK-105 Kürassier. Including prototypes and export versions, there are over a hundred variants including self-propelled guns, anti-aircraft systems, APCs, and ATGM versions.
The tank 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 loaded by an automatic loading system fed by two six-round magazines located in on either side of the automatic loader in the turret's bustle. The 12 rounds available in the drum magazines meant that the crew could engage targets quickly; however, once those rounds were expended, the vehicle had to retreat to cover and the crew had to reload shells from outside the vehicle.
Production began at ARE (Atelier de Construction Roanne) in 1952, with the first tanks delivered the following year. In 1964, production was transferred to Creusot-Loire at Chalon-sur-Saône, as ARE switched to the production of the AMX 30 MBT, and the numbers produced declined significantly.
After 1966, AMX-13s in French service were up-gunned with a 90mm F3 medium pressure gun firing more effective high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) munitions; this variant was designated AMX-13/90. The F3 was similar to the DEFA D921/F1 low pressure gun developed for the Panhard AML-90, and even utilized the same ammunition, though it possessed a significantly higher muzzle velocity. By the late 1960s, an export model of the AMX-13 was also available with an even larger 105mm gun.
Although there were many variants on the turret, the basic chassis was almost unchanged until 1985, when changes including a new diesel engine, fully automatic transmission and new hydropneumatic suspension were introduced. Production halted with the AMX-13 Model 1987. After sales support and upgrades are still offered through GIAT Industries (now Nexter).
The AMX-13 tank was phased out of service with the French Army in the 1980s. Current French armoured vehicles with a similar role are the ERC 90 Sagaie and the AMX 10 RC.
During the Suez Crisis of 1956, the French Army used two sections of the 2nd Foreign Cavalry Regiment's AMX-13 tanks in Port Fouad. The AMX-13s also saw limited action in the Algerian War.
AMX 13s saw service among both the loyalists and the rebels during the Dominican Civil War of 1965. Two AMX 13s used by the rebel forces were destroyed by M50 Ontos of the United States Marine Corps during the subsequent American intervention in the Dominican Republic.
The AMX 13 was Israel’s first modern tank and was purchased at a time when France was the only country willing to openly sell arms to Israel. By 1956, Israel had received 180 AMX-13 light tanks as part of an agreement to reinforce Israel's military and to maintain the balance in Israel's favour after the Egyptian-Czechoslovak arms agreement. Due to the shortage of tanks, the IDF used them as main battle tanks and employed them to form a tank battalion in the 7th Armored Brigade. IDF reconnaissance units did not use AMX 13s.
By 1967, Israel had acquired about 400 AMX-13s and formed three AMX-13 battalions, all of which fought actively on all fronts during the Six Day War.
The IDF realised that the AMX-13 tank was too lightly-armoured and had a weak main gun. Losses were heavy at places like Rafah Junction and Jiradi Pass during the Six Day War. Subsequently, the IDF completely phased out the AMX-13 from its inventory and sold them to the Singapore Army in 1969.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Pakistan Army's 1st Armored Division (with 264 US-built tanks) was blunted at the Battle of Asal Uttar on September 10th, 1965. Pakistani forces were opposed by three Indian armoured regiments: the Deccan Horse, 3 Cavalry, and 8 Cavalry. Only the 8 Cavalry had AMX-13s. The Indian regiments withdrew but then deployed their tanks into a U-shaped formation around the town of Asal Uttar. The tall sugarcane grass in the area allowed the Indian tanks to remain hidden. Eventually, about 100 Pakistani tanks were either destroyed or captured by India, while India lost only 10 tanks during this battle.
Lebanese AMX-13s saw extensive service during the Lebanese Civil War in the hands of the Lebanese Army and various armed groups in and outside Beirut.
Morocco used some AMX-13s in the Sand War of 1963 and the Yom Kippur War on the Sinai front. Later on, they were engaged in the Western Sahara conflict. They were replaced during that war by the Austrian SK-105 Kürassier light tank.
The AMX-13 was the basis of a family of APCs beginning with the AMX-VTT and culminating with the AMX-VCI. The APC chassis was itself the basis of a number of variants.
Self propelled howitzer
This section is about operators of the AMX-13 light tank and its engineering and recovery variants. For operators of the APC derivative, see AMX-VCI. For operators of the self-propelled howitzer derivative, see Mk F3 155mm.