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1:16 Renault FT, Char Cannon/Girod Turret


Jim H
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1:16 Renault FT, Char Cannon/Girod Turret


Takom
Catalogue # 1001
Available from Hobby Link Japan for 13,500¥

 

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Whilst the British has invented the so-called 'tank', it was the French who put it into a form that we would recognise as such today, and one which would inspire tank designers the world over. The Renault FT had a front situated driver, main armament in a rotating turret, and a rear-mounted engine, which is still an industry standard practice for tanks today. Introduced into service in 1917, production was slow, but increased rapidly through 1918, and by the Armistice, around 3000 had been built. Initially designed to incorporate a cast steel turret with a Hotchkiss 8mm MG, this was superseded by a Berliet-designed polygonal, plate turret, into which the Hotchkiss could be ditched in favour of the Puteaux 37mm gun. The Berliet was carried by a large number of the Renault FT before it was replaced in favour of the Girod turret, designed by Paul Girod, and mounted on a ball-race track.

 

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The rather narrow, and slow FT-17 was fitted with a long, curved tail which helped it negotiate trenches without it 'falling in' and becoming immobilised. Its tracks were held under constant tension, reducing the possibility of them being 'thrown'. This successful design was built under licence by the US, post-WW1, of which another 950 were built, and classified as the 'Six Ton Tank M1917', and the design went on to operate with many countries, globally. The type even saw active service in World War 2, even being operated by the Germans who had captured a number of these from the French.

 

Unlike Meng who incorrectly called their release the 'FT-17', Takom have correctly designated their kit the 'Renault FT'. This tank was never referred to during the war as the FT-17. It's basically an anomaly. 'FT' itself was simply the next factory project code in line when the design was instigated.

 

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Source: Wikipedia

 

Takom's new Renault FT kit is packaged into a large, glossy and very sturdy top opening box. Being a very new company, this is their first venture into this scale, and they sure have produced an extremely attractive package, with a great looking artwork on the lid, and the available schemes and sprue shots depicted on the box sides. Underneath that not insubstantial lid, THIRTEEN sprues are packaged into thick, heat-sealed bags. All are separately bagged apart from the sprues which are duplicates. In this case, these are packed two-per-bag. Takom have chosen an unusual route in their choice of plastic colour. Apart from the track link sprues (4 off), all the remaining sprues are moulded in a strange crimson red! I don't know their rationale, but this colour extends to the treatment the PE fret has had too. Very odd, but strangely easy to photograph for this article.

 

SPRUE A (x2)

 

 

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This sprue, of which two are supplied, concerns itself with the Renault FT's forward idler and rear drive wheels, and the numerous smaller road wheels and track return wheels. The large wooden idlers are moulded in halves, with the drive wheel being a single part. The latter wheel has 3 raised ejection pin marks on one side. These minimal marks will be easy to erase. The individual wooden components of the idlers are separated by neatly engraved lines. The track return and road wheels are also moulded as two parts. Also on this sprue are the idler wheel forks and the springs which supported the upper return track roller beam, and various hull hinges, handles, brackets and chain attachment fittings. In this scale, the springs should have really been included 'as' springs, and not as moulded on detail. It would be better to remove this detail and wrap some thick copper wire around the posts.

 

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SPRUE B (x4)

 

 

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These are the track link sprues, and they are moulded in medium grey styrene. Each track link comprises THREE parts, and there are 32 tracks per side. You do get spares here, as each sprue contains 18 links, therefore you are supplied with 72 links, as opposed to the 64 you will actually use. The links themselves look very accurate in relation to the reference book I have here, with them being correct in their thickness and profile. The link consists of the main plate, with two brackets above; one moulded with a pin which allows the tracks to articulate after construction. The smallest of ejector pin marks are present on the interior of these, but again, should provide no concerns as the plastic is only minimally raised. You should tackle these however, as you will see this portion of the track when assembled.

 

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The outside edge of these sprues contain a number of spare rivet heads. These are here for a reason. The turret is moulded as halves, and the limitation of the moulding process means that the protruding rivets which would stick horizontally out from the part whilst on the mould, would cause a problem which would perhaps need expensive slide-moulding. Takom's solution is to slice these from this sprue, and affix them in the locations shown. Problem solved!

 

SPRUE C & D

 

 

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These sprues are virtually identical except for the fact that the slabs-sided hull sides are of course 'handed', as are the drive wheel gearboxes. The hull sides are moulded full length and incorporate the idler wheel connection points. The exterior of the hull exhibits crisp plating detail and nicely shaped rivet heads, which look more than reasonable for a 1:16 kit. On the interior, the same detail exists, including stiffening plating and some engine bay and driver compartment detail, as well as a recess for the shell racks.

 

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Other external plating is to be found here, as well as the engine bay doors, again, with superb hinge and raised rivet detail.

Here you will find the road wheel support beams which are moulded as halves, and the leaf spring suspension parts which sit within. The framework for the curved beam tail gate is also moulded here, as are track return roller beam too. Some pin marks exist again on the interior surface plates, so get ready with the tickling stick and remove them.

 

SPRUE E

 

 

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The hull floor and driver/gunner interior floors are moulded here, as two separate parts. Exterior detail for the hull floor is the same standard as the rest of the hull, with excellent rivet, panel, access port and hinge detail. The interior floor has sharp tread pattern. The upper hull with turret cut-out is found here, again displaying sharp rivet, access port and bracket detail. The ball-race turret track is moulded separately, and mine seems a little warped. It should conform when glues to the upper hull though.

 

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Ejector pin marks tend to strike again, and this time on the upper, inner side of the curved tail beam panel. Again, these are slightly raised, meaning that you only need to remove material, and not actually do any filling.

Also on this sprue you will find the FT's fuel tank, single piece radiator/grille, two-part exhaust body, external stowage, beam and internal frameworks.

 

SPRUE F

 

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This is the engine-room of the kit, quite literally. Most engine components are found on this sprue. The only real aspect I don't like about the engine's valve lifters and springs. These are moulded in situ, and would have been far better as separate rods with springs. It won't be too easy to do this for the average modeller, but luckily, the position of the engine and its narrow compartment mean that you won't be able to get a straight view of this anyway. The engine fan-belt is another case in point, as it is pre-moulded to the fly wheels. In this scale, this would have been nice to have been a separate part which slipped into the 'v' slots in the wheels, instead of looking homogenous.

 

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The interior exhaust manifold is moulded as a single part, which for such a piece, is easier to remove the seams. A good number of parts on this sprue are either engine-related, or ancillary equipment, such as fuel priming pump (as you see in aircraft cockpits), driver instruments, external tools (pick and shovel), and drive shaft axle, to name but a few on this busy sprue.

 

SPRUE G

 

 

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G stands for 'Girod'. Well, it doesn't actually, but that's what you'll find on there; the Girod turret. The turret itself is moulded as halves, and the lack of slide-moulding means that some rivet detail looks a little distorted, but thankfully, you have those spare rivets on the track sprues to correct this, so again, this is no deal breaker. The turret body was a cast item, and this finish is what's missing from these parts. My usual trick is to lather Tamiya Extra Thin Cement over the surface, one area at a time, and stipple it with a rigid nylon brush. This is then finally gently rubbed over with medium and fine sanding sponges. You may have other methods to achieve this, as armour modellers. I use this technique on 1:32 WW1 aircraft exhausts.

 

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The turret also has the 'P GIROD' name cast onto it, as well as the casting foundry name, 'UGINE'. Internally, you'll need to remove a few ejector pin marks, and then insert the ammunition racks. Their location is marked with two horizontal lines. The turret lid is joined along the welding seam. My book doesn't show this as a thick weld seam, but there is, of course, a little roughness. Again, this isn't represented on the kit, so a little work will be required there. You'll also need to replicate that cast effect on the small cupola which sits atop the turret. The cupola also has internal detail.

 

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The turret ammunition racks are moulded here, but strangely enough, the kit doesn't contain any ammunition whatsoever. To the rear of the turret, two doors allow some contact with the outside world. These are neatly moulded with vision slits. Internally, each door has a long ejection pin tower which you'll need to snip off and clean the door surface.

 

SPRUE H (x2)

 

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These two sprues concern themselves with the FT's armament. There are actually a number of duplicate parts here that you won't use. It was obviously cheaper to produce two identical sprues with these parts, than to tool a new sprue. Here you will find the parts for the 37mm Puteaux gun, 3 part mantlet, and the inner hull ammunition storage racks.

 

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As a thought, it would be good to display the spare parts for the second gun, complete with mantlet, next to the completed model.

 

Overall Assessment
As I've already mentioned, there are some areas where ejector pin marks need to be eliminated, but overall, the quality of mouldings is excellent. I've only found one instance of sink marks, and those are on the end of the small engine mounted oil tank ends. You could fix that or it could simply be left as slightly beaten in appearance. Some parts are very close to the sprue, with only a minimal gate, and it is advisable to use a razor saw to remove those parts. Flash is present, but not very common, and some parts on my sample exhibit some black/brown gunge which may be left over from the moulds. Cleaning the sprues with a mild detergent will eradicate this.

 

PHOTO ETCH

 

 

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The colour of this single fret matches that of the plastic. Looking at it, I don't think it's anodised, which would just chemically affect the metal surface, but it looks like an actual coating. As the edges are also coated, I don't think it's printed either. I would suspect that this has been dipped/sprayed in paint, and as a result, you are best advised to try to scrape the adjoining surfaces when using the parts.

The etch itself is superbly made, and contains SIXTEEN parts. These are for the drivers back rest strap, driver pedal anti-slip plates, engine bay hull steps, road wheel beam plating, and internal chain drive cover.

 

CHAIN

 

 

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A length of superbly made, and blackened chain is included. This is to be wrapped between the lugs on the rear hull and the curved tail beam. A nice touch, and thankfully not in plastic, so it should hang quite realistically too.

 

DECALS

 

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A small sheet is included for the THREE schemes which are supplied with this release. The FT didn't carry too many markings; a few emblems, serials and a little in the way of a personal slogan for one machine. The decals are thinly printed with minimal carrier film, and are in perfect register. The whites are also non-vivid too.

The schemes supplied are:

  • 2nd Section, 1st Company, 505E RAS, France, 1918
  • Co.C, 327th Tank Battalion, 1st US TankBde, St. Mihile, September 1918
  • 'Passe Par Tout', 1st Co, 2nd Section, 2nd Battalion, 1st Polish Tank Regiment, 1920

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INSTRUCTIONS

 

 

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These are printed as a 14 page A4 landscape booklet, with glossy blue cover. The model is completed over 38 stages, and construction is shown as line drawings. There is a little ambiguity in areas, but looking at subsequent stages will clarify any mental anomalies you may encounter. Colour call-outs are given throughout in Tamiya reference codes.

 

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Conclusion

I have noted a few issues with this kit, but on the whole, it's a great package for Takom's first ever release, and if this kit is anything to go by, their subsequent releases should just get better and better as they learn and listen to customers. Producing a 1:16 WW1 tank as that initial release is of course taking a few chances perhaps, but with Great War modelling now coming into its own, and companies such as Meng now taking a slice of the pie, it makes sense to release this kit in the larger scale.

 

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The opportunities for super detailing are immense here, and even out of box, the Takom Renault FT will look mighty impressive. The finished kit will have a length of around 12 inches (30cm), so still isn't too big to display in your cabinet, yet is of such a scale that it will look mildly imposing next to your tiddly Tigers and Panthers.

 

Oh YES! VERY highly recommended

 

James H

 

Our sincere thanks to Takom for the review sample used here. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

 

 

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This is no idle flattery of Takom's superb looking model, but I don't think I've ever seen "cast" lettering or plaques as sharp as these; the "Louis RENAULT Constructeur" plate is absolutely pin sharp.  Superb moulding throughout as well but, if I have to be honest, I'm a little unsettled about the red colouring.  Anyway, for a kit this impressive that's a small consideration.

 

A very enjoyable read Jim, nicely done.

 

Note to self: must find out who are the UK distributors for Takom.

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