Today, I received my copy of Bronco Models US Light Tank M-24 Chaffee (Early Prod.) w/crew (NW Europe 1944-45), kit #CB35069. Before I proceed, disclaimer time: while I did not assist Bronco with the M24 kit, I am currently providing them with information for several future releases. Now, back to the show!
Inside the box are 15 parts sprues, 1 lower hull tub, 14 strips of track links, a pair of 1 piece idler wheels,
a pair of sprocket drums, a M2 .50caliber MG receiver, a plastic spring for the 75mm gun mount, 1 PE fret, string for a tow cable and a decal sheet. Also included is a large, 26 page instruction manual.
The one piece lower hull tub is quite nicely detailed. All access covers appear to be present. Each torsion bar housing has a casting number molded onto it.
The upper hull is well detailed. The fenders are not too thick while teeth are molded into the turret ring. A driver's foul weather hood is included as well.
The lower front and rear plates are separate pieces. Sharing that sprue are the stowage bins that will be used on the future British version of the M24. Also included are torsion bar covers to be used on the inside of the hull.
The turret sprue features lots of nice looking parts. The turret itself is molded in two halves. The mantlet has a cast texture with casting numbers on it. One quick nitpick on the mantlet is that the snaps for the cover over the co-axial machine gun are positioned incorrectly. Take a look at your references, such a my M24 Photo Detail CD, for the correct positioning. It's a 5 minute fix.
Other turret parts include a 1 piece 75mm M6 barrel. It is the earlier collared type which was initially used on the B-25H Mitchell. Some interior details for the turret are also included such as the radio, seats, breech & main gun fire controls.
The next two pics show additional turret interior parts.
Suspension parts include final drive housings and torsion bars. Two extra sets of drive sprockets are also included.
The individual track links look pretty good as well. You get 14 strips, each strip has 12 links.
The idler wheels are cast as 1 piece and have well done lightening/mud relief openings. The drive sprocket hubs are also cast as 1 piece.
Shown above with the idlers and hubs are the M2 .50 caliber machine gun receiver and spring for the main gun mount.
Machine gun ammunition boxes and crew supplies are also included.
The PE fret and clear sprue for the vision devices.
Bronco has partnered with DML and they have provided one of their U.S. tank crew figure sets.
3 decal choices are included: Co. D, 36th Tk Bn, 8th Arm Div, Germany March '45; 81st Recce Sq, 1st Arm Div, Italy March '45; and 37th Arm Bn, 4th Arm Div, NW Europe March '45. I haven't looked at any references to check the accuracy of the markings.
Looking closely at the turret, there does appear to be an issue with the turret roof. This was originally brought up on Armorama on 16DEC2011. Bronco has lined up the roof plate weld with where the armor begins to slope downwards. On the real deal, there is a flat piece of armor between the weld and where the armor is bent downwards. I'm not sure how this will impact the dimensions of the rest of the turret. I will be measuring a couple of M24 turrets during the next 2 weeks and will post the results of my findings. I have been in contact with Bronco and sent them photos of this error. They will attempt to correct it for future kits.
In all honesty, I would never have seen this error had it not been pointed out. I think most modellers will be the same way.
Overall, at least in the box, I think Bronco did a bang up job on the kit. The turret roof issue may cause some grief for some modellers but I think most will be satisfied with the kit. I know I am.
Thanks to Rubin at Bronco Models for the sample kit.