This is the Bronco Models kit of the Panzerkamfwagen MK IV, 744(E) (A13).
This kit represents a Cruiser Mk IV A13 captured from the British Army during the Battle for France in 1940. The Germans used the vehicles as gun tanks to support their flame tanks for the invasion of the Soviet Union. The box contains the following parts.
- 25 light grey sprues, including six for track.
- 1 sprue with clear parts.
- 2 P/E frets.
- 1 small decal sheet.
- 1 rope cable.
- 16 page instruction manual with warning page and color table, parts map, 21 construction steps with several exploded views, and full-color four view drawing for markings.
Bottom Line, Up Front
This kit is over-engineered and very 'fiddly", but the detail is outstanding and with patience will build into a nice little replica of the real thing!
The kit contains the sprues from the original Cruiser A13 Mk III kit with additional parts for the German captured MK IV. I had 85 injected parts and nine PE parts left over.
The detail of the parts is exceptional with no flash, and no exposed ejection marks. The kit has most of the parts needed to build the British Cruiser MK III/IV A13, except for the decals and the original track. Clear lenses are available for all of the headlights and for the gunner’s sight.
The instructions come in a booklet of what appears to be A5 paper. Included are a parts map, a paint color recommendation chart, and a full color four-view drawing on the back cover. Locations for many parts are vague so I used the painting guide and the box cover to determine proper locations.
- General - I started my build by constructing the turret which consists of steps 15-20 in the instructions. Painting was required as I built, especially to allow for the spaced armor plates. I built the lower hull using my own order as I felt it provided a stronger hull during construction. Painting as I built was also required due to the multiple plates on the hull rear and to allow me to install the suspension and track before adding the upper hull. The sprockets and idler wheels fit loosely on their axles resulting in problems when adding the tracks. The tracks on the other hand built up easily and really add to the appearance of the finished tank.
- Turret - The plates that form the turret and the outer spaced armor have beveled edges and with patience went together with no filler. Take your time here to ensure the supports for the outer spaced plates remain perpendicular. The 2-pounder gun is a beautiful reproduction, but it is a shame that that constitutes the entire interior of the turret. The radio antennae mount at the rear of the turret was a combination of injected plastic and photo-etch. It really tried my patience. One issue with the kit is that the turret ring has tabs to lock it to the hull; however there are no notches in the hull top. I ended up removing the tabs from the turret.
- Hull and Suspension - Because of the multiple layers of plates on the hull sides and rear I painted as I built. The kit includes all of the components for the Christie suspension, adding an extra dozen parts to the construction of the lower hull – none of which is visible when complete. Once all of the plates for the lower hull were attached the lower hull was quite solid. The instructions have you attach the road wheels and track before you add the end plates at front and rear. I found the sides of the lower hull flexed if the end plates were not installed. As I mentioned above the mountings for the idler wheels and the drive sprocket are fiddly causing some issues when trying to mount the tracks. The hatches on the glacis plate and the engine deck are separate. The fit of the hatches on the glacis are loose and light can be seen around the edges if the turret is off of the hull. The hinges and grab handles for the hatches are separate. This makes for great detail, but increases the parts count.
- Tracks – The tracks are separate link with each link having only one part. There was only a light sanding of the spots where the sprue attached. I assembled each side in four short runs using liquid cement. The liquid cement would wick between the blocks as I assembled the runs and left the tracks flexible enough to fit the suspension after painting and weathering. I painted the tracks with Model Master Track Brown and then hit the high wear areas with graphite and a silver pencil.
- German specific parts – These vehicles had fuel cans mounted on the fenders and in wooden racks attached to the turret sides, which are all provided. The fuel cans consist of five parts including PE center piece. Also added by the Germans were an unditching beam and a towing frame at the rear. The rack that holds the unditching beam is very weak and the attachment points on the hull rear are very small.
Painting and weathering
I painted the tank panzer grey as I built. I painted the wooden beam in a tan color and when dry I dry-brushed on a dark brown to give the beam a weathered wood look. At this time I have only weathered the track and the exhaust systems.
The decals are very opaque, which is a good thing, as they are either white or yellow. They have no clear edge and did not silver even over the flat paint. You have markings for just one unit, the 100th Flammpanzer Battalion in the 18th Panzer Division. Enough numbers are provided to mark any vehicle in the battalion if you can find any references. I selected the numbers shown on the box lid.
The detail on the parts of this kit is outstanding. There were a number of PE parts used to detail plastic that would have been easier for the modeler if the details were in plastic. There was no duplication of plastic and PE parts. The brass used for the PE is very thin which was helpful where folding was required. The thin metal was detrimental for the many long parts as just handling the parts caused them to bend. To achieve this detail required more parts and more complicated engineering. Bronco Models covered both sides of the PE sheets with plastic sheet. I removed the sheet from one side and left the other side to hold the parts as I cut. It greatly reduced small parts from flying around the room. Overall, although frustrating at times, I like the results.
I would like to thank Mike Bass, Laura Carney and all the fine folks at Stevens Internaional for this review kit.