Laffley V15T with Hotchkiss Machine Gun

Published on
December 15, 2022
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: ICM - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: ICM - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

In my last review concerning this interesting French vehicle, I described how the prototype was developed in 1938 with some of the most advanced mechanical technology of the day. The distinctive look of the machine is based on a double set of “bumper” wheels placed both in the center and the front of the chassis, designed to make the vehicle far more capable in an off-road capacity. Overall, only about 200 of these vehicles were manufactured before the fall of France, with most of them never seeing combat. Those that survived were largely converted by the occupying German forces into utility and radio cars for the Wehrmacht.

The original kit consisted of 6 sprues of well-detailed parts as well as vinyl main wheels. This iteration includes an additional small sprue which contains a machine gun pintle, two different versions of the Hotchkiss machine gun dating back to World War One, and a single box of additional ammunition.

Construction begins with the chassis, which includes all drive shaft and suspension parts, some of which are quite fragile and require care in removing from the sprues. The rear suspension is particularly fragile, but a helpful template is provided to aid in positioning. Notably, the portion of the rear chassis which mounts the main towing hook can be removed from the build, but assembled as is, the machine actually features two towing hooks.

Overall, the main challenge is the mounting of the various tires, none of which has a really sure lock for positioning. I spent a good deal of time adjusting all the wheels as the glue dried, making sure that everything was aligned evenly. Even so, the rear wheels popped off shortly after my first photography session, so I reinforced the axles with superglue, which seemed to do the trick. Surprisingly, all wheels met the ground evenly, despite my concerns.

The engine is a nice little model in an of itself, and takes seventeen construction steps to complete. The Main body is composed of multiple parts, but fits together so well that there are only light seams at the edges to scrape off. No filling was needed anywhere in the assembly. There is an optional jump seat included beyond the main four seats, which I did not install as it would interfere with the machine gun mount. I did find that scraping the padded seats a bit to show some wear was worthwhile, as ICM tends to depict all padded seats as factory-fresh, which doesn’t always look good. The driver’s section was extensively detailed, with every lever and foot pedal depicted as separate parts.

The addition of the machine gun is so modest an addition to the main kit that its part listing and subassembly is included in an addendum page rather than in the main instructions, which remain unchanged. In fact, nothing in the kit, including the decal selection, is altered in any other way.

Painting is pretty simple – French artillery green. If you can source the old Heller 25mm AT gun, then you’ve got a pretty good representation of a typical load for this vehicle.

All in all, this is a lovely kit with nice detail, but I have to admit to a mild bit of disappointment that ICM didn’t do a bit more. On the internet I recently spotted a three-axle version of this vehicle sporting a 25mm AT gun with shield in its cargo bed. I’m not sure such a version ever actually saw combat, but it would have been a really interesting variation. Even so, it’s an eye-catching vehicle and will definitely look nice in a number of different diorama scenarios. I commend ICM for making yet another version of this unique machine (albeit a fairly modest version) and hope they continue exploring the more esoteric military vehicles of this era. Heartily recommended!

As always, my thanks to ICM for the review kit and to IPMS/USA for letting me take a look at this charming little kit. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!


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