HaT 1/72 Renault FT 17 with Hotchkiss Machine Gun and Renault FT 17 with 37mm Cannon

By Grzegorz Mazurowski

The Tank

Renault FT 17 was the first real French tank, in fact it was World's first real tank, with armament placed in turnable turret. It was designed, as all the early tanks, not for Blitzkrieg, but for trench break-through operations, so was small and rather slow. From the very beginning it was fully successful and after valiant WWI service in French and US units it was used by tens of various countries till '40s. Some examples of that unusual vehicle have lately been found in Afghanistan by US soldiers fighting terrorists.

Renault FT 17 was used during the Great War as a tank in four basic variants, with round cast turret and with octagonal riveted one, both turrets were armed with Hotchkiss HMG or with 37mm Puteaux cannon. Also several special variants were produced: radio equipped command tank with fixed boxlike turret, support tank armed with howitzer and other.

The Kit

Kits are in fact two, as HaT produces two very similar double kits. Each kit allows modeler to build two identical models of the tank: "Renault FT 17 with 37mm Cannon" box contains two cannon-armed vehicles with cast, round turret, and "Renault FT 17 with Hotchkiss Machine Gun" two MG-armed tanks with riveted octagonal turrets. Except the turrets and armament, models are identical. Modeler who buys two different double kits can mix the armaments with turrets to get four different tanks.

Parts are molded in dark green plastic and are rather basic compared with average kits of the tanks in that scale - but that was intention of the producer of the "Armorfast" series: to provide collectors and especially wargamers with cheap, easy to build, but still decent models of tanks.

Details are basic, but in general correct, only some of the rivets are missing in some places (e.g. on the front panels) due to technological issues connected with two-part moulds and intention to keep the kit in as few parts as it was possible, and in other places (like on the top of the turret hatch) for unknown reasons (while not all the Renaults had these four characteristic rivets on the top of the mushroom-like hatch, it won't hurt to provide them). Also the hatch is a bit too flat, should be more like hemisphere, but this is easy to correct by sanding. More careful modeler would probably like to add those missing rivets and maybe even the toolbox on the side, but in general the kit is complete...

The decals

...except markings, which the kits do not include.

Conclusion

HaT Armorfast series aren't super detailed kits for contest winners, but simple and still accurate and good looking tanks for wargamers, beginners and collectors who want to relatively cheaply and easily build bigger collections of the same tank in various painting schemes (believe me, there were maaaaaany!). If you want to spend several weeks superdetailing the interior and exterior of your model, go for RPM kit, but if you want to have good looking, decent little Renault (or two, or more!) in a weekend, HaT product is for you. Also this is excellent way to introduce your little son (or daughter - RNP) into wonderful realm of WWI amour modeling.

Thanks to HaT for the free review sample!


 

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