The following is as supplied by Bronco Models:
In 1940 the Canadian Government decided to build a Cruiser tank for the Canadian army, using parts from the US M3 Lee. The first pilot tank was ready by November 1941, using the entire M3 lower hull, but with new cast upper hull and turret. The first 50 tanks were designated the Ram Mk I and mounted a 2 Pounder gun. However the main production version would be the Mk II with a powerful 6 Pounder anti-tank gun. Unfortunately the 6 Pounder was not ready until April 1942, and by this time the American M4 Sherman was entering mass production. The Ram was no longer needed as a combat tank, but was produced as a training tank. The Ram Mk II weighed 29 tons and had armour up to 87mm thick. Powered by a 400bhp Continental R-975 radial, the Ram had a maximum road speed of 40 km/h. The 6 Pounder gun could penetrate 90mm of armour at 1,000 meters, using APCBC ammunition. The early Ram Mk II's had side doors in the hull sides and a machine gun sub-turret, which were eliminated in later versions. Some 2,032 Ram tank were built and were used for training both in Canada and in the UK. A few Ram tanks were used in action as Armoured Observation Post (AOP) and Gun Position Officer (GPO) tanks with the Royal Canadian Artillery regiments. Many Ram's had their turrets removed and were converted to Ram Kangaroo heavy APC's, or gun tractors, these being used in N. W. Europe 1944-45. In 1945 Ram tanks were used to equip two Dutch armoured battalions, remaining in service until replaced with Centurion tanks in 1952. The Ram tank was used as the basis of the highly successful Sexton 25 Pdr Self Propelled Gun.
This offering from Bronco Models finally provides Canada with a model of their tank offering during World War Two, and if had not been for the Sherman I am sure would have had high usage. This offering is supplied in the usual manner from Bronco Models, a cardboard tray with separate card lid. Inside the parts are protected inside individual plastic bags: at a time where plastic is getting a very bad name I wonder if manufacturers could start placing sheets of paper between sprues to cut done on the single use plastic usage. The photo etch is packed alongside the decal sheet and is again inside a plastic bag. The instruction booklet is the usual high quality glossy offering favoured by Bronco Models.
The lower hull of this offering is supplied as separate parts in the form of floor, front, back and sides. This approach can make having a square tub difficult but the positive is that the detail is usually far better than that of a rigid tub. My suggestion here would be that as the rear of the hull is assembled prior to the tub and is added after the lower hull is assembled, add the front and rear at the same time as the sides as this should ensure the hull tub is as it should be. What I believe are the exhausts are particularly highly detailed and are one of the locations where very fine photo etch is utilised. The photo etched grills are a pleasing inclusion despite not really being seen. I like that Bronco Models has supplied a basic firewall between the engine bay and what would be the crew compartment and the crew area (I suspect this is a hint at a Kangaroo in the works).
Looking at the suspension offered here and it is very well detailed due to an increased number of parts, I should say that the parts are not excessive in number just higher than usual representations of this type of bogie. The suspension units are not workable but the wheels are still able to rotate and so easier to paint after assembly. My visual reference is restricted to the Ram Kangaroo at Bovington Tank Museum that I photographed; this vehicle does have the five spoke road wheels on it on some stations and so I accept that these were used on at least some vehicles. The stud pattern and teeth on the drive sprockets are a perfect match for the photographs I took. The idler wheel has the six spoke pattern which again is a perfect match for my reference as is the six stud pattern around the centre hub.
The tracks for this offering are each made up of five parts and will remain workable if care is taken with the glue. I will say that the thought of tackling five parts for each link fills me with dread, but it does mean that the result is a very realistic in appearance. I do wish that Bronco Models had designed a jig to make assembly a less daunting prospect due to the need to produce 168 links to cover both runs.
Looking at the upper hull and Bronco Models has replicated a beautiful cast texture that is hard to appreciate until it is in your hands. If looking for a negative to the casting texture all that could be said is that it is very regular rather than a random pattern. The engine deck has a nice photo etched grill cover and also the fuel filler caps are separate detail. The tools mounted here have moulded clamp detail which will not please everyone but for those that must have separate tools and clamps the aftermarket serves you well. The photo etched guards for the lights are a vast improvement than can be managed in plastic, but being made of two pieces does make them harder to use than I would have liked. There are some very small photo etch elements that I know will make some of you pull your hair out, but in the defence of Bronco Models at least they did supply the detail. Bronco Models has supplied the tow cable in copper twist and while this is superior to string and vinyl and may well please some modellers I would look to the RMG generic metal cables as they are unbeatable in my opinion. The cable is held in place via photo etch clamps.
Looking at the turret and we again get that beautiful casting texture on all of the relevant surfaces. The main gun and machine guns have been slide moulded and so have the needed openings at the muzzles with full detail on the machine guns including the bodies of the weapons. The main gun can be elevated if so desired. The hatches have nice detail on both faces but there is an ejection pin mark on the inner face of the hatch doors. The photo etch used on the turret in minimal and should not prove too difficult to utilise. There are a number of small details that should make this a realistic feature of the model.
Bronco Models has provided decals for two machines in Canadian use and these are:
ĎAí Squadron, Grey and Simcoe Foresters, 3rd Canadian Tank Brigade, Great Britain 1942
2nd Armoured Regiment, Lord Strathconaís Horse (Royal Canadians), 5th Armoured Division
This model is a fairly easy build with the exception of some of the photo etch elements and it should also be a quick build for the most part other than those tracks. The detail is of a very high standard as I have come to expect from Bronco Models. I appreciate the slide moulding of the barrel and machine guns. The star of this release for me is the cast texture present where needed and while it may not meet with everyoneís approval it does satisfy me; some light sanding where wished will remove the uniformity of this feature if so desired.
Darren Baker takes a look at the latest Bronco Models release in the form of a 1/35th scale Canadian Cruiser Tank Ram Mk II Early Production.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...