by: Matthew Robeson [ ]
Originally published on:
The Valentine was built to a British specification for a tank built to have a cruiser tank chassis with the heavier armor of an infantry tank. The early Valentines were mounted with a 2pdr gun and up to 60mm of armor for the crew. The later Mk.IX version mounted an even more powerful 6pdr gun, and a GMC engine from a Mk.V tank. This mix of Mk.V and Mk.VII upgrades proved successful on both the Eastern Front and in Northern Africa. The tank was sent to Russia under the Lend-Lease agreement where it saw action in 1942-1943.
The top-opening box features some very nice artwork of a Valentine traveling through a North African town. The box lid is a bit flimsy, but luckily the bottom portion of the box is very strong.
Upon opening the box, the first thing that you see is that it is stuffed full of parts. The Valentine isn't an overly large tank, but Bronco Models really packed it full. It's packed to the point that the track links are packaged inside the one-piece lower hull. As usual with recent Bronco Models kits, there are a lot of plastic parts, some PE, and a nice color print of the box-art across the bottom.
Flipping open the instruction booklet, the first thing that is worked on is the lower hull and the interior. There is a decent amount of detail for the driver's compartment, but the engine compartment is really where it shines. You're given a full rear compartment with radiators, the transmission, and the big cooling fans. The only problem is that no color call-outs are given at all, so it's down to references to save the day with this one. The big radiators are even moveable if you don't glue them in, so you can flip them up and show the detail that is under them.
The next step is the suspension parts, and luckily Bronco Models didn't make it as complex as they could have. If you are very careful with the glue, the suspension should stay moveable, as should the wheels. So it's down to the builder to be careful, or lock it all into place if you don't want to articulate the bits. The tracks are provided as individual links that again should be moveable if you're very careful with them. These are provided as 18 groups of 12 links per sprue. It will be interesting to see how those go together to be workable. The track-guards and sponsons will cover most of the tracks, so it's really up to the builder to see how much work you'd want to put into those track runs.
Assembling the outer hull is where things get very complicated. The rear engine shutters are almost all individual, so will need some patience to get aligned properly on the back deck. The rest of the separate panels should go easily, as each one builds onto the previous one to provide a strong structure. Adding the rest of the bits onto the outer hull is where the bulk of the PE parts will be added on, so would be great to have a nice magnifier for these parts. The detail though is top-notch, and these small parts really exhibit great detail without being mired in flash or mold seams. There are just a few mold seams that I had found on my sample.
The turret is the last thing to be added, and this is quite well detailed. The gun and breech is fully detailed, and you're also given the commander's radio set to fit into the turret. Hatches can be posed open on the top to show off your work, but it might also show the lack of a full interior in the driver's compartment. So weigh your options here.
Four paint schemes are offered in the back of the instruction booklet, and those are two Russian and two British options. The British are both in the very exciting desert camo schemes, while the two Russian options are in the standard dark armor green. The decals look nice, so hopefully they'll go down easily.
The detail on this kit really is top-notch, which is why I didn't focus on it much. Hopefully the pictures will show how nice the molding is, and how nice this kit should look once all done. Looking over the sprues, I don't believe that this kit is a clone of the Miniart kit, which means that the accuracy should be better. The rear deck looks better to my eyes at least. Wouldn't have minded a more complete interior, but what has been provided should be enough for most builders, especially if they add crew figures as depicted on the box top.
After writing the in-box review on this kit, I was also asked to do a build review for it. This was a good opportunity to build a kit without needing to paint and weather it, since my armor painting skills are not quite up to the quality of some of the masters on here. So I went straight to work building this nice Valentine from Bronco Models.
The first task was putting the lower hull and suspension together. There is some interior provided, but more could be put in if you want to open everything up. The engine and radiators are a great part of the kit, and went together well. The instructions to mount the radiators were very unclear, so lots of testing was needed here. I still don't think I have it perfect, but it did eventually slot together. Luckily Bronco Models gives you the option of opening up the rear panels to show off the engine compartment.
Building the suspension proved to be a very easy and enjoyable part of the build. I'm used to Dragon kits with their amazingly detailed but overly complex suspension systems, so Bronco Models was a nice change. It is very nicely detailed, but the build sequence is nice and simple. And if you're sparing with the glue, the suspension should remain moveable. I was able to do that, but that was more for the build review. If I was going to build it and put it on the shelf, I would probably glue the suspension in place to make sure everything was level.
After the suspension, I did hit the one problem with the kit. The individual link, working tracks were a big challenge for me. I know some people love the workable tracks, but I had big problems with the links staying together. They kept popping apart after assembling them. Before I finish this build, I might switch those out for Fruil tracks. The individual link tracks would probably be stronger if they were provided with track pins to secure the links together. The tiny end-pins on the tracks aren't really secure enough to hold everything together and keep it moveable. Then again, that could just be my lack of skills instead of a kit fault. Your mileage will of course vary on this.
The turret construction was really nice and easy. It is designed in two halves, plus the rear counterweight area and the roof. The gun breach is very well detailed, with some tiny little parts to complete it. Luckily, it all goes together easily and is visible inside of the turret. The gun barrel is provided in one piece and is hollow, so no need to replace it with a metal option. There is some interesting cast texture on the turret that I knocked back with a little sandpaper so that it is not as pronounced. The radio set inside the rear of the turret was very nice, and had an option of either a PE or plastic front guard. There's even the telegraph key and headphones included, great mark to Bronco Models on that part.
After assembling the turret and the body panels, I went to build up the fenders. Bronco Models would have you add the tracks and suspension before the fenders, but I think that would cause a lot of problems for painting. I followed the instructions for this build review, but when it comes time to paint I will have to come up with some system for getting the tracks and suspension re-mounted. There are two options for the fenders, so make sure to check references and the paint guide to see which one you use. Reference pictures would be the biggest help here, since trying to figure out early or late versions can be a challenge.
Once the fenders were mounted on, it was time to add all of the tiny little fiddly bits on the outside. I added the extra fuel tanks, because I liked the look of them. There are a lot of tiny little PE pieces, so make sure to have fine tweezers and a magnifier to make sure nothing flies off into space. Now the challenge is not to knock anything off during the painting and weathering process. Care will be the order of the day for those pieces.