I think it would be a fair statement to make to say that MENG has really burst onto the armor modeling scene over the past couple of years. Well made kits of some unusual or previously neglected subjects have drawn a lot of attention to this relative newcomer to the hobby.
In addition to kitting some unusual subjects ( one of MENG's early, if not it's first armor release was the odd but strangely cool German VsKfz 167 Minenraumer mine clearing vehicle ), MENG groups it's offerings into some unusually named series. The subject of this review is a part of the Tyrannosaurus Series, with other armor kits from MENG grouped into the Velociraptor and Stegosaurus Series.
A Brief History of the FT-17
This little tank has been called the worlds first modern tank, due to it's being the first one to mount it's main armament ( usually either an 8mm MG or a 37mm gun ) in a rotating turret on top.
Designed and largely manufactured by the French firm of Renault, these tanks were developed in 1916 as an alternative to the heavier tanks more commonly used, principally by the British. Production began in 1917, ramping up considerably the following year. According to sources, 2,697 of these light tanks ( designated Renault FT, the FT-17 designation wasn't used until post-war ) were delivered to the French Army prior to the Armistice.
An agreement was reached enabling manufacture of the FT tank ( designated M1917 ) in the USA, but production problems prevented any M1917's from reaching US troops in France before war's end. France loaned 144 FTs ( two battalions worth ) to American Expeditionary Forces for use in France. The FT light tanks were considered to be a success.
Post World War I, Renault FTs were exported to a wide range of nations, virtually anyone wanting to field armor bought them.
FT-17's saw wide use in World War II, with many pressed into service during the German Blitzkrieg of France and the Low Countries. The capitulation of the French in 1940 provided the Wehrmacht with something like 1,700 FT-17's, which the Germans promptly put to good use guarding Luftwaffe airfields, and in anti-partisan operations. Strangely enough, US troops landing in North Africa in 1942 faced German allied - Vichy French troops using FT-17s.
The FT-17 had a long and interesting service life, often showing up decades later and thousands of miles from France..in places like Afghanistan in 2003. I suspect a modeler could make a career out of building all of the variants and examples from the far flung places that FT-17s were found.
What's in the Box?
The kit comes packaged in a standard lid and tray box, with all sprues individually bagged. The smaller kit parts, such a small fret of photoetch, the kit decals, the individual track links ( loose, non-sprued ), and some small metal springs and rods, are also individually packaged. Nothing was noted to have arrived damaged.
The sprued parts are molded in a medium sand color, with reasonably sized and located sprue attachment points. The parts themselves have very crisp, sharp detail on them. Ejector pin marks for the most part are located where they will not be seen.
Above - detail view of hull sides, very crisp bolt head detail.
Above - detail views of Sprue C
Sprue D ( X2 )
Above - detail view of Sprue D
Sprue E ( X2 )
Above - detail view Sprue E
Above - detail view Sprue H
Sprue K ( diorama base )
Above - detail view Sprue K
Sprue L ( diorama base parts )
Above - detail view Sprue L
Above - decals
This kit contains decals and full color illustrations for two different tanks;
- the first one a US Army marked example representing a tank from the 304th Tank Brigade at Verdun, October of 1918
- the other example being a Chinese Nationalist Revolutionary Army tank of the Northwestern Frontier Defense Force, China, 1929.
The decals are printed by Cartograph of Italy, and look sharp and crisp.
Metal Suspension Parts
Individual Track Links
Above - detail view, upper and lower views of track links
20 page Instruction Booklet
The instruction booklet looks like a breath of fresh air to me, after struggling a bit recently with kit instructions from another manufacturer. Text is in four languages; English, Chinese, Russian and Japanese. A bit of history on the development of the FT-17 is provided up front. After the usual drawing showing the tools required to build the kit, the 22 step building of the kit proceeds. The individual steps are drawn very clearly, and part mate-up positions clearly shown. Each step also calls out paint colors as needed.
These instructions look very well executed and should be quite user friendly!
Just looking at the parts has me excited about building this little tank. The parts look very fine, and if the kit engineering / fit of the parts is even close to the quality of the parts themselves, this will be an enjoyable build.
The inclusion of what appears to be a pretty nice diorama base in the kit is a welcome bonus, and lends another dimension to the build. The very nice appearance of the parts for the base make it clear that the base wasn't just an afterthought.
As stated above, the instruction booklet is a very welcome addition to the kit, for lack of a better descriptive term, it just looks complete and professional, rather than included as a necessary evil or rushed afterthought.
Everything in the kit box is saying "build me! ", really loud.
Highly Recommended ( pending full build )
Thanks to MMD Squadron for the review sample
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
Please watch for the Full Build Review, coming soon to an upcoming issue of Boresight!
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