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 U.S. military became aware of the effectiveness of airborne assault forces by studying German victories in Europe, however they were aware of the vulnerability of lightly armed airborne infantry alone behind enemy lines without armor support. In May of 1941 the design work began on the air transportable T9E1 (M22) light tank at the Marmon-Herrington Company.

The M22 was constructed of steel plate welded together. The front armor was 1 inch thick with the sides being ˝ inch steel plate. The sloped front and sides added additional protection by helping deflect projectiles. The armor was minimal because of weight requirements limiting the vehicle to less then 8 short tons (16,000 pounds). The main weapon was a 37mm main with a coaxial 30 caliber machine gun. Production began in April 1943 and ended in February 1944 with a total production of 830 tanks. Under lend-lease, 260 M22s were given to the British, who gave them the name Locust.

The production version of the M22 weighed in at about 7.5 tons and could be transported by Hamilcar glider or could be slung under a C54 cargo plane with the turret removed and stored in the aircraft.

THE KIT

This kit is small! When I showed to my friends at a model club meeting they all thought it was a 1/48 scale kit. The molding is excellent for all of the parts including the very fragile looking grab handles. I am impressed that the muzzles of both the 37mm main gun and the 50 cal machine gun have small opening molded in to make the barrel look hollow.

The parts tress are all bagged as are the decals and photo-etch. 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 and other decals. There is a very nice 8x12˝ inch color print of the M-22 included in the box. 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 the driver. 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, straps muffler guard and light guards. They are pretty good size and look easy to manage. (Update: during the build, I discovered there are some photo-etch pieces smaller than a human hair...really! I had to use a pair of medical grade, very fine tweezers and a strong magnifying glass to form the parts. They disappeared under the paint.)

CONSTRUCTON

Since this was my first Bronco kit, I decided to follow the instructions, so work started on the inside of the hull (steps 1 and 2).  Wouldn’t you know this is also where I get to deal with the first 5 pieces of photo-etch, none of which can be seen with the upper hull and turret in place, even with the hatch open. However,  in the interest of a complete build review I installed all 5 pieces. It was very easy. This is nice photo-etch. It took 45 minutes to complete the interior. It is minimally detailed, too bad it will all disappear. On the outside of the hull, I lost one very small piece. It was the mount for the left front d-ring. I made a new one in about 5 minutes. The instructions show installing the d-rings on the mounts, but I will wait until after I paint. I like the rings to move.

Next step the running gear. Big parts at last! I pre-sprayed all of the suspension and the road wheels parts with Tamiya OD before assembly. Each of the four road wheel assemblies almost fall together. They consist of 12 pieces each. I glued each one on the hull and set it aside to dry. Next, I assembled the drive sprocket and rear wheel assembly. Pay attention to the instructions. You can really goof up these pieces. I did. Luckily the glue wasn’t dry when I discovered my mistake on the rear suspension arms. I got them apart and re-did them correctly. These were also set aside to dry, but not glued on the hull. The track links were pre-painted steel. After they had dried I set the top section on the return rollers and tacked them on with Elmers glue so I could move them if I had to. The separate links were formed around the drive sprocket and rear wheel, these were then glued to the hull. While the glue was wet, I added the bottom section of track and got everything lined up. It was fiddley and about 40 minutes per track. When everything looked right, I glued the bars and caps to the outside of the main suspension. Everything was set aside to dry.

The upper hull didn’t look too complicated so I attacked it next. I was dreading the photo etch headlight guards. So I did them first after installing the head lights. They were easy. I just bent them around a paint brush handle of the size I wanted dipped each end in a drop of glue and set them into place. No fuss! The only place I deviated from the instructions was to glue the large photo etch screen for the rear deck on the inside of the hull. After looking at a lot of pictures online, I like the look of the grates no being covered. The screen on the inside helps to hide the fact the engine compartment is completely empty.

The full fenders were glued to the lower hull and set aside to dry while I finished the photo etch on the upper hull. After drying overnight I was ready to put the hull together. The first thing I noticed was that the upper hull had a slight twist to it. I used super glue to glue the front in place. When it was solid I glued the sides and back down with more super glue. That took the flex out. If you look at the front of the tank, you can see the seam. You should be able to see it. It is there on the real ones. Also, on the turret you can see a seam on the side near the back of the turret. There is a weld line in the same place on the real tank.

The turret and the main gun have a lot of small pieces and photo etch. First decide if you are going to have the hatches open. If they are closed, all you have to assemble is the basic 37mm gun. I put some tape on the inside of the hatches so that if a future time I want them open I can, but in the mean time they won’t fall off and get lost. If you want a fully detailed turret, take your time and just follow the instructions. I sprayed the interior of the turret and parts on the sprue with white primer before assembly. After assembly I detailed it out with a brush. After masking the white assembled parts, I gave the outside of the turret a spray with Tamiya OD. At this point I also masked the track and gave the hull a second coat of OD.

The almost final assembly was a breeze. I added the pre-painted pioneer tools and brush painted a few details like the hold down straps, lights and exhaust pipe. Antennas were made from stretched sprue and glued in place with super glue.

COLORS & MARKINGS


I gave everything a gloss clear coat to get it ready for decals. The decals differ only in numbers and placement of stars. They are sharp and in register. Each one was applied over a drop of Micro Sol, washed after drying and a drop of Micro Set was applied, again the tank was washed after everything had dried. A final dull coat was sprayed on and the model was set aside to dry for a week, while I started a new project. 

The actual final assembly was adding the d-rings to the front and back mounts and clear headlight lenses after all of the clear coat had dried. Since the U.S. M-22s didn’t see battle or prolonged storage, I kept this one looking fresh with no dirt or rust on the track.

CONCLUSIONS

I really like this kit. It builds up with no problems except for some of the very small parts. I would not recommend it to a new builder or someone without very good tweezers, again, because of small parts. For the price of such a small kit, I would have liked to have had a figure of the tank commander or even a crew member to stand beside it. Next will be a British version.

REFERENCES

A couple of evenings all over the internet while parts dried

Robert Myers

July 2014

This kit was courtesy of my wallet.

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