Bronco 1/35 M-22 'Locust'

KIT #: CB 35162
PRICE: $53.00 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Robert Myers
NOTES: New tool kit

HISTORY

The M22 "Locust" light tank (T9E1), designed by the U.S. primarily for airborne operations, was one of the smallest tanks used by the Allies during WWII. It had a crew of three and weighed 6.7 metric tons (7.4 short tons). The armament consisted of a 37-millimeter main gun and a coaxial .30-06 Browning machine-gun mounted in a turret.

The British Ordinance Department formulated a design concept requiring the development of a light tank that would aid airborne units during critical missions to be delivered by airborne means. The light tank would support the airborne infantry until reinforcements from the main force arrived. In May of 1941 design began on the M22 Locust light tank at the Marmon-Herrington Company. Production began in April 1943 and ended in February 1944 with a total production of 830 tanks. Under lend-lease, 260 Locusts were given to the British.

The M22 was constructed of welded steel plate. The front armor was 1 inch thick with the sides being approximately inch plate. The sloped front and sides added additional protection by deflecting projectiles upward.

The vehicle was powered by a Lycoming O-435-T six cylinder, air-cooled, opposed cylinder, aircraft engine yielding 162 hp. This engine provided driving range of 110 miles with a full tank of 57 gallons of gasoline with a top speed of 35 MPH (assumedly road driving). The drive sprockets were powered directly by the 4 speed transmission/differential at the front of the vehicle and engaged the steel track through sprocket wheels on each side. Four road wheels connected to a volute spring suspension provided support for the vehicle. The rear idler wheel was used to control track tension.

The vehicle dimensions are: length 12ft. 11in., width 7ft. 3.75in. and height 5ft. 8in. This resulted in an extremely tight crew compartment The low silhouette was somewhat unusual for American light tanks of the era, a decided advantage by offering a low profile and allowed for loading into a British Hamilcar glider. The M-22 could also be carried under the belly of a C54 cargo plane, after turret removal, via 4 heavy lifting lugs on the side of the hull 

In March 1945, the 6th Airborne Division was informed that it would be participating in Operation Varsity, an airborne operation in support of 21st Army Group crossing the River Rhine during Operation Plunder. Eight Locusts from the regiment, divided into two troops of four, would land with the 6th Airlanding Brigade in landing-zone P. The rest of the regiment would arrive by road after crossing the Rhine with 21st Army Group.

The eight Locusts were loaded into separate Hamilcar gliders and on the morning of 24 March were towed from the airfield by Handley Page Halifax heavy bombers to join the rest of the gliders and transport aircraft carrying the two airborne divisions. Weather conditions for the operation were excellent, with clear visibility, and all eight gliders arrived in the vicinity of the landing zone without incident. During their attempts to land, however, the small force was severely depleted; one glider broke away from the Halifax towing it and disintegrated. Three more gliders crashed as they landed.

Six Locusts landed intact on the landing zone, including several with significant damage, but two of these tanks never reached the rendezvous point for the regiment. One undamaged tank came to the aid of a group of American paratroopers who were under fire from a German self-propelled gun, but was rapidly knocked out by the German vehicle, wounding two crew members. A second tank broke down as it attempted to tow a jeep out of a crashed glider. Of the four Locusts that reached the rendezvous point, only two were undamaged and fully fit for action; these two were immediately deployed to the high ground east of the Diersfordter Wald, while being covered by the two damaged tanks. Upon arrival they were engaged by German troops and had to be supported by an infantry company, and soon their presence began attracting a great deal of artillery and anti-tank fire. Although neither of the tanks were hit, a number of infantrymen were killed or wounded and after several hours the tanks were forced to withdraw. 

After the end of WWII the British Army disposed of a small number of Locusts by transferring them to foreign militaries. A few Locusts even found their way to U.S. farms, where they had their turrets removed and served as tractors.

THE KIT

This kit is small! The molding appears to be excellent for all of the parts including the very fragile looking grab handles. The 23 step instructions, with color illustrations, are the best I have seen (this is my first Bronco kit). Each step shows the different options you can build. The building sequence is clear and proceeds in a logical manor. You may want to modify the sequence to fit your painting style. There are options for five U.S. tanks. The only real noticeable  differences are the placement of the stars. There is a very nice 8x12 inch color print of the M-22 included in the box. I think it is nice enough to frame.

All of the hatches can be posed open or closed. There is minimal detail for the turret interior and none for the driver. I am impressed that Bronco included some tarps and packs to put on the outside of the tank.

I fear plastic track links and photo-etch. This track just has a few individual pieces to make the curve around the sprocket to connect the upper and lower one piece runs of track. The upper track even has the sag molded in! As for the photo-etch. It looks do-able. It is mostly engine screens, muffler guard and light guards. They are pretty good size and look easy to manage.

CONCLUSIONS

This is a small kit with lots of small pieces. With patience it looks to be a fun build that will give you some experience with photo-etch, without being overwhelming for the average builder. However, do to the small parts and photo-etch it is not for a beginner.

April 2014

Robert Myers

Thanks to my tax refund for buying this one.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page