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Bronco 1/35 scale M24 Chaffee

Kit:CB-35069 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$59.95
Bronco Models, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322
Workable track links; detailed turret interior; stowage and figures included
Photoetched-metal casting numbers for transmission housing; metal requires soldering skills; road wheel and sprocket attachments are weak and wobbly
Injection-molded, 940 parts (118 photoetched metal, 1 string), decals

Bronco made a splash in the modeling world with the announcement of its M24 Chaffee, the replacement for the outdated M3/M5 light tank used by Allied forces.

The kit is molded in light yellow styrene with clear vision blocks and light lenses. There are no significant knockout marks to repair, and the mold seams are easily removed. A large photoetched-metal fret is included. Careful painting will preserve the molded cast texture and weld seams. Also provided are a string for the tow cable as well as packs and ammo cans for stowage.

CAD drawings show how the photoetched metal should be bent and placed. Bronco has already corrected errors in the instructions, but I found three more. When directions were vague, I looked several steps ahead to see how parts were placed. And I constantly referred to Squadron’s M24 Walk Around, by David Doyle (ISBN 978-0-89747-592-1). 

I glued the rear hull panel (Part Da7) as part of Step 1. The casting numbers on the transmission cover are photoetched metal; I brushed styrene glue onto the part, then pressed the metal numbers into the soft plastic. But I wished they were molded like the other casting numbers.

Get the torsion bars glued in straight or your road wheels will not sit evenly. The directions have you add detail to the upper hull panels before gluing them to the lower hull, but I glued the major upper hull panels to the lower hull first to avoid breakage.

The rear deck comprises seven panels. The last panel I glued was Part A14, which required a little filing to fit. If you choose the photoetched metal instead of plastic for the light guards, there is a mold to help you shape it. But you should probably solder the cross braces for sufficient strength. I chose the plastic instead. The rear basket also needs soldering; there is no other way to get it together.

In Step 13, Part Ca1 should be Ga1. The directions call for two spare track assemblies. Part Ga26 is incorrectly labeled as Ca26; there are only two Ga26 parts, so if you want two sets, use a couple of extra track links (parts N14) on each Ga26.

The drive-sprocket body is molded in one piece with teeth glued to each side. The inner hub (Ga2) fits tightly and needs sanding to fit. I glued Ga41 to the hull and left the sprocket off for painting. The rear idler wheel is also molded in one piece. The road wheels are meant to be workable, but they seemed wobbly; I glued everything in place. The shock absorbers are adjustable, and this helped me align the torsion bars.

The tracks are workable, simply snapping together. I assembled and painted them easily enough, but, in hindsight, I would glue them together in several runs to make them stronger. 

The turret has shape and weld-bead inaccuracies. Bronco has provided a corrected upper turret since the errors came to light. If you have an earlier run, you can purchase the new turret separately. A partial interior is included with a gun breech, seats, and radio. If you leave the hatches open, glue some tread plate inside to suggest detail.

The gun is made to recoil by the use of a styrene spring. The placement of the parts in Step 25 is vague; I needed to look ahead to Step 27 to see how they looked when assembled. The directions call for you to remove the bullet splash guard around the ventilator cover, and I did find pictures to verify this. I replaced damaged weld seams with LionRoar photoetched-metal weld beads.

All of the machine guns are molded with open barrels. The .50-caliber gun has a separate barrel, making it easy to replace with brass if you wish.

Dragon’s set of U.S. tanker figures is included, providing three full and two half figures. If you place the figures as shown on the box, the half figure in the turret goes in the large hatch — but his lack of legs is easily seen.

There are three vehicle choices, all in olive drab. I primed with Vallejo olive drab, then applied Tamiya colors: olive drab (XF-62) as the base finish, khaki drab (XF-51) and dark yellow (XF-60) to produce shadows and highlights. I weathered with Mig’s brown filter for dark green and brown wash. The tracks are NATO black (XF-69) with AK Interactive track wash. I painted other details with Humbrol enamels.

The decals seemed thick but looked good after the flat coat was added.

This is a tough kit, but it’s worth the work. I took 43 hours to finish it; it’s no weekend project. The plans in World War II AFV Plans: American Armored Fighting Vehicles, by George Bradford (Stackpole, ISBN 978-0-8117-3340-3), show the turret is to scale but that the hull is short and narrow. Even if that is so, it’s still a step forward from previous M24 kits.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2012 FineScale Modeler.

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