The M24 Chaffee light tank went into service with the US military near the end of World War Two, but before World War Two finished British forces acquired a small number of Chaffee’s (although I do not believe they saw action with British forces). The Chaffee in British service did take part in the Korean War where its 75mm gun on such a small tank was a big plus allowing the tank to, in effect, punch above its weight.
The contents of this model, manufactured by Bronco
, arrive in a sturdy cardboard box which should ensure your model reaches you as intended, inside you will find;
• 18 tan coloured sprues.
• 1 clear sprue.
• 7 loose tan coloured components.
• 14 runs of 12 track links.
• 1 photo etched fret.
• 1 set of decals.
• Glossy instruction booklet.
• A length of string.
To start this review I should mention that this model shares most of its mouldings with the Bronco US Light Tank M24 Chaffee (Early Production) w/crew (NW Europe 1944-45) reviewed by Russ Amott, a link to which is at the bottom of this review. A quick look at the mouldings shows no signs of problems such as ejection marks on viewable areas, soft mouldings, or warped parts.
As I said earlier this shares most of its components with the earlier Chaffee release but one major change is that the corrected turret is included with this offering, this indicates to me that Bronco does listen to the end users opinion and takes steps where possible to correct oversights and mistakes on their part.
The instructions are a good a place as any to start this review proper, so here goes… the instructions are in an A4 format booklet, the paper used is of good quality with a gloss finish and clear printing. The instructions are clearly laid out and use the line drawing method as a guide to the building process. The build takes place over 42 steps with no step being overly busy or difficult to follow, but that said due to the breakdown of parts I would not class this model as suitable for a beginner as they may become frustrated with the breakdown of parts and small size. At the end of the instruction booklet are five 4 way views (front, back, left and right side) covering tanks in service with the British Army, with my favourite, (and the version I will build) being Trigger Happy which served with the 1st tank regiment, 22nd armoured brigade, 7th armoured division in 1945 and is currently stored at Bovington Tank Museum, which provides me with easy access for reference purposes. A link to a walk around of this specific M24 Chaffee is at the bottom of this review. Decals provided allow marking options for five vehicles.
The instructions start with the lower hull of the tank and the suspension components. This takes seven stages to complete and that does not even cover the tracks. The suspension is moveable which allows the vehicle to be displayed in a realistic and natural position when displayed on uneven ground, however I recommend that the suspension units are secured when final orientation is decided upon as continued manipulation will, most likely, result in damage and breakages. The idler wheel and drive sprocket show great use of slide moulding technology and I hope the provided pictures relay that clearly.
Work then begins on sub-assemblies for the upper hull with some areas standing out and worthy of specific mention. The best example of this is the photo etched light guards; anyone who has worked with photo etched parts knows one of the hardest aspects of using these sets is when they need to be shaped beyond a straight forward angle, this usually results in either a less than perfect result or the part not being used. Bronco has provided formers for the light guards which increases the possibility of achieving very accurate guards (which in one case consists of six parts). It should also be mentioned that Bronco has included injection moulded plastic alternatives for those unwilling to take this on.
The inclusion of photo etched gratings to cover the vents on the engine deck are also a nice touch and one that I wish all manufacturers would take up as this is one of the easiest improvements a modeller can add, with the possible exception of a turned metal barrel. The drivers windshield/splash guard is also an area worth paying attention to as it is also a nice touch with very good detail. Something else that caught my eye was the inclusion of photo etched casting numbers for those fans of including as much detail as possible and photo etched handles for the hatches, these are items you very rarely see included with a kit and are usually only available via after-market products.
The tracks for this model are workable which with the addition of the workable suspension provides you with a further ability to build a model displayed on an uneven surface with a very natural look and presentation of weight. The tracks are workable because they utilise nipples which locate in a recess on the opposite face of the track and it is this process that I have read in forums of problems with breakages. To test this issue out I cut free a set of 12 track links to see how they perform. I found them easy to assemble if placed on a flat surface and then locating one of the nipples before lowering the other onto the other side. I found that if you try to locate the nipples by pushing the tracks together that too much pressure was exerted and that this would result in some breakages or distortions of the track links. My opinion is that while damage is easy to inflict if care is not taken, a little thought about application of each successive link can result in a workable set of tracks for your AFV that do look the part. Once the tracks are in place I would again recommend that they are secured via an application of glue.
One inclusion I am not in favour of is the recoil action of the gun via the use of an injection moulded spring, the spring does show just what manufacturers are now capable of, but this recoil action adds nothing to the model in my opinion and will just encourage people to play with the barrel resulting in possible future breakages. Your opinion may vary. The detail that has been put into the main gun and its breach is otherwise excellent, as is the 30 calibre Browning’s included for the aiming gun and the bow machine gun. The turned metal barrels available from companies such as RB barrels are better, so AM options are available for those so inclined. While on the subject of barrels, the 75mm barrel on this model is accurate in detail and have the raised details where needed, in my opinion does away with the need of replacement metal barrel.
Bronco (thankfully, due to the large openings in the turret) has included a fair amount of interior detail, such as I mentioned already the breach of the main gun, radios for the rear of the turret, and the turret traversing gear. The clear optics provided in the kit are nicely detailed and add to the overall effect. The exterior of the turret is also very well catered to with step 31 possibly being the busiest stage of all, and you will have to take care to make sure you do not apply, or omit, detail for the specific vehicle you have chosen to build.
The 50 calibre gun provided in the kit for the roof of the tank is another area where slide moulding has been put to work for great effect as it has resulted in a very nicely detailed body of the gun. With the addition of the included photo etched parts this should result in a great visual effect. It should also be mentioned that Bronco has included ammunition containers, six items of webbing for storage, fuel drums (Jerrycans), and a milk churn. Another great inclusion with this product is a figure of a British squaddie enjoying what we are famous for, which is drinking tea.
I cannot praise this kit of the Light Tank M24 Chaffee (British Army) enough, attention to detail is excellent and includes details that will help keep even the most puritanical builder happy. The addition of a figure, ammunition containers, six items of webbing for storage, fuel drums (Jerrycans), and a milk churn just adds icing to the cake. And don’t forget workable tracks being included in the box.
As I said in the review I am not a fan of the recoil action on the main gun but that is just a matter of taste, the only other weak area as far as I am concerned is the string included to represent the tow cable which really will benefit from being replaced with some wire. The only other addition you may wish to make are aerials, as opposed to the suggested stretched sprue.
In closing it is my opinion that this must be one of the most complete models on the market today. A ”very well done”
to Bronco for this kit, which I am sure will turn up in a large number of stashes and builds.
concerning the markings provided, with many thanks to Al Bowie
"There are 5 options:
1. HQ Tp 5RTR22 AB 7 AD Germany 45. "Kelly' Aye" T 330415 Overall OD
2. C Sqn Recce Regt 5 ID 1946 "Chieftain" T330512 Overall OD
3. Newly Delivered for Evaluation Winter 44 England T330411 Overall OD
4. 3 RTR 22 AB 7AD 1944 - "ANNE" T 441275 Shown in the colour guide as a Dk Grey but tells you to paint OD
5. 1 RTR 22 AB 7AD 1945 - "Trigger Happy" T330553
Nice to get five choices however there appears to be quite a few serious errors particularly with Formation and Aos in these two options.
1. 5 RTR was the junior Regt in the Bde yet the Aos is 52 (1 RTR) when it should be 53. The Tac Marking is in Yellow (1 RTR Snr Regt?)
4. 3 RTR by my reckoning (and I am happy to be corrected)was the second Regt of 11 AD in 1945 and not in 7AD. The grey scheme is intriguing even though it tells you to use OD. Additionally the Tac marking in Red (5 inside a Square) 5 TP Bsqn (?)should be in Yellow being the Second Regt. The T Number range seems to me to be far removed from the original range considering only 302 were received (speculation until I find the number breakup which I have somewhere)
Schemes 2,3 and 5 seem OK"
Review of the M24 Chaffee (Early Production) by Russ Amott
M24 Chaffee at Bovington walkaround by Darren Baker