Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bronco Models 1/35 M24 Chaffee: what's inside the box

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.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy holidays everyone!

I just wanted to wish everyone a happy and prosperous holiday season!  Thank you for checking out my blog and website, Toadman's Tank Pictures on a regular basis.  Hopefully, I'll be able to keep adding new content to satisfy your armor reference needs during the upcoming year.

Take care everyone!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Book review: The Face of Courage

The Face of Courage, written by Florian Berger.  This 600 page book was originally published in 2007 by J.J. Fedorowicz and is now published in paperback by Stackpole BooksThe Face of Courage chronicles the exploits of 98 German soldiers who won both the Knight's Cross and Close-Combat in Gold.  Unlike the British Victoria Cross, Soviet "Hero of the Soviet Union" or American Congressional Medal of Honor, the Knight's Cross was awarded for numerous acts of bravery in battle.  The Close Combat Clasp had 3 levels: bronze for 15 days of close combat; silver for 25 days of close combat; and gold for 50 or more days of close combat.  To be awarded both the Knight's Cross and Close Combat Clasp in Gold meant you were someone very special.

In his writing, the author takes each of the 98 documented winners of both awards and describes them with a brief biography starting with when and where they were born along with the early military service.  He then goes on to describe the various actions the individuals took part in along with the various decorations they were awarded.  Photos are abundant in the book with wartime photos of the individuals provided in their respective sections.  Post war photos, if available, are also provided.  The finishes with a chapter covering disputed or unconfirmed winners of both awards.

Overall, I feel the author does a good job with the subject. It was fascinating to read of the exploits of these soldiers in action.  Many of these individuals were wounded numerous times.  Needless to say, many did not survive the war.

A highly recommended read.

Thanks to Chris Evans at Stackpole Books for the review sample.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Squadron Walk Around: M26 Dragon Wagon by David Doyle

I received my copy of David Doyle's latest walk around today, M26 Dragon Wagon, #67025/#27025.  It follows the normal Squadron Walk Around format.  This volume contains 80 pages of mostly color photos.  Contents includes the M26 Tractor,M26A1 Tractor, M15/M15A1Tank-Recovery Semi-Trailer (b&w wartime photos),  and M15A2 Tank-Recovery Semi-Trailer.  As with several more recent volumes, no color plates are included.  The book is available in both soft and hard cover formats.

I will not be reviewing this book as quite a few of my M26 and M15A2 photos are in it.  However, if you've bought David's stuff in the past, you won't be disappointed.  If you have the Tamiya or Academy Dragon Wagon kits, this book will be a useful reference for you.

Thanks to David Doyle for sending me a copy of the book.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bronco Models M24 Chaffee test shots

Bronco Models just sent in a few test shots of their new 1/35 M24 Chaffee for you all to see.  Here they are:

Looks like a pretty good rendition of an early production M24 as it does not have the front or rear brackets for the flotation units.  The kit should be released either later this month or sometime in January 2012.  Thanks to Rubin at Bronco Models for the pictures.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Book review: Viking Panzers

Viking Panzers by Ewald Klapdor more or less covers the history of SS Panzer Regt 5 during World War II. Published in English by Stackpole Books, it was originally published in German in the early 1980's. The author was himself a member of the regiment and has written the history using various after action reports and recollections from regiment members including his own.

The book begins with the formation of the unit in the Spring of 1942 and follows it throughout its deployment on the Eastern Front through the end of the war. The provides insight into the many battles fought by the regiment and the hardships the troops suffered throughout the war. Unlike many books about SS units, no mention of any politics is made. The author provides good information about the make up of the individual units in the regiment including vehicle types and unit commanders where possible. At times, especially in the chapters covering the Kuban and Don regions, the book is hard to follow as the village names are an alphabet soup of letters. Reading through them could be quite tedious.

There are more than 35 maps and 30 photos included in the book. Some of the maps are very difficult to understand as the reproduction quality is poor. This further compounded the difficulty in following some of the village names as mentioned above.

In general, I found it to be an enjoyable book as it covers one of the lesser well known armored units of the SS. I recommend this for all armor enthusiasts and those interested in the Eastern Front in particular.

Thanks to Chris Evans at Stackpole Books for the review sample.