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French R39 Light Infantry Tank - 1/35 HOBBYBOSS via Creative Models


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French R39 Light Infantry Tank
1/35 HOBBYBOSS via Creative Models

 

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Designed by Renault, this was an interwar light infantry tank used by the French army in their unsuccessful defence of their homeland at the beginning of WWII, after which it remained in service with the German forces as a beutepanzer, where it was either used in second line service, or heavily converted to a makeshift gun carriage and used as a self-propelled howitzer. It was originally intended as a replacement for the diminutive FT-17, but due to the sloth in re-training their crews, they were still ill-prepared even on the eve of war. The R39 is a variant of the R35 but armed with the heavier 37mm SA38 L/33 gun allowing it to operate in an anti-tank capacity. When Germany pounced, there were almost a thousand R35s in service, although they had been found unreliable, poorly armed to combat tanks, and with too little armour. All the remaining vehicles were taken on charge by the Germans and more than a little tinkering with cutting torches began. Some had their turrets removed to use as small gun emplacements, while others were thoroughly butchered to become tank destroyers, although in doing so the original chassis was horribly overloaded, leading to slow, breakdown prone vehicles that must have been loathed by their crews. By the end of the war a small number were left and used by the French until they were replaced with more capable tanks.



The Kit
This is a re-boxing by HobbyBoss with a new sprue for the heavier turret on this version. The kit arrives in a fairly small box with a divider keeping the sprues from rattling about. Inside are seven sprues, upper hull in sand coloured styrene; two sprues containing the tracks; a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet, colour painting guide and black and white instruction manual. 

 

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The engine is first to be constructed, with a two part block that is heavily detailed with additional parts, a great many of which are absolutely tiny, which conspires to give you a very nicely depicted motor for your R35 chassis. Work then commences on integrating the engine with the lower hull, beginning with the sand-cast rear bulkhead, which has the idler tensioning devices and towing hook added, after which the radiator, cooling fan and ducting are assembled with the power-take-off wheel projecting from the rear of the box. The hull itself is made up from two side panels and a floor piece, into which the radiator housing, a styrene/PE stiffening plate and driver controls are added. The side panels are fitted out with three return-rollers and a final drive housing per side, and four bogies with two wheels per housing and a big suspension spring are built up. Two more solo bogies, two drive sprockets and two idler wheels are also constructed, and are installed on the suspension mounting points on the hull sides. At the same time the driver's seat, fuel tank and engine-mount bulkhead are ensconced within the hull, and the rear bulkhead closes up the rear. After adding a few more driver controls and their linkages, the drive-train is dropped into the hull, with a transmission housing added to the front, and driver-shafts to the sprockets complete the drive-train.

 

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Given their small size in 1:35, HB have decided to go down the link and length route with the tracks. The straight track runs are made up from six parts with a few links in between the curved lower sections, and twelve individual links at each end. Each of the individual links have three sprue gates, while the lengths have additional dead-end tabs that ensure against short-shot links, and also double as ejector-pin positions, saving the delicate detail from marring by miss-alignments. 

 

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The upper hull is detailed inside with the driver's instrument panel, plus a choice of actuator for his vision hatch, which can be posed open or closed. The final drive inspection hatch is added along with some PE parts, as is the lower part of the driver's hatch, with the upper section added in the open or closed aspect, depending on your whim. The upper hull is then closed up and a host of pioneer tools are threaded through their tie-down blocks to be added to the sides of the hull together with the silencer/muffler and exhaust, the feeder pipe for which comes from the rear of the vehicle. Their is a large tail on the rear of the tank like those seen on the Renault FT-17 to assist on crossing trenches, a throw back from WWI. This is then built up and added to the rear of the tank.  

 

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The new turret which is the feature of this boxing is then built up. The main hatch is added along with the vision opening on each side. The 37mm gun is quite detailed and is a full gun both sides of the mantlet. The rear loading hatch is then built up and added, The turret base can then be added and the completed turret placed on the tank. 

 

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Decals
Decals are provided for one rench tanks, and one re-used by the Germans. No details regarding units etc are provided. 

 

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Conclusion
This is a great looking kit from HobbyBoss and their attention to detail is to be commended, it is good to see more lesser known tanks being kitted. Overall Highly recommended.

 

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