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FCM 36 French Light Tank (35336) 1:35


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FCM 36 French Light Tank (35336)

1:35 ICM via Hannants

 

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The FCM 36 was a light infantry tank that was the result of a proposal issued by the French government in 1933 after Hotchkiss had offered a design to the ministry.  Of the resulting series of designs from the different manufacturers, three were taken forward including designs by Hotchkiss, Renault and of course FCM, which stands for Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée, who were based at Toulon in the French Riviera.  The FCM offering was well-liked due to its sloped welded armour, and was continued with despite the fact that they couldn’t get the thing working during the initial test period.  It was sent back for repair, and that also turned up a number of other issues such as weak suspension and insufficient armour, increasing weight even further over the original limit.

 

It was originally equipped with a pair of machine guns in much the same way as the German Panzer I, but one was removed in favour of a 37mm cannon, mounted in a turret that was intended to become the standard turret design for all French light tanks, despite a number of problems.  One of the reasons it was well-liked was that it was considered to be the design with the most design potential, which was in part responsible for some serious delays spent working on an upgraded version that eventually came to nothing.  By the time they had reverted back to the comparatively superior original it was outdated, and too late to fight the advancing Germans in any great numbers.

 

 

The Kit

This is a new tool of this type from ICM, so is a thoroughly modern kit, arriving in ICM’s usual top opening box with captive inner flap, holding six sprues of grey styrene, two runs of flexible black tracks, a small decal sheet and instruction booklet within, the latter having colour painting guides on both sides of the glossy rear cover.  It is crisply moulded with lapped panels, rivets and weld-lines over the exterior, and although there is no interior, the crew hatches can be posed open as long as you either block the view with figures or prepare yourself for some scratch-building of any visible areas.

 

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Construction begins with the lower hull, which is made up initially of the floor and two sides, with bulkheads added to the sides to support the lower sponson panels that give the vehicle more ground clearance.  The running gear is made up from a three-part drive sprocket, eighteen sets of twin wheels that are fitted to eight double bogies and two singles, then the big idler wheels at the rear of the hull on sliding tensioning axles.  The sloped armoured upper sponsons are installed along the way, with the mud-shedding “windows” on each side.  Two pairs of return rollers on the top run are glued inside the sponson, then the flexible black “rubberband” tracks are glued together, the instructions neglecting to mention that styrene glues won’t join them, so you should use super glue or epoxy instead.  Each run has two sections, with the joints best placed in the centre of each run so they stand less chance of being seen on the finished model.  Detail on the tracks is very nice, with twin guide horns and perforated centres like the real thing, but of course the links will curve round the ends, rather than give the correct faceted look that individual links provide.

 

The upper hull is mostly complete, needing some small facets adding near the glacis, and some louvered vents on the engine deck and sides.  Lifting eyes, latches and other small parts are added around the rear and sides, then are joined by a set of pioneer tools, a loop of cable, and a large bifurcated exhaust system that exits the top of the engine deck and has two mufflers, one on each rear fender with a hollow flared exhaust pipe.  Stipple those with some Mr Surfacer and paint them lots of shades of rust, and they should be a nice focal point of the model.  The driver’s pop-up hatch has grab handles, armoured vision port and large exposed support ram on the left side that can pose the hatch open if you wish.  Hinges for the moulded-in lower panel on the glacis are also fitted at this time, as is a folded tarp on the left side.

 

Despite the kit having no true interior, you get a full breech and coaxial machine gun that slots through a perforated inner mantlet that bears a passing resemblance to a piece of swiss cheese, then has supports added to the sides, which are in turn glued to the turret bottom with the upper dropped over it, and an outer mantlet cover slid over the barrel.  The barrel is tipped with a hollow muzzle, a domed recuperator cap, and armoured bell-shaped cover for the machine gun barrel, then the various vision ports are fixed to the sides, and the large trapezoid hatch at the rear is made up and can be attached open or closed.  A couple of grab-handles are glued to the sides of the hatch aperture to assist the commander in and out of the turret, then the completed assembly is twisted into position on a pair of bayonet lugs that should hold it in place throughout most of its traverse.  The final task is to make up four lengths of chain from the two sprues of oval-shaped styrene parts, which are held on the towing eyes front and rear by a pair of pegs.

 

 

Markings

There are two decal options on the colourful decal sheet, both being French as you’d expect.  From the box you can depict one of the following:

 

  • FCM 36, 7th BCC, Chemery, France, 14th May 1940
  • FCM 36, 4th BCC, France, 10th June 1940

 

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The decals have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

A fairly niche subject that has been well-represented by this new kit.  We understand that technical assistance was provided by Michael Brodhaeker for this project.

 

Highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd.

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Review sample courtesy of

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