Kit Preview : 1/76 Cromwell Combat Ready Renault R35

About the manufacturer
Cromwell's Combat Ready range combines simplicity and an excellent level of detail. Unfortunately the individual models are a bit of hit and miss. If they are accurate they are near perfect, otherwise they are cast-offs as one piece hulls don't lend themselves well to modifications. The bad kits are not really bad just not to scale.

About the vehicle
The Renault R35 was the standard Infantry light tank in 1940. It is similar in performance and size to the Hotchkiss H35, its Cavalry counterpart. It was grouped in independent BCC's (Bataillons de chars de combat or tank battalions) which were pure tank formations attached at the Army level. They were not a success, being slow, underarmed, devoid of radio communication and having an overburdened tank commander acting as gunner and loader in the one man turret. Furthermore combined arms cooperation was not the French's strong suit in 1940 and these tanks often found themselves isolated without infantry support and in many cases had to withdraw after an initial advance due to their inability to hold terrain by themselves.
After 1940 R35's saw action with Vichy French force in Syria in 1942 and North Africa in 1942. The Germans reused many as second line tanks or converted them into SPG's. Some ended up in the Syrian Army after WW2 and were engaged in the first Israeli Arab war in 1948.

Click here for the Wikipedia article on the R35.

About the kit

The kit is a simple 2 pieces, a one piece hull and the turret. I matched it with a scaled down Bradford drawing and it comes up short by a couple mm. The other dimensions are OK but the nose and tracks are too short. The latter is frequent with Cromwell tracked vehicles. Wheels seem to be always a fraction too small and you end up with 3 to 5 mmm missing over the length of the track. See the Cromwell Sherman reviews for another example.
Aleran decals make a sheet of markings for French 1940 R35's.

Here is the completed model with some ad hoc improvements. All bubble holes and missing/misscast details were built up with wax. Details were added from plastic rod (exhaust, mirror, light, horn) or strip (lifting hooks on the turret (3 large, 3 small), missing track guide teeth), or the spares box (spare wheel, axe, tow hook and 4 eyes). The engine cover handle and tie-downs are metal.

Updated on 2/21/2011