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Renault Taxi de la Marne - "A la gloire c'est parti, le modèle est fini!"

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Bonsoir Mesdammes et Monsieurs,


I shall be joining you in this celebration of all things gallic, on Wednesday, after I have completed my entry for the Phantom STGB. I bring to the buffet, the legendary Renault 'Taxi de la Marne' which won fame and a name in September of 1914. (I have drawn on Wikipedia for the following historical background. If that's not your thing please scroll down to the photos to have a quick look around the sprues.)


The Renault Type AG, commonly referred to as the Renault 'Taxi de la Marne' or 'Marne Taxi' was a hackney carriage automobile manufactured by the French automaker Renault from 1905 to 1910. The nickname Taxi de la Marne was earned by the vehicles when the fleet of Paris taxis was requisitioned by the French Army to transport troops from Paris to the First Battle of the Marne. This battle was a turning point of the war when the German offensive which threatened to engulf Paris was halted, beginning the four long years static trench warfare.


During the battle, the French Army's 62nd Division had arrived at a railway station outside Paris, a significant distance away from the battle, with no military transport capability. Some logistical genius suggested "If all else fails we could always hail a cab." The idea had possibilities and the general staff estimated it needed to hail approximately 1,200 taxis to transport the 6,000 man division to the battle, five to a cab. With the help of the National Gendarmerie the required taxis were assembles at Les Invalides in central Paris to carry soldiers to the front at Nanteuil-le-Haudouin, fifty kilometres away.


During the night of 6-7 September 1914  they set off. Each taxi was supposed to carry five soldiers, four in the back and one next to the driver, but the cabs were small and the soldiers undoubtedly had equipment to carry and only approximately 4000 soldiers were delivered to the battlefield in this way. I don't know how many traveled on the roof and running boards of the cabs but it makes a marvellous tableau.


The drivers, following city regulations, as taxi-drivers always do, dutifully ran their meters during the operation and the French treasury paid a total fare of 70,012 francs.


It seems that the practical contribution of the taxis of Paris to the great defensive victory was rather small as 150,000 soldiers of the French 6th Army had already arrived by train. However, the morale effect of the improvised and semi-public operation was of great value in raising the spirits of the battered but unbowed French army and of the people of Paris.


The Kit




What magnificent box art from ICM! What do you think the soldier on running board is thinking as he looks us in the eye? "You may well cheer, People of Paris, but I shall probably be dead by the morning."






Our three figures are well supplied with equipment, which will be carried inside the cab to justify the dramatic poses of our three heroes.




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Here we have examples of the Chauchat and Hotchkiss machine guns and that essential piece of field equipment for the French Army, the coffee grinder!






Our four dismembered figures. 




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The flag will be great fun to paint and look at those faces! In such a small scale as 1/35, I think they are magnifique.






And turning to the vehicle...




Only a few sprues.




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But we have an engine, which will not be seen, some small parts on big sprues and a great looking set of wheels.






Spoiled only by real rubber tyres. I'm not a fan but to be honest I haven't actually used the things for decades so I might be surprised.






The glazing looks reasonable and will stay bagged until the last moment. I'm considering replacement with clear film from cake boxes which is a Very Good Reason to eat cake.






For the sake of completeness, here are the transfers.





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One page of instructions for the four figures.






52 steps of instructions for the really rather small taxi!






Which ends up, I hope, looking as dapper as this.






And all in this one little box. I can't wait to get started - see you Wednesday!



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1 minute ago, Old Man said:

What a great subject, Sir!


Isn't it splendid? I'm already thinking that if I can make a decent job of the vieille dame, she will deserve a base of some kind...

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The meter is running. I started the build this afternoon.




How can anyone, especially the English with our legendary love of dogs, not love a model company that includes this in every box?


I think ICM kits from the Ukraine are fabulous. They aren't easy to build. Some of their engineering seems calculated to make life harder, their use of mitre joints to build up structures from lots of flat plates, for example. But aren't they just treating us as intelligent adults? I'm having to really work at this model, thinking out ways to tackle it (mostly because this is only my second ICM kit). It's so satisfying. 




So far I've made some sub-assemblies, with an eye to the painting stage. Some of them are going to be black, some yellow but very few will need more than one colour spraying (if I get it right). 


That's the main chassis rail structure on the right. I had to make that from four separate pieces, trying to keep it square and level. It's so light and fragile that I can't feel it in my hand, I have to look at it to be sure I'm still holding it! The track rod on the front axle (centre right) is very very fine and needed a lot of care. I had to take it off the sprue with a sharp razor saw and sand down the four attachment points very carefully with a tiny piece of wet and dry. Nippers and sanding sticks would have destroyed it in a second. All of this could have been avoided by making everything overscale and clunky but that's not the ICM way. And at the moment, I'm applauding that. (I may change my mind if I can't hack it though. Lol.)


The instructions, which I have dutifully studied because I have little idea what the thing I'm building looks like when it's finished, suggest building up from the chassis into the engine/transmission, also very delicate, up to the bodywork. I disagree.




I think I'll have a better chance of not ruining everything if I start with the biggest and stiffest thing I can get my hands on, and then wrap those lovely delicate bits around it. That way, I'll know that the result will be more or less taxi-shaped even if it's all a bit bandy underneath. It will also give me a chance to build, fill and tidy up all the red bits before I try to get that high gloss finish that car modellers seem to manage so well. Gluing after painting all the panels would only end in tears. I've never built a car before, I just realised!


I reckon there's four hours of happy moddelling in that photograph. What excellent value for our money is this thing of ours.



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  • Bertie Psmith changed the title to Renault Taxi de la Marne - Aller à la Guerre Avec Beaucoup de Style - Le Taximètre est Fonctionne!
16 hours ago, JOCKNEY said:

Delighted to see something like this in the GB, really looking forward to seeing this one come to life.

Good luck.


Cheers Pat 

If those little soldiers come to life we’ll all have nightmares. 🙀


I’ll try my best though. 

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Bonsoir amis modélistes,


I've found time this afternoon for a few hours of work on the Renault. Work? Shouldn't that be play? We use phrases like 'doing a good job', 'great work' all the time, and I think that's a curious thing. Modelmaking for me is the opposite of work; it's voluntary and severely unpaid, and something I love to do for myself, not for a boss or a reward. There were some parts of my working life that I loved, but really not that many!


So, I've been playing with my toy this afternoon. I'm wrestling with that great modelling dilemma - when, for best effect, do I stop building and start painting? When I was a budding but competent modeller in my teens, I painted every internal part of my aircraft before I stuck it together. The problem with that was scraping paint off to allow gluing, and the destructiveness of poly cement when I used too much. Later, I changed my tactics to building sub assemblies, painting, building larger assemblies, building, painting and so on. The downside of this was the time it took. Becoming an airbrush user made this problem worse, because each session of airbrush painting included a fixed time of equipment setting up, cleaning and then putting away - better to do all the painting in one go if possible. After aircraft I moved onto armour, and finally figures, and each change of genre allowed for more and more building of larger sub-assemblies before painting; in the case of figures it's often possible to assemble the entire model before considering painting anything. All very time efficient but that system is no longer working for me.


This little taxi (and the Mk V tank diorama in the other cupboard) is so complex that painting it after assembly is impossible. I've made some sub assemblies of course, but I still have dozens of individual pieces that will have to be painted before attaching them. Masking will be impossibly destructive to the delicate bits and pieces, and wouldn't be possible anyway and brush painting in situ would be beyond my current skills. In many places I'm back to my teenage methods. And what is wrong with that?


Absolutely nothing. I'm retired. I'm single. Apart from the five hours each day that I spend walking the dog, for our mutual fitness, my time is my own. I don't have deadlines, except when I set them pour m'encourager . This hobby isn't work. I should copy how little kids play because they are the experts. I notice that little kids don't hurry when they are playing, they lose themselves in it for as long as their bladders will let them, and sometimes longer. There is no need to rush my play. There is no need to produce a large body of work. If I concentrate on the process, the lesser goal of finishing kits will take care of itself, and since I live in a small flat, there isn't room for hundreds of completed models anyway. 


So I shall do my future moddelling slowly. If I overrun the GB, nobody cares. If I don't get to build ALL of the wonderful kits that get released each year, nobody (except the industry) cares. My modelling will henceforth be like reading a poem rather than dealing with a jobcard, slowly, carefully, wringing out the last drop of enjoyment. And then reporting it all back to you.



"Ooooo, don't 'e rabbit on? GET ON WITH IT!"






The bodywork is coming together well. It's solid and square now and a good foundation for the miniscule parts to follow. The interior is fortunately all black so I'll be able to paint that through the roof.




I need to have a logical reason for the three soldiers being on the roof, which makes a striking scene but is a bit daft if there is room inside. So I'll fill the inside with equipment, spare weapons, ammo, rations etc. This means that the inside will hardly be seen despite the huge windows. Once it's all black, I'll mask the window apertures from the inside and paint the outside of the cab red. Then the windows go in, the roof goes on, and Bob's your uncle and Fanny's your granny! The black roof is a canvas construction and will be fairly easy to paint with a brush.




My collection of sub assemblies and single parts prepared for painting has increased. Much of it will, of course, be unseen. The model will be fixed to a base and supposedly moving so the bonnet will definitely be closed, and the underneath in shadow, however there's always a chance that if I leave something out, it will be the one thing needful. And anyway, I'm enjoying the process of moddelling each little bit of this. Ha!




On Friday, which is my next planned day for playing with this particular toy, I'll be trying to wire up an ignition harness for this li'l engine




This is the back axle and if you look very closely there is a seam running down that conical housing where the driveshaft emerges. That's how good this ICM moulding is. When I first put it together, I couldn't find the join to put the glue in!




They failed to hollow out the exhaust pipe though. I had to do all this for myself. Shameful!


I plan on doing an update to this topic once a week on a Wednesday so until then, 


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4 hours ago, Bertie Psmith said:

The black roof is a canvas constructio

Which begs the question, would it actually have been able to support the weight of two grown men?



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12 hours ago, Andwil said:

Which begs the question, would it actually have been able to support the weight of two grown men?


Thank you for that observation, which has been of great interest. I think the answer to your question must be "Not for long!" They are perched on the tops of the doorframes and the divider between the driver and the cabin, which I think would be the strongest part of the roof, but even so, two soldiers in greatcoats and kit, one of them with a heavy rifle, would surely fall through or off that roof on the first corner or bump. The next question must be, does that matter?


The actual event, the delivery of a few soldiers of a second line unit, to a battle already joined by 150,000 others was militarily insignificant, I think. It's even possible to argue that it was rather ignominious that the French army was incapable of arriving on time without such slapdash logistical arrangements. However, the reason that this is even remembered is its contemporary interpretation. The building of a legend based on the soldier's Gallic determination not to miss their chance of glory. Another theme is the creative improvisation and cooperation of the army, the police and the civilian taxi drivers in defence of La Belle France, in a war which was yet to become total. (And never mind that the drivers and their company received the equivalent of a quarter of a million Euros in fares, though oddly, that's always part of the story!)


This is a model of a myth, not an event. It's more like a grand painting than a photograph. The style of the model is more like this:




Than this:




I've been thinking of your comment all day. It's sparked a lot of deep contemplation of the role of story in history. We read history books and praise them if they are as compelling as a novel. But real history isn't like a novel, there's no structure to day to day events, just stuff happening which we later try to make sense of by creating a narrative around it. This is true for our personal histories as well as capital H History. To misquote Kris Kristofferson, "life's a walking contradiction, partly truth and mostly fiction". 


So as far as I'm concerned they can sit on the roof if they want to, it makes a much better model that way. 😁


I've just thought, maybe they just hopped up there for a few moments for a lark and to strike a heroic pose for the crowds before getting down to their grim business? I wonder if these guys were doing much the same thing:




Belgian paras in Zaire in 1978. All that's missing is the flag!

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A couple of days ago, while digressing I said, "Modelmaking for me is the opposite of work; it's voluntary and severely unpaid, and something I love to do for myself, not for a boss or a reward." Since then I've realised why I do think of it as work, and not entirely play. There is a reward! From moddelling, particularly when I do it in public like this, I'm rewarded with a sense of purpose which for retired people can be hard to find.


"What do you do?" - "I'm an electrician."      That gave me purpose and identity when I was a worker.  

"What do you do?" - "I'm retired."       That's merely a statement of what I'm not.

"What do you do?" - "I'm a modelmaker"   That's a positive answer, which also invites further conversation.


So, today I was working on the few remaining little bits of my taxi.




This piece was a bit of a mess but the other one on the far side of the sprue was fine. In fact the far end of this piece is much better than this. I wonder what happened to the mould just here. The offset is only about 0.5mm really, it seems huge when under the magnifier though.




Rubber tires. I have no experience of these. Any tips will be welcome. How do I clean them up? Paint? Prime? How do I stick them on? HELP!




Almost ready




I boasted about wiring it up. I wish I hadn't but here goes. I drilled holes into the spark plug pimples and something that I assert was the magneto. And then I had to fit the wires. Easy. The grid is 1cm squares so with my eyes straining through a magnifier and fingers shaking I started, telling myself that if I messed up, I just wouldn't ever mention it again. :winkgrin:






And it wasn't so bad. I used thin florist's wire which was a bad choice because too thick and very stiff, and a good choice because the stiffness kept it in place in the holes while I tied on the cable clip, made from flattened silver solder. It's all a bit gross but I'm pleased with it. 




The last job of the day was splitting the components into their major colours; black, yellow and red. I've read that priming pink under yellow overcomes most of the problems associated with yellow paint - we shall see... I'm not going to use my usual proper primer on these small pieces as I think it will be too thick and double the diameter of the delicate bits. I'm hoping that Tamiya paint with lacquer primer will stick well enough on its own, again, we shall see...



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2 hours ago, fatfingers said:

Your doing a brilliant job here Bertie and I'm really enjoying your entertaining build 👍






Thanks, Steve. I'm glad you are getting a kick out of it.


Yellow over a pink undercoat works brilliantly. The translucency of the yellow allows the pink to show through a little but it just makes it yellower somehow. No pictures because I was too engrossed but you'll see what I mean next proper update.

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  • Bertie Psmith changed the title to Renault Taxi de la Marne - Aller à la Guerre Avec Beaucoup de Style - La Peinture Commence
On 9/16/2021 at 10:11 PM, Bertie Psmith said:

This is a model of a myth, not an event. It's more like a grand painting than a photograph. The style of the model is more like this:

That was a good post Bertie, and I fully agree with the sentiments expressed therein.  To be clear I did not intend to criticise your model, or choice of subject, merely to question ICM’s composition.  As for the painting of Napoleon, he was not a great horseman so the chances of him striking such a heroic pose on a rearing horse were about nil.  Pure propaganda (or myth making - a fine line).



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14 hours ago, Andwil said:

To be clear I did not intend to criticise your model, or choice of subject, merely to question ICM’s composition

Don’t worry, I didn’t feel criticised. I shared exactly your thoughts on the ICM arrangement of the figures. I was trying to explain how I interpreted it. Man is the storytelling animal, no? Curiously, when researching this build online, I’m struck by the wild variety of ‘facts’ quoted; 1200, 600 taxis, 6000, 4000, men? They travelled after dark without headlights but there are daylight photos? There are also photos of busses being used but these aren’t mentioned in the narrative. What was the ‘truth’? It’s fascinating and a little disturbing!



On a personal level, at my age I’m beginning to have some problems with my memory and I wonder how much of what I do remember is only a story that I’ve created and retold many times, each time with small ‘improvements’ until it has become completely false. That phenomenon, when taken to extremes in cases of dementia which I have known, is a horrifying thing, casting doubt even on a person’s sense of self. And yet I love to read the war memoirs of my parent’s  generation and generally believe them to be true. These books inspire much of my modelling. 

But I do wonder, how much of our history, personal and scholarly, is simply made up?

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22 hours ago, Bertie Psmith said:

A couple of days ago, while digressing I said, "Modelmaking for me is the opposite of work; it's voluntary and severely unpaid, and something I love to do for myself, not for a boss or a reward." Since then I've realised why I do think of it as work, and not entirely play. There is a reward! From moddelling, particularly when I do it in public like this, I'm rewarded with a sense of purpose which for retired people can be hard to find.


Well stated, my thinking too.


I am enjoying your build immensely.


cheers, Graham


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8 hours ago, Bertie Psmith said:


But I do wonder, how much of our history, personal and scholarly, is simply made up?


Much along the line of "... the victor writes the history books". 


cheers, Graham 

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23 hours ago, Bertie Psmith said:

Rubber tires. I have no experience of these. Any tips will be welcome. How do I clean them up? Paint? Prime? How do I stick them on? HELP!



Looking good so far old fruit.Cliff B had rubber tyres on his Silver Ghost build and I had some on my Stutz Bearcat ,both of which might give you some pointers on the fun that can be derived from them.


Apropos of nothing,is the P silent?

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I've provided a reasonable reason for the soldiers to be outside the taxi.




Starting from basic principles, I cut shapes from plasticard, the thickest I had.




I made box shapes, omitting the parts that wouldn't be visible. Then I used a panel line engraver to make a suggestion of planks and painted the lot with Vallejo acrylics Filthy Brown and Dark Flesh.




A layer of Smokey Ink was applied to act as a wash, bringing out the details, and a tone intensifier to give depth to the wood effects. I put on a few decals almost randomly and there you have it, three cases of pate de fois gras for the general staff to be loaded in the taxi with the utmost haste.




And that's why they can't ride inside in comfort.




I even found decals in French. (Though the meaning was rather obscure in 1914. :winkgrin:)

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  • Bertie Psmith changed the title to Renault Taxi de la Marne - Aller à la Guerre Avec Beaucoup de Style - La luggage est dans le taxi!



Today I have been busy with Joe Le Taxi but don't seem to have achieved a lot. I wanted to make the inside more interesting so I found a few more items of luggage for our three gallant musketeers. The screwed up wine bottle capsule will be a tent/tarp/groundsheet when it's painted. There's a Hotchkiss MG with bipod standing up in a corner because one of the guys on the roof only has a flag for a weapon. Next to the MG is a big mess tin with their travelling rations, and the strange square thing with the crank is a coffee grinder that came with the kit. Have I mentioned this already? Only the French would consider taking something like that to war, only the French would provide wine at meals for the troops in barracks. I admire their style. 


And of course you see three steel helmets. I wonder whether that will generate any comments...




I masked the windows from the inside and used the top to complete the masking, it's only held on with tape. I realise that I needn't have painted the canopy black yet but I had it in the airbrush from the painting of the interior so I went ahead anyway. I'll be redoing it when it's properly secured and seams filled. The kit fits extremely well and no filler has been needed so far.




I'm very pleased to see three such shiny helmets. Tamiya gloss paint in action. I'm more or less a stranger to gloss paint, and it definitely behaves very differently to matt in the airbrush. I haven't quite got the smooooth finish I wanted but I'll learn.




Same with the red. I believe that the next stage in the techniques for super glossy finish is to mist a layer of lacquer thinner over the previously applied paint while it's still wet. That I'll try on a test piece first! Actually, this satin/gloss id more in keeping with the scale of the tableau. Toffee apple shine looks out of place on a model in my opinion. Nothing shines like that from fifty feet away. The red is Tamiya Red Gloss but I deliberately left the airbrush 'dirty' with the light blue to make the very bright red, a little more maroon in hue. I think that's more in keeping with the period.




Nothing except polished metal, that is. I have no brass coloured paint suitable for spraying so this is Vallejo Chrome Metal Color with a layer of Tamiya Clear Yellow with a little bit of red left in the airbrush. Planning your painting sequence sometimes saves a lot of time and airbrush cleaner. 


I'm hoping to get the cab in one piece tomorrow so that I can move onto the figures. 



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  • Bertie Psmith changed the title to Renault Taxi de la Marne - "A la gloire c'est parti, le modèle est fini!"

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