Entry No. 9: Bronco T17E1 MLRS review
The T17 Staghound was a 4x4 armoured car built in America for British and Commonwealth forces during the latter years of the Second World War. Sporting light armour and the M6 37mm cannon, the Staghound was used primarily in HQ squadrons of armoured units, as well as in armoured car regiments by Commonwealth forces. The main function of the Staghound was to conduct armed recon patrols ahead of larger units, as well as to exploit gaps in enemy lines when in armoured car regiments. It was in this role that the Staghound was used by the 12th Manitoba Dragoons, the subject of this kit. In 1944, the Dragoons advanced up the coast of France and Belgium, eventually advancing so quickly that at one point they were 80km north of the next northernmost unit of the First Canadian Brigade.
It was sometime during this advance that the issue of fire support came up. Being as far behind enemy lines as they were, the 12th Dragoons were unable to make use of artillery fire support, and close air support was spotty. Now, initially the plan was that some Staghound III armoured cars armed with 75mm howitzers would be sent to the regiment to cover this gap in capability, but this eventually fell through. In order to get some degree of direct fire support, one of the Staghounds from the HQ squadron was equipped with a field-made mount for four RP3 rocket rails lifted off of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The idea was fairly simple. On this fixed mount, the four rockets could be fired against targets encountered by the Dragoons that were a bit too tough for cannon rounds. In all events, however, the rockets were not very effective from a purely technical standpoint, as they were fairly inaccurate and sometimes failed to detonate. Despite this, the rockets were an excellent morale booster, and would also be the basis for the Tulip system mounted on M4 tanks later in the war.
This kit from Bronco was originally released in 2008, with most of its sprues coming from the base Staghound kit the company released back in 2007. Indeed, this kit is the second of five different Staghound kits Bronco has made. Overall, the kit is fantastic, it really is. I can't give enough praise to it, because it is one of the few Bronco kits that has struck a balance between the detail they are known for and the "fun factor" that, to me at least, is one of the main reasons I'm in this hobby. There are a few areas of potential improvement, so let's get those out of the way first.
So right off the bat, one issue that I have heard about this kit is that the turret is misshapen. Frankly, despite actually looking at a Staghound at the local museum, I can't quite figure this one out, because the turret looks fine to me. But if absolute accuracy is your thing, it might be worthwhile to confer with the forums on this issue.
This kit is made up of around 330 parts, most of which are in olive drab coloured plastic. One area where I think Bronco could have done better in this regard is the multitude of parts which I would consider to be superfluous (IE the hinges for the turret hatches are made up of multiple tiny parts). I understand that this is just the way Bronco rolls, so it's not really a complaint but moreso a warning if the thought of tedious subassemblies makes you sweat.
Other than that however, this is a great kit. Firstly, this kit is loaded with detail. Wherever you look, there's something to appreciate. I especially like the detail on the driver and codriver's windows, as well as the turret detail, including a radio and cannon breech. All of the parts are casted without flash or viewable injector pin marks, and seams are rare. In addition, the clear parts are quite fine, and the kit comes with very useful photoetch, as well as a turned metal barrel (my weakness!)
The parts to make the rocket launcher are fairly simple, but after looking at some reference photos, I think they do the job quite nicely. The rockets themselves are fairly simple affairs, just like in real life.
My intention for this project was that it would be an interim between my 1/32 F-14A and the 1/35 Type 16 MCV. It was a birthday gift and, looking at the box, I thought "it's a Staghound! How hard could it be?"
The kit begins with the construction of the hull sides, which are quite busy and covered in tools, stowage bins, and the fuel tanks. Lots of nice detail is included, including photoetch tool straps, and each hull side took me a session to complete.
Next, we move along to the upper hull, working on the turret ring and engine covers, which are well done. Everything fits like a glove.
After that, the build breaks down into subassemblies for the rest of the hull. You make the front of the car, with the drivers windows and hatches, etc, then the chassis, and finally the rear of the car featuring the exhausts. You then put everything together, and by my third session I had the hull more or less done. From here, the differentials are quickly thrown together, and the wheels and fenders are added as well.
The final major stage of the build is the turret. Aside from some tedious bits on the breech of the M6, this can easily be built in a night. The interior detail is certainly reasonable, and you're left with a well-done representation of the Staghound's teeth. The rockets are then assembled, but I chose to leave mine off for painting.
Painting and weathering
This was the second kit I finished with lacquers, and I'm using Tamiya paints for the job. I'd like to try AK and Mr. Hobby paints sometime, but I have access to Tamiya products so that's what I'll use for now. Here are all the lacquers I used.
Overall, I'm really liking these lacquers. They are much more robust than acrylics, and frankly I figure that in time all of my base painting will be done with them.
Next, I used some Mission Models acrylics to add some fading and dust effects to the upper surfaces of the vehicle. MMP paints are really good bits of kit, and if you airbrush do yourself a favour and pick some up.
From here, detail painting was done with Tamiya acrylics. For this I used a fine 00 brush, as well as MasterTool's new disposable brushes. I quite like them, they're cheap, fine-tipped, and do the job well.
Now it was on to weathering. I first added some chipping with a pencil and then moved on to using Tamiya's panel-liners to create a base-layer of grime, dirt, and rust. The Xtreme Metal aluminum was brushed over the M1919A4 barrels.
Now, I worked on more advanced weathering. Sienna Soil pigment was mixed with AK's OIF wash to create a slurry which I would dry-brush XF-79 over, and rust deposits were added to the exhausts.
To cap everything off, MIG enamels were used to add the finishing touches to the tires and engine covers.
Buy it, I guess.
All jokes aside, I would highly recommend this kit! If you're a fan of Canadian armour, it's a worthy buy, and for people who want to get an idea of what Bronco's all about I think this kit is a good place to start out.
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