by: Mike High [ ]
IntroductionIn 1936, British observers attending Soviet Army maneuvers were impressed by the fast BT tanks they witnessed there. The BT tanks were a modification of an American design by J. Walter Christie and Morris Motors sent a representative to the U.S.A. to purchase a tank, later designated the A13E1, and to negotiate the rights to use the Christie design. This tank was powered by a 340 BHP Liberty gasoline V-12 with armor ranging from 6 to 14 mm and the tanks battle weight was 14 tons with a governed speed of 50 kmh (31 mph). An order for 65 tanks was placed and completed in July 1939 and used by elements of the 1st Armored Division in 1940 in France.
ReviewThe kit comes packaged in a slip-top box with each sprue individually wrapped in a clear bag. The full kit consists of a 14-page instruction booklet, six sprues (217 parts) molded in olive drab plastic, the lower tub, one in clear (6 parts), one in gray (18 wing nuts), two photo-etch sheets (85 etched parts), one sheet of Cartograf decals (markings for 3 vehicles), and two rubber-band style one piece tracks.
This review is strictly an “In-Box” review of the kit’s contents. Information about the vehicle is sketchy at this time, so I will not be able to cover accuracy issues, if any, as it relates to this particular vehicle and instead focus on the kit parts themselves.
I'll start with the lower tub which has nice access-plate detail on the underside and with Sprue B that deals with the tank’s upper superstructure and the two outer hull panels that cover the suspension. Due to the design, all that will be seen are the arms for the road wheels. There are several ejector pin marks on the underside of the top and those on the fenders will need to be addressed as they will be visible. The details on the exterior portions are quite crisp.
Sprue C1 & C2 (left and right side) deal with the suspension and consist of the road wheels, drive sprockets, idlers, suspension parts, exhaust, and other parts. The sprues are designed so that the road wheels have the ejector marks, but they will not be visible once assembled however the idlers will need their marks covered and the drive sprockets have large ejector “stems” that will need to be removed. The suspension and other parts are well detailed with slight seam lines that will need to be cleaned up.
Continuing on with Sprue D which has the front and rear sand skirts, exhaust cover, hull parts, transmission parts, and various fender accoutrement's. Again, detail is nice and clean and any ejector marks should be hidden when assembled. Sprue E deals with the various hatches and vehicle tools (OVM). Clean up here will be very minimal, but care will need to be taken when removing some of the very thin parts from the sprues.
Sprue G features the clear parts for the lights, rear view mirror, and lenses. The “headlight” cover is all clear and one will need to be careful when painting the non-clear portion (much like the canopy of an aircraft kit). Sprue H is made up mostly of the turret parts. The commander’s cupola is made up of no less than 15 parts so alignment and positioning will need to be closely watched during assembly. The detail is quite fine and very little clean up would be needed.
The kit provides 2 one-piece rubber band type tracks. My sample has two areas where the molding process did not fully complete resulting in two deformed “links” and some flash that will need to be removed. These areas should not be difficult to “hide” once the kit is built (the offending area could be hidden at the “2 o’clock” position on the idlers for example) but it is a detractor in terms of overall quality. The kit also includes a sprue with small wing nuts but neither the instructions or the illustrations indicate where these go, so pictorial references would be needed should one desire to install these.
A Cartograf decal sheet is included with markings for three different vehicles in Britsh service. The colors are quite vivid and the register is excellent. 2 photo-etch frets are include and, for some reason, the PE frets have been laminated between two thin films of plastic. As all the parts still have the “normal” attachment points, care will be needed when removing this film so that the finer parts are not damaged in the process. I would recommend slowly pulling the film off with tweezers and as you get close to an attachment point, holding that area with another set of tweezers – this should alleviate the possibility of warping/bending/damaging the part. The number and quality of the etch parts should make both experienced and novice builders content; not too much, not too little. The PE for the antenna base will definitely add to the appeal as well as the clips/straps, added transmission parts, and the like.
Last but not least, the instructions are reasonably well done and include paint colors for Gunze Sangyo, Hobby Color, Humbrol, and Tamiya. They pretty clearly define what goes where, but not necessarily “when.” The best advice is to thoroughly compare the instructions to the parts and assembly sequence. While you may be working on one section, the instructions may well show that another section should have been completed, yet when you turn the page, that’s when you’re supposed to do something that was shown previously to have been completed. End result: pay attention to where you are in the instructions and the current parts being worked on – ignore something that is shown to have already been done, but may not be done until the “next page.” Annoyance? Sure. Issue? Shouldn’t be if you're paying attention and are forewarned!
ConclusionConsidering the subject vehicle was a low-production run based on a Christie chassis, it is a unique offering from Bronco. Aside from numerous ejector pin marks/stems, the quality of the molding process (seams, flash, et al) is good and on par with the other popular manufacturers. The addition of the large PE fret is certainly a bonus as these parts do add considerable finer details and the Cartograf decals are sharply done. Attention will need to be paid to the instructions, but this should not create any difficulties. All in all, this should build up into a nice early British vehicle.