by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
Our thanks to Rodney Ulrich for researching, writing and providing images from the Technical Manual for this review.
The kit is described as the ‘British Army’ version as opposed to the earlier Bronco release of a Canadian Pattern gun & as such the configuration of this new release matches very closely to that described in my copy of the “Handbook for the Ordnance QF 40mm, Mk I on Mountings, 40mm Anti-Aircraft, Mks I, IA, IB, II & III” & Platforms Mks I, II; dated 1941! This is basically the user’s guide on operating & maintaining this iconic weapon. Naturally, I have used the book as a guide in reviewing the kit & base my comments fully against the ‘Mk I’ gun’s specification but as only observations on the ‘Mk III’ configuration. Remember, there was no ‘Mk II’ gun in British service!
So what do you get for your cash? Basically a British specification Ordnance MkI or Mk III (the gun bit!), on the Mk III A-A Mount (the bit the gun sits in!), all mounted on the Mk I Carriage (the bit with the wheels!). Opening the box reveals a bewildering amount of delicately formed plastic, a small fret of photo etched brass details, a sprue of minute resin wing nuts, a steel spring (with two in plastic if preferred) and a modest decal sheet. All illustrated in a 19 page, 33 stage colour instruction booklet. There is obviously some duplication between the British & Canadian versions as some of the parts are listed as not required, however, there are many parts included which are alternatives that reflect the many variations that were prevalent on the Bofors. All parts are beautifully moulded & completely ‘flash’ free, indeed, the plastic Barrel Recoil Springs are a perfect example of superb modern mould technology! Included in the kit are the obligatory spare barrel & packing case, plus a small selection of ammunition boxes with rounds in clips & fully packaged. All together the kit contains 54 rounds - only enough for about 25 seconds firing (at 120 rounds a minute!) – Budding diorama modellers take note!
There is one overall note of caution that must be made to all who wish to build this kit - it is extremely complex. The level of detail is such that even individual bolt heads & wing nuts are included; therefore almost all stages of construction leave the modeller vulnerable to inadvertently breaking off or losing an item that has been carefully placed at an earlier stage. In addition, whilst appearing inclusive, the instruction booklet can be a little vague as to the exact location of some miniscule details. This is most apparent when applying the etch brass items.
More fundamental is the way the instruction booklet offers the builder a choice of configuration but does little to clarify either what is applicable to the ‘MkI’ or ‘MkIII’ (with the notable exception of sighting arrangements), or how the gun is arranged when travelling or in action. So check the following:
1. Ensure that the axle cross connections are correct (Stage 16, parts B4, B7, B8 & B15) so that all wheels are correctly aligned & that the steering mechanism is correctly located at the leading end of the carriage.
2. If the gun is modelled in the travelling configuration remove all ready use ammunition from the Feed Guides & reserve clip stowages; fit the Feed Guide Cover (Part F 11) & add a wheel brake operating lanyard (26 ft long in real life!) to the brake operating mechanism (Part A 43), running from its adjacent anchor point, back around the operating pulley, then forward to the driver’s position in the gun tractor.
3. If the gun is to be modelled ‘in action’ follow the directions given as per the instruction booklet except for:
a. Quick Action Drills against ground targets – the gun can be fired on its wheels but extend the outriggers & lower all Levelling Screw Jacks so they are weight-bearing.
b. All Anti-Aircraft Drills – lower the gun off of its wheels, make sure the carriage is perfectly level on whatever the terrain using the Levelling Screw Jacks & ensure that the Ground Stakes (Parts C8, C9, C35 & P33) are slid into their respective cleats (Parts C42) & ‘driven’ into the ground.
4. Lastly, consider the period & location you wish to portray? For the ‘Mk I’ gun, do not mount additional ready use ammunition as described in Stage 8 as this was a later modification. Sadly, the original ‘Mk I’ Reflector Sighting system is not included & my Handbook shows a differing pattern of Azimuth Sight to that offered in the kit. Never fit the ‘Stiffkey’ sights to any gun in use before 1943 as this & the ready use ammunition stowage are far more representative of later war ‘Mk III’ weapons.
As with all modelling, check & double check your references as there will always be exceptions to the rule or traps for the unwary - even if you only aim to replicate a generic representation of a much used bit of kit!
Finally, try to be more adventurous than Bronco with your colour scheme. They quote ‘Olive Drab’ for the overall colour, the same for the spare barrel crate & ammo boxes, which is not strictly accurate. The model lends itself to the complete panoply of British & Commonwealth schemes from Bronze Green, Dark Bronze Green, Dark Earth, Portland Stone, Desert Pink, Olive Green (SCC 15), etc, etc! The spare barrel crate would of matched the gun’s overall colour & unless they had been over-painted (all stencilled details excepted), ammo boxes were ‘Service Brown’!
The Bronco Bofors Ordnance QF 40mm Anti-Aircraft Mk I/III is an inclusive, well detailed & accurate rendition of an extremely effective & widely used piece of ordnance. Even without the original Reflector Sighting System or the much maligned Kerrison Director, this kit can be confidently placed in any scenario applicable to the British & Commonwealth forces from 1940 to the 1950’s. However, great care is needed to work through the instruction booklet, both to minimise self-induced configuration or construction errors & to maximise the level of detail included. Yet, there is great scope to achieve an extremely accurate portrayal of a Bofors gun in British service without resource to expensive ‘after-market’ accessories.