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Renault FT-17 French tank, Meng 1/35


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So here I am, feeling slightly uneasy. Not only am I going to build something from a very real and very horrible part of human history, but it is also a long long way out of my comfort zone when it comes to model building. It's probably +35 years since I built a tank, or any AFV model for that matter, and I'm not quite sure how best to approach this, not in building sequence and especially not when it comes to painting.

Possibly that is also what makes it tempting, despite my initial fear when I think of this build...

I will try to build Meng's excellent looking 1/35 scale kit of the Renault FT-17 tank. Partly as I have a long time interest in the french auto maker on all levels, partly as the kit looks very nice in the box and partly as the yellow/green/red/black paint scheme looks great. If I can pull it off...

I will try to build this pretty much straight out of the box, apart from the decals. I think I will print my own decals based on the "Ace of Spades" version seen in the recent 1/16 scale Takom kit of the same tank, just because the Ace of Spades looks nice.

This is my staring point, and I will refer to Mike's excellent review of this kit, which after all bear some responsibility for me buying it, for detail shots of the parts. I have quite a few projects on my bench right now, so I think it may take a little time to get into this one.

FT17_1.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for your interest and support guys. It's been a late start for various reasons, summer is lovely and hot, the wine is great and I have several projects going on at the same time. Perhaps too many, but right now I really need to shift my focus between very different things to keep going.

I've made a slow start over the last two or three days. I sat down the other night with the kit and did some research surfing and quickly realised that I had mixed my memory up pretty well. It's not Takom that made the Ace of Spades tank I was having in mind, it was RPM in their older 1/35 kit. Somehow I begun to think that it didn't matter much anymore, and I could just do Meng's in box version. Well, we'll see where that ends. I also made some notes about paints I must order, mainly for the exterior. But that nights thoughts made me more eager to get going.

So the day after I started to clean up parts and assemble them. It was immediately clear that the kit is very nice. So far it has been a real joy to work with, the parts are very well defined, the fit has been excellent and clean up minimal. Very nice, I hope it will continue in the same way. I do think though that I will need the length of this GB to finish it, as I don't expect rapid progress all the way.

I'm very much unsure how to approach the build. I see that many AFV builders assemble very much before painting, but I somehow doubt I can fully adapt to that. I really feel way out of my comfort zone with this build, so I will have to search my way as I go.

First I did the transmission parts and put together sub assemblies according to main paint colours and still being able to have spraying access. The detail of the small parts are lovely and it all falls together.

FT17_2.jpg

Then I continued the same way with the engine and it's accessories. I checked some 1/1 scale photos to see which seams should be filled.

FT17_3.jpg

FT17_4.jpg

And then the radiator and fan.

FT17_5.jpg

My plan right now is to prepare the base of the hull as well, with all fittings for the engine and transmission, then paint all this in parts before assembly, then detail painting and touch up before continuing with the rest of the interior.

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This does look to be a very nice kit. I am sure your instincts will prove correct in determining the correct balance of building vs. painting steps. I am looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

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Thanks guys. I'll try to make up my own build and paint sequence as I go and feel my way. I think the interior detailing and painting, which is quite plentiful for its little size, will be done more in small parts before assembly than I often see, while I'll probably try to paint the exterior when it's almost completed to keep the camouflage pattern together.

I'm also not even sure how I will finish and display the model. The obvious thought is a rather dirty and worn tank in battle use, and that was what I first planned, but I'm not so sure anymore. I want to build all this nice interior detail well, which calls for most panels open. I'm also not so sure of my weathering skills when it comes to war time tanks, nor am I sure it's really "my thing". But I like to see such models well done, they always impress me. Perhaps I should do one before all the hell and suffering broke loose for its crew, or a preserved one when the carnage was finally over. I'll have to think about this.

I got a bit more done today in between some work and other stuff. I assembled the base of the hull and the inner floor with some parts left loose for painting. Again I have to say how nice the kit is to work on. If all tank kits are like this I'm perhaps spending most of my modelling time on the wrong subjects...

FT17_6.jpg

It's such nice work preparing parts and building sub assemblies that I think I'll continue for a while. Every single interior panel is to be painted the same white, or rather some off-white colour. I will have to make my own mix of that paint I think, so it might be a good idea to paint all the insides in one spray session and not just the base around the engine. Then assemble the hull and work from there. Or it's just an excuse to keep enjoying the work I'm into right now...

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Nice work thus far. Recently added the riveted turret version of this to the pile. Gorgeous kit and it comes with a diorama base too.

Like what im seeing and look forward to more.

Regards

Steve

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Thanks a lot guys. It's a very nice kit indeed, I can very much recommend it so far. The riveted turret actually looks more appropriate for this tank I think.

More progress today. I continued to prepare parts so I can spray all inside surfaces in one session. I had to fit some exterior parts at this stage as their mounting points go through the wall and needs to be filled and sanded on the inside. Here is the left side.

FT17_7.jpg

I tried to improve this canister a bit to give it more relief against the back wall, and extended the leather strap so it actually reaches the wall.

FT17_8.jpg

And here is the right side and the fuel tank.

FT17_9.jpg

The exterior of the side walls. I will wait with the rest of the parts until the complete hull is assembled.

FT17_10.jpg

I didn't like the fitting of this sledge to the roof. It's moulded with the mounting straps and must be fitted before exterior painting.

FT17_11.jpg

I measured the length of the handle, then glued it on. When it had cured I cut of the handle from the mounting points. Evergreen 0,88 mm rod was a perfect match for the new handle.

FT17_12.jpg

With the mountings drilled out and the radiator air intake fitted I can now slide the painted sledge in place.

FT17_13.jpg

Then I assembled the complete roof structure, checking its fit against the side walls.

FT17_14.jpg

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Thanks guys, With such a nice kit to work with it's a bit easier to make the work look good though, at least so far.

I have continued my journey through all the parts preparing and pre-assembling everything to be painted interior white. There are a lot of small panels and hatches completing the hull. It will be interesting to see how all this will fit later on.

FT17_15.jpg

Here are all the turret parts that will need some white inside. The ring section that the top hatch attaches to is a complex assembly of several rings and some filler is waiting to be sanded, mainly inside. The exterior is remarkably fine after assembly though. I'm not yet sure if that hatch should be opened or not.

FT17_16.jpg

The moulding of the main turret part is very nice.

FT17_17.jpg

After sanding the joints in the turret I think I can spray some interior white and start painting engine and transmission parts.

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This looks like a very nice kit indeed.

Armour is not my main interest - I model mainly 1:72 WWI aviation. However, I do have all the available 1:72 WWI tanks (and some armoured cars/ambulances) in my stash so I'll be watching this to see how it progresses. Coming along very nicely so far!

Ian

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Thanks a lot guys! I managed to squeeze in a paint session on this one tonight. The first thing to do was all those interior panels in white. The instructions calls for pure white but I don't think that would look trustworthy on the model. I decided to use Lifecolor and mixed in a few drops of a khaki/sand in the white to give me a slightly off-white shade. So far so good.

The spray session quickly turned into a real problem with a clogging airbrush tip. I was surprised as it has been going rather well with Lifecolor since I switched to Ultimate thinners. I managed to get through with a lot of cleaning and flushing and irritation. When cleaning up the airbrush I found a long slimy flake of white crap in the cup and up through the suction pipe... Apparently I have managed to push down contaminations from the threads of the jar when cleaning them at some point. Well, that's just not going to work well...

FT17_18.jpg

FT17_19.jpg

FT17_20.jpg

After a complete strip down and cleaning of the airbrush I wasn't going to do any more painting this evening. Then I started to rig all the parts to be painted black and suddenly they were sprayed as well. I choose to do them Nato black as a base with the idea of using a rich deeper black wash to give more contrast to the details later on.

FT17_21.jpg

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A little more painting done tonight. Sprayed some Alclad aluminum on the gearbox and some engine parts and then a dark grey on the radiator. Then I begun some detail painting with a brush. The control rods on the chassis plate is a bit untidy but they should be fine after a wash and weathering. And when assembled they won't be seen...

FT17_22.jpg

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Didn't get much modelling done today, but I did manage to sit down and do some more detail painting on this one. Some more paint work on the drivers back rest and some dry brushing, then I should be able to assemble a few more sections of the engine and gearbox.

FT17_23.jpg

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