--Flyhawk

Renault

FT-17

Kit : # FH 3000 & FH 3001

Review by Marc Mercier

These two kits are the first armour subjects Flyhawk brought on the market. Since they have about 95% commonality, I'll discuss them together here.
• FH3000 gives you the tank with the later cast turret, produced by Girod
• FH3001 provides the earlier polygonal turret of riveted plate or Berliet turret.

They could be equipped with either a Hotchkiss 8mm machine gun or the Puteaux 37mm with its telescopic sight, both weapon systems being included in the kits.
Until now, RPM was the main supplier of the FT-17 in injection plastic, with 12 different version available, while Al.By had 3 resin versions on the market.

Each Flyhawk box contains two models of the same tank, comprising two identical large sprues and four smaller bags (containing for instance loose parts like the turret). It also packs a "Dragon" style goodies card carrying one large decal sheet and two identical PE sheets.

The instruction sheet is printed on good quality gloss paper containing clear line drawings and full colour painting schemes (with paint references for Tamiya and Mr. Hobby).

Using state of the art slide moulding technology, Flyhawk provides us with an one piece turret and fuselage with extremely sharp detail all around. Although the holes for the hatches are open, the hatches themselves are designed for the closed position. However, it should be easy to adapt them or make new ones should you prefer to open them up. Except for the armament, there is no interior detail however. The surface textures are superb, raised or recessed as appropriate.

Even the underside of the fuselage is nicely reproduced.


The quality of the casts is really high, with very sharp details and light-years ahead compared with the older RPM FT-17. Just take a look at these pictures to compare both fuselages and turret.

I'm quite impressed by the injection moulded tracks provided by Flyhawk, which are superb. Just compare these with the vinyl ones provided by RPM.

In fact, using an original and clever breakdown, the whole suspension consist of only 6 parts, but still has enough details to satisfy the most demanding of modellers.

Both versions have a common chassis and their kits contain two kinds of idlers: the so-called wooden version on the main sprue and the steel ones on a separate sprue (B), which, according to the instruction sheet, aren't used for the build of the riveted turret FT.
However, the cast version can be equipped with two kinds of sprocket wheels (closed and open) where the riveted version has only the closed one in the kit. However, this picture of a Polish tank on the left shows the riveted turret version using the open style sprockets, so you could mix these.

At first view, I thought Sprue A (the big one) was identical for both versions. However on closer inspection, I discover part 24 (the rear turret hatches) has a different shape according to the version (see below). However, I'd like to note that this part it is not used for the build of the riveted turret, only for the cast one.

Not sure why it's present on the riveted version sprue. It looks like it may have been intended for the cast turret release of the kit, but then they realized that it was incorrect and provided a new part for the cast turret kit.

A small PE sheet is provided of which about half the parts are needed for building the kit, the other half can be used to substitute thicker injection moulded pieces. The cast turret one has more parts on it; besides the frame for the gun, you also get the oval Renault brand insignia (see PE-8).

This was only present on the tanks manufactured by Renault itself, the tanks assembled at the subcontractors or the copies made in other countries, obviously lacking this feature. However, I found a picture (see below) of a riveted tank carrying this oval insignia too, so I have no clue why it was left out by Flyhawk on this version.

I checked the dimensions of the fuselage and the tracks against the drawings in "AFV Plans 1914-1938 Armored Fighting Vehicles" by George Bradford, suitable scaled down to 1/72 and, keeping the limitations of my method in mind, I found them well within limits. (see below)

Decals and painting schemes

The same decal sheet is present in both kits. It gives enough decals for a total of 8 tanks, of which 2 are the riveted version and 6 the cast one.

The decals are in register. However, the print quality seems inferior compared with those provided by Revell or Dragon. On looking closely one can see the print dots, certainly in the darker colours like dark blue or black. See below.

However, see picture below right, there are no captions explaining the origin or unit of the different tanks provided in the cast version (they only got numbered I to VI), which is a bit of a disappointment. On the left however, the two tanks on the riveted version colour sheet are provided with captions.

I'm not a FT-17 specialist, so I tried to find out something more about the origins of some of the 6 versions included in the cast turret kit. When surfing the net I discovered this black-white picture (left) of cast turret tank Nr. IV at this site http://home.comcast.net/~dapena/tanks/cipri.htm.

Apparently this tank was used by the Spanish forces in Morocco in 1922. However, this version is presented by Flyhawk as being in a brown/white camouflage pattern, but when looking at the original tank and keeping the terrain on which it was used in mind, I have a strong suspicion that the white should be more of a sand colour.

I didn't find an exact match of cast turret tank Nr. I (le Tigre). The closest I came is this picture (source http://atf40.forumculture.net/t289p45-numerotation-des-chars-ft) where the similarity of the name is quite striking, but the rest doesn't seem to match. The card symbol above the name is a Spade and not Hearts as proposed by Flyhawk. The number on the side, that can be vaguely seen on the picture is also missing on the decal sheet. Even the camouflage pattern is different. Is this decal sheet for Tigre then correct?

Conclusion
The quality of the model itself is exceptional. It's a pity however that the decals are not up to the same quality. Highly recommended

References
AFV Plans 1914-1938 Armored Fighting Vehicles, by George Bradford Stackpole Books
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_FT
http://www.landships.info/landships/tank_articles.html?load=tank_articles/Renault_FT.html
http://po2260.perso.sfr.fr/FT17/FT17.htm#MENU (In French, but very useful pictures and drawings)
http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww1/fr/renault_ft.php : beautiful colour schemes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Renault_FT#Wooden_Idler_Wheels : Wikipedia discussion forum on the FT-17

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Article Last Updated: 30 November 2014