ARM: Review - Miniart 1/35 scale Bantam BRC 40 w/Crew

Kit Review: Miniart 1/35 scale Military Miniatures Series Kit No.
35014; U.S. 4x4 Truck Bantam 40 BRC w/Crew; 151 parts (148 in grey
styrene, 3 clear styrene); retail price US$24.95
Advantages: First kit in styrene of this seminal vehicle; very nicely
done with nice combination parts to reduce complexity; full engine and
other options for detailers
Disadvantages: some simplification of parts noted
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Jeep and softskin fans
In the mid 1930s the US Army realized that it had a need for a small
all-wheel-drive reconnaissance vehicle for use as a scout. The first
company to rise to the challenge was the Bantam Motor Car Company of
Butler, Pennsylvania, who had produced a line of small two and four
seat cars for sale to the public. Their first prototype reflected
their civilian designs with stamped steel fenders and curves all
around. Over the course of the next few months and with testing it
evolved into the BRC 40 (Bantam Reconnaissance Car Model 1940) and
entered production. 2,642 BRC 40 vehicles were produced but as the
Army had by then decided that Bantam did not (and would not be able in
the short run) have the capability to produce the needed number of
vehicles, most of these went to the British and Soviets under Lend
Lease.
But the design was a success, and after failed attempts by Ford and
Willys to meet the government requirements the Ordnance Board bought
the rights to the Bantam and provided the drawings to both Ford and
Willys. The resulting vehicles, the GPA and MB respectively, became
the legendary and world renown Jeep.
Miniart is one of those companies I really like, as they are not
caught up the slugfest to see who can produce the most German WWII
armor kits but instead pick important but lesser known subjects like
the Valentine and Dingo. This is their first effort on a US vehicle,
even though it is as noted primarily an export vehicle.
The kit is very neatly done with many parts assemblies combined into
single components, which is appreciated in a small vehicle like the
Bantam. The front (B24) and rear (B25) axle assemblies are each one
piece so the modeler doesn=92t have to futz around with getting the
shafts to fit the axles. Likewise the chassis and oil pan are a single
unit (B19) as are the body and fenders (A20). The engine carburetor,
air cleaner and radiator tank top (B2) are a single unit to aid in
solid assembly.
The kit does have a number of eentsy details as well such as T-bar
hood locks (A2) and windshield fittings, so Miniart has not skimped on
the smaller details. But the use of larger assemblies, while some may
grouse about it, makes assembly much surer and simpler than the
daunting Bronco GAZ-69 which is not much bigger than this model.
The grille is styrene, but etched fans should remember these parts
were welded up from slats and thus had some depth and heft to them,
which etched brass cannot replicate.
Some things are not called out, such as the fact that part A27 is the
hood support strut which is used when the hood (A25) is open (like
most people with today=92s cars are fully aware, most companies dropped
counterbalance springs and went back to these to cut out weight and
complexity).
Sets of other than German figures are always welcome, and this set
provides five Army personnel which are offered as MPs. Each one
consists of six parts (head, torso, arms and legs) with leggins and
one even sports a =93Patton Approved=94 tie. All figures have complete
heads but no hair, so anyone wishing to use them without headgear will
need to either use putty or pyrogravure (e.g. =93Hot Needle=94) techniques
to give them some. The two weapons, an M1 and a Thompson, sport sling
swivels but no plastic or brass slings are provided. Two figures are
seated (driver and passenger), two are standing, and one is the Bantam
commander who is standing and leaning over the windshield.
Finishing and painting directions are provided for one vehicle in OD
with blue drab serials, W-2017492. No unit markings are provided for
the vehicle, but the =93MP=94 logo for armbands is present along with
stripes for a private first class and a technical sergeant as well as
division insignia for the 4th and 29th Infantry Divisions and 3rd
Armored Division.
Overall this is a very nice little kit and will complete the
collection of Jeep fans and historians as well as (with other
offerings from Miniart) provide Commonwealth and Soviet versions with
crews. (Note that the MP figures are available separately as set
35047).
Cookie Sewell
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AMPSOne
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