The Renault FT-17 is often referred to as the first “modern tank design” to enter production. With the crew compartment forward, a rotating turret and engine at the rear it established the attributes of the modern tank.
The FT-17 was used by over two dozen countries from 1917 into World War Two. Weighing in at 6.5 tonnes, its crew was protected by armour from 8 to 22 mm thickness. Armament was either a Puteaux SA 1918 37 mm cannon or 8 mm Hotchkiss machine gun.
The subject of this review is the 1/72nd scale Flyhawk
Renault FT-17, kit number 3001.
The contents of the kit arrive in a quite sturdy lift top box that contains two complete kits. Two sprues of styrene plastic, moulded in light grey colour are present. Each of these moderately sized sprues are to be used to build one model. Several individually wrapped bags contain further styrene parts for each vehicle.
Parts breakdown is as follows:
- Sprue A - 35 (Vehicle detail parts X 2)
- Sprue B - 2 (Idlers X 2)
- Sprue D - 1 (Outer Tracks X 2)
- Sprue E - 1 (Turret X 2)
- Sprue G - 1 (Upper Hull X 2)
- Sprue H - 1 (Tail Skid X 2)
- Fret PE - 15 (Photo-etch screen X 2)
A total of 56 plastic and PE parts available for each model and considering the small size of each, that’s not too shabby. Granted, some plastic parts have a PE alternative option and there are a very few parts that are surplus as it appears that they are for a cast turret version.
An accessory card carries a small sheet of water slide decals and two small PE frets, each containing 15 metal detail parts for each tank. Some of these parts are alternates for plastic parts while others have no plastic substitute.
There is a four sided instruction card that contains one page of sprue parts layout and two pages of build diagrams in the form of exploded view line drawings. The final page provides painting and marking options for two vehicles. Both are presented in a three colour camouflage and represent the following vehicles:
- Renault FT (machine gun variant) from 1st Armor Heavy Tank Division of People-Revolutionary Army of Far-Eastern Republic, Blagoveschensk city, June 1920
- Renault FT (cannon variant) from 2nd Platoon, 1st Company, 344 Tank Battalion, 304 Tank Brigade, US Army, October 1918
While water-slide decals are provided for the above mentioned vehicles, the sheet also contains quite a few more. At least one extra set appears to be for a French FT-17 and there are others of undetermined nationalities.
The colour references provided are for the GSI Creos Corp Aqueous Hobby Color, the same company’s Mr. Color and Tamiya Acrylics.
Looking over the sprues, one will see that the parts are moulded with extremely crisp and fine detail. There are no sink holes and a minimum number of ejector pin marks are present, mostly on areas that will be hidden after assembly (turret roof, tank floor, main hull). However, parts A5 and A6 (suspension frame halves) are unique in each having projecting ejector pin locations that will require careful removal.
Flash is virtually non-existent and the majority of moulding seam lines are very light and should be easily removed with a scraping of a sharp hobby knife. Sprue gates vary in size and location, with a few parts having a rather odd placed sprue attachment point that straddles two surfaces. Overall, the engineering of the sprues and parts show that consideration and thought was used in the design of this kit.
The parts are beautifully moulded. There are a number of hull details that other manufacturers would have just moulded them onto the body but Flyhawk
has seen fit to make as individual parts. The simple exhaust, a shovel, a tool box and its support framework, plus stowage attachment points being several examples. It is also quite obvious that either “slide-moulding” or a comparable equivalent has been used with the production of this kit. The entire upper body is mostly one piece and the 37 mm cannon’s hollow muzzle bore are just two examples of the technology being employed.
While there is no other interior details, both the Puteaux cannon and the Hotchkiss machine gun have beautiful interior details and the turret doors have open vision slits and interior door detailing. While not noted in the instructions as such, the hatches could be assembled open or closed. The driver’s doors and visor are separate parts but for the most part not position-able in anything but the closed position. For the adventurous few this could be dealt with as the interior of an FT-17 is quite Spartan and with some scratch building experience, could be overcome.
Of the eight assembly steps, Step 1
involves the assembly of the entire hull body. The fit of the predominance of parts was superb and very welcome. A point of warning, the sledge hammer head (A2) is positively tiny so be prepared for some fine tweezer work. The driver’s doors have handles that are moulded on. There are PE alternatives should the builder choose to remove the moulded on ones but these are near microscopic. They will require extreme care while fitting.
is focussed on the assembly of the two suspension systems. While not the most difficult or parts intensive, it will in ways be rather complex for a novice builder. It is this reviewer’s suggestion that the builder study the instructions carefully to determine the correct parts placement order for each side (left/right).
In Step 3
, we see some tiny PE detail parts applied to the body, as well as the entire rear of the tank detailed with the tail skid built and attached. It is also at this point that we see the final part of the suspension attached and the completed units attached to the hull.
has the builder attach several detail pieces to the left side of the hull. These include a tool box with its support frame and some sort of brackets. The supports for the toolbox and one bracket are provided as styrene parts but also in PE. If one chooses to use the PE pieces then you best be prepared to do some multiple bending at a very small scale. This will take patience and a steady hand. It should also be noted that these PE parts are quite thin and can be easily damaged.
Two parts, a shovel and the muffler are attached in Step 5
. These parts are not the smallest in the kit but are still small. For most, this will require using and being comfortable manipulating a pair of appropriately sized tweezers.
With Steps 6 and 7
the weapons are added to their appropriate mantlet (A22 for the cannon, A23 for the machine gun) and the turret is constructed. During this step the builder will have the option to display the turret rear doors either open or closed. It should also be noted that the weapons mounts are not adjustable; they are fixed in their orientation.
The final step 8
sees the turret mounted to the hull. Unfortunately, the turret fit to the body is extremely loose. No tabs or other securing features are present and the turret can easily fall or be knocked off. It will be up to the modeller to devise a method to secure the turret but still allow for rotation or just glue it.
As far as this reviewer is concerned, any glowing accolades that have appeared about this kit on the Internet are well deserved. For their first plastic injected model, Flyhawk
has produced a kit that is well thought out and engineered. Parts fit is superb and overall detail is top notch.
As with many kits, studying the instructions before building is recommended. This particularly applies to the suspension as the left and right, inside and outside faces are unique to this model.
For those that are not averse to a bit of scratch building, this kit will prove a gem. From images available on the Internet, one will quickly see that detailing the spartan interior is totally feasible, with a minimum skill set. Also, let’s not forget that depending on your choice, you could build two FT-17’s with the same armament (machine guns or cannons).
If you are at all interested in First World War armour, this should be a kit for you. Highly recommended.