by: Iain S Hamilton [ ]
Soon after the German invasion of the USSR in 1941, Wehrmacht units encountered new Soviet tanks, the medium T-34 and the heavy KV. Thick sloped armor of these vehicles gave them a good degree of protection against German anti-tank weapons. The situation eventually led to requests for more powerful guns that would be able to destroy the aforementioned tanks from long range. Since Germany already had a suitable design, the 7.5 cm Pak 40, it entered production and in November 1941 the first pieces were delivered. But until enough of those could be manufactured, some expedient solution was required.
In the early stage of the war, Germans captured a large number (up to 1,300) of Soviet 76-mm divisional guns model 1936 (F-22). Developed with anti-aircraft abilities in mind, the Soviet gun had powerful ballistics; it was also originally intended to use a more powerful cartridge than the one eventually adopted. However the design had some shortcomings which made it ineffective in the anti-tank role. In late 1941 German engineers developed a modernization program, which included:
• Rechambering for a more powerful round. The German cartridge was nearly twice as long as the Soviet one (715 mm vs 385.3 mm) and wider (100 mm vs 90 mm), resulting in 2.4 times larger propellant load.
• Controls were moved to the left side of the barrel, near the sights.
• Recoil mechanism was improved.
• Maximum elevation angle was limited to 18 degrees.
• The carriage was equipped with a new, lower shield.
• Many (but not all) guns were fitted with muzzle brake.
The first impression of this Bronco kit from the outside of the box is that of an impressive kit. The kit is packaged in a sturdy box with each of the 6 sprues and P.E. fret wrapped in plastic. Decals for the ammunition boxes are also present. This kit packs quite a few useful pieces for the spares box including another one piece barrel.
Upon opening the box, my initial impression was correct. The 6 sprues are molded in tan styrene and do not show ejector pin marks or flash. The only clean-up here should be the attachment points to the sprue.
The parts themselves show very crisp detail. Both raised and recessed details are excellent. This kit also treats you to a one piece (plastic) barrel. The kit tires are also molded in one piece and show excellent tread pattern detail as well as manufacturers lettering on the sidewall. Moving on to the gun shield, we find excellent surface detail as well as beveled edges to give the illusion of proper scale thickness.
The 9 page instruction booklet is straight forward and printed in both English & Chinese. All instructional images are large and clearly marked. The part number layout is clear and easy to follow on both the instruction sheet and the sprue. A decal & color guide is printed on the back of the instruction booklet.
This is a very well detailed kit that also makes itself approachable to beginners and a treat for the more experienced modeler. Bronco's over-all presentation with this kit is impressive. With almost no need for extensive clean-up and reworking of parts, the quality of the molding and instructions makes this kit open to everyone. The level of detail will enable you to really bring this kit to life. I would highly recommend this kit to either experienced or beginning modelers.