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Takom 1/35 scale St. Chamond French heavy tank

Kit:2002 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$57.95
Working tracks; uncomplicated build; outstanding rivet and hull
Box art doesn’t match the painting guide in the directions; no painting guide for the figure
Injection-molded, 488 parts, decals

With the 100th anniversary of World War I, an oft-neglected era is now being represented in a big way by several model manufacturers. Takom leads the way with its second WWI tank, the St. Chamond.

The model is molded in dark yellow plastic, the tracks in black. There is no flash and few seams and knockout marks to clean up. If you are used to busy instruction sheets, you will be pleasantly surprised by Takom’s uncluttered directions. 

I started with the upper-hull components, minus the front lower plate (E34). A bit of filler was needed on some of the joints. I opened up the side-vision slits next to the machine guns. (Later, while I was weathering the tank, I noticed I had forgotten to open the front one.) The gun is molded in halves; you may opt for a turned-metal replacement, but the kit part was fine for me.

I destroyed rivets around the top of the cupolas while removing mold seams, but there are replacement rivets on the track sprues. You can pose the middle cupola open or closed. If you choose the open option and are building Fantomas, you need to mount a spotlight inside the opening. The driver’s vision slit is a large opening with no interior detail, so I painted the interior black.

Next came the lower hull. I recommend prepainting the rollers and their housings. There is some play in the placement of parts A23 and A9 in Step 18, and parts A10, D41, and D42 in Step 22. To aid alignment, I temporarily attached parts E2 and E3; then the top return rollers can be snapped into place.

Steps 27-33 assemble the lower suspension. This assembly is fragile and needs care to avoid breakage during subsequent building and painting steps.

I did not follow the assembly sequence in Steps 28-31. Instead, I glued the inner road-wheel brackets to the lower plates first. When these were dry, I glued the wheels and outer brackets. I had to trim tabs on the inner and outer brackets to fit them into the grooves on the lower plates. Then I went back to add all of the support brackets and other details I had skipped. I did have trouble getting the U brackets (A13) to align with the base plates (A2).

I painted the hull floor and road-wheel assemblies with Tamiya dark gray (XF-24). Then I glued the floor plate and the lower plate (E34) to the upper hull.

Each track link is made of three parts; it takes 36 links per side. They’ll be workable if you are careful. Make sure the first track link has an extra set of loose parts (parts B2 and B3). These connect the ends of the track when they are placed on the tank. Then you can glue the final track shoe to complete the run.

I painted the tracks Vallejo Model Air black gray and weathered with AK Interactive washes and powders and Vallejo Panzer Aces rust colors. 

A French tanker figure is included, wearing facial armor designed to deflect shrapnel flying around the interior. No painting instructions are included for the figure; you are directed to follow the box art. I used Vallejo and Humbrol paints to match the artwork as best I could. 

Two marking options are provided, with a two-side view of one and a three-way view for the other. Both are in black and white; for color profiles, you are referred to the box art and Tamiya colors.

Choosing to model Fantomas, I found in Steven Zaloga’s book French Tanks of World War I (Osprey, ISBN 978-1-84603-513-5) that the paint scheme looked more like the first option instead of the one shown. I found another color profile on the website similar to the one in the directions. But the box art and the directions do not even match, so I chose a combination of the three color profiles.

I painted the model with a base coat of Tamiya medium gray (XF-20), then masked gray portions with Silly Putty. I did not like the green specified in the directions, so I mixed Tamiya flat green (XF-5) with yellow green (XF-4) until it looked closer to the box art. Then I brush-painted Vallejo dark yellow and Vallejo chocolate brown, the other two camouflage colors.

The decals adhered well over a gloss coat with no silvering. I did have to use Solvaset to lay them into some of the details on the hull, and I punched holes for the large rivets. Mig washes and AK Interactive streaking colors finished the weathering, and CMK powders added a touch of mud. 

With only 488 parts, the model took a surprising 40 hours to finish. Most of the time was spent assembling the tracks and painting the complex paint scheme. With no photoetched metal included, it is an uncomplicated build for anyone with a little experience.

The model compared well with the plans in GunPower 29: Schneider CA St Chamond, by Witold J. Lawrynowicz (AJ Press, ISBN 978-83-7237-196-6). Masking sets are appearing for some of the more complicated color schemes.

Takom has already announced the late version of the St. Chamond as well as other WWI tanks, delighting model fans of the Great War.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2014 FineScale Modeler.


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