R-35 Renault Light Infantry Tank

Published on
September 16, 2014
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Hobby Boss
Provided by: Squadron - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

I’m old enough to remember a time when Heller was the only game in town if you wanted to reproduce some of the fascinating French armor of the Second World War. Now we seem to have been presented with a number of choices, each with their good and bad points. However, permit me to discuss this particular rendition of this lovely little two-man vehicle on its own merits.

Hobby Boss has taken its own stance on reproducing this tiny machine by providing it with a complete interior, viewable through the numerous open-able hatches on the model. Frankly, this is one kit that begs for a maintenance diorama in order to show off its features -- anything else seems a waste of detail.

That said, what are we dealing with here, specifically? This is an early mark of this tank as the turret features the larger vision slots. It does not, however, come with the skid on the rear that some of the early makes mounted. It does come with an extensive interior as well as most hatches, including engine hatches, being openable. The tracks are link-and-length. It also features a metal gun barrel (tiny) and some photoetch parts that seem, to me at least, to be a bit unnecessary and fiddly. Nonetheless, both the interior and exterior are highly detailed and benefit from careful assembly.

This is an involved kit, so give yourself some time, especially if you’re doing the interior. My copy of this model came with an errata sheet which gives you the correct layout of the parts sprues. You’ll need to refer to this. The suspension is going to be the most trying part of the build, as the photoetch sheet offers bits and pieces that need to be attached while assembling, all of which require some elaborate bending. To be honest, I found them beyond my limited ability with photoetch and elected to skip them, which doesn’t seem to affect the final result significantly. Others on the web have replaced them with very thin sheet plastic, and that also seems like a suitable alternative. As the running gear is fiddly enough without these, it just seems like unnecessary aggravation. Your call. Each bogey is held in position by a couple of small pins, which means the whole thing is more than a little wobbly. After doing one side, I realized that the pins could be cut off and the bogey glued directly to hull with just a small shim to space it correctly. Much sturdier! In any case, gluing the tracks on stiffens the whole assembly up nicely.

Some of the holes/pins on parts throughout the kit are not quite compatible, so you may find that cutting other pins off and assembling by eye a more useful approach on occasion. Be sure to test fit everything, as there are a few challenges in the assembly other than the suspension, such as the engine/transmission, which is a very tight fit on the completed model. Several parts are not listed by number in the kit, and I had to search around to figure them out (C1 and C68 in Step 1 and C15 and C42 in Step 2).

I was surprised to see that the ammo racks are missing from the interior, as everything else was detailed out so beautifully. In addition, the turret interior is not as carefully finished as the hull, which seems a pity. However, the missing detail really isn’t very visible through the commander’s hatch. In order to remove the turret and show the hull interior, I elected to fill in some holes and such in the turret race, which is an easy job. The hull turret ring even features the gear teeth, so having it open for “maintenance” is a breeze.

The decals are perhaps the only real let-down in the kit, as they provide just two very bland schemes, which is surprising considering the flamboyant paint jobs available for this vehicle, including mismatched camouflage between the hull and turret to denote a commander’s tank. Decals for one of these more interesting schemes can be scrounged elsewhere, but it seems a pity they weren’t included. I opted to paint the vehicle in a fairly typical early- war French camouflage scheme, using decals from the spares pile. I’ve already got a garage repair scene in mind for the finished product, which should show it off well.

Overall a very detailed but challenging build for so small a vehicle. Take your time and you should have a lovely rendition of this classic machine. I recommend this kit with some reservations due to its complexity and engineering.

My heartfelt thanks to Hobby Boss and to IPMS/USA for the chance to build this review sample.


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