with the advent of the centenary of the great war and the invention of the tank, it’s refreshing to at last see a good selection of kits from a period which up to recently has been largely neglected.
Pretty much all you could get was in small scale and the tooling and detailing a bit below what you would expect now, and there were fewer manufacturers around to make them, and although the mainstream subjects were well catered for with WW2 aircraft, ships and tanks but both WW1 tank and aircraft kits were just not in demand and trying to track down obscure stuff like French tank kits wasn’t impossible but enormously difficult and it was probably easier to scratch build one yourself!
This quick look at Hobby Boss’ new 1\35 French St Chamond medium tank is probably the first one out as try as I might I have not found a review for it although there are plenty of them regarding the new manufacturer Takom’s St Chamond, they are doing the early and the late types, and they are very highly regarded so I think it’s time to see how the Hobby Boss kit stacks up.
The St Chamond was France’s second attempt at a tank, the first was the Schneider, which wasn’t a huge success and was based on an American Holt tractor chassis, the St Chamond used the same rather short chassis/track system and huge overhangs front and rear which hampered it’s mobility, add to that the fact the 75mm cannon was stuck out of the front made it desperately nose heavy and like it’s predecessor, often pitched nose first into shell holes and got stuck, not great over the muddy, shell holed mess which was the western front..
i have to say first off it’s a brave move as subjects like this are not well known to most but there are modellers out there that have been wanting stuff like this, myself included for a long time and it seems several of the far eastern kit makers have been listening and are presently creating quite a wide range of armour subjects, as I say. very refreshing!
So lets start with the instruction booklet.
All in black and white and although a bit bland, there is a useful sprue map at the beginning and all the steps are fairly clear and concise, there is a separate glossy piece of A4 with a colour scheme though only one scheme is available, bit of a pity as Takom’s kits have a bit of choice.
the kit itself looks crisply moulded as befits a new tooling kit, the hull is slide moulded in one piece and the rivet and bolt heads are nice and sharp, the lower hull is well detailed and fits the upper like a glove and a lower frame which takes the suspension and running gear attaches to the hull lower half. There are two large sprues with hull parts, gun, which is in two halves unfortunately but at least it’s nicely detailed.
four sprues deal with the hotchkiss machine guns with mounts, four have the wheels…Lots of them, and two sprues have the sprockets, running gear and frames, there is no provision for an interior except the 75mm gun mount, it would be a fairly pointless exercise scratch building an interior as the doors are so small and you cant see much through them anyway, I have a small gripe in that the oval roof cupolas for the driver and commander have the lids moulded in place where the takom kit has them separate which means they can be posed open or closed and there is a little piece of PE brass along with a very small set of decals which incidentally look pretty good.
The tracks…Well I have just finished Hobby Boss’s Schneider CA tank and it too is a really nicely detailed model, however, the tracks were awful. Each track link comprised of three parts, the main plate and two inner links right and left, doesn’t sound too bad until you realise the are no positive registers to glue the inner links to, so you are left guessing and invariably end up with a very snaky looking track and it just ruins the look of the vehicle.
There have been a whole host of complaints regarding these tracks that they have been redesigned for the St Chamond, thankfully, they are moulded in one piece and are designed the snap together, I haven’t given them a try yet so will get back to you with the build log..
In conclusion, a good kit, well detailed and should go together well, aside from tracks the schneider was every bit as good and the nicest thing is the price, at less than thirty quid for a lot of plastic it beats the Takom kit on that at least, I am going to be building it shortly so will keep you posted, oh and there is yet another French tank on it’s way, Meng’s Renault FT17 with a cast turret in 1/35 scale, small but perfectly formed!