|Trumpeter 1/72 Char B1 bis
|I've always liked the look of the Char B1; to me it's the "missing
link" between the trapezoidal WWI British tanks and the more modern
designs of WWII onwards. I'd very nearly given up hope of ever seeing one
in the manly scale and didn't really want to give the old Matchbox 1/76th
scale version a go. I've never seen one, but based on some of their other
armour kits I'd had in my posession over the years I didn't expect good
|So once again we can thank Trumpeter for coming to the rescue with a great
little kit. Having seen the sprues of the Tamiya 1/35th version on the net
it looks to me like this is more or less a scaled down version of that kit.
The big giveaway being the odd holes moulded in the bottom of Tamiya's kit
(for a future motorised release perhaps?) which Trumpeter has faithfully
copied. The road wheels are thankfully simplified in the small scale kit
into beautifully done one piece slide-moulded parts (see pic below) which
would probably have sufficed in the larger scale as well since you can't
see much of them on the finished model.
|There are some strange anomalies however that Trumpeter obviously didn't copy from Tamiya. The driver's hatch &
vision block are complete fabrications that bear little resemblance to the real thing. The hooks on the rear
hull are not included despite holes being moulded for them to fit into and the tow hooks are missing as well.
All of these issues are fairly easy to fix, though I must confess I didn't even notice the hatch & vision block
problems until I read Miro Baric's very good review at "On The Way"
which can be seen here.
I modified the vision block by filing
off the angled bottom and drilling and filing the opening into a rectangular hole, the visor being made from
.020" sheet. A new driver's hatch was scratchbuilt and the missing tow and rear stowage hooks were added from
fuse wire & brass wire respectively. I also added the long hinge straps on the side hatch which were
conspicuous by their absence from the mouldings. The round indentation on this hatch (which I think is
something to do with the locking mechanism) was bigger on some Char B1s, Bourrasque included, so I drilled this
out to enlarge it.
|(Click thumbnails to change image)
|The tracks are Trumpeter's usual one piece vinyl types but they are superbly moulded, though slightly too long.
I cut one link out and the fit was much better. The other standard item was the instruction sheet; good for
assembly but not so good at telling you which pieces went with which version. For instance, both early and late
fenders & exhausts are included but there is no mention of which of the two markings options they are
applicable to. The options are No. 257 Bourrasque from 15e BCC 1ère compagnie & No. 481 Vercingetorix from 46e
BCC 3e compagnie. As much as I like the three colour camo of the latter I chose Bourrasque, though I'm not
entirely convinced it wore the camouflage scheme depicted. In the Minitracks Char B1 book there is a picture of
Bourrasque and it looks very much like there was a black outline to the turret camouflage, leading me to
believe that the turret at least was painted in the three colour Renault scheme. Still, 257 is almost always
depicted in the two colour camo (and I think this is something else Trumpeter copied from Tamiya as the same
two options with the same camouflage patterns are offered in that kit) and pictures aren't clear enough to say
with any certainty one way or the other so I painted mine the same way. Who am I to argue...?!
|Paint is Humbrol Dark Green and a 60/40 mix of Dark Yellow & Light
Stone, weathering is done with washes of black and Dark Earth. I lightly
dry brushed silver on the tracks to represent wear. Decals were very nice
though the blue was noticeably out of register so I carefully trimmed the
white outline of the hearts to correct this and overpainted the tiny heart
on the lamp housing with blue and white. The roundel was trickier. I managed
to find a Turkish aircraft roundel in my collection of decal spares which
was the right size and proportion so I punched out the blue centre of the
kit roundel and overlaid this on the Turkish marking. Works for me...
|All in all a great little kit of a long awaited subject, despite the oddities.
to 1/72 Armour Main