Guest Review – Bronco Models 1/35th Valentine 25 pdr “Bishop” With No. 27 Ammo Limber

Bronco Models 1-35th Valentine 25 pdr Bishop With No. 27 Ammo Limber

In-box Review of Bronco Models 1/35th Valentine 25 pdr “Bishop” W/No. 27 Ammo Limber
Kit No. CB35077SP

By Ray Mehlberger

The British were impressed by German mobile artillery encountered in the desert of North Africa. These vehicles were able to keep pace with the tanks they were designed to support, and could be quickly brought into action.

The most important British artillery piece in early 1942 was the 25 pounder field gun, and it was decided to mount this on a tank hull. Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon had already used the Valentine as a pilot SPG, and they were asked to modify the design to mount the 25 pounder. The resulting vehicle was named the Bishop and was ready for production in mid-1942. It was simply a 25 pdr gun and 32 rounds of ammunition housed in a lightly armored box built over the tank’s fighting compartment.

Though the idea was good, the Bishop had several major deficiencies: slow speed, limited gun range (6,300 meters) and high silhouette. At least 100 Bishops were built, and saw action in North Africa and Italy until replaced by the American M7 Priest and Canadian Sexton.

The kit comes in a large shrink-wrapped, tray and lid type box. This box is jam packed with no voids around the contents! The single hull part and 2 tires for the ammo trailer are in their own cellos. A zip-locked type cello holds 3 decal sheets and 2 brass photo-etched (PE) frets. No figures are included. The instructions complete the kit.

The instructions consist of a staple bound booklet of 36 pages and one loose sheet all printed on slick coated stock. These are all in 8 ¼” x 11 ½” page format and partially printed in color at times.

  • Page 1 of the instructions begins with a full color repeat of the box art subject, followed by the history of the Bishop in English, German and Chinese
  • Page 2 begins with decal application instructions, international assembly symbol explanations, a color listing for Mr. Hobby, Hobby Color, Humbrol and Tamiya brands of paints, suggested for use to complete the kit and READ BEFORE ASSEMBLY instructions in the same 3 languages.
  • Page 3 gives the parts trees illustrations. Some parts are shown here as having diagonal lines over them, indicating that those parts are excess and not needed to complete the kit.
  • Page 4 continues with the balance of parts tree illustrations and illustrations of the 3 decal sheets and the PE fret.
  • Pages 5 through 32 give a total of no less than 62 assembly steps. Needless to say, this kit is NOT for the novice modeler and definitely not a week-end project. Steps no. 1 through 52 are for the assembly of just the Bishop. Steps 53 through 62 are for assembly of the ammo trailer.
  • Pages 33 & 34 have 4-views of the 2 schemes for the Bishop in full color, already described above.
  • Page 35 has a 4-view of the ammo trailer in full color, already described.
  • Page 36 gives thanks to Mr. Phil Greenwood and Mr. Wojciech Garwrych (Armor Color Gallery) for their assistance with producing this kit. Below this, is the cover art for a book titled “British Infantry Tank Mk. III Valentine”, author: Dick Taylor, Armor Plate History #3, part 2.

Markings :

Scheme no. 1: This has large bands of red brown across the turret sides and down the bow. A small black serial no. 53241 is on the sides of the gun compartment and a blue and red square with a white letter A is centered in the red brown band. This scheme is one that is offered in the kit. On the scheme illustration in the instructions a black square with a white 2 that has a white horizontal bar above the 2 is on the center of the Bishop’s side skirts. These 2 square markings are repeated on the front of the hull. This Bishop is with the 121st Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, Libya, 1942.

Scheme no. 2: This one has a blue square on the center of the sides of the gun compartment. The upper right corner of this square has a small red square on it. A large white letter C covers this square. A small black serial number S32944 appears on this shield towards the front. On the forward end of the side-skirts is another square that is divided in half with the top half being red and the bottom half blue. This has a white number 2 on it with a horizontal white bar above the 2. It is a vehicle of the same unit as the box art subject. The 2 square insignias appear on the front and rear of the hull. Again, the trailer is just overall sand and unmarked.

Scheme no. 3: A Bishop with the Royal Artillery Regiment, 6th Armored Division, Sicily 1943. This one is in overall olive drab. On the sides of the gun compartment is a triangle divided into red – white – red equal size vertical bands. Above this is hand painted letters and number in white: BB6/25. On the front of the gun compartment there is a white number 69/2 that is not hand painted and to the left of it a small blue square that has a red square in the upper left corner of it. A white letter F is on the small red square and a white letter D on the blue. Below this is the white number 45. The red-white-red triangle is repeated on the front of the hull. A storage box mounted on the fender is wood color.

Scheme no. 4: A Bishop of the same unit as scheme no. 3, in overall olive drab with the wood colored storage box on the fender. This one has the red-white-triangles on the gun compartment sides and forward hull. The one on the side has hand painted in white BB6/27 above the triangle. No other insignia appear on it.

The second decal sheet in the kit provides stenciling and bands to go on the ammo rounds. However, the instructions are vague to say the least about just where these go. Also, if you load the ammo in their boxes into the trailer, you will not see a lot of these stencils on the shells. A third small decal sheet has yellow markings on it of stenciling that I cannot find pictured in the instructions and have no clue as to where these go. Maybe on the wood ammo cases???

The trailer is just overall sand with no markings what-so-ever.

My usual procedure with in-box reviews is to tell the names of the parts on the trees. However, because of the daunting amount of parts (most of the quite small) this would be a real chore and I know I would miss-name stuff. So, please let me beg off and readers can just look at the pictures of the many trees and readily see what is there….okay?

This is a very, very detailed model and has full interiors for both the Bishop and the ammo trailer. The hatches on the Bishop and the doors on the trailer can all be posed open or closed. The ammo boxes full of shells can be either mounted each into the trailer or not and the shells can be either in or out of the boxes for diorama purposes. Neat!

Like I said above, this is not a shake the box kit at all. It will make up into a real show piece.

Very highly recommended to modellers that have built a few AFV kits before of this complexity.

My sincere thanks to Dragon Model s USA for this review sample!

 

Book Review – OPG/ADH Publishing: Viking Summer, 5.SS Panzer Division In Poland, 1944

Viking-Summer-Front-Cover1

.

First just a little clarification for those of you who aren’t familiar with these books. This book is considered the first book in the “Firefly Collection”, a form of joint venture between Oliver Publishing Group and ADH Publishing. I’ve already reviewed several of the OPG titles but this is their first joint venture with OPG handling all the editorial side of things and ADH handling the physical printing, marketing and distribution. That should be a good thing as these are fantastic books and they’ve had a few hard years, starting as part of the Factory Publishing series then breaking away into Oliver Publishing. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of seeing more and more of these titles hitting the shelves.

As to this book itself, well the title pretty much sums it up, in a nut shell it’s a look at 5.SS.Pz.Div “Wiking” and their time in Poland in 1944. As with most of the OPG titles this mixes historical narrative with vehicle identification and artwork aimed at providing modellers with reference for builds. The strongest influence here is for the Pz.Kpfw.V Panther which is not surprising once you read the make-up of the division which at the time was well stocked with the Panther and a bit light on other armour.

The historical narrative fills out the first ten pages and covers the Division’s time in Poland with particular emphasis on the relief of Kovel and the defense of Warsaw. It is accompanied by diagramatic charts of the make-up of the two Abteilung, the first equipped (or rather underequipped) with Pz.Kpfw.IV and StuG.IV and the second with Panthers.

The text is excellent and the authors enthusiasm for the story he is retelling comes through clearly which makes for a far more enjoyable read than an impersonal account of dates and figures. I should also note that although the narrative may sound brief at only ten pages that the font is small and the borders at a minimum. Coming from a background in books I can say that I could easily have pushed this text out to fifteen or more pages simply by increasing the font size and adding more white space. It’s a good read and the accompanying map wit the section on Kovel tends to have you plotting their movements as the narrative progresses.

And so to the second section of the book, the colour plates. Here you get twelve pages plus the rear cover (inside and out) with colour plates of thirty eight individual vehicles depicted including Panthers, a Bergepanther, Pz.Kpfw.IVs, StuG IV, Hummel, Jagdpanzer IV L/48, Sd.Kfz.251/1, 251/7 and 251/9. As mentioned earlier these are dominated by Panthers so if the big cats take your fancy then this one is a must have. The illustrations are excellent with many referenced back to period photos also in the book. There’s also a photo on the rear cover of a 1/35 Panther representing one of the Kovel cats built by Glenn Bartolli.

The third section is nine pages containing eighteen period photos with accompanying text. For the most part these are two to a page with one having a single page to itself and one page having four photos of crewmen. These are all very good reference photos. (On a side note as ADH is the publisher of Military Modelling International magazine there will be linked articles running in MMI including the current one expanding on the Kovel story ).

The book gets rounded out with the mandatory Tank Strength chart outlining the principal tanks on strength with 5.SS.Pz.Div “Wiking” throughout 1944. It’s rather interesting to run through these numbers to see how they were regularly depleted and rebuilt throughout the year. 

Conclusion. Simple, modeller or historian, get this book. These are simple yet entertaining reads and they go beyond the usual collection of photos of period vehicles to give you the story behind them. For those of us who like to place a build in a time and place then these are the sorts of references we need, and a quick read through the acknowledgement section at the front of this underlines the level of research that goes into these. I seriously see these books as being up there with the best.

On a personal note (meaning this is just my opinion of an area not directly related to this title but to WWII reference books in general) I love the vehicle histories of the Jentz and Doyle PT and Osprey books and the pictorial histories of the likes of Panzerwrecks. For me books like this one and it’s stablemates add the third part needed, the historical narrative that makes it all more “real”. I can’t really find the right word. When you build a diorama of a scene in time that scene is the photo in P-W, the technical accuracy maybe comes from P-T or similar good reference books. But the “story” to the diorama is what happened before that scene and what possibly happens after it. That’s the narrative and a good narrative isn’t just a reference for a build, it’s often the inspiration for the whole build in the first place. “First Blood” makes you want to build a 37mm M3 wreck, this one makes you want to build a Panther on a traintrack.

.

Author & Illustrator :  Dennis Oliver
Publisher :  ADH Publishing (www.adhpublishing.com)
Pages : 34 (Including covers) containing B&W Photos and colour artwork plates
Binding : Softcover
Size : 212mm x 297mm
ISBN :  978-0-9806593-9-9
 

.

.     Viking-Summer-Illust.-Page-011   Viking-Summer-Back-Cover1

Guest Review – Stratus Books : Polish Tracks & Wheels No.3, Polish Vickers Part 2

My thanks to Ray Mehlberger for providing this review.

Stratus Books Polish Tracks & Wheels No.3 Polish Vickers Part 2

Polish Tracks & Wheels No.3, Polish Vickers Part 2

Author: Adam Jonca

Stratus is a publisher based in Sandomierz, Poland. They are partners with Mushroom Model Publications who is based in the U.K. Mushroom Model Publications has all their books printed in Poland by Stratus in English. Stratus publishes their books in both Polish and English.

This new book was sent to me directly from Stratus in Poland. It was wrapped in cardboard sheet and inside a bubble wrap lined envelope to protect it in the mail. Very well packed.

This new book complements the well-established and successful “Polish Wings” series on aircraft in the Polish Air Force. This book is the third in a series on Polish Army vehicles and is the second volume about Vickers tanks.

It tells the story of four major tanks of Polish origin used by the Polish Army in the 1930’s, some still in use at the time of the German invasion.

DESCRIBED TANKS:

  • Medium Mark D, Six Ton
  • Vickers-Carden-Loyd Mk. VI
  • 4 Ton Artillery Tractor
  • 4 Ton Light Tank 7TP
  • Vickers-7TP
  • 7TP forced

Training and operations with these tanks are described and illustrated with 190 black and white wartime photos. There are 17 full colour profiles included. These are of :

  • Vickers Medium Tank Mk. D
  • Vickers Mark E, Type B
  • Vickers Mark E, Type A
  • Carden-Loyd Tankette Mk. VI
  • Vickers 4-ton Artillery Tractor
  • Vickers 4-ton Artillery Tractor with 105mm Wz 29 cannon in tow
  • Vickers Light Amphibious Tank A4E12
  • 7TP 7-Ton without armament in turret
  • 7TP Twin-turreted tank (3 profiles of this. One is a 2-view)
  • 7TP Single turreted tank (7 profiles of this. One is a 2-view)
  • 7TP Single turreted tank in captured German markings.

There are 2 black and white photos of 2 different 7TP engines and line drawings of the 7TP chassis out of a technical manual.

Included also are 2 Light Tank Battalion Command & Speciality Platoon Organizational charts. One Supply Company organizational chart. A page of unit symbol codes in colour used in 1939,

On the last page of the book are two 3-view line drawings in 1/72nd scale of the 7TP twin-turreted and the single-turreted tanks.

This book will be of interest to military historians and modellers alike. Highly recommended.

I want to thank Dr. Roger M. Wallsgrove, Editor in Chief of Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) and the folks at Stratus in Poland for this review copy.

.

Polish Tracks & Wheels No.3, Polish Vickers Part 2
Stratus Publications (www.mmpbooks.biz)
Author: Adam Jonca
ISBN: 978-83-61421-50-4
MSRP: £13.99