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In-Box Review
135
Valentine Mk XI
Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine Mk XI[OP]
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

Bronco Models has released the second Valentine tank into their range of 1/35th scale Allied armour. Having been watching the forums on Armorama I know that this specific release has been eagerly awaited by some members here. The Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine Mk Xi [OP] is armed with a 75mm main gun instead of the usual 2 or 6pdr, the tank was used as a command and observation tank and according to the information supplied by Bronco Models a large number were sent to Russia with a few retained for training purposes.

Contents

The model is packaged in what is now the standard Bronco Models method with the top opening box having a cardboard base and a card top. Inside the packaging you will find;
  • 11 grey sprues
  • 1 clear sprue
  • Lower tank hull
  • 18 brown sprues of individual track links
  • 1 photo etched fret
  • 1 decal sheet
  • A box top poster
  • Glossy instruction booklet

All of the sprues are individually packaged with the exception of sprues that are duplicated.

Review

Taking a close look at the moulded parts of this model kit shows that Bronco Models has retained the high quality of their previous releases. I did not locate any areas of concern such as flash or ejection pin marks that will be an issue. The photo etched parts supplied are of a reasonable grade metal that is fine enough to be easily worked but not so fine that it is easily damaged. The instructions are printed on high quality glossy paper which I feel is a plus. The decals look good to me but I will admit that is not an area I am an expert in.

The instruction booklet begins with the usual guide to the symbols used during construction of the model. Next is a painting guide with the paints identified by;
  • Actual colour name
  • MR Hobby
  • Hobby Color
  • Humbrol
  • Tamiya

The parts list or map is covered next which is well worth checking to verify all of the parts are in the box; I will say I have covered a large number of Bronco Models and have yet to get a sealed sample that has parts missing. The instructions guide you through construction using the line drawing method and is complete in 31 stages; well that is not the whole story as a number of the stages have a lot of sub assembly steps in them which would at least double the number of stages. The last few pages of the instruction booklet covers the finishing options, there are 4 finishing options which are;
  • 61st AT Regt, RA(TA) 51st Highland Infantry Division, Bremerhaven, Germany, May 1945
  • Battery Commander, 102 Northumberland Hussars AT Regt RA(TA) 15th Scottish Infantry Division, Holland 1945
  • Royal Armoured Corps Gunnery School, Lulworth, UK, late 1943 – early 1945
  • Troop Commander, H Troop, 4th Battery, 73rd AT Regt, RA(TA), 30 Corps, Rhine Crossing Spring 1945


This model of the Valentine Tank from Bronco Models shares a lot of parts with the previous version that Bronco Models released. The internal hull detail provided is sufficient for an interesting view through the drivers hatch. The rear portion of the hull has a reasonable representation of the drive, radiators, fans and what I believe is the gearbox and which altogether provide enough detail to have this area open and could be shown with a REME mechanic working on the tank. For those modellers that intend to have the model buttoned down most of these parts can be missed out, I do however recommend that the fan housing is installed to stabilise the hull sides and provides a support for the engine deck.

The next stages cover assembly and installation of the bogies, drive, road, idler, and return rollers/wheels. Firstly all of the wheels are moveable if care is taken during assembly, I know that some of you are thinking “so what”? the fact that all of the wheels can be rotated after assembly means that painting will be a lot easier and as the bogies are also workable it allows you to play around to some degree while deciding how you want to display your model regardless of if that is level such as on a shelf or articulated on rough ground in a diorama. I suggest that once you have decided on a display option that you cement the suspension units of the bogies to prevent damage in the future. The drive wheel and bogies have been very well replicated by Bronco Models with the springs in the units being an incredible example of what injection molded plastic technology is capable of today.

The individual track links supplied with the kit are workable; this has been achieved using a nipple and receiver on the links. I have assembled some of these links in the past and they go together very well if you insert one nipple into its receiver and then push the other side home, if you try to just push the links together without getting one of the nipples home first it can result in breakages of some of the nipples and may end up just annoying you. I again advise you glue the tracks solid at some point to ensure they stay together but that is for you to decide.

The track guards and upper hull are next and there is some great detail provided by Bronco Models here. The track guards themselves will be easy to add to the model but the star of this area is the multi part upper hull which due to being made of a lot of parts has some very crisp and realistic detail. Looking at these areas of the model a lot of dry fitting is advised to ensure a good fit of all of the parts, areas of note such as the turret ring teeth and the engine deck which looks particularly good. The tool boxes, external fuel tank and exhaust system that sit on the track guards are another area where Bronco Models has excelled in supplying well detailed parts which also includes some photo etched parts which add a nice level of detail without being excessive.

The turret assembly is covered last and begins with the 75mm main gun; the gun barrel is supplied as a single plastic part which while I am a fan of turned metal barrels looks to me at least to be equal to the task. The mantlet which I believe is specific to the MK XI looks to accurately replicate the real thing well and with a nicely detailed breach which along with a radio and firing mechanism for the smoke grenade launchers. The smoke launchers are an area that I am unsure about as all of the smoke launchers I have seen on British armour during World War II basically consists of a cut up Lee Enfield rifle with a cup fitted, the offering with the kit is similar but I have not seen what it is based on. The turret itself has been well thought out in that it avoids joint lines by providing the turret rear as a separate part. The turret hatches can be open or closed but as they are quite large you will need to consider how you intend to increase the interior supplied. Some high points here are the very well detailed radio aerial mounts which look very accurate to me rather than generally correct.

Conclusion

This is yet another impressive model of the Valentine tank from Bronco Models, the detail is overall are very good with the important detail when it comes to this version the turret being very well replicated. One thing I would have liked to see as with the previous release of the Valentine is a crew as Bronco Models does have an excellent set of crew figures in their catalogue. I am also appreciative of the realistic quantity of photo etched parts which are not excessive in number and also only used where needed for improved scale accuracy. There are some details that will please the purist and annoy the novice in the form of separate butterfly nuts; however that is of course up to you if you want to use them.

British AFV Crew Live links
SUMMARY
Highs: I like the fact that Bronco has kept the amount of photo etch down to a reasonable amount and the detail that has been put into the turret radio which includes a headset.
Lows: It would have been nice to see at least some of the excellent period British tank crew included with the kit.
Verdict: Very highly recommended.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: CB35146
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Nov 21, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.16%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 87.97%

Our Thanks to Bronco Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT)
FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2017 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.


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Comments

This looks like a great kit. I've never built a British tank but keep wanting to. I think the Valentine will be my first.
NOV 21, 2013 - 08:34 AM
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