Wednesday, October 8

Go on Guess what scale these are in? FlyhawkModel’s new FT-17 tank "riveted turret" build review

A pair of Renault FT-17’s in one box from new model company called Flyhawk? PE and the choice of two gun types? Brilliant details and Photo etch included? Hang on 1/72nd scale??
FlyHawk Model
Renault FT-17
Light Tank (Riveted Turret)
1:72nd scale
1+1 double one series (2 kits in one box)
# FH3001
1 sheet of P/E
2 choices of markings

When I got this box in the mail I had no initial idea that Flyhawk market this as a “1+1 double one series” with not one but TWO kits in one box. This really strikes you as more than I had bargained for. 
The kit comes in a little cream box with the artwork on it and what looks like a roughed up coffee stained box. I was still not aware yet that there were two little tanks in the box until i opened it up.

For a small box to be so half full but still surprise you is an achievement!
The tank captured here is the mid-war variant singled out by the Polygonal riveted turret shape. Before we get into the kit too much ill talk (just a little on the FT-17 and which turret is which.

Often described as the first real modern tank – the Renault FT was designed and first produced in May 1916 by the famous car producer Louis Renault. It had a fully traversable turret on top of a hull with tracks on either side of the hull. This is the design accepted as the norm for all tanks after it. Seating two people inside – just the driver and gunner – this was a small tank, designed to be built in huge numbers to swarm the enemy.

Crew: 2
Weight: 6.7 Tons
Engine: 4 Cylinder
Power: 35 hp
speed: 7 km / h
Autonomy: 35 km
Armament: 37 guns or gun
Track: 34cm wide, 43cm ground clearance
surmountable obstacles: 0.6m high and 1.35m wide

Exterminate - Exterminate!!!

FT-17 turret "omnibus" or "polygonal"  turret was  made by the Berliet Company during the mid-period of WWI. It was a new design, with a polygonal turret of riveted plates, which was simpler to produce than the early cast steel turret. It was given the name "omnibus", since it could easily be adapted to mount either the Hotchkiss machine gun or the Puteaux 37mm with its telescopic sight. This turret was fitted to production models in large numbers.

How's your french? the best illustration i could find of the rivetet turret type and both gun types
FT-17 with the "omnibus" or "polygonal" turret is on the tank on the rear - the rounded "girod" (later war variant) at the front. These are US tanks in the Argonne Forest area in 1917
The FT served from the First World War right through to the inter war years with  several countries from Brazil, Poland, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Yugoslavia, Belgium, while Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands, Greece and Sweden and they were copied and altered slightly by Italy, USSR and the USA. The FT saw service right through to the re-taking of Paris by the Allies in 1944 when the Germans pressed captured examples – hopelessly outclassed by more modern tanks into vein service against the Allies. There are even pictures on line of four Ft’s in Afghanistan that were discovered in-tact and then restored in 2003 so they were built tough.
OK more on this kit.

The plastic:

The kit comes with two times everything of course. 2x sprues with the main balance of parts, two hulls, two floor plans and two rear skids but FOUR tracks, 4x main front wheels and 4x turrets.

The instructions are easy enough to follow and at only two pages there really isnt much of an excuse not to build these as soon as you open the box.
 I saw the blue photo etch here - and i was alarmed to say the least as it was so very small
When looking at the sheets supplied with the kit i was no more put at ease - maybe ill just make one with photo etch? The tiny size of the kit you are just about to see and the sometimes serial-killer nature of superglue had me worried. There was nothing wrong with what was on show  - in fact the detail here is some of the finest around. You can tell that Flyhawk make lots of small scale ships with PE details. but the detail i was worried about loosing with ham-hands. That is what i was worried about.
There are two colour choices in the full colour instruction sheet. Tamiya and Mr hobby paints are listed and it is a shame to only see one side of the tank in the painting instructions - but considering they are over 100 years old now the pictures "may not" exist.

The simple decal sheet supplied was strong in it's colour and mercifully thin in composition for scale. You will need to apply some of these decals very "wet" if you want to move them around the little rivets on the tank.

The riveted hull shows some lovely detail on the sides. This is the main part of the model kit and the engine, crew access and the spring suspension which has been moulded into the chassis for simple detail whilst juuuust getting away with it look-wise

By sitting these next to my 1 pence coin you can see the TINY size of these hulls - it really is striking so see such riveted detail on such a small kit. Compare it witht he real thing below..
For those that don't believe it i have placed my massive coin next to a tiny ruler ( just joking they are all correct in scale) It really is excellent to see such detail in as small a kit as this.
there are four riveted turrets in this box so in essance you can make the same kit twice or like i did one of each of the guns - the "female” machine-gunned variant, which took up 2/5ths of the production while most of the rest were the "male" tanks, armed with a short-barrelled 37mm (1.45 in) Puteaux SA-18 gun. The turret can be opened at the rear if you like but there isn't any interior included.
The Hotchkiss machine gun or the Puteaux 37mm with its telescopic sight are easy to put together on this kit - and you can choose to have two of the same gun or alternates if you like. They simply slip into the slot on the front of the turret so you can change your mind right up until you secure the turret down.

The rear skid connection is riveted with just a little flash to remove and after that it simply fits to the skid - then the rear of the tank.
The large front wooden spoked front idler wheels are included with this kit. Although the detail is a bit heavy on them it i looks OK to me for the small scale they are made in.
There are four tracks - meaning you have two pare after making this - along with a lot of other spare (tiny) parts. again although you do not get casting numbers or anything like that on these they have done a very nice job of replicating them.
The tracks go together out of the six pieces on the right - they sandwich together after you remove one or two nodes in the way - the rest is easy with some good clamps and you have a suspension set like the one on the left.
In th end i thought i would just make one to show you what it was like - i had so much fun making this small tank that i made one of each turret type! Tips i would say are lots of small clamps for the tracks and thin superglue and thin pliers to get the PE in place with no collaterol damage.
Again the size! look at how tiny these are completed - just amazing. I took them to the model club and people thought they were 1/144th scale
here they are both from any angle you could think of..
You can see the small tool box brackets which looked hard to assemble - but in reality they were pretty easy
TO be honest - i am not a fan of tiny french tanks from WWI/II and not at all in 72nd scale. I wasn't a fan of the tiny Photo Etch sheet that came with them either - until i actually made them!  The thing is once you make one you are looking to paint them - and maybe at others Flyhawk make. I know they make a bunch of others - Panzers and allied tanks with lots of tools and PE accessories. These tanks enchanted even the hardest modellers at the club who all asked "what scale are these in?".

I would have never even looked at these tanks before i got the chance to make them - now i am really glad to have gotten the chance. This is fun modelling.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Flyhawk Model for sending these to us to build