|BRONCO - Hungarian 40/43M 'Zrinyi' II 105mm Assault Gun|
A look at a superb kit of an unusual vehicle from Bronco!
Hungarian 40/43M 'Zrinyi' II 105mm Assault Gun
Manufacturer: Bronco Models
Material: Styrene & Photo-etch
Serial Number: CB35036
When the German Army invaded Czechoslovakia, the Skoda factories were quickly put back into operation producing weapons for their new masters. One project under development was the Skoda T-21 Medium Tank, which was passed on to the Hungarians in 1941 to become the M40 Turan. In Hungarian service the tank was used as a basis for the M40/43M Zrinyi II 105mm Self Propelled Gun. This was largely copied from the German StuG III, with the gun mounted in a low casemate overhanging the tracks. Manfred Weiss produced the Zrinyi II from August 1943 to July 1944, producing between 40 and 66 vehicles, production records being lost. Armour was from 16mm to 75mm thick with a maximum road speed of 43 Km/h. The Zrinyi was used on the Russian Front alongside German forces, with most being eventually captured by the Red Army.
It's a very full box! Most of the parts are supplied in Bronco's tan-coloured styrene, with one small transparent sprue, and another small grey styrene one with MG34 and bipod etc. In addition there are four photo-etched brass frets. A small decal sheet and full colour 22-page stapled instruction booklet. All the parts are moulded to an exceptional standard, well up to the quality of any other of the major kit manufacturers. No flash, and no ejector pin marks where there shouldn't be.
One thing..on the Box art etc, it's called 'Zrinyi', whilst in their blurb and on the instructions it's called 'Zring'. Go figure. I'll alternate the spelling.
If you've built any of the German StuG kits, this initially resembles one, although it's a very, very different vehicle. In some respects, the kit is engineered in a different way too. Construction begins with the main gun, the unusual barrel of which is supplied as a slide-moulded part, complete with that severe looking muzzle brake. Not only had the end been moulded open, but the multiple holes in the brake are actually...well...holes. I wonder how they do that? There's a small end cap to fix to the end of the brake, to achieve the correct profile, which gives it a very realistic appearance indeed. The other end of the barrel is keyed in order to fix into the breech assembly, which although nicely detailed, is supplied in two halves, so if you're going to be leaving hatches open etc., and the breech block visible, you're going to have to work on the join to render it invisible. The same holds true for the gun slide. This too is supplied in halves, and will require the join to be disguised. There are two photo-etched parts to be fixed at this point, one either side of the slide. The gun slide and completed barrel/breech are then sandwiched between the two triangular mounting plates, and then to the platform. A tubular recoil guard is supplied for fixing to the rear of the slide. The entire assembly is then fixed 'through' a square mantlet piece, which is then fixed into place onto a separate armoured casemate. There are two versions of this casemate supplied in the kit, varying by the bolts on one of the square mantlet sections being recessed down one side on version, and by the addition of a circular part on the casemate of the other version. There's no indication in the kit of what these different options represent however, so either choose the option you like, or find further references.
At this point, the gun assembly is set aside, whilst work begins on assembling the driver's compartment interior into the one-piece lower hull. It's by no means a complete interior for the driver's compartment, but enough detail is provided to be seen through the large roof hatches if they are left opened. The detail includes a driver's seat, track levers etc.
Construction then moves onto the suspension bogies. The suspension and running gear is quite unique looking in construction, consisting of four pairs of double roadwheels, with a separate double set mounted on its own suspension behind the front idler wheel...which is toothed. Each of the roadwheels has tiny embossing representing tyre manufacturer's logo, and I've tried but I can't read it....not even with a strong lens. Now if I had a microscope. Each double pair of roadwheels is paired with another on a leafsprung system, that looks quite complicated to construct. There are various noted on the instructions indicating where not to cement etc., so great care is going to be the order of the day here....plus of course, you're going to have to be careful not to get the various pairs mixed up...I would recommend taking the time to study the instructions in some detail before beginning this stage of the assembly. Both he front toothed idler and rear drive sprocket are provided in two halves, with the rear drive sprocket being provided with separate final drive housings, and photo-etched mud scrapers.
The individual track links are supplied on eighteen sprues and each is attached by three point, so there's a fair amount of clean up required for each one. The good thing is that they're fully workable, each link clicking together, requiring no cement. Not only does this make painting easier, but it makes building them easier, and they look good too. The instructions indicate to use 101 links for each side, and we're supplied with 216, so you do get a few spares, but it's probably best not to break too many whilst constructing them.
The two fenders are supplied as almost full-length parts, with just rear and front sections representing the mudflaps. There are some feint ejector pin marks in their lower surfaces which you could deal with if you felt it absolutely necessary, but they will not be seen on the finished model anyway.
The superstructure of the vehicle is supplied as a one-piece slide-moulded part, apart from various details plus all the hatches, including the engine access ones being supplied as separate parts. Various details are fixed in place before assembly to the vehicle such as clear periscopes, tie-downs etc. There are also various boltheads that need to be located on the sprue, cut off and applied to the superstructure. In addition to all the various separate hatches, there are separate parts supplied to represent all the various large hinges that those hatches hang from, so although there is no internal detail offered on the kit, it is ready for the various aftermarket companies to supply one. At this stage the various on-vehicle tools are fixed in place, each being supplied with moulded on clamps, with no photo-etched alternative offered. Once the upper superstructure is complete, the main gun with casemate is positioned, and the superstructure fixed in place over this. Various external detail such as twin jacks, jack blocks, headlights, exhausts, smoke candle rack etc., can now be fitted.
At this stage, the vehicle is essentially complete apart from the addition of side skirts or schurzen. For these, two options are provided and indicated on the instructions. The first option consists of full length narrow strips of photo-etch representing fenders running the length of the upper run of tracks, whilst the second option provides slightly different shaped pieces, onto which brackets are hung and then a full set of schurzen mesh, again provided as photo-etch. Although the four schurzen on each side are provided as one photo-etched part, they are constructed in such a way as to provide a clearly demarked etched line where they may be cut in order to represent a vehicle with one or more schurzen missing.
In addition to the vehicle itself of course, there are extra sprues with two 200 litre fuel drums and eight 20 litre jerry cans on them for posing around the vehicle, plus a separate small sprue with a MG34, bipod mount plus various ammunition belts, drums etc.
The marking schemes illustrated on the instructions consist of three different schemes, two in overall green, and one in a three colour camouflage scheme. See below for full details.
A great kit of a really unusual subject! The engineering is first class, as we've come to expect from Bronco these days, and the moulding isn't far behind. This one will be a real pleasure to build. Superb detail and finished in that three-colour scheme with the mesh schurzen fitted will provide you with an eye catching display. Recommended.
My thanks To Bronco for the review sample!