Bronco 1/35 Valentine Mk III Infantry Tank
|KIT #:||CB 35144|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Includes photo etch fret|
Based on the A10 Cruiser tank, the Valentine was privately designed by Vickers-Armstrongs (hence its lack of a General Staff "A" designation) and was submitted to the War Office on 10 February 1938. The development team tried to combine the weight of a cruiser tank (so that suspension and transmission parts of the A10 could be used) with the greater armour of an infantry tank, which resulted in a very small vehicle with a cramped interior and two-man turret. Though its armour was still weaker than the Infantry Tank II Matilda and, due to a weaker engine, it shared the same top speed, the new design was easier to produce and much less expensive.
The War Office was initially deterred by the size of the turret and the crew compartment. Concerned by the situation in Europe, however, it finally approved the design in April, 1939. The vehicle reached trials in May, 1940, which coincided with the loss of nearly all of Britain's equipment during the evacuation at Dunkirk. The trials were successful and the vehicle was rushed into production as Infantry Tank III Valentine. The Valentine remained in production until April 1944, becoming Britain's most produced tank during the war with 6,855 units manufactured in the UK (by Vickers, Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon and Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon), and a further 1,420 in Canada. They were the Commonwealth's main export to the Soviet Union under the Lend-lease Act, with 2,394 of the British models being sent and 1,388 of the Canadian Pacific built models, and the remaining 30 being kept for training.
When Bronco decides to mold a kit, they generally go all out and that is very much the case with this Valentine. First of all, it is not a curbside as the kit comes with a relatively nicely done interior. In the front we have a full driver's compartment while in the back is a nicely done engin compartment athat includes the rear mounted transmission and drive along with some huge radiators and fans. These large radiators are designed to swivel to the vertical with the kit making allowances for that.
On the outer hull are a number of well detailed suspension pieces. In fact, one builds up the three-bogie assemblies prior to attaching them to the hull. This assembly also includes the return rollers. This will make painting the rubber on the road wheels and return rollers a bit difficult, but if one paints these assemblies and the hull area to which they attach beforehand, it will make things a lot easier.
As you'd expect in a modern armor kit, you have separate track links as these do offer the best in the way of detail. The fenders come with sand shields and are built up prior to attaching to the hull assembly. I should point out that there are various differences between an early and late version of this tank variant with the instructions showing you just has has to be done for each one.
The rather complex 'lobster back' engine armor assembly consists of separate bits and pieces and is a mini-model in itself. Same goes for the armored covers for the radiators. The kit comes with a nicely done jerry can rack and exhaust system. Some of the largest of the p.e. bits are for the exhaust shrouds. The rest of the photo etch is used for handles, brackets, light shields, intakes and a variety of other small bits.
Main gun is nicely detailed as well with a separate breech that one can see inside the turret. The various hatches are shown closed, but I see no reason why you could not model them open. As with all WWII armor, there are the usual batch of tools and chests and other 'stuff' to attach to the outside of this one.
Instructions are very nicely done and even with quite a few parts, is not as congested as some other instructions. Modifications are needed from time to time and this information is clearly shown. Markings are for four vehicles. Two of them are Soviet from 1944 and in overall British Armor Green. From B Squadron, 50th Royal Tank Regiment in North Africa in early 1943 is 'Buccaneer' in OD and Dark Olive Green. This is the box art vehicle. The other British option is with the 2nd Armored Brigade in Palestine in late 1943. This one is in Dark Olive Green with large areas of the hull in Light Stone and areas of the turret in Light Mud. Decals are nicely done and should cause no issues.
Another nicely detailed tanks from Bronco. British armor fans will surely love to have this one on their shelves.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your favorite retailer.
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