Tuesday, October 21

Takom gets all late WWI on us with their new St.Chamond in our review.

Takom bring us a second St. Chamond First World War tank to bring your collection of Chamonds to two – this is the later version with the revised upper hull section devised to work against grenades on the roof – let’s have a look at the kit and what’s different with this release.
1/35th scale
Kit no: #2012
Kit includes 1 figure
9 sprues styrene
Decals for 5 tanks
Available from Takom’s Distributors worldwide

For those unfamiliar with the French made St. Charmond heavy Assault tank it was a WWI era “land battleship” that dwarfed the better known French FT tank already in service - and it carried the biggest gun of any tank in that war. Unfortunately for it’s 23 ton weight the tank’s holt running gear was too short and the engine to puny to make this as effective as other smaller tanks with better power to weight.
Saint Chamond specifications
Dimensions 8.9 x 2.70 x 2.40 m (29.2x8.86x7.87 ft)
Total weight: battle ready 23 tons
Crew: 9!
Propulsion: Panhard Levassor 4 cyl petrol, 90 hp (67 kW) Speed 12 km/h (8 mph)
Range on/off road 60/30 km (37.3/18.6 mi)
Armament: Schneider 75 mm (2.95 in) gun 4xHotchkiss M1914 8 mm (0.31 in) machine guns
Armor:11-19 mm (0.43-0.75 in)
The frontal part of the hull housing the gun was too heavy, and tests showed it had a tendency to sink nose first into the mud. They were not liked by their crews and the noise, hot environment; toxic smells and poisoning weren't sufficient enough, the crews experienced sea sickness after prolonged, rough rides.
Beginning with the 151st tank an improvement on the original armour an extra layer of spaced 8.5 mm armour was added to the front to improve protection while the roof was also redesigned with a double slope so that satchel charges and grenades would slide off.
 At the same time, the original two observation turrets in front and on top were done away with and replaced by a single low profile square turret permitting front and side vision by the tank’s driver/commander. After Saint-Chamond tank No 210 the more effective Model 1897 field gun was installed instead of Rimailho’s (profitable) 75mm Saint-Chamond gun.

The rough ride is maybe why these soldiers are riding on top in this picture? It shows off the sloped roof revised design a little better.
A knocked out Saint Chamond. Note the badly damaged roof.
Takom has kept it simple like their other tanks by offering no interior detail and smart construction. Now this tank is exactly the same in most ways to the original early version but the revised upper hull and decal choices (picked by MiG and his AMMO brand with paints to match)

The sole remaining St. Chamond is actually a late model tank like this one – It is stationed in the Saumur Museum (Musee des Blindes) as a static model after the electrical engines have been lost to the ravages of time.
We will look at some reference pictures of the vehicle as a guide but I don’t trust any drawings I can get hold of so rivet counters take a hike! This will be a look at the kit contents with a few nods as to what to expect in the build.

The plastic:
We already looked at the Early Type model from Takom, but this version is based on the same nine separate injection sprues of plastic in number but it does differ slightly in the hull of the tank and the tracks neing slightly wider as were in real life. The plastic on offer is pretty well moulded. Not much of any flash is present – there only being a bit of a seam on some of the longer thin square parts. There are some nodes on some of the thinner parts as well – but these aren’t in the vicinity of too many at all. There are some ejector pin marks but these are very smartly on the insides of the door and the wheels where no one can see them. 
The other thing is that there are slots and holes to locate just about everything on this kit. And they all do the job they are intended to do. Everything fits pretty well and apart from some wrestling around the return rollers the fit and engineering is top shelf. For a third kit to achieve a feel not unlike that of a Tamiya “white box” kit this is quite an achievement for such a new company to produce something to such a clean standard consistently.

Nineteen pages and only forty one building steps are needed to make this tank and figure - The booklet is printed in black and white with a coloured cover and rear with tanks to the technical help again to Mr.Paul Le Goff
Although there are 41 steps to the finish line some are as simple as placing one last track in the link so it feels like half that number when you are making it. Easy to follow and to the point these are good instructions which keep the build simple and uncomplicated.
There are the choice of five markings supplied with this kit, all  French versions of the vehicle from WWI in 1918. The nice schemes are fairly colourful with two that have coloured “nose art” if you will. So you can build a plain or a well-known tank if you like. The colour schemes were chosen by the people behind Mig’s AMMO brand and there are paint sets released to match them and the French soldier in the box we looked at them recently. 
The schemes are not only represented in profile but some are shown all around which is a great thing for those of us that lack either the imagination or the knowledge to recreate what we think is an accurate colour scheme. Having the AMMO paint numbers is a bit of an advert for them but helpful if you want to get as close to the right colours as you could get.
The hull:
The hull is a long square box with prominently different sloped top armour so grenades and satchel charges would roll right off. The large rivets and bolts on the side of this tank are in scale and will look great with detail. With all the mud and grime these tanks saw (along with all the troops riding into battle on their sides) these tanks saw a lot of weathering and the surface texture looks like it will detail up very nicely. Takom have kept it simple by making the hull as much as possible in one piece and I applaud them for it.
There are large rivets which pop out of this and would make a great weathering experience for those inclined – imagine making it into a battlefield hulk? Large flat decks that are ripe for stowage and heaps of hatches dotted all over the hull make it good for detailing.

Sprue A (X2): Sprue A contains the machine guns and most of the underside suspension and running gear – there are two of these sprues identical to each other in this box.
There are four 8mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns which sit inside swivel and pivot mounts - one for each side of the hull.
These do not have hollowed out barrels or ammo. But then again only the barrels will be seen from the outside of the tank and if you are delicate you can give these a hollow appearance with a pin or needle but be careful!

Here they are made up - a shame you don't get to see inside the tank!
The six sets of springs either side are much better detailed than the 1/16th scale solid springs we saw on the FT release last year – they look like they could be painted up to negate the use of replacements easily. You can see the running gear here on the return roller system that simply fit inside each other under the hull.
The large tooth drive wheel is almost like a large gear there are ejection pin marks on the inside of this wheel which are not seen in the final placement.
These are more of the underside of the running gear. These long parts on the right are part of the bracing for the suspension to the hull. There are six in all and they can be easily put on upside down at the wrong angle. Double check your instructions before you glue.
 The main drive wheels are here looking like gears – you can see the ejector pin marks on them – but not once their cylindrical insets are in place.  The two steel “I” bars secure them to the hull. The top wheels are the front suspension wheels.
Here are all of the parts of the suspension ready to go together. The main body of these parts attach to the hull suspended on these long rods. In the lower part of the shot. The wheels simply glue in together. This is a simple but methodical process to get all of these parts together correctly. I followed the instructions and did not have a problem.
Here you can see the chassis suspension looking as from underneath. Notice the supports going “upward” toward the as yet to be placed turret hull? There is a bunch of placement holes ready for this on the hull to guide you. Notice as well the best way to install these wheels is to glue them to the outside steel ”fences” they are captured in and then they slot into their locating runners without your wheels flying out. Again these can be left unglued and made to turn if you wish.
The suspension springs locate in a precise order to give the hull it’s prescribed angle to the tracks. They simply slot into the large round holes here provided. Everything is thought of engineering wise here as there seems to be a slot for fixing everything correctly.
The suspension and hull are laid together in step 34 – the twisting arrows must be taken notice of – as you are required to secure the parts often from either sides of the hull floor. You can see why this suspension is such a large part of the build in this picture – with care you have a flexible and if you desire – completely working set of running gear.
A more detailed view with the underside guards installed in steps 36 + 37..
And another just before the tracks go on. (Steps 38 +39) Notice here the barrel ground clearance and the lower armour plates in place.
The Tracks: - Sprue B (X2):
...are taken up with the tracks of this vehicle – they are two sprues in a olive green colour, with – and they are very nice indeed.  
They are so nice for a few reasons – easy to install with only a little glue and then they click into each other – as well as this there are only thirty-six track links either side to make. These tracks that are made to move and flex like the real items, and they go together very easily
Nice texture on the trackpads..

…five connection points to remove has to suck though – lucky there are only 36 of them to cut out.
The three parts of each link of this track use a simple method in a chain to secure them together. The track pads are secured together by two links inside them which glue on one end and fit snugly around the other – allowing them to flex. There is a sequence here to show you how they go together.

They require some glue but once secured they do move freely and best of all they stay glued! Too many tanks recently have suffered from ridiculously brittle tracks which make them nothing but things to be admired from afar and not ever picked up. These stay on once glued together. There is a nice surface texture on these tracks as well which matches cast steel.

The build sequence from left to right
The finished articles - "articulating"
Sprue C: is a single sprue this time – it comprises of the front armoured plate and the roof vent as well as structural brackets that go like riveted ribs across the roof, the late model square roof  hatches, the bent long exhaust and the main 75mm field gun. These square hatches on the lower left of this picture are just that – hatches for the crew to get out of the foul insides of the smelly tank - there are several flat square hatches as well. 
These pictures from WWI show this tank with all hatches open and crew sticking their heads out – getting away from the toxic engine fumes this would be a great way of getting around fleshing this tank out without showing the interior. 
The front armour plate is thickly riveted and the hole in the centre is for the 75mm filed gun. The right hole is for the Hotchkiss MG.
The roof mounted ventilation for the engine features large bolts on the roof and smaller rivets as well.
Schneider 75 mm (2.95 in) gun is replaced in this version by the Model 1897 field gun. It comes here in two parts with hollow barrel and looks pretty realistic when on the front of the tank in scale thickness of the barrel. 
The long tube is the exhaust pipe (with a slightly hollowed end and the two parts (no9) are the exhaust cylinder which the pipe comes out of.
Sprue D: Contains the long bent mud guards and suspension parts for the under-hull. Most of this adds detail but won’t be seen very well. 
These long curved parts attach to the track guards under the hull.
There are plenty of other parts like this that are guards and suspension for the complex under hull construction. This is the only part of the kit which is a bit of a paint to make and as long as you get it done the rest is plain sailing. There are so many parts that it is hard to place them all in your mind as you read this – but it is great that they do not lack detail on a place that could be overlooked.
The instructions showing the complexity on the underside running gear and suspension. The construction going together..
Sprue E: contains the long part on the left is the floor of the hull – whilst he large upside down “V” shapes are the lower armoured front and back parts. The return rollers and the main base of the suspension make up this sprue.
The underside floor part of the hull. The suspension and the large axle all locate very positively thru locating holes or a hollowed out section which they fit in very well. 
The  front and rear lower armoured parts of the hull show just as much nice bolted detail as the upper plates.
This picture features from top down, A rack for the lower suspension, the large barrels that helped the overhanging hull with ground clearance so the tank didn’t bottom out, two nicely detailed and riveted sides on the exhausts and more rollers for the underside.

Sprue F – the figure
Included in most of Takom’s releases are a figure which are supplied as a little bit of a bonus and a very good inclusion they are with such esoteric kits -  included in this boxing is a French tank crew member in 1/35th scale. (We know he MUST be French as he is wearing a beret.)
His face and clothing is fairly well detailed – nothing amazing but a solid figure that is in scale and in proportion. He will paint up quite well.
Lastly there is a great inclusion that isn’t in the box. There are no Photo etch sheets with this release just like the previous kit of the St Chamond – this is great as I reckon there is nothing in the hull or running gear of this tank that warrants them

so there you go – just like the previous kit we looked at this is a simple kit that will only take a day or so to make at an easy pace, It is simply but well detailed and the colour choices are well illustrated and it is nice to have detail there.

This is another great kit from Takom that is fast becoming our favourite company for accurate but simple kits that look great once finished.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Takom who sent us this kit to review