Renault FT 17

Kit:RPM, 1/72; bought for $14.48 in 2013. Model finished on 2020-04-24.
Aircraft:"68129" (Finnish number #22), c/n 9050, 2./II/H.V.R. (Tank Regiment), Finnish Army, early 1920s.
Renault FT 17 in 1/72

Renault FT 17 in 1/72

Renault FT 17 in 1/72

Renault FT 17 in 1/72

The Renault FT 17 (or simply FT) was the first tank of what we now consider to be the modern tank design, with separate crew and engine compartments, and a rotating turret with a cannon. Introduced during WW I and built in large numbers both in France as well as in the US and other countries, it formed the backbone of many armies' armored units in the 1920s. The Finnish Army purchased 32 FTs from France in 1919 and later received an additional two vehicles; many of these served until WW II.

Many of these tanks can today be found in various museums. The last remaining Finnish FT is preserved at the Finnish Armor Museum.

Renault FT 17in 1/72

Size comparison with an ordinary soda can

Renault FT 17

Renault FT 17 preserved at the Finnish Armor Museum. Note that this is not the same vehicle as the one represented by the model.

Construction Notes

I saw the FT at the Finnish Armor Museum when I was a little kid, and ever since wanted to build a model of this tank. The RPM kit was an opportunity for me to fulfill my dream. The kit is quite accurate and well detailed, with the problem that many of the small parts are hard, if not impossible, to remove from the sprues. I ended up scratch building a lot of the detail. An article in FineScale Modeler January 2012 describes a project building the M1917 variant of RPM's kit, and conveys a very similar experience.

The armor plates on both sides of the driver's viewport had to be replaced. I built some parts of the suspension from scratch, including making coil springs from thin brass wire by twisting it around an opened paperclip. The 37 mm cannon was replaced with styrene and brass tube parts. The muffler would not come off the sprues cleanly and was built from various sized of Evergreen styrene rods. The shovel on top of the equipment box in the rear was scratch-built to better match the ones shown on old Finnish photographs.

Renault FT 17 in 1/72

Scratch-built details of the suspension

Renault FT 17 in 1/72

Main components before airbrushing

Renault FT 17 in 1/72

Main components after airbrushing

Renault FT 17 in 1/72

Test-fitting the main components

The model was painted with Tamiya acrylics. The camouflage consists of Desert Yellow, NATO Green and NATO Brown, with a 1:10-diluted "filter" of Flat Earth airbrushed to tone down the contrast between the different colors; in black-and-white period photographs the differences between the camouflage colors are hard to see. Markings came from the kit decals. Finally the model was sealed with Future floor wax followed by Testors' Dullcote. Some light weathering was done using materials from Tamiya and AK Interactive.

Other Kits of the Same Subject

Articles in Military Illustrated Modeller and IPM/USA Journal (see references below) have articles on building and superdetailing Meng's 1/35th scale kit of the Renault FT. There are a number of kits of this subject, including RPM's own kit in 1/35th scale, Takom's 1/16th, and an old Matchbox kit in 1/76th scale.

References Used

  1. IPMS Mallari (IPMS Finland journal) #52 (1985) and #58 (1987)
  2. FT-17/M1917 WWI Tanks Walk Around (Doyle); Armor Walk Around 23; Squadron/Signal Publications 2011
  3. my reference photos taken at the Finnish Armor Museum in June 2012
  4. Fine Scale Modeler January 2012
  5. IPMS/USA Journal July + August 2019
  6. Military Illustrated Modeller August 2014

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