Bronco 1/35 CV33 

KIT #: CB-35006
PRICE: $70.00 MSRP
DECALS: several options
REVIEWER: Bill Koppos
NOTES: Size matters


         This diminutive armored vehicle was a descendant of the British Carden Lloyd light tanks imported in 1929.  The Carden-Lloyd was mother to a host of other designs we all know and love, like the Bren Carrier, Polish TK's,  and French UE tractors. This type of vehicle had the advantages of speed and cheapness, but in the case of the CV33, which was the only tracked armor in the Italian Army in 1939, these attributes were not enough. The two men inside were crammed into a tiny box armored to only 8mm, only the front being hard enough to stop .303 Armor-Piercing ammo, the sides wouldn't even do that! Newsreels on U-Tube show these scooters traversing all kinds of terrain, and even fording some pretty deep streams, and one shows L3's going over an almost vertical wall and slamming down on the bottom. I hope the Italian tankers had real good helmets and seat belts! At any rate, this is what the Italian armored units went to war with in 1940.  Previous use in Italy's African colonies did not turn up much serious opposition, but in Spain their faults started showing. By the time of the Italian entry into WW2, something better was clearly needed. Really just an armored machine-gun carrier, they were totally outclassed in facing the British tanks and armored cars that were the nemesis of Italian forces in North Africa. As soon as medium tanks were available the CV-33's were retired.

           CV33 was the first version with riveted armor followed by the bolted CV35, both types were used together. Power was from a 4 cylinder Fiat gasoline water-cooled engine. Armor has been mentioned and armament was twin Breda 8mm Machine guns in a limited traverse mount. Over 2000 of these tankettes were built and some exported. A flamethrower version was also fielded (available also from Bronco) and used in Africa. 

            Again a weird little vehicle captures Bill Koppos's fancy. I've always had interest in the early North African fighting and it's weaponry, and models keep coming these days. Never did I expect to see the L3 in "big" scale but here it is recently released by Bronco and nicely done, too. 5 sprues of tan plastic, a small photo-etch fret and 2 headlight lenses make up what you get. One of these sprues is entirely devoted a complete set of interior parts, which will make most purchasers happy after paying the rather steep price of such a small model. The tracks are well molded link and length, even having tiny "Ansaldo's" molded into the pads. There are some really tiny items here, all delicately formed and flaw free. 

           A small decal sheet rounds out the package, for 2 vehicles, with extra platoon signs and numerals if you want to roll your own. Looks good to me, let's grab some tiny wheels and start glueing.

          Now above I mentioned MOST purchasers would be happy with the interior-not this boy. I build armor to get away from interiors. Build 'em, close the hatches, and paint 'em. This was no exception. It is kinda bad because the interior is rather complete and well done, but now I have a whole engine and transmission, levers pedals etc. in my spares box. For those of you who want to, the insides are very well done and all the hatches are openable, except at the rear where the crescent-shaped radiators are. At any rate I skipped the first 2 pages and moved right to the suspension.

          The undercart is made up of a bunch of very small wheels, springs,  plates and rails, all of which are very fiddly to get together.  The holes on the wheels and plates are too small to accept the necessary pins, and opening them up is challenging. Follow the instructions here step by step, paying close attention to the numbers. Use tweezers at your own risk- I had microscopic wheels flying all over till I quit that. I recommend glueing the assemblies all at once then trying to line everything up while the glue sets. I used a straight run of track to do this. You have to make sure the wheels are straight fore-and-aft and all touching the "ground"  at once. (If your vehicle is on level ground).  I also attached the sprocket and idlers before the bogie trucks (ooh-official terminology) so when the trucks were glued all could be lined up. This is important on link-and-length tracks to keep things straight. At this point the top rails can be added and the boxy things in front. Some of the parts in these assemblies are truly tiny, so the single track links that come next are going to seem very easy.

             I started the tracks by glueing the bottom straights first, then working forward. Watch the plans and keep the part numbers in their right places. With this set as with previous models, I found it easier to cut off the sprocket teeth as these interfere with the fit of the single links that wrap around it. Behind the sprocket and after the top rails are he only places sag can be put in, by gently bending the short lengths there. As usual the ends did not join perfectly, some trimming being necessary to get them together, and look right. This is a tough one because there are no fenders or mudguards to hide screw-ups. Some "mud" will be needed here at the end.

            From this point things ease off some, the parts are still small but mostly handleable, except maybe for the tiny towhooks and loops. Hatches and vision ports are the main parts to be added. The machine gun assembly has a photo-etched part to fold and glue, and this fits well. The Breda gun barrels are nicely hollowed out for you. There are 2 diminutive (how many words for small are there?) etched items on the rear hull, I advise waiting till after the paintjob to do these, I kept bending them up during the process.  I elected to keep the top hull half and bottom track half separate for painting, so I could properly spray the upper tracks a dark color first.

             The first step in a Koppos armored shop paintjob is a flat black or very dark grey undercoat. Take your time and fill up all the corners nooks and crannies, and any missed spots later will be "shadows". Also on models like this one with the tracks already in place, it makes painting them their "steel" color easier. Various refs called for a light sand as a base color. Aircraft "Italian Sand" looked too pink to me, I went with RLM 79 Sandgelb lightened with white. I applied this avoiding the tracks and tires as much as possible. One of the schemes in the plans calls for Red Brown spots overall so I went with this. Thinning the paint well and screwing down the tip of my trusty Paasche H way down, I splooged some random spots on the sand uppers and running gear, as per some internet pictures. The tip kept clogging and needing to be blown out, so it's a good thing this was a little guy.

              Testor's Metallizer sealer is my glosscoat choice, this applied to the whole vehicle for weathering and decals.  There are only 3 of these, 2 platoon squares on the sides and a license plate. The decals looked chancy, but layed down OK and I sealed them in with more gloss. Now we can get involved in a dustup.

            Out came the Vallejo Acrylics, and I brush painted the tracks Nuetral Grey mixed with some steel. I keep a cup of water handy and keep the paint nice and thin for easy application. Also the thinned paint lets some of the black undercoat show through. Then I go over the high spots with Rub'nBuff Silver plate. At this point I think they look like clean factory tracks. Later this will all get toned down by the weathering and dusting.  Now I cemented the top hull to the lowers, the fit of the parts being good enough to allow this without fouling up the paintjob. 
             The tires were painstakingly picked out with Dark grey, mufflers rusted a bit, tools painted as tools should. Now I applied a Burnt Uber wash to the recessed parts of the hull, hinges and running gear.  Black wash was used in the grills and vision slits. Now the Tamiya Weathering Sticks come out. I have really gotten to like these easy to use tools. Just smear a little on a palate, it can be applied by brush straight for gloppy mud, or watered down as much as you want all the way to  a wash. It dries nicely and can be flatcoated over with no effect on the color. I used the "Light Earth" here to slightly mud up the lower areas and springs, and "Sand" to coat the whole upper areas  to desert dust the vehicle. If you don't like your results, just wipe off with water. I also washed with the Sand around the larger rivets and seams, to mimic a look I see often on pictures of desert vehicles. The tracks were also covered, especially the fudged-up join at the back.

             When satisfied with the looks, I flatcoated the armored terror with Testor's Dullcoat, thinned and mixed with a couple of drops of old Humbrol "Buff" for a final overall dusting, concentrating mostly on the bottom parts. Finito!

             I like it! Bello! After the fight with the little wheels it was a nice build. And those who like to open their armor up will like this even more. A well done little gem. I would have to recommend this one to experienced modelers only because of the very small nature of the parts. Bronco has been coming out with some real goodies of late. ANY chance at all of an M-11-39? These days nothing would surprise me.

             I am almost done with the L-3's arch enemy, the British Cruiser  Mk IV, also from Bronco. Stay tuned.

       Beda Fomm The Classic Victory    Kenneth Macksey Ballantine battle no. 22  1971
              Tanks and Other AFV's of the Blitzkreig Era  B.T. White  Macmillan  1972
             Wikepedia, U Tube and other web stuff

Bill Koppos

September 2010

 Kit courtesy of my haunted LHS and my wallet. Vai Modellazione follia! (Go Modelling Madness!)

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