The FT-17 French light tank was one of the most revolutionary designs in the history of mechanized warfare. Designed and produced by the Renault company and despite that they were never involved in tank development before. The first prototype was unveiled in January 1917 and in March it was officially designated as “Type M.17.FT”, better known as FT-17 later.
For tactical reason it was decided that some of the vehicles should be capable of carrying the small cannon 37mm Puteaux SA 18. The rest were equipped with 8mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun. Two types of turrets were used, cast and riveted, the latter was easier and cheaper to produce. Around 6000 tanks were built in all, including the US and Soviet copies. They were used in many conflicts by 27 countries, starting from World War One onwards.
- 10 plastic sprues
- 1 bag with individual track links
- 1 fret of photo etched parts
- 1 small decal sheet
- Metal parts for suspension springs and bars
- 1 instruction booklet
That kit is the second variant of the FT-17 tank released by MENG Model
, the first was with the cast turret (TS-008). It comes in relatively small box, full of content, with very nice box art and two color schemes on the sides. The parts are molded in tan plastic, with clean cast and no visible flash. At first look there are no ejector pin and sink marks present. There are some very fine parts and attention will be needed when cutting from the sprues.
Assembly starts with the lower hull, consisted of multiple parts with some interior for the driver compartment. There is lot of detail on the floor and sides such as rivets, driver levers and seat, fire extinguisher etc. Roof armor and top of the hull consisted of several panels with nice details.
Once the hull is completed, next assembly is of the running gear. Looking at the instruction, assembly is a bit complex, with many parts, so careful study of the construction steps is needed and attention to the many delicate parts. There are metal parts for the suspension springs and bars/axis, although the springs seem a bit thin.
After the running gear, next comes the un-ditching tail and tracks, the tail is nicely detailed also. Tracks are individual links, of the clickable type, careful assembly is needed, not to break the attaching joints of the tracks.
Next step will be attaching the driver hatches and engine deck, nothing complicated here, the can be left opened or closed. After that the weapon assembly is represented of two steps with the two variants of the armament includeding the 37mm cannon or the 8mm MG.
Vehicle completion is finished with the turret assembly, the turret is consisted with several riveted panels, again with nice detail, hatches can be left opened. The Hotchkiss MG can be assembled separately on the provided mount. Also worth noting is the nice inclusion of a small diorama base, consisting of several parts, sandbags, wooden planks etc.
The instructions provide two colorful camouflage schemes with paint number given of Vallejo paints. The finishing options are;
- 2nd Platoon, 1st Company, 344th Tank Battalion, 304th Tank Brigade, US Army, Verdun, October 1918
- Tank Units, Northeastern Frontier Defence Force, Nationalist Revolutionary Army, China, 1929
The decals are well printed on small sheet.
The instruction are provided in booklet form, glossy, with very comprehensive introduction of the history and technical data of the vehicle, in English, Chinese, Russian and Japanese. The stages seems clear and detailed with two color schemes in the end.
Overall, this is great model of FT-17, a little tank. Molding is very well done with very fine detail on the surface of the parts. Some minor drawbacks are the omission of the full interior of the previous kit and the tiny suspension springs. Nevertheless inclusion of the small diorama compensates this in full, not to mention half the price when compared with the cast turret version.