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Bronco Models M19A1

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/35 scale armor kit with 1,421 parts
The concept of mounting a twin 40mm Bofors gun on an armored vehicle started during the later years of World War II. Originally designed to fit on a modified M5 Stewart chassis, the project was switched to the M24 Chaffee chassis when the M5 series was phased out. 

The M24 chassis was lengthened slightly and the engine and transmission were moved to the center of the vehicle with the Bofors turret mounted in back. Designated the M19, production started before the end of WWII, but it’s believed that none saw action in WWII.

However, the M19 proved useful in the Korean conflict. 

The M19A1 differed slightly in that two bustles were added to the turret to house radios, and I believe the right-side exhaust pipe was removed from the fender with all exhaust routed to the left pipe. This made room for a generator on the right fender, allowing the turret to be operated without the main engine running.

Bronco Models’ recent release of the M19A1 is the first plastic model of the vehicle in 1/35 scale. The parts show excellent detail and two sets of individual link track (T85E1 and T72) types are included. A small clear sprue includes headlight lenses, periscopes, and glass for the driver’s armored windscreen, while a small photo-etched sheet provides details.

The kit’s large instruction booklet includes sharp line drawing assembly diagrams, but at times I wished I had a different view to see exactly where some parts went. Occasionally the locating arrows point to the wrong location, too.

Decals mark four U.S. vehicles, three in OD and one in the MERDC color scheme. 

I started with hull assembly and found that the suspension arms were an extremely tight fit in their sockets, so I enlarged the sockets slightly with a No. 29 drill bit. While the suspension can be made to work I glued mine in a fixed position, shimming the hull on a piece of glass so all the road wheels would be at the same level. 

As I usually do, I left off the running gear until the hull was assembled and painted. I glued the upper hull in place before adding details. It’s also smart to paint the inner hull a dark color where the engine grate goes. Otherwise, you’ll be able to see the orange plastic through the grate. 

I also learned that despite the instructions’ notice to not glue the turret pivot pin to the upper hull, the only way it will stay in place is by gluing it. I then jumped ahead and built the ammo box ring for the turret. I found it easier to build the boxes onto the front pieces before adding them to the bottom ring rather than following the instructions. The ring was added to the hull along with the engine grate. 

Must admit it also took me several attempts at forming the PE outside exhaust screen before I got it right. A bending form would have been a big help. I did not add the generator to my model as it is believed to be a post-Korean War modification. Once most of the hull details were added I painted it Tamiya olive drab. 

Attachment points for the running gear are very delicate. I glued everything in place to add strength to the joints. While they wouldn’t turn I was still able to add the tracks with no problems. Both sets of tracks are well molded with no sink or ejector-pin marks. The T72 links are single parts and snap together firmly, while the T85E1 links are multi-piece, with upper and lower link halves that trap connectors. I found them easy to assemble with tiny dots of Testors 8872 liquid cement on the center of the guide tooth half. I needed 79 links to get a nice tight track fit.

Gun tub assembly starts with building the gun. Early on the instructions have you fit the gun between the mounts, but there is nothing to hold this assembly together. I found it easier to build the gun parts and then glue the mounts to the tub. Finally, before the gun mounts dry fully, add the gun so it pivots in the mount. 

There also is a strange notation in step 33 telling the builder to cut the pins off the elevation cylinders if elevating. Don’t do it! The cylinders will fit fine in the mount and won’t interfere with the gun elevating at all. 

Despite a large number of parts in the gun tub, everything fit well. The back panel (D55) was my only fit issue. I had to glue one side and let it dry, then glue the other to achieve a good fit. 

Bronco’s decals are well printed and went on perfectly using Microscale solutions. The box art shows the “Little Beaver and Delores” slogan on the radio bustle, but the painting diagram shows it behind the bustle. I followed the painting diagram. 

Finally, I added the more delicate parts, such as the headlight and periscope guards, to the hull. I opted for the PE light guards as the plastic ones were a bit thick. Also, forms are provided for bending the main parts of the light guards, but the left guard was still a challenge to assemble. 

I spent 34 hours building my M19, not bad for a high-parts-count kit (the one color paint scheme helped). I found no visible molding flaws, only using filler on two small ejector-pin marks on the bottoms of the loader seats. I only did that because I wanted them in their folded position. 

The finished model matched perfectly the dimensions in David Doyle’s Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles (Krause, ISBN 978-0-87349-508-0). I was impressed with the kit’s fit and detail, but it will take some experience to figure out a workable assembly sequence and avoid the errors in the instructions as well as dealing with many tiny parts. 

Note: A version of this review appeared in the March 2019 issue.


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