Finally a decent reproduction of the 17-pounder AT Gun. After many 6-pounder guns, we finally get the newest release of this weapon after years of Tamiya's domination. There are lots of tiny and minute pieces, but a slide-molded gun barrel and shield make it a wonderful addition to any collection.
The Ordnance Quick-Firing, or QF, 17 pounder Anti-Tank Gun (firing 76.2mm or 3 inch shells) was one of the most widely- and effectively-used British Army weapons during World War II. Some were mounted on carriages, while others were mounted on tanks, such as the British and Canadian versions of the Sherman known as the "Firefly." While the QF 6-pounder is generally more well-known, the 17-pounder received the focus of the Army because of an increasing threat by German tanks and artillery pieces on all fronts, especially in the early North African campaign. The gun was therefore hurried into production, but unfortunately, this rushed decision forced its introduction without an appropriate carriage. Many were therefore mounted on makeshift carriages such as those meant for the 25lb. gun-howitzers. These particular models were named 17/25 and given the code named "Pheasant," a version first introduced in February, 1943. After a more thorough development of the weapon, a now completely-equipped gun was first introduced during the Italian campaign in late 1943.
The 17 pounder as an armor-piercing weapon was one of the most effective Allied guns of the time. Yet placing it effectively in a tank's gun turret was far more difficult than expected, due to turret ring size restrictions. The only way this could effectively done be was to rotate the gun itself on its axis by a 90-degree turn. In this way it was mounted in Sherman turrets after the addition of a welded box at the turret’s rear that allowed a proper recoil of the gun while firing. The very same gun was also adapted by the British to equip their own versions of the M-10 Tank Destroyers known as the "Achilles." The 17-pounder saw action right through the early operations of the Korean War, but was soon replaced by more powerful cousins.
Due to its enormous weight (3 tons) and its bulk, this AT gun could not be moved by the crew alone, and always needed a gun tractor. This resulted in its being reassigned to anti-tank units of the British Army, and was therefore never used by Infantry anti-tank platoons. Bronco has reproduced the Mark I version, which remained an exclusive artillery piece. All the others (like the Mark II-VII) were simply tank adaptations.
The Mark I was exclusively carried by the Ford Quad Gun Tractor (Ford-F-GT), the very same truck made famous by Tamiya as the 1/35 "25 PDR.FIELD GUN and QUAD GUN TRACTOR (CANADIAN FORD F.G.T.)", without the limber in tow. Despite having been replaced by the 25-pounder Field Gun in the pure artillery role following D-Day, some of these still remained in service up to the end of WWII. They are known to have seen action during Operation Market-Garden, and were carried either by gliders or simply parachuted-in from specially-modified British or American C-47s (known by the British as "Dakota I," and by the Americans as "Gooney Birds"). The gun served in battles along the Rhine River, and later, with the drive to Berlin.
The model itself comes subdivided into 6 sprues: two large ones for the gun and its mount, two smaller ones for the ammunition crates and the projectiles, and finally, two more for the wheel body and rear ends of the towing structure. Also included and separately molded, are the tires. A photo-etched fret for the detailing parts of the gun and four tiny ones, reserved for details on the steel ammunition boxes and for the projectile bottom complete the assembly set.
I was flabbergasted when I opened the box of the new Bronco 17 Pounder Anti-Tank Gun. Finally a decent reproduction! After many 6 Pounder kits, we finally get a new release of this weapon following years of making do with the Tamiya version.
Lots of tiny and minute pieces, including a slide-molded gun barrel and shield that make this a wonderful addition to any collection. This, together with AFV Model’s 1/35th PAK43 AT Gun can make for a spectacular artillery diorama display. Mind you, this is not for the newcomer or occasional builder. It is packed with lots of tiny parts and details, including an excellent Photo-Etched fret with just enough parts to make the 17-pounder as accurate as possible. Lots of attention has to be given when following the instructions included in a wonderful, and to me at least, very clear assembly booklet.
As a side note, for those who want extra help, Terry Ashley of PMSS (Perth Military Modeling Site) has put together a very effective and thorough explanation of the assembly procedure, together with step-by-step pictures of the same (click here).
Alas, Bronco only delivers the gun with no crew to man it, and this is a field that apparently is exclusively reserved for the after-market. But if one is skillful enough at converting "normal" infantry figures, one may be in luck with Dragon's #6212 "British Infantry (Normandy 1944)" or #6055 "British Commonwealth Troops (NW Europe 1944)." Both include some crouching figures that can be easily adapted to firing a gun, as well as standing figures that could be adapted as ammo carriers. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to find appropriate British artillerymen to man all the newer versions of artillery pieces coming onto the market, except the same old ones by Tamiya. But even these are only valid for a North Africa setting.
decals & painting
The model comes with a tiny decal sheet with a few stenciling items for the gun itself, as well as for the ammunition boxes. If you should need an additional set of these, including naturally additional ammunition, there are after-market options.
Alas, the painting options, at least as for instructions provided, are in plain overall British No.15 Olive Drab, whatever this may mean, since it is difficult to find any indication of a commercially available paint in this color. I would suggest looking at Vallejo Military colors (probably No. 70.924) or Life Color’s catalogue (possibly either UA 221, which is a tad too bright, or UA 222, which is too brownish). Testor’s Model Master acrylic 50111 stands-in for FS 34088 “Artillery Olive.” On the enamel paint front at least, the best corresponding color may be Humbrol’s “Khaki Drab” 159, which is also described as No.15 B.S.987C-1942. It is also the base color of the North Western European campaign’s “Mickey Mouse” camouflage pattern.
Yet we still forget about the Canadian counter-parts (of which there is no mention in the instruction sheet). These wore the same colors as U.S. armor, usually varying between an FS 34087 Olive Drab (readily available from many paint producers), and a Dark Green Drab FS 34083 (only available from Vallejo as No. 70.894 in acrylic format).
While no crew is provided, I can only state my complete satisfaction at the sight of such a miniature jewel. It is well-executed with no flaws that I could detect, and so stuffed with minute parts that I suspect it took Bronco's researchers quite a long time to get it all together. I wish all Artillery models were done like this, since (if modeled appropriately) they could truly become museum pieces in scale.
But as I said before, and I must emphasize this point, this is not a model for the novice modeler. It needs its time, study and precision. Without all three, it could result in a ghastly mess. So be aware. If you want this particular item, take your time and try to enjoy the process.