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.
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!