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Takom 1/16 scale Renault FT-17 light tank

Kit:1001 // Scale:1/16 // Price:$109
Takom, from Pacific Coast Models, 707-538-4850
Interior and engine included; pre-primed photoetched metal
No shells for gun; one view shown for camouflage
Injection-molded, 511 parts (16 photoetched metal, 1 chain)
Takom filled the Renault with detail in the engine bay and fighting compartment. Some of it can’t be seen easily on the finished model, it all benefits from careful painting.

Following a current trend toward larger scales in plastic models, new manufacturer Takom debuts with a 1/16 scale Renault FT-17 French light tank. Entering World War I in 1917, it was the first production model with its main armament in a fully rotating turret. Many countries used or copied it (the United States built it under license as the M1917), and some of the little tanks soldiered on to World War II.

The Takom kit is mostly in primer-red plastic, with the tracks molded in dark gray. The photoetched-metal fret is precoated in primer red, too. A metal chain is included.

There is a basic interior and reasonably complete engine compartment. However, no shells are included for the large racks in the hull and turret, although all the hatches are separate to help show off this detail. Several surfaces are marred by numerous ejector-pin marks and prominent mold seams. 

The directions flow logically, starting with the engine, transmission, radiator, and other interior components. Detail painting is called out in each step. I left out major interior components for easier painting. FT-17/M1917 WWI Tanks Walk Around, by David Doyle (Squadron Signal, ISBN 978-0-89747-636-0) shows additional options for painting the engine, which I used to augment the kit instructions. Unfortunately, most of the transmission can’t be seen once the hull roof is glued  down; it’s up to you to decide how much work to do in this area.

The hull is built from seven panels, and the fits are good and plumb. Rivets found on the track sprue are meant to be shaved off and glued to the hull roof; I lost more of these than I was able to attach.

I painted the interior with Tamiya flat white (XF-2 ) and weathered with washes, chipping, and oils stains. The seat could use some texture. For ease of painting, I left the rear skid off until later. I decided to prepaint the road wheels, sprockets, and interior components of the suspension; after assembly they would be tough to reach, and unpainted red plastic would be obvious. Be aware of the direction of the bolt detail on the front idler. The round heads should face the hull.

The tracks comprise three parts per link and 32 links per side. They were easy to assemble and remained workable; I left them off until after painting the hull. 

The turret detail is not up to the standards of the lower hull. The actual turret was cast and should have a rough texture. But the casting numbers and rivets are well represented. 

Fit of the turret halves was poor and needed filler to hide the seam. Careful: The seam between the turret roof and sides is supposed to be there. The rear doors were meant to be workable, but the fit was so sloppy I glued them shut. There is no hinge for the turret hatch; I glued that shut as well. 

Three marking options are given: French, U.S, and a postwar Polish tank. However, only one view of each vehicle is given, and only the French and U.S. vehicles are shown in color on the side of the box. I did find color diagrams of the Polish tank in The Renault FT Light Tank, by Steven J. Zaloga (Osprey Vanguard, ISBN 978-0-85045-852-8) and Polish Tracks and Wheels 1: Renault FT-17/NC1/NC2/TSF; Renault R35/40; Hotchkiss H35/39, by Adam Jońca (MMP, ISBN 978-83-61421-01-6).

Make sure the model is primed; that red plastic is hard to cover. 

I used Tamiya flat dark yellow (XF-60) as the base coat, Vallejo medium olive (850) for the camouflage color, and various Vallejo and Humbrol paints for details. Washes and dry-brushing finished out the weathering.

The decals were translucent and brittle; some broke apart while I tried to snug them around rivet detail.

Takom’s first kit is an impressive start. I took 43 hours to complete mine, with a large amount of time spent painting the engine and interior. Aftermarket companies have already started their additions to the kit, and only a little more work would make this model a stunner. With its detail, good fits, and easy-to-use photoetched metal, it’s a fun build for modelers of all skill levels. And it would look good with any 120mm figures you have in your stash.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the May 2014 FineScale Modeler.


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