The A13 Cruiser Tank Mk. IV was the first of a long line of British Cruiser Tanks to use the American Christie suspension, which allowed high cross country speeds. Some of the first A13 tanks were sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in 1940 to defend against the German attack. Unfortunately the tanks were over run before they got a chance to fight. Though most of the tanks were destroyed by their crews, a few A13's were captured by the Germans and pressed into service as the Panzerkampfwagen 744(e). The Germans used some of these tanks in Russia, where they were fitted with PzKpfw IID tracks and other equipment. Little information is available on their use, but photographs confirm their use by the Pz.Abt. 100 of 18th Panzer Division during the Barbarossa drive for Moscow.
When the box arrived, I was very surprised at how large it was. I was a little afraid to open it. But after a close inspection of the outside of the box, it did say 1/35th scale so I carefully opened it. I quickly closed it. Surely my eye were playing tricks on me. There were SO many parts, I assumed that the manufacturer had put two complete kits in the box.
Upon closer inspection, there was but one kit. 24 separate sprue's plus the lower hull in plastic as well as 4 sheets of photo etch. By my count that equals 787 plastic parts and 109 photo etch parts. What had happened to the old days of 2 or 3 sprue's and maybe 50 parts? Several hours later as my fear subsided, I took a close look at all of the parts. What I seen was absolutely some of the finest detail I had ever seen. The parts were molded to perfection. The details of this kit are simply amazing.
I could handle this kit, after all I have been doing this for a long time, right? Steps 1 to 4 begins with the construction of the lower hull. The suspension in fully detailed but most of this is covered by the side armor plates. Step 2 starts you adding detail to the hull. What Bronco has done with this kit is that they are using the Photo etch parts to add detail to some areas. For those of you that don't like PE, try this kit as it fits perfectly and I mean perfectly. It almost just falls into place.
Watch the part numbering closely as there are a few errors in the instruction sheet. Parts LB2 should be LC1 and parts LB1 should be LC2. Photo etch parts PA 24 and 25 need to be reversed left to right. Photo etch parts PA10 are installed inside the drive sprockets and need to be slightly bent into a cone shape. I used a Mission Models Multi tool for this, but anything that is cone shaped like a sharpened pencil should also work.
Step 3 has you install PE parts PA12 and PA11 to the rear drive housings. These are each in 2 pieces. The instructions do not show this and the PE numbers do not either. When you look at the part on the PE sheet it is pretty obvious so it is no big deal.
Step 4 has you installing the tracks, but I left mine off until the end. They call for 119 links per side, but I used 121 on mine.
Steps 5 thru 11 cover all of the detailing for the lower hull. Everything fits very nice and I only used a small amount of filler in some of the joints. There are hundreds of parts added in these steps so take your time. In step 8 you need to reverse PE parts PA2 and PA3. Also reverse parts D26 and D28. Now after step 9 I noticed a sizable gap at the top rear of the upper hull. I went back though the instructions to make sure that I didn't miss anything and to make sure I didn't glue something together wrong. No luck. All of the parts were accounted for and everything was where it was supposed to be. I looked at the part trees and discovered part M14. It needs to be installed over the gap. It is not listed in the instructions but fits great!
Step 12 has you assemble the Jerry cans that come with the kit and these are the best that I have seen.
Steps 13 and 14 have you add the final details to the lower hull.
Steps 15 thru 20 have you assembling the turret. Everything fit perfectly here and I encountered no problems. The main gun does have a very detailed breach, but no other interior detail is included.
Step 21 is the final assembly and after adding all of those parts, the final step is to add 12 wingnuts to the rear deck. Yes, 1/35 scale wingnuts. To much detail? No way, I love it!!
I had done it, this tank was ready for paint. It was finished with Tamiya acrylics and weathered with Mig Pigments and Migs 502 Abteilung oil paint.
What can I say? This kit is outstanding! I liked everything about it. The fit of the plastic was as nice as I have ever seen. The Photo etch was the very best that I have ever used. The individual track links fit better than any others that I have used. This kit was a pleasure from start to finish. Bronco has raised the bar with this level of detail and the wonderful engineering of this kit. If you haven't tried a Bronco kit, do yourself a favor and get one. You will be happy that you did!
My very sincere thanks to Stevens International for the review sample.