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Kit, Bronco CB35044, Sd.Kfz.6/1 mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 5t (BN9b) Artillery Version

February 16 2012 at 9:07 PM
Frank V. De Sisto  (Login zappa93)
MODERATORS ONLY - Time on Target
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BRONCO MODELS

CB35044, Sd.Kfz.6/1 mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 5t (BN9b) Artillery Version. 1/35th-scale styrene/multimedia kit. Contains 840 styrene parts (including eight clear and 232 for the tracks), three photo-etched brass frets, one length of nylon string, eight water-slide decal markings schemes and 24 pages of instructions in 25 steps.

Introduction.

The mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 5-ton Sd.Kfz.6 was originally designed as an artillery tractor and for use by pionier bridging units. An armed version was produced for Luftwaffe mobile FlaK units, which mounted the 3.7cm FlaK36 or 37 auto-cannon. Another armed version was constructed in small numbers, which mounted a captured Soviet 76.2mm field gun. Bronco, having released the three latter versions mentioned, has now brought out a kit of the artillery tractor, the mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 5-ton Sd.Kfz.6/1 (BN9b) mit Artillerie-Aufbau.

Aside from a number of new parts for this particular version, Bronco has made an attempt to correct some detail inaccuracies in and around the drivers cab. They have also (finally!) included a properly-configured exhaust pipe with muffler, as well as some other chassis parts. A number of fine accessories, such as field packs and jerry cans have also been provided, which will allow for a fully-stowed look to this vehicle, straight from the box.

However, the issues concerning the engine (the wrong type), the tracks and consequently the road-wheel spacing (too wide), the front axle (not wide enough) and the width, height and length of the engine compartment (not wide enough, high enough or long enough) have still not been addressed.

The reader is urged to head over to PMMS and read Terrys comparison review of the Bronco and Trumpeter Sd.Kfz.6/2 kits to get an idea of some of the issues that still plague the Bronco kit.

Tracks.

These are of the individual link type, with each link provided as a two-piece assembly. Like so many other manufacturers, Bronco has the rubber pad and the steel shoe separate so that when they are assembled, the tracks will articulate quite freely. Each shoe has three sprue gates to clean off, while each pad has one. There is a subtle ejector pin mark on the outer face of each shoe, but it is hidden after assembly; on some parts this area may need attention to assure a snug fit of the pad. The track shoes when assembled are a bit too wide, but they look the part. The more fastidious modeler may wish to avail himself of the recently-released set from Fruilmodel, which will easily correct this problem.

Wheels.

There are six pairs of rubber-tired, dished, pierced road-wheels per side, plus an idler wheel. All have the proper pattern of perforations and ribs, and all are properly sized. The drive sprocket is composed of four parts, including the final drive housing. It now has an etched brass part to provide for the non-slip pattern on the outer rim of the step ring. The rollers are properly spaced and the rubber rim is there as well. Care with the glue will leave the drive sprocket movable after assembly.

The originally-included front wheels are molded in two halves, with an inner hub for mounting purposes. Detail is quite nice and includes tire air filler valve stem molded in place. A second pair (called early in the instructions) is each molded as inner and outer halves along with a separate slide-molded ring that has properly-rendered and complete tread detail. However nice these are, photos do not show this pattern in wide use on the Sd.Kfz.6, but I have found at least one image which does show them fitted. A multi-part spare wheel in both styles is also provided.

Suspension System.

The separate torsion bars mount to holes and stubs molded into the chassis frame part. Apparently, when set as designed, the ride height is for a fully-loaded vehicle. Terry Ashleys PMMS review offers a simple solution if the modeler wants to depict an empty vehicle. There are also separate parts (three each) for the adjustable idler wheel axle and mounts. Do not glue this in place until the track sag has been properly worked out.

Chassis.

The chassis frame is a single slide-molded part. It is quite sturdy and perfectly straight and true. The bottom half of the tubes that housed the torsion bars are molded in place, as are the mounts and openings for the swing arms and idler wheel axle assembly. Several major assemblies are fitted to the frame. These include multi-part styrene and etched brass fuel tanks that have been re-worked with filler spouts and are now properly placed and oriented on the chassis. A multi-part transmission and final drive assembly is fitted, along with the top halves of the torsion bar housings. The winch is a five-part assembly that includes its own drive shaft, which connects to the main transmission/transfer box. It is now more visually correct in that the holes around its rim are round instead of being oblong as in the Sd.Kfz.6/2 kit where it was first introduced. String is provided to represent the cable and a styrene hook is then fitted. A multi-part cable guide roller assembly completes the fit.

The conventional wheels are fitted to a multi-part axle assembly. This includes spring bundle, cradle, sway braces and multi-part axle unit. It is not movable and is further complimented by steering links. The axle is not wide enough, making the wheels sit too far inboard of their proper locations. A 2mm plug must be inserted on each end to correct this; see PMMS for the simple fix. A Maybach HL54 TUKRM engine powered this version, but Bronco includes the earlier NL38 TUKRM, used on earlier versions of the Sd.Kfz.6. Although it is nicely-rendered and consists of nearly 20 parts, it is useless in this kit for anything other than filling the area as seen from below. This is complimented by a four-part radiator assembly. All the way aft, there is a separate three-part trailer hitch. A choice of paired brake-lamps or a single brake-lamp and a distance-keeping tail-lamp, with etched brass brackets, is mounted across the rear of the vehicle. The latter is for use only if fitting the Tarnscheinwerfer-Notek black-out head-lamp up front. A separate part for the vehicles registration plate is also fitted, depending on the options chosen. The exhaust pipe is new for this kit. It is now made up of styrene and etched brass parts, comes in two variations, and includes a muffler. Air brake cylinders are still not included.

Cab.

The front end contains the engine compartment, drivers cockpit and an abbreviated section of the body-work. The fender/ wheel-well unit is one large part to which a separate radiator cover is fixed; it has a separate filler cap. While the original (incorrect) fender/wheel well part is still included, it is not for use. A new, more properly-contoured part is provided, but it is still not completely correct. This item also has the tow hitch improperly-placed, according to photos and drawings. The hood and the two side panels for the engine compartment are added next; the latter have cooling slots with a see-through effect for better detail. They also have separate lift handles and separate T-shaped closures. However, drawings in the Panzer Tracts book indicate that the side panels are still not the proper length or height, while the hood panel is not only too short, but it is not deep enough or wide enough where it meets the cab. In addition, the cooling slots are too closely spaced, probably due to the incorrect size of the side panels. The front end also receives a tow hitch pin, multi-part head-lamps (with clear lenses or black-out covers), multi-part etched brass and styrene Tarnscheinwerfer-Notek head-lamp, and two-part etched brass and styrene width indicator stems. Two-part running boards and a vehicle registration plate holder finish off the area.

The drivers cockpit begins with the new floor panel and the engine compartment fire wall, with the latter being an eight-part assembly that includes engine accessories, various struts and braces, and a horn. The floor panel incorporates the front edge of the track-guards. The cockpit is very well detailed, to include the drivers hand levers and foot pedals. A new dash-board comes with decals for the dial faces. A two-part oil tank is fitted on the passengers side below the dash-board and a two-part battery box is fitted to the floor plate on the drivers side. The four-part seats mount to the rear bulkhead and on top of several other plates.

The cockpits two side panels are new for this kit; they are an attempt to correct wind-screen width issues as well as contour problems. Separate parts for the turn signal indicators are provided for each side; these can be posed extended or retracted, but remember: extend only one at a time, so as not to confuse the poor bloke following behind! Marker lamps with clear lenses and various fittings for the wind-shield are also separate parts. Additionally, the drivers side gets a multi-part search-light with clear lens.

The wind-shield comes in two forms. One is simply covered in canvas and is to be placed in the folded-down position; it is, however, sized for the first three kits in this series, so it is not wide enough. The other consists of a new, wider frame with separate wiper blades, separate wiper blade motors, separate etched brass brackets and clear styrene window-panes. The window panels are wide enough to fit the new frame. Another new body panel mounts the wind-shield frame; it bridges the area from the dash-board to the engine compartment hood. Due to the issues surrounding the engine compartment hood panels, this part too is still quite probably incorrectly shaped.

Artillery Body.

Completely new for this kit are parts to construct an Artillerie-Aufbau. This includes two more rows of seats for the crew as well as ammunition lockers at the rear. Likewise, a completely new deck is given upon which to mount the lateral bench seats. The final big items here are the parts to construct a canvas foul weather cover for the troop compartment, either in the erected or stowed position.

Starting from the bottom, separate track-guards are fitted either side, along with frame members that attach the deck to the chassis. A multi-part tire stowage rack can be fitted with a choice of two different tire types (called early and late, in the instructions). The track-guards and their separate mud-flaps get several etched brass parts for their details.

On the top of the deck, two bench seat modules are constructed; they come from the previous Pionier-Aufbau kit. They are identical, except that one holds a shovel as well as a pick and the other two axes. The tools all have fine molded-on clamp details and there are etched brass details for them as well as the under-seat stowage lockers. Multi-part rifle racks are fitted to the backs of the first and second seat modules; these include etched brass detail parts. A full compliment of 10 slide-molded Kar98k rifles is provided. They include bored-out muzzles and separate bolts in two configurations: opened and closed. There are also several five-round clips for the weapons. Their butts have separate holding sockets mounted on the deck.

The separate left, right and rear body side panels are also new. They incorporate the openings for crew entry as well as the ammo lockers. The side panels have the crews hand-grips cut out of the body-work. The ammunition lockers feature external and internal bulkheads; all doors are separate and can be shown opened or closed. A separate upper deck mounts a multi-part stowage rack, as well as a weather-sealing strip for when the convertible top is erected. The folded top consists of seven parts for the frames and a nicely-textured canvas segment. The erected top comes in two main parts, with the rear section, which had cellophane windows, as a clear part. Separate stems to represent the frames for the erected cover are also given for a very complete appearance.

Accessories.

Five sprues are provided, each having three differently-molded field packs on them. These include folded great-coat, gas mask case and cape holder, and a small pack. Another sprue contains 10 separate jerry cans, to include one in the early style. These all feature separate handles, pour spouts and etched brass inserts for their central weld beads. Two clusters, each of five jerry cans are also provided. They too feature separate handles and pour spouts, but their welds are molded in place. Due to the way these are molded, there are no stamping details on either of the end cans; the modeler must book-end these with one of the provided separate cans for a proper appearance. The final accessories are a rolled-up canvas tarp and a single M1935 steel helmet.

Molding, Fit and Engineering.

Molding is very delicate throughout, a hallmark of Bronco. There was no flash and mold seams were faint and easily cleaned. There are no ejector pin marks on any visible post-assembly part.

Accuracy and Details.

While the details are really quite good, the base kit, after four iterations, still suffers from multiple (some quite major) accuracy issues. While some manufacturers are often crucified for a continued lack of response when accuracy issues are raised over a long period of time, Bronco still seems to get a pass. One cant be blamed for wondering why this is so.

Instructions.

These are very clearly executed as traditional line art. The painting and markings information is presented as full-color three-view drawings of all eight vehicles; in addition, there are detail painting notes spread throughout. A four-page addendum is included that shows the new styrene and etched brass parts. This further complicates what are very busy instructions to begin with, so the modeler is urged to proceed with extreme caution.

Decals and Markings Information.

The decals are printed in-house by Bronco and exhibit a high level of quality. Designs are crisply-printed and have thin, close-cropped matte carrier film. Eight vehicles are represented; six from the German Heer and two from their truculent Eastern Front ally, Bulgaria. They are as follows:

Three from unknown Heer units, all painted overall in Dunkelgrau.
Two from the Bulgarian Army, both painted overall in Dunkelgrau.
Panzer-Grenadier-Division Grossdeutschland, Ostfront 1943, in Dunkelgrau over-painted in a Dunkelgelb camouflage pattern.
3.Panzer-Division, Ostfront 1941 painted overall in Dunkelgrau.
Unidentified Heer unit, Ardennes in 1944, painted overall in Dunkelgelb, with camouflage pattern in Olivgr├╝n and Rotbraun.

The only scheme confirmed is that of the one of the Bulgarian vehicles, and that is probably incomplete.

Conclusion.

Although this is a decent kit of a fairly interesting subject, it still has some serious dimensional and proportional problems, especially around its front end. Some of this was known prior to this kits release, and any other issues could have been resolved if Bronco would have invested in the Panzer Tracts book listed below. On the other hand, the accessories, and especially the inclusion of folded or erected canvas foul weather covers should serve as a wake-up call to other manufacturers who skimp in this department.

Frank V. De Sisto

References consulted for this report included:

1. Mittlerer Zugkraftwagen 5t (Sd.Kfz.6) and Schwerer Wehrmachtsschlepper; Panzer Tracts No.22-3, by T. Jentz & H. Doyle.
2. German Half-Tracked Vehicles of World War 2; Hippocrene Books, by John Milsom.
3. German Army Semi-Tracks 1939-45, Part 1, Prime Movers and Self-Propelled Carriages; Bellona, by Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle.
4. German Half-Tracks of World War Two; Concord 7054, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocq.
5. German Half-Tracks of World War Two, Vol.2; Concord 7067, by F. De Sisto & L. Lecocq.
6. German Halftracks in Action; Squadron Armor No.3, by U. Feist & K. Reiger.
7. Halbkettenfahrzeuge, German Half-Track Vehicles 1939-1945; Wehrmacht Illustrated No.4, Almark Publications, by J. Williamson & K. Jones.
8. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WW2, Revised Edition; Arms and Armour Press, by P. Chamberlain, H. Doyle & T. Jentz.

Bronco Models are available in North America from DragonUSA. For more information, visit their web-site at: www.dragonusaonline.com.

Note: Since May of 2005, I have been writing books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DragonUSA, Broncos current North American distributor. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.

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