ARM: Review - Bronco 1/35 scale GAZ-69(M) light truck

Kit Review: Bronco (SKP Model) 1/35 Scale Kit No. CB-35096; Soviet
GAZ-69(M) 4 x 4 Utility Truck; 260 parts (227 in grey styrene, 22
etched brass, 11 clear styrene); retail price US$38.95
Advantages: first kit of this vehicle in this scale in styrene;
prolific =93Cold Warrior=94 with a variety of possible uses and finish
schemes; parts breakdown says more to come
Disadvantages: very complex kit for a small vehicle, very fussy fit,
fragile assemblies
Rating: Recommended
Recommendation: for any Soviet Army, Warsaw Pact, or Third World Cold
War fan
During WWII the Soviet received massive numbers of vehicles via Lend-
Lease, most of them being American military pattern trucks. They were
taken aback by how backward their own vehicles appeared in contrast
with the US ones, all of which had all wheel drive and full sets of
brakes which their own trucks did not. They were particularly happy
with the light vehicles, especially the Jeep and the Dodge WC-51/52
three-quarter ton trucks.
Their own light field car, the GAZ-67B, was a domestic vehicle which
was influenced by the Jeep but never as good. It had only a small
cargo capacity which limited its usefulness. Per a resolution of the
Government the search was on for a new vehicle with all wheel drive
and a cargo capacity of 800 kilograms (1,750 pounds, or roughly US 3/4
ton class) and able to carry heavy machine guns, 82mm mortars,
ammunition, and a crew without needing a trailer. It was powered by a
55 HP GAZ-20 engine, and even though it was a bit less powerful than
the GAZ-67B it had a better transmission and drive train so it
achieved better performance. The vehicle was to seat eight (six in the
rear and two in the front) or carry equivalent cargo. Lead designer
was G. M. Vasserman.
The first prototype entered testing in October 1947 but did not enter
full production until August 1953. During that same time frame, a
second model was offered - the GAZ-69A command car with four doors and
seating for five.
Over its production run the little trucks were built both by GAZ as
well as the Ul=92yanovsk Automotive Plant (UAZ) as the UAZ-69. From 1953
until production ended in 1973 (when the more modern UAZ-469 entered
production) a total of 634,285 GAZ-69 vehicles were produced in
several different variants. The vehicle served with some 56 countries
throughout the world, and commercial copies built in Rumania were
offered into the 1970s for sale throughout Europe. (I thought of
buying one for $4400 new but the icy look from my wife had a solid NO
behind it...)
The (M) variants were slightly modified variants with more power
suitable for use in tropical or desert climates. There were also the
2P6 launcher for the 2K15 =93Shmel=92=94 ATGM, the GAZ-69Eh with shielded
generator for use as a radio vehicle, and four different small fuel
tanker variants. Over the years it was affectionately named the
=93Gazik=94 among other names =96 =93Little GAZ.=94
Up to the present time Soviet Cold War softskins have only been
perfunctorily served. In plastic, up until the present time there have
only been six produced: a basic but serviceable GAZ-66 family from
Eastern Express, the Omega-K Ural-4320 5 ton truck (and BM-21) which
need TLC and a bit of work, a good Zil-151 3 ton truck by Zvezda
(converted from the Italeri BM-13 Katyusha), a very good Zil-157 3 ton
truck from Trumpeter, the massive MAZ-537 with tank transporter from
Trumpeter as well, and the relatively forgettable UAZ-469 from a set
of molds that frequently change hands. But as noted the light GAZ-69
escaped their view until now.
This kit is a joint project of Bronco (China) and SKP Models (Czech
Republic), and as a joint product is also offered by both companies:
SKP has kit SKP 110 which comes with Czech army markings. It is a very
nicely done effort and comes with a nice set of slick instructions
with a color handout for finishing directions. Credits are given to
the Dailan Classic Car Museum (China) and Frantisek Koran (Wings and
Wheels Publications) for their help with the project.
Considering the small size of the little beast, it is amazing how
many parts are in this kit! The actual assembly of the model is pretty
straightforward to anyone familiar with modern softskins. However,
fair warning that it is VERY =93fussy=94 and takes time and planning to
assemble.
As a general rule, this kit uses more parts than it needs to for a
given assembly, which causes parts to very small and difficult to
clean up and install. I recommend NOT removing the parts from the
sprues until you really need them; this slows down assembly but keeps
the =93carpet monster=94 hungry.
Step 1 covers the frame and springs, as well as the =93knee=94 type rear
shock absorbers which are very petite. However, the mounts are etched
brass =96 fine, but there is nearly no =93footprint=94 to attach them to th=
e
chassis and axles! I replaced them with sections of Evergreen profile
strip =96 not as petite, but you CAN assemble them in that fashion.
Step 2 is the cross members and steering gear, as well as the front
shock absorbers. The same problem exists for the front shocks as
well.
Step 3 are the axles: the front axle has no less than 12 parts with
the tie rod, and the rear one only 5. The parts do go well but I
suggest using a high-tack plastic cement (I used Tamiya =93Orange=94) to
hold them in place.
Step 4 is the installation of the axles and drive shafts to the
chassis. Note that the rear springs have a tendency to pop loose and
may require high-speed cement (again, here I used Tamiya =93Green=94 for
that reason). The directions are not really clear but the entire
transfer case assembly is offset to the right in order to clear the
gas tank - the directions tend to show it the other way around but the
drive shafts cannot clear if you follow that route.
Steps 5, 6, and 7 cover the engine and its installation in the
chassis. Anyone familiar with AFV Club kits will note this a very
detailed and fussy item, but one with amazing details only missing the
wiring. Note that the directions correctly indicate that everything
except the engine block is gloss black, which was the standard Soviet
paint scheme for softskin trucks from the 1930s onward. There is a
filler and breather assembly on the left side that if used will not
permit the left side to fit in the next step, so I suggest leaving it
off.
Step 8 is the body floor pan and details, including the forward pair
of seats. Each seat consists of a two-part frame and seat pan and back
pads. Check the floor pan for trueness of the parallel edges; I found
that there is a problem here which causes the body to =93spring=94 at the
rear and that will affect the tailgate assembly later on. (Being
Soviet, note that part A13 is a spare hand crank for the engine!) The
floor is attached in Step 9 and Step 10 covers the main wheels. While
the directions show a keeper trapped inside the wheel with a =93Do Not
Cement=94 flag it is better to mount the wheel back (parts C1) and then
attach the keeper (parts C5) before cementing the front of the wheel
in place if you desire the wheels to rotate. If not, I suggest
cementing the =93keeper=94 in place and then assembling the wheels,
sanding to eliminate the seam and installation when you choose. Be
careful as the front wheel attachment points are vulnerable to bumping
and can break off without warning. (Experienced modelers may want to
drill them out and use brass pins for security.)
The body is mounted in Step 11 - note that the vehicle had
asymmetrical doors (with both inner and outer handles) to allow for
access to the rear bench seats as well as to provide for mounting the
spare tire behind the driver=92s door. Step 12 covers the hood
(bonnet!), grille, and cowl panel and dashboard. A somewhat obtuse
comment on the spare tire mount (A38) actually indicates a close
fitting when the canvas roof (H1) is not used; a separate extended
mount (A39) is used if the canvas is installed but the directions
never really tell you that, only showing it in Step 18!
The headlights are mounted to the fenders in Step 13 and the fenders
to the body in Step 14. Note that they are handed so do not cut them
off without ensuring which is which! Also the headlight inserts are
slightly different in taper so pay attention to them as well. The
windshield is also installed in this step along with all of its parts
=96 counting the etched brass bits (sun visors, wipers and mirrors)
there are 10 parts to this assembly alone.
Step 16 covers the troop seats and tailgate. The seats on the
original are designed to flip up for access to stowage bins under the
seat; oddly enough the bins have the interiors molded into them but
the covers for access are molded closed on the bin tops (parts B11 and
B12). The tailgate may be mounted open or closed and also comes with
an optional sign board mounted on it. But as noted the body is
=93sprung=94 at the rear and I had to shim the tailgate to get a good
fit.
Step 16 is the troop seat backs, Step 17 the assembly of the window
to the canvas, and Step 18 is final assembly. Note that the seat backs
(B5 and B7) need to have their braces trimmed off if the canvas is
used =96 something they didn=92t say in Step 16! =96 so it is easier to do
that prior to installation.
Basic finish is identical for all variants in this kit - black
underframe and wheels (optional) with black headlight trim and =93Khaki
No.2" protective green paint (dark olive, similar to WWII 4BO green
but a bit greener) everywhere else. Markings are provided for four
different vehicles: PRC Armed Peoples=92 Police, 1950s-1960s (license
01-04531); Staff Vehicle, General Pavlovskiy, Operation Dunay, August
1968, Czechoslovakia (VAI - Military Automotive Inspectorate - roughly
equivalent to the Military Police - license number 23-66ShA);
unidentified Soviet Army, 1960s-1970s (Soviet SA roundels);
Nationalesvolksarmee, DDR, 1960s-1970s (DDR roundels). A small sheet
of decals is provided along with a set of standard vehicle operating
placards. Note that the latter two options should have plates but none
are provided; normal Soviet format was four digits - two Cyrillic
letters - two digits.
Overall this is a nice little kit but one requiring patience and
skill. But with the tiny parts and alignment problems I suggest that
experienced modelers would find it more enjoyable to assemble and less
frustrating.
Thanks to Ken Jones for the review sample.
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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