I’ll forego all of the history and factual information about this tank. There is plenty of that kind of info out there on reviews and build articles. I’m focusing these days, over the next couple of years at least on WWI modeling. I’ve been interested in armor and when Meng came out with these WWI tank kits, I decided to begin with them. I bought the Whippet and the Renault FT-17, which is most likely the first “real” tank since it shares characteristics with modern tanks the other early ones do not.
Meng produces a quality kit. Excellent casting and details. Limited number of parts (that, and the poor instructions, are the main reasons I don’t build Dragon armor), a quality instruction manual makes for a fun build. Mostly. Here, then, are the gotchas:
- The fighting structure, the odd-ball compartment at the rear of the tank, is composed of many differently shaped parts put together at different angles. This makes the odds of a trouble-free assembly problematic. There will be parts slightly askew and gaps. I’d say that Meng has a ways to go in order to come up to Tamiya’s engineering standards in which it is very difficult to place a part incorrectly. Clamping will fix the misalignments. The gaps are addressed with sections of stretch sprue as fillers.
- The road wheels, all eleven thousand of them, come in two parts each. Much gluing but it goes fairly fast. However, the casting is not consistent so most of the holes through the wheels are not big enough and must be drilled out to fit the cast on axles. Or you’ll break one of the axels trying to press a road wheel on, or remove one that is on the wrong axle.
- Idlers, sprockets, road wheels and return rollers: none of these can be seen once the tracks are on. None. So, if I build another Whippet, or perhaps when I build the FT-17, I’m leaving all of these off. Properly sized stand offs from plastic, perhaps the sprue from the kit, will be much easier, probably more sturdy and much easier than messing with all the running gear. The tracks, on my model, are glued to the frame anyway.
Tracks. A neat idea to have the track pieces snap together and flexible. A bad idea to have the track pieces snap together and flexible. They don’t stay together especially when wrapping them around their frames.The sprocket doesn’t rotate, so if you get an alignment issue there, you are toast. I clipped all the visible teeth from both sprockets in order to get a reasonable fit. On the next Meng with this kind of track, I’m gluing the links together and fitting the track to the vehicle before the glue sets hard. And I’m not installing the running gear at all.
Next comes adding the small bits, which I hate because I’ll break some off anyway. Then painting, which will be a fun activity since there isn’t any so-called camouflage on this thing. Some enhancing pin washes for detail, and some “dot filters” for wear and fading. Red and white stripes and couple of decals. I’m not going for the filthy, mud-ridden look. I’ll dirty it up a bit, but keep it in pretty good condition.