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ATENÇÃO:
A publicação de qualquer imagem ou informação referentes ao nazismo, fascismo ou quaisquer outros regimes totalitários deve ser entendida como reprodução do rigor histórico e não como apologia a estes regimes, líderes ou símbolos.

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype - case report

 

Louez le Seigneur et passez les munitions!!

(Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!!)   

    Today we are going to meet another French vehicle from WWI. This small carrier was designed,  conceived and built to feed the hunger of the guns of the newly born French self-propelled artillery. Let's meet this mysterious girl, the prototype Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions (Renault FT tracked ammo carrier). 


Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
colorized photo of the test vehicle

History:

    Logistics has always been (and is...) one of the most important pillars of the War, since time immemorial. The need for supplies for soldiers, whether it be food or weapons, and maintenance of their equipment is simply vital. And when we talk about artillery, whether conventional or self-propelled, logistics can be summed up in one word: ammunition. The cannon is useless without the projectile it fires. And in the First World War, where artillery reigned supreme, this truth was once again confirmed. 

Image showing artillery hunger for supplies...
Stacks of empty capsules after artillery barrage at the Battle of the Somme
France - 1916

    With the advent of self-propelled artillery and the mobility that this weapon acquired, its supplies needed to be agile enough to keep up with it. Since the cannon was mounted on a vehicle equipped with tracks for all-terrain mobility, nothing more logical than the vehicles that supplied this same artillery had the same characteristic. With this in mind, many projects were planned to build tractors and ammunition carriers that could accompany the now extremely mobile self-propelled artillery.

   And a logical option would be the use of the same chassis used by the self-propelled artillery, to facilitate the maintenance logistics itself and for the similarity of performance on the Battlefield.  Renault produced a prototype in 1918 of a tracked munitions vehicle with a central drivers position and an open cargo compartment with a hinged gate at the front. The volume of the cargo compartment was 1.5m x 1.05m x 0.9m. 

The only known photo of prototype Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions

    Another problem was related to the design of the adaptation of the cargo area in the front portion of the tank, with the straight front cargo gate greatly decreasing the angle of attack, making it difficult to maneuver on the battlefield

Drawing of the vehicle in profile, from the excellent website Wardrawings
    Comparing the WarDrawings art with the existing photo, I think that the shape of the driver's casemate was a bit flatter in the drawing. I modified the Wardrawings design, lengthening the driver's station to a (in my opinion) straighter, taller profile, adding ammo craters and restoring the length of the tail, which in the drawing is too short.
   Another interesting detail is the presence of the pig-tail hook in the rear, which I only noticed in the original photo after writing this article and building (and delivering...) the kit. A very small but important detail... Too bad I didn't get to see this before the kit was delivered, but the profile drawings below and 3 views have been fixed....
The modified profile.
Notice the driver's station, a little higher and
the tail, a little longer and with the pig-tail hook

Notice the detail of pig-tail hook, in the rear of vehicle,
the same type of hook the French used later on the
 Char B1 and Char B1 Bis (see below)

Notice the pig-tail hook, in the top of
the Char B1 bis 75mm gun mantlet

    Only one prototype was produced, but it's hard to see a role for this little vehicle when the existing Renault FB Artillery Portee and Schneider CD tractor could carry much more ammunition.

Soldier inspecting the suspension of Renault FB Artillery Portee

A Schneider CD artillery tractor snorting through rough terrain,
pulling an artillery piece

   Due to its poor maneuverability and low payload capacity, the project was discontinued. The fate of the single prototype built is unknown, with the most likely dismantling.

Specs:

Renault FT Chenilles Porte Munitions
Typeammo / cargo carrier
Place of origin                  France
Service history
In servicetrials only
Used byFrance
Wars
  • World War I
Production history
Designed1918
N° built
Manufacturer
one prototype
Renault
Specifications
Mass5,5 tonnes
Length4,27 m (no skid plate)
Width1.74 m 
Height2.10 m 
Crew1 (driver)

Armor8mm
Armament
none
EngineRenault 4-cyl, 4.5 litre
gas - 39 hp @ 1500rpm
Power/weight7 hp/t 
Transmissionsliding gear;
4 fwd x 1 rev.
Suspensionvertical springs
Fuel capacity95 litres (about 8 hours)
Op. range
60 km
Max speed7 km/h

The kit:
    This is another commission work by a good friend of mine in France. Another Vargas Scale Models 3D printed kit. The history of this kit, in particular, was quite troubled: my french friend sent the kit for my construction and that same kit, along with Renault FT Chenilles 75mm Mle 1897 walked through the mazes of Transportation Companies and Customs, never being delivered, being considered as "Missing In Action" until, 6 months later, as if by miracle, they returned to my friend home, in France.          
    My colleague wrote, surprised by the Prodigal Son's return and, once again, sent the kit to me, and this time, it arrived without any problem... At least that's what I thought...
Kojak with new challenge: another French obscure girl!!!
    I opened the kit box and found a colored sheet with instructions and printed parts, in blue-gray plastic...
Varga's instruction sheet (front)

...and back.

    But when looking at the pieces, my stomach froze: many pieces were missing, according to the instructions sheet. Immortal Gods!!!
The hull and suspensions..only this in my box...
    It would be very easy to put this blame on the manufacturer's back, but honestly I think the lost parts were due to the lack of care of Customs when opening the box and that somehow the zip-lock bag with the missing parts got lost... The box was open and its contents all messed up...
   Whatever it is, I searched in the manufacturer's website and this kit is discontinued: I was looking for a photograph of the missing parts... I wrote to Luis Vargas (owner of Vargas Scale Models) on Facebook and he IMMEDIATELY answered me and offered to send the missing parts, free of charge. His service was immediate and very courteous. Luis sent me a photo of the complete set of kit parts, which I couldn't find anywhere. The photo is this:
Photo of the Vargas Scale Models flyer...
    The missing parts are: engine exhaust, towing hooks at the rear of the chassis, cargo compartment gate, upper driver's hatch, engine cover bolt and the cargo itself (ammo crates and some projectiles...)
...and the missing parts, in red.
    The problem with the postal sending these parts from the United States to Brazil is the time factor: at least 3 to 4 weeks, which would coincide with a long trip I'm going to take. When looking at the photos, I realized that I could make the missing pieces in scratch, as they are mostly straight. The only problem is the 75mm bullets, which unfortunately, I don't have them... 
    Good news: some extra (spare) parts from the Renault FT17 75 BS tank  kit will be able to be used, such as the towing hooks and the engine cover bolt. This already helps a lot!!! But let's see what we can do... 
Spare parts from Vargas's Renault FT17 75 BS tank  kit:
engine cover bolt and towing hooks.
ATTENTION: I still hadn't noticed the presence of the pig-tail hooks, described above...

    After that little thrill, let's move on... Starting by the body of vehicle !!  Thank Gods, no bent or damaged parts here... A real relief, after the scare with the Renault FT17 75 BS tank. The print lines are also much less sharp and evident... A better model, without a doubt!!!
Tank superstructure: no warpage or distortion...thank Gods!!
left view

Tank superstructure: notice internal details!!
front right view

Tank superstructure: a little fracture here, easy to fix...
rear view

The best parts: the two sets of suspensions...very well detailed...
Before cleaning...

... and the two sets of suspensions and
tank chassis after cleaning...

The two sets of suspensions glued in the tank chassis: like a glove!!
left view

The ammo carrier standing on your own feet
right side view

Renault ammo carrier: rear view
    With the suspension in place, let's build the front gate, based on the original photo and the photo of the kit parts: plasticard and Plastruct  1,2mm Tee
Building the front gate: plasticard
and Plastruct  1,2mm Tee

To make the gate rivets, we're going to use Archer's great
embossed (Large fastener heads) decals.
Notice the hinges made with thin plasticard

The fixed/scratched parts of this kit. See arrows:
red: the fractured part of the engine cover (scratch)
yellow: front cargo gate (scratch)
light blue: exhaust sistem (scratch)
green: towing hooks (spare parts)

The cargo gate in position...
internal view

The cargo gate in position...
external view

Driver's upper hatch:
hatch and hinges

Little big details. See arrows:
yellow: hatches metal handles (scratch with copper wire)
light blue: engine cover bolt (spare part)
red: cargo area gate pins and chains: a "poetic-license" detail
made in scratch with twisted and crumpled copper wire.

Notice the new exhaust, in the rear right side of the tank.

The scratch and spare parts "married" with the kit, in a very harmonic way...

Improving the crank starting system: hypodermic needle cut
 and inserted into the plastic part.

Our girl from the beginning of the last century
almost completely restored...

And finally, let's use some ammo boxes from Value Gear Details.
With this, our flapper girl will be perfect !!

After all, the cargo area is quite large...
    After everything is in place, let's get to painting. This small carrier was a prototype, with no markings or camouflage. At that time, the use of green color was very common in the French Army. therefore, we are going to use Vallejo's olive green as a primer
Vallejo olive green primer
right side view

 olive green primer
front right side view

rear view

Value Gear Details stuff under painting...

Tones of green - right side

Tones of green - leftt side

Tones of green - front view

Tones of green - rear view

Tracks in steel gray

Exhaust in red oxide
 
Ammo crates and roll bag fromValue Gear Details,
ready for the little carrier...
    Instead of filling the cargo area with crates that will "disappear" from view when they are stacked in the cargo area (and also generating weight for the kit...), how about we fill this dead area with styrofoam, to alleviate the weight on the suspension?? We save weight and resin details...
First step: making a template with cardboard...

Testing the position of the styrofoam block cut according to the template: perfect!!

Placing the load of crates on the styrofoam block, to visualize the effect:
Perfect!!

The crates fit so tightly in the cargo area that the styrofoam block disappears!
    And, as the Spaniards say: "...por si acaso!",  I still painted the corners of the styrofoam in the base color of the vehicle. The styrofoam will be glued with specific glue for styrofoam, as well as the crates of the first layer will be glued on the styrofoam with the same glue
The styrofoam block with the corners painted in the base color
of the vehicle and the specific glue for styrofoam.

Styrofoam block and first layer of boxes glued with styrofoam glue, in position.

Second layer of boxes and details, glued together with superglue!

Has anyone seen the styrofoam block around????

Starting the washes...left side

The girl with washes...right side
    And finally our little cargo girl was ready. I can tell you that it was one of the most fun projects of recent times, without a doubt... I'm starting to get addicted to these Vargas Scale Models kits: They really are a lot of fun to build!!!
   With you, the only and exclusive Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions, with her cargo being transported, in the testing fields of France, in 1918.
Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
France - 1918

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
3/4 front left view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
3/4 front left top view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
left view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
3/4 rear left view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
3/4 rear left top view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
3/4 rear right top view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
3/4 rear right view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
 right view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
3/4 front right view

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
with Kojak and Rover, the dog.

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
with Char Frot-Turnel-Laffly armoured steamroller in background.

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
with  Renault FT Chenilles 75mm Mle in background...
The Feeder and the Killer...

Renault FT Chenilles porte munitions - prototype
France - 1918

    This was a very fun construction, and the lack of parts did not affect the development of the project at all. Once again, I would like to thank Luis Vargas for his prompt customer service, even though I am not the primary purchaser of the kit. I hope that the suggestions presented in the report can be of use to the manufacturer to further improve the already very good final product.

Et n'oubliez pas:
(And don't forget)
Hey...Where's the damn ammo??
See you, soon!!!