T17E2 Staghound AA Armored Car

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Company: Bronco Models - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
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Eight or so years ago, Tamiya resurrected 1/48th scale for military vehicles models. There is now a new player in the game: Bronco Models of Hong Kong. Bronco has recently launched three sister kits into this niche market: the T17E2 Staghound armored cars, each with a different turret layout. The kit under review here is the anti-aircraft version. And all I can say is WOW, what a fantastic kit it is!

Bronco released a number of Staghound variants a few years ago in 1/35th scale. These larger scale kits were loaded down with finely detailed parts, and the new 1/48th scale kits are very much in the same vein: lots of parts (approx. 300) loaded down with exquisite detail. The anti-aircraft Staghound consists of six sprues of injection plastic parts, a photo-etched fret of detail parts, and decals for three period vehicles. Many of the injection plastic parts are extremely tiny, so care must be taken when removing them from the sprues, cleaning them up, and gluing them onto the model without launching them across the room to be eaten by the carpet monster. The fit of the parts overall is excellent. No putty whatsoever was used in the construction of this kit. However, due to the vast number of parts, care must be taken to acquaint oneself thoroughly with the instructions, and to make sure parts are test fitted for accurate alignment before applying glue.

Construction begins with the main hull parts, to which a breathtaking number of small lower hull and drive train/steering parts are attached. The drive train/transaxle units, for example, consist of no less than 20 parts, and the spring/wheel mount areas over a dozen more – little struts and levers everywhere! And speaking of levers, the driver and co-driver visors are very well detailed, each visor consisting of four parts, including parts for the armored glass. The visors come with the option of installing tiny photo etched brass levers in order to deploy the visors in the open position. Separate two-part driver/co-driver periscopes are provided, allowing the periscopes to be deployed open or closed.

The kit provides the modeler with a host of onboard tools, such as shovel, pickaxe, axe, etc. These are simply the best detailed tools I have found on any 1/48th scale military vehicle kit and, if Bronco released them as a separate set, I would purchase a number of them to replace the poorly detailed tools on other firms’ kits.

The massive tires present on the Staghound are beautifully rendered by Bronco, each consisting of three parts. I cut off the alignment pegs, sanded the mating surfaces gently for a perfectly flat surface, and glued them carefully together. The tire tread detail and the hub detail, with finely detailed attachment bolts, are wonderfully portrayed.

The one area where I did experience some difficulty was in assembling Sections 14 and 18/19: the attachment of the external fuel tanks to the vehicle hull. Bronco supplies the modeler with some very fine photo-etched brass “straps” which are assembled in Section 14 from PE parts P6, and injection parts D13 and D14. It is not made clear how exactly the injection parts are to be glued to the PE parts in Section 14. And once glued together, it isn’t quite clear how these parts are meant to attach to the model in Sections 18/19. When you get to this point in the assembly sequence, I strongly advise you to utilize reference photos to make sure you get it right. I personally ended up cutting the PE parts to make them shorter in length, and figured out a way to join the PE and injection parts in Section 14 via trial and error. It all worked out okay, but the instructions could use some revision here, in my opinion.

Assembly Section 20: parts listed as D59 are in fact D60, while parts listed as D58 are in fact D59. Parts listed as D57 are in fact D58. This section also sees the installation of the vehicle headlights and headlight guards. These guards are made up of tiny PE parts, which need to be annealed for best results, and then very carefully bent over the forming template, part D54.

Finally comes assembly Sections 21 through 27: the anti-aircraft turret. Here I warn you once again to familiarize yourself with the assembly sequences, and follow them very carefully. You will be dealing with lots of very small plastic and photo-etched parts, some of them very fragile, so care must be taken in removing them from the sprues. If you are careful, follow the instructions religiously, and don’t rush things, a lovely rendition of the AA turret will result. In looking at reference photos, I decided to add some weld beads to the exterior of the turret sides, Parts B3/4/5, once assembled.

The kit comes with nicely printed decals for three different vehicles. Unfortunately, the instructions only show “Option 1: Royal Canadian Dragoons, Italy 1944” and “Option 3: 11th Hussars, Normandy, June 1944”. I opted for the British markings. The decals went down reasonably well, with liberal applications of decal setting solutions required to make the rear deck white star set properly. Not Cartograf Decals quality, but they worked well enough.

Being a British vehicle, I painted the model in SCC 15 British Olive Drab. This was produced by mixing Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab together with Tamiya XF-58 Olive Green in a 5/4 ratio. Another paint recipe for SCC15 I have seen is Tamiya XF-49 Khaki with Tamiya XF-51 Khaki Drab in a 50/50 mix. Once the model was painted with the SCC15 mixture, I then lightened the initial mixture with Tamiya XF-60 Dark Yellow, and then filled in the centers of various panels with this. The whole model then received a coat of Tamiya Gloss clear and the decals were applied. The decals were allowed to dry for 48 hours, then another coat of Tamiya Gloss clear was applied to seal the decals. Various oil paint “washes” were applied, and when thoroughly dry, a coat of Vallejo matt clear was applied. Over this was applied more oil paint “streaking” to represent dirt, rust marks, etc. I also tried “paint chipping” for the first time, utilizing various shades of Vallejo acrylic paint and a fine tipped brush. This was allowed to dry over the course of a week, whereupon an application of Humbrol matt clear was applied, and some light dusting with Tamiya XF-57 Buff to represent road dust.

Bronco’s 1/48th Staghound AA kit represents model kit manufacturing at its very best: a great wealth of highly detailed parts, both injection plastic and PE brass, which are very well engineered to fit together well. The only challenges are to master the instructions and assemble the great number of parts without shooting any across the room and into the waiting jaws of the carpet monster! This kit receives my highest recommendation, and I can’t wait to get to work on the other two Staghounds in this series. I can only hope sales justify more releases by Bronco in this scale!

For two great references on the Staghound AA, I can recommend the book by David Doyle, “The Staghound: A Visual History of the T17E Armored Cars in Allied Service 1940-45,” Ampersand Publishing, 2009. And on the web, try this excellent site: http://svsm.org/gallery/staghoundaa

My sincere thanks to Dragon Models USA for providing IPMS/USA with the review sample, and to IPMS for forwarding it to me. If you love great models, get this kit!


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