Light Tank M24 Chaffee

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/35
MSRP
$73.00
Product / Stock #
CB35068
Company: Bronco Models - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

Background

Specified in 1943 by the US Army to replace the aging and under-gunned M3 and M5 Stuart light tanks, the M24 Chaffee was a welcome addition to the armored corps of Allied armies in late 1944. Borrowing the M5’s power train, a new torsion bar suspension, a sleek new profile, and a lightweight 75mm gun adapted from the B-25H bomber, the M24 was a significant leap forward in fighting capability. With its late-war arrival in November 1944, the M24 saw limited action by US, British, and Free French forces, but was well received by the units which operated it in combat. Over 4,700 Chaffees were built by war’s end, and most saw service with the US Army through the Korean War and remained in service with other nations into the 1970’s.

The Kit

Bronco’s British Army boxing of the M24 is one of 4 currently available from the manufacturer, the others being a US Army WWII early production model, one of US Army Korean War vintage, and one of post-war Asian armies.

Upon opening the box, the modeler is greeted by 18 sprues of crisp, finely molded tan plastic, along with the hull, idler wheels, and .50 cal machine gun. Another bevy of 14 tan strips of individual track links is neatly packaged in its own clear envelope. A sprue of clear parts, including light lenses and periscopes, rounds out the plastic content. Among the tan sprues are a set of stowage gear and a multi-part standing tank commander as shown in the box art. There are over 750 plastic parts in all. A gorgeous sprue of finely etched PE provides grillework, handles, and hooks; micro-detail akin to that found in many ship models accounts for another 100+ pieces. Ample turret and running gear detail is provided, but there is no driver’s compartment or engine detail, although provisions are made for the incorporation of aftermarket sets for these areas. A single sheet of decals is included, containing 5 markings options. A 27-page instruction and marking manual and a piece of string for the tow cable complete the robust package.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent overall exterior and turret interior detail
  • Kit is well-engineered with good fit of larger parts
  • Running gear can be assembled to conform to base/diorama terrain

Cons

  • High part count
  • Vague instructions
  • Loose fit of smaller running gear parts requires more glue, thus higher risk of seizing movable suspension. Tighter tolerancing of the parts would minimize the glue by allowing “press fit” of the movable parts

The Build

The build sequence used for the review sample ditched the instruction order following Step 2. The hull and suspension were assembled first. To create the poseable suspension, 10 torsion arms (5 each side) span the hull and connect to the pivots for the arms holding the road wheels. Individual struts are pinned to the arms, each of which is individually pinned to the hull. Fit of the wheel arms to the torsion arms is loose at best, and requires application of cement in close proximity to the moving interfaces, making it very difficult to keep the cement from binding the torsion arms. I opted to glue mine in the fixed position.

All of the wheels and drive sprockets were assembled and set aside for painting and integration to the hull at a later time, as were the tracks – each composed of 73 individual track links which snapped together with very little fuss or slop.

Enter David Doyle’s M24 Chaffee Walkaround from Squadron/Signal Publications. From this point forward in the build, that reference was indispensible in deciphering the vague and confusing Bronco instructions.

Assembly of the upper hull originally started with Step 8, but soon bounced around steps until all through Step 22 were satisfied. In this course of the build, much of the finely etched PE was applied with a very attractive and convincing end result. All of the parts for the upper hull fit very well and effectively capture the essence of the Chaffee’s surface detail.

The most logical build sequence was for the turret. Assembly of the 75mm gun, the commander’s, gunner’s, and loader’s seats, and the radios fell in a workable order. The gun’s detail and intricacy of assembly is truly amazing…but quite time-consuming. The turret’s exterior received the balance of the remaining PE, including details for the .50 cal anti-aircraft gun and its ammo box holder. The commander’s cupola hatch and gunner’s top access panel can be posed in either open or closed positions. Without any real interior hull detail, the gunner’s panel is best left closed, but the commander’s hatch can be posed open to expose the crisp detail of the gun breech, recoil guard, and gunner’s station.

Finishing and Marking

After laying down a coat of Tamiya gray primer, I pre-shaded the hull, turret and wheels with flat black. Italeri Acrylic OD 34088 served as the finish color of choice, followed by a dusting of lightened OD 34088 on the upper surfaces, which was then sealed with Minwax Acrylic Clear Gloss. Decals were applied using the MicroScale system without incident or silvering, and were sealed with Future.

Raw umber oil pinwashes were then used to pop some of the recessed detail and provide some added visual depth. Once dry, Model Master Acryl Flat was liberally applied in a couple of misting coats to kill the sheen and provide a dusty-looking matte base for the pigments.

Being a pigment rookie, I chose to keep things simple with Mig’s Europe Dust pigment drybrushed on hull and turret surfaces, and affixed to the running gear in solution with Turpenoid. Pigments were sealed with another modest dusting of Model Master Acryl Flat.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Clearly a kit for advanced modelers, Bronco’s M24 builds into a beautiful representation of the Chaffee in service with the British Army in late WWII. But, make no mistake – this kit is a lot of work and is not one to be rushed against a deadline, as it is akin to building a ship model with tracks.

All things considered, I do recommend this kit for advanced modelers (with lots of time) looking for a Chaffee with a well-detailed exterior, with provision to readily add aftermarket interior detail.

Thanks to Bronco Models and Dragon Models USA for the sample, and to IPMS/USA for the chance to build and review it.

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