Bronco Models
US Light Tank M-24 'Chaffee' (Early Prod.)
w/Crew (NW Europe 1944-45)

Bronco Models 1:35 Scale Kit No. CB35069
Preview by Terry Ashley

Bronco Models
The Kit:
With the arrival of this much anticipated kit this is just a preview of the kit with a more detailed full review to follow if time permits.

The kit consists of:
575 parts in light beige plastic
168 individual track links in light beige plastic
64 parts in light grey plastic for the DML figures included in the kit
14 clear plastic parts
117 etched parts
1 length of string
2 decal sheets
28 page instruction booklet.

Etched parts
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Clear and other parts
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The quality of the moulding is very good with very little if any flash, no disenabled pins marks that would be visible after assembly but there is some roughage on the edges of the more intricate slide moulded parts such as the idler and drive sprocket that will be easy to smooth out before assembly and plenty of the now familiar plastic nodes on the parts to be carefully removed. There are numerous very small parts that will need careful removal from the sprues and during cleanup of the fine moulding seams as well as the extensive use of slide moulds to achieve excellent detail on parts such as the gun barrels, tail lights, shock absorbers and hull/turret details, there is another of those superb plastic springs first seen in the 105mm howitzer kits that do need care removing from the sprue.

The kit includes a number of notable features with the torsion bar suspension being fully workable after assembly if you are careful with the glue. The torsion bars are separate parts that fit into recesses in the lower hull tub and held in place with the separate covers with all the axle arms and linkages joined with very small pins to allow movement. The axle arms are attached to the ends of the torsion bars with square lugs to get the right alignment and allow for the compression of the torsion bars much the same way as the rear bars work by exerting spring as they twist.

The shock absorbers are in two parts with the hollow upper cylinder into which slips the lower piston and the assembly attached to the axle arms by way of more small pins, there are no actual springs inside the shock absorbers but they are designed to compress and expand as the axle arms flex on the torsion bars.

The idlers are superb examples of what is possible with today’s moulding techniques with both idler discs and rims moulded in a single piece that includes the lightening holes around the rims with just additional outer lip ring and hub to be added. Likewise the drive sprockets have the central hub also moulded as a single part that includes the appropriate lightening holes with the two tooth discs and mounting hub added before fitting the sprockets to nicely detailed final drive housings.

As mentioned there is some minor roughage on the edges of the idler and sprocket mouldings as well as some mould seam lines on the sprocket hub that are easy to clean off for superbly detailed sprockets and idlers.

The road wheels are equally well done with separate outer rim and tyre that includes “Firestone” embossing with separate inner rim faces and hub caps and these are attached to the axle arms with small pins allowing the wheels to rotate. If you didn’t want the suspension to be workable after assembly just gluing everything in place would speed up assembly somewhat, I guess that’s up to the modeller?

The track is the WWII style metal track with workable individual links; these have excellent detail on the links free of any pin marks and have small pins on one end of the link that fit into corresponding holes on the other end of the link to make the working links.

Detail on the lower hull tub is again excellent with the idler mounting posts moulded with the angled side plates at the correct angle without loss of detail definition and the other details such as the axle mountings and underside plate detail very well done with the separate front and rear plates and inner final drive housings added with test fitting being very precise. Included on the etched fret are small casting numbers that can be added inside the final drive bulges on the lower front plate for additional detail. Detail on the rear plate is also well done with the separate tail light assemblies including very small casting numbers on the light casings for more excellent detail.

The hull top plate and glacis are in one piece with separate large transmission cover plate with excellent recessed bolt heads with the rear deck being in 7 parts with excellent grill and surface details with etched screens provided for the grills and the separate armoured fuel system vent covers with fine casting numbers included as well as separate fuel filler caps. The head light guards are provided in plastic or etched parts depending on your preference, there are also bending jigs for the etched guards to get the right contours which are a nice bonus.

There is a full M1919 cal.30 hull MG with movable ball mounting and the two crew hatches have separate periscope mountings and clear periscopes as well as separate grab handles and can be shown open of closed although there is no interior included. Also included is the driver’s windshield for the bad weather hood although the hood itself isn’t included.

Each of the full length fenders has three parts, the top fender with triangular braces included, the outer frame edges and the side skirts with etched mountings. The pioneer tools are moulded “naked” with separate etched clips and securing straps for good definition.

Moving to the turret this has the upper shell with 2 part lower turret ring and separate front turret gun housing and mantlet, these have nice weld seams and smaller details included including the small bulge under the gun collar for good attention to detail with the full M1919 cal.30 coaxial MG mounting provided.

The initial turret had the roof bend line in the incorrect position as shown below, the turret shell (part E1) has since been retooled to the correct profile and this corrected turret is now included in all M24 kits and has excellent surface details with weld seams. It is also available as a separate set #CB35069SP for those who may have the original tooled kit.

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The M5 lightweight 75mm gun is provided in full with nicely done inside gun and breech details along with other interior detail such as the crew seats, traverse mechanism and alternate radios for the rear sill. When assembling the gun there is the plastic spring provided that fits inside the gun housing allowing for the gun to recoil after assembly but unless you intend playing with the gun recoil after assembly you might want to glue the gun together for a more solid assembly, again the choice is yours?

The barrel tube is a single piece with hollowed out muzzle and very basic rifling that also includes the two rings centrally on the tube as a leftover from the guns previous life in a B25, these rings have the correct flat profile as they should.

Other separate items for the turret include the Commander’s cupola with separate clear vision blocks and a two part hatch with additional separate clear periscope plus separate pistol ports with inner support arms and numerous other smaller items for excellent overall detail. The large Loader’s hatch is free of any pin marks on the inside with 4 small handles to add while the rear 3 part storage box has additional etched latch details and the large 3 leg MG mount is nicely moulded in one piece with additional gun cradle and support arm. The M2 cal.50 MG is moulded with the receiver and hollow cooling jacket as one piece with separate top feed cover, cocking handle and rear hand grips while the barrel is another separate item for very good detail on the plastic gun. A few of the cooling jacket holes were not fully opened out but a quick pass with a drill bit will solve that small issue, incidentally included on the sprues is the barrel with flash suppressor so it would seem a post war Chaffee is also in the works.

A very nicely done D80030 cradle, pintle and ammo box assembly is provided in 4 etched brass parts for the cradle and multi part (6) plastic ammo box for an excellent appearance to compliment the M2 cal.50 MG.

Bronco ModelsAlso included with the kit is the DML kit #6054 U.S.Tank Crew (NW Europe 1944) which has five figures, three full and two half figures in a variety of uniforms and head gear, the figures are typical DML with good features with the collars separate for good definition. Only three of the figures are posed in the tank being the Driver, Loader and Commander with the two full figures for use in a diorama setting.
The decal sheet is well printed and has markings for 3 vehicles as well as a small sheet with figure insignia.

The instruction booklet is well laid with the usual exploded view drawings for the assembly sequences, while some are quite busy they are relatively easy to follow without any real traps, but as always careful study of the assembly before gluing is advisable. The instructions also included a table of paint numbers for Hobby Color, Humbrol, Mr.Hobby and Tamiya paints used with the model.
Option 1: Company D, 36th Tank Battalion, 8th Armored Division, Rheinberg, Germany, March 1945
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Option 2: 81st Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Armored Division, Norhtern Italy, March 1945
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Option 3: 37th Armored Battalion, 4th Armored Division, NW Europe, March 1945
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Overall this is an exceptional kit with the level of detail and moulding being very high by any standards, the standout features being the one piece idlers and drive sprocket hubs. The details included in the kit match very well with available images in the references listed below but being just a preview I haven’t done any building but test fitting some of the main components showed very good fit with the only real issue that came to light being the turret roof as mentioned above.

The kit is certainly not for the inexperienced modeller due to the many small parts and complexity of some assembly sequences such as the working suspension but the overall level of detail makes for a standout kit and certainly consigns the aging Italeri kit to annals of history.

Rating 8.5/10

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
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Sprue detail images
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M24 Chaffee in detail
Special Museum Line No.40
Wings & Wheels Publications
STUART A History of the
American Light Tank
M24 Chaffee Light Tank 1943-1985
Osprey New Vanguard No 77
Steven J. Zaloga
M24 Chaffee Walk Around
Squadron Signal Publications #5714
David Doyle.
M24 Chaffee in Action
Squadron Signal Publications #2035
Jim Mesko.
Allied-Axis The Photo Journal of the Second World War No.15
Ampersand Publishing.
Ground Power Magazine
#104 - 1/2003

GALILEO Publishing Co.,Ltd. Japan
Toadman's Light Tank M24
Photo Detail CD #19
Thanks to my credit card, Hobbyeasy and Lucky Model for the review kits.

Page created January 21, 2012

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