by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
When Bronco Models released their Horsa glider Mk I we all knew that another was on the way, well the Horsa glider Mk II has landed. Operation Varsity is in our sights and with all of the paratroopers and equipment Bronco Models has produced we are well equipped to refight the Airborne War.
The following introduction is provided by Bronco Models;
The Airspeed Horsa was a large troop carrying glider designed in 1940 for British Airborne forces. It was to be the workhorse of the airborne divisions of both the British and American armies, and as such was continually developed and modified to carry Jeeps and small artillery pieces. On the AS.51 Horsa Mk I loading was done through the side cargo door which needed a lot of manpower to physically lift Jeeps and guns into the glider. This was far from ideal and so the AS.58 Horsa Mk.II was developed with a hinged front fuselage. The cockpit section could be swung out to allow equipment to be driven directly into the cargo bay. A twin nose wheel was also used and a new cable attachment to the nose wheel strut. The Horsa Mk II also featured a stronger reinforced cargo bay floor to help prevent damage when landing. Fully loaded the glider weighed 7,100 kg and could be towed at 242 km/h, this dropped to a gliding speed of 160 km/h when the tow cable was released. Production of the Horsa reached 2,400 with over 400 being passed to the United States Airborne forces.
The box used is a substantial cardboard tray with extra cardboard reinforcement on the sides and over the top of the tray. The lid is card with good printing, but the lid had already come apart when it arrived with me. The parts inside the box are packed inside individual sealed plastic bags except where identical sprues are supplied. The metal weight is packed inside aa box by itself, this is a blessing as I thing it could cause a lot of damage if loose inside the box.
17 grey sprues
3 clear sprues
2 decal sheets
A large metal weight
1 photo etched fret
A masking sheet
An instruction booklet
I am sure no one will be surprised to learn that a very large number of the mouldings in this model are the same as the previous release. A check over the contents indicates that there are two new sprues included with this model and the parts relate to basically the fuselage and cockpit from the leading edge of the wings forward. The mouldings are very well done and cleanly moulded from my observations. There are of course some ejector pin marks present, but I believe that all of the ones I have noted will be hidden from view. There are also flow lines present on the larger moulding or more accurately where you notice them, I am happy that I do not see or feel any marring to the surface of the model and so will not affect the finish or require remedial action.
The cockpit interior looks quite nice from my observations, but I would have liked to see a couple of pilots offered with the model. The detail inside looks fair from my limited knowledge of the Horsa glider. The harness detail for the seats is present, but they are moulded as a part of the seats rather than being offered in photo etch. From what I can see the cockpit contents are the same as the previous release from Bronco Models; I like the decals for the instrument panel which should meet the needs of most modellers and for others the likes of Eduard can come to the rescue. While talking about the instrument panel some cabling needs to be added as the rear is visible when the model is finished; to be honest there is a lot of cable detail that can be added by the modeller to lift the detail to a very high degree. One thing that has been missed completely is the split doors to the cockpit from the fuselage, but this can be easily overcome due to limited detail needing to be added to plastic stock card.
The one area that will need some scratch work by the modeller who really wants to improve this model is the locking area for attaching the cockpit to the fuselage. Bronco Models has missed a lot of detail in the locking assembly, some of these misses are quite large parts, but I suspect this is due to being unable to obtain the needed reference material rather than laziness on the part of Bronco Models. I have included reference images I took of the Horsa at the Army Air Corps Museum at Middle Wallop to help those modellers that wish to correct these details. The detail really concerns locking device on the right hand side looking at the fuselage and the cabling/hinge detail on the left; of course that is in addition to the missing doors.
The interior of the fuselage has also been tackled nicely by Bronco Models. The wooden rib detail has been moulded as part of the fuselage panels with separate wooden bulkheads and it looks to be accurate in shape, form and quantity. The floor ribbing is well represented, but may be a little heavy detail wise, that said it would certainly not have me complaining about it. The seating for the Airborne troops has been well replicated, but the lap portion of the harness has been moulded as a part of the bench seats again and this means replication has taken place; the shoulder part of the harness is missing completely as far as I can see, but I suspect the after-market manufacturers will tackle this very soon. I have noted that the funnel on the side of the aircraft is missing; the funnel is for urinating into and is more or less directly in front of you as you enter the front sliding door.
The fuselage has been provided in many pieces and this will mean taking care during assembly to avoid issues later. One thing I do like about this approach from a display perspective is that I think the model could be built with one side and part of the roof missing for various display options. The skin of the glider is pretty smooth and this is correct for the scale I believe as the skin was made of plywood, there is a rough texture to the real glider, like fine sandpaper and so would not be glossy in its finish. The rib which runs externally on the rear section to the tail is present. The port holes along the fuselage are present and the clear parts are of a pleasing thickness.
The undercarriage of the Horsa is fairly simple in design and that has been well replicated in this model. The tyres have been provided with a weighted look and so if you are planning an aircraft in flight alternate wheels will need to be acquired. The twin nose wheel looks quite pleasing and is one of the new additions to this offering from Bronco Models and replacing the single nose wheel found on the Mk 1.The belly skid looks to have been corrected and is now a much better representation.
The tail assembly of the Horsa model has been provided with all control surfaces being workable except for the trim tabs. I am pleased to see that Bronco Models has not overlooked the rudder mass balance on this offering.
The wings of the aircraft are assembled into a single sub assembly before being applied to the model and if the fit is good this will help those with limited display space as they could be removed for taking the model to shows. Some wing spar detail has been provided for the wings and this will be a plus for those modellers looking to replicate a crashed or damaged glider with or without troops. In order to prevent the wings drooping there is a frame work within the wings which should keep everything as it should be. The ailerons have been provided separately and while I do not believe they are workable they can be set at the angle desired by the modeller. Split flaps and airbrakes have been provided for the model and can again be set in the open or closed position.
The glazing offered with this offering from Bronco Models is very well done being of a reasonable thickness and so avoiding some of the magnification issues that can occur. The very large clear piece for the main canopy is a very nicely done part and to help the modeller when painting this rather large model Bronco Models has supplied a full set of masks for the clear parts. I do like it when companies provide something that helps the modeller, but that can be looked at as a bonus as the model could be built without it.
The instruction booklet is of the usual high quality associated with Bronco Models. Despite being a substantial model this one will be a lot less stressful than some of the armour models that Bronco Models have produced as the parts are not so small for the most part. The decals are of a good quality with only aircraft I.Ds having a lot of excess carrier film, this is of course there to keep everything together. Bronco Models have supplied three finishing options for this model covering one operation during World War Two, Operation Varsity March 1945. These aircraft RN349, RN344 and RN420
Well Bronco Models promised a Mk II Horsa and they have not let us down, I am still hoping to see the Dakota and Ju 52 in the same scale from them. This offering does have a few minor issues as indicated in the review, but this is more to do with missing details rather than wrong details; the missing locking details are the biggest issues as I do not see modellers having waited for this kit to then finish it with the nose closed. Hopefully the images I have provided and that I took will help any modeller lift this kit up to a display standard it deserves.