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Armor/AFV: Allied - WWII
Armor and ground forces of the Allied forces during World War II.
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Build Blog - Bronco Hotchkiss H38/39
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 04:44 AM UTC


As a continuation of the recent Review of the new Bronco Hotchkiss H38/39 kit, I will be showing the progress as I go along. Anybody that feels they can add to the build with extra information or tips, please join in. Its my first French tank and first Bronco kit for that matter.
I bought Trackstory #6 on this model and its great for background information, period shots and colour profiles, but there´s very little on the interior. So my main source for details is the Chars-Francais.net site. Theres 285 images on the Hotchkiss, including both period and museum clips.
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 04:49 AM UTC
The introduction I wrote to the review ended up being too long, so the text included in the review is taken from the introduction on the kit instructions by Phil Greenwood.

So now that I wrote it, I might as well throw it in here for those that are interested.

The “Société des automobiles Hotchkiss” was created around 1867, by the American Mr. B.B. Hotchkiss. Totally French from 1888 and concentrating on small artillery and machine guns, it wasn’t until 1904 that the first armoured cars were built by Hotchkiss. With the only sales being to Turkey, the company then turned to the production of the machine guns that were installed in French tanks.
In 1933 with the Renault FT17 largely considered obsolete, the director of Hotchkiss, Mr. Ainsworth starts talks with the GHQ. The initial turretless prototype designs are rejected, as the armour thickness is considered inadequate, the engine is overloaded and the rubber tracks wear down too quickly. The third prototype with thicker armour and new APX R turret attracts interest from the French Cavalry and its light mechanised division, because of the speed (12Km/hr faster than Renault’s equivalent) and the cheaper price. They order 200 and soon the Infantry follow suit and orders another 100 examples.
This model is designated the H35 and there are 400 of these made, although small design changes and improvements are made, throughout its production timeframe. In 1938, the design was improved with thicker armour and a more powerful 120hp engine, which necessitated changes to the rear hull and engine compartment. Other improvements are adopted too, such as solid idlers, metal tracks (width also increased from 25cm to 27cm to increase cross-country capability), muffler is moved and now facing to the rear and the ventilators on the front are made round. The tank is now better powered and can reach 36.5 km/h on road, but it unfortunately reduces the range from 150km to 120km. This new version is designated “char léger modéle 1938 série D”, but in Hotchkiss’s own paperwork, it is officially known as the “char léger modéle 1935 H modifié 1939.
The H38/39 was further updated with the longer SA38 barrel, which increased armour penetration from 15mm to 30mm, and with a trench-crossing tailskid, as were some H35s sent in for upgrades. By the fall of France, 400 H35s and 700 H38/39s were produced, but not enough had been completed with the final improvements, meaning the tank never really was effective. Too many tanks having the obsolete SA18 gun, under armoured, only a 2-man crew and the lack of a radio system, fell quickly to the German panzers.
The German army salvaged 600 – 800 (depending on source info) and these and were modified to suit or even used as different SPGs. Some tanks were sent to Russia in 1941, but the majority were modified into gun tractors, ammunition or weapon carriers.

Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 05:06 AM UTC
Step 1






Fit of the parts is easy enough, but the plastic appears to have a blend with another, that has rubber-like properties .... probably to ease the moulding process ... and it makes clean-up annoying. The little plastic threads created, don´t brush off with my normal stiff-brush approach, so they have to be scraped off with a sharp blade. Using some thin Model Master cement helps as well, to keep the edges tidy.

You should be aware at this point, there will be a fit problem with the interior assemblies. See Terry Ashleys construction notes for the interior on PMMS. Although these points are in relation to the first release, the parts will have the same fit problems with this release.
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 05:10 AM UTC
Step 2






Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 05:14 AM UTC
Step 3






Part A9 hasn´t been added yet ... I´ll wait until I do what ever trimming is needed, to insert the Step 3 -Gearbox / Driveshaft / Cooler assembly.
CMOT
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ARMORAMA
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 05:15 AM UTC
Frank looking at the pieces you have put pictures up of here, the plastic looks very soft/flexible, is this the case or just the picture that I have misinterpreted?
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 05:23 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Frank looking at the pieces you have put pictures up of here, the plastic looks very soft/flexible, is this the case or just the picture that I have misinterpreted?


Hi Darren. Its not that its flexible, but theres definatly a blend with something (rubber or a synthetic rubber) to either ease the moulding process, or to capture fine details. Im guessing along the lines of Dragon styrene, but maybe not as much or a different compound. Can´t explain it much better than that. Anybody else build recent Bronco kits and have the same concerns?
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 05:42 AM UTC
Step 4






Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 05:51 AM UTC
Step 5










Thats the basic interior steps complete. I suppose its up to each modeller how far they want to take this. Im going to add some basic plumping and wiring before painting, using the Chars-Francais site as reference.
Looking through that site, a lot of images are shown with the front and engine hatches open, so I guess Im going to do that with the model as well. I´ll have to add the fenders and nose section for that, so will leave the instruction sequence until, I close it up for good. Thats it for now.
210cav
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 07:05 AM UTC
Frank-- looking good. How are the tracks?
DJ
whittman181
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 08:01 AM UTC
Frank , you certainly make following along easy Thanks for an interesting build Bob
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 10:28 AM UTC
Thanks DJ and Bob for the comments.
The tracks look very tidy but are attached at the track-pin area on both sides ... so there wont be detail at this point ... although it will make them very easy to snip off and clean. haven´t got as far as building them yet ... tune in later!!
Drader
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Posted: Monday, September 08, 2008 - 09:19 PM UTC
Hi Frank

You are twisting my arm to get my Bronco H-39 out of the box

The interior really needs the large ammunition bin adding, so I'll have to overcome my lack of enthusiasm for bending large bits of PE to fill the gap. I've had a look at the chars francais page for the H-39 and it's evident that interior photos 37, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 56 are of a Renault and not the Hotchkiss. It also shows nicely the position of the turret traverse gearbox and handwheel on the LHS of the turret - in their original kit Bronco put the handwheel on the coax instead of a drum magazine. Has the reissue sorted this bit of madness?

Most of what I've learned about the H-39 applies to the outside though, since I've only tackled the Heller and Trumpeter kits so far. Did you get hold of the Trackstory book BTW?

David
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - 09:54 AM UTC
Hi David. Im twisting that arm of yours do hard you´re gonna hear it snap soon.
Yes please ... get it out .. and feel free to use this thread if you want .... should be fun. I have a lot to learn about these French tanks. They´re nothing Ive ever considered building before.

I tired to scratch some items for the interior, but I was limited to the plastic profiles I had. Didn´t find any details of the engine area, so the plumbing I made is totally bogus. Considering the view will be limited, it´ll do the job and gives an impression of some details.

Yes I got the trackstory book ... from Net Merchants. Very good introduction to the history and developemnt of the Hotchkiss and then colour profiles, but nothing really for model builders ...details wise ....especially the interior. Easy to read, compared with some books on similar subjects.

Quoted Text

I've had a look at the chars francais page for the H-39 and it's evident that interior photos 37, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 56 are of a Renault and not the Hotchkiss.


I dont know if we are looking at the same page ... the images Im seeing of the interior are between 227 and 285! Are you looking at the H35 page?
I´ll post some images as soon as I can.
Drader
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Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - 09:23 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Yes I got the trackstory book ... from Net Merchants. Very good introduction to the history and developemnt of the Hotchkiss and then colour profiles, but nothing really for model builders ...details wise ....especially the interior. Easy to read, compared with some books on similar subjects.

I dont know if we are looking at the same page ... the images Im seeing of the interior are between 227 and 285! Are you looking at the H35 page?
I´ll post some images as soon as I can.



I spent ages looking through the Trackstory book trying to work out where the support for the aft end of the exhaust went without much luck. Made an educated guess in the end based on a PE set and the position of one of the ribs on the exhaust (but only after I'd sanded the rib off). Of course the exhaust on the Saumur one is a modern replacement.

The interior photos on the H-39 page are identified as h39_saumurXXphotos c balmefrezol, with XX standing for a two digit number. This is what I was referring to, sorry for not making it clearer.

David
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Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - 09:41 PM UTC
Some more thoughts

This nice period colour image shows the support for the exhaust really well, and also how it relates to the ribs on the exhaust. Wish I'd seen it earlier....



It also shows one of the strange French tool clamps which were held on by bolts. The one visible is on the side of the engine compartment and is for the pick. The rest of the tools on the RHS seem to have been held on collectively by a couple of long strips rather than individually, which is why the spade looks to be at a strange angle in photos. Bet the PE doesn't replicate it either.....

Are you going for a figure? There may be issues with that as most of the markings are for cavalry tanks and of course their crews had different uniforms to infantry tank crews and all the available figures I've seen are for infantry tanks. Luckily it doesn't require that much conversion to get an approximation. But no leather jackets for the cavalry

Probably more to ramble on through as the thread progresses

All the best

David
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Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - 11:11 PM UTC
Nice going so far Frank,
Also giving me some drive to get my own H38 finished! I was building the trumpeter kit and ran into trouble with the rear idlers which ended up in me unfortunately losing interest.

Just a point however, if building this in french colours (and possibly in german for that matter) I beleive it was french practice to paint some interior components such as the transmission in quite a bright green colour, rather than the white specified in the instructions.

I prepare to be corrected by David however, who gave me no end of tips on my own build.

Good luck with the rest of the work, so far so good!

James
Drader
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Posted: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - 11:38 PM UTC
Mmmm trying hard to remember now whether I've seen any period interior photos - the only one I can think of at the moment is of the ammunition bin, which isn't much help....

Anyway, it was this thread that convinced me I should look at the Eduard set

http://www.colleurs-de-plastique.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24302

David
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Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - 12:26 AM UTC
Frank,looks like your off to another cool build.I like the subject.With what you've gotting done so far,it's pretty impressing.Dose the part's fit alright or is there alot of sanding? can't wait to see updates.
Jamesite
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Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - 01:41 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Mmmm trying hard to remember now whether I've seen any period interior photos - the only one I can think of at the moment is of the ammunition bin, which isn't much help....

Anyway, it was this thread that convinced me I should look at the Eduard set

http://www.colleurs-de-plastique.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24302

David



The Eduard set for theTrumpeter kit was definately worth it, as it adds a lot of much needed detail. The set for the Bronco kit looks even better from these pics and so i'd definately recommend it.

James
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 - 09:16 AM UTC
Hi guys. Thanks for your comments. I wasn’t aware of any etch sets for this kit ... probably wouldn’t have had time to get it anyway.
Well here goes my first real attempt at scratch building. The ammo bin is much shorter than it should be, but considering what’s going to be seen through the front hatches, when finished, this should be OK. I’m quite happy with the result so far ... even though I know some things are exaggerated. Just need to add a spring mechanism on the upper hull for the front hatch and then its painting time. The engine plumbing is totally bogus … might even close the engine hatch … we’ll see what its like after painting!







Plasticbattle
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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 - 09:31 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Are you going for a figure?


Im thinking something like the image below .... with a German figure, maybe two. For time reasons, Im also thinking of setting this on the base I made originally for the kleiner Panzerbefehlswagen I ... possibly even with a thrown track.





Thats the general idea at the moment ... buts it could change!!
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 - 09:37 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Just a point however, if building this in french colours (and possibly in german for that matter) I beleive it was french practice to paint some interior components such as the transmission in quite a bright green colour, rather than the white specified in the instructions.


Hi James. Thanks for dropping in. Thats my intentions ... gaudy green for the gearbox, drive shaft .. pale blue for the exhaust and red for the extinguisher. Loads of contrast and weathering .... this is all experimental for me ... never really did much with interior before ... so Im having some fun with it!


Quoted Text

Dose the part's fit alright or is there alot of sanding?


Hi Jeff. Generally the fit is good .. but with any kit, there is still some clean up. I couldn´t say the parts are as neat as the Dragon quality we´ve gotten used to recently, but nothing any average modeller can´t do easily. The biggest problem is the plastic used. I don´t like it ... see my earlier comments on this.
Bratushka
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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 - 10:01 AM UTC
Hi! I just started Bronco's German H39 Befehlspanzer Observation Vehicle, Kit CB-35003. The vehicle is basically the H39 tank sans turret, modified after the Germans captured them. I think am really fortunate that I found this build so early in the process. I really look forward to following it and I found the PMMS link especially helpful. My first scare in my build came in looking at the transmission shaft image, part C9, in the instructions and then seeing it on the sprue. It was so much shorter! At first I thought a piece had either broken off or it hadn't been molded properly. I was happy when I saw it was OK. The track assemblies don't give me a warm fuzzy feeling in general. The instructions don't have the best imaging for directional orientation so I hope when you get to that part your description will shed some light on that.

Thanks for posting this and to those that contributed the links and photos on this tank.
Plasticbattle
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Posted: Friday, September 12, 2008 - 10:20 AM UTC
Thanks Jim. I´ll see if I can dig up some good images that help with the tracks orientation. hadn´t given it much thought myself yet!! But its something I´ll need to do for myself anyway!!