French subjects, and more specific AFVís, have been very poorly represented in the 1/35 model kit world. This is now slowly changing, and Broncoís release of the Hotchkiss H-39 left the earlier offerings well behind. The H-39 has large acces hatches for the crew, which allow the interior to be shown off tho full advantage. The interior is however fairly basic, and this set will add most of the mssing fittings.
whatís in the bag
The set is packed in a clear envelope and consists of two sheets of Photo-etch and a small piece of transparant film with the driverís instrument panel dials. The colour coded instructions fill five pages and are well layed-out.
a closer look
As the photos of the instructions on the right show show the contents and steps quite adequately, Iíll concentrate here on notable details.
The interior receives a number of parts not present in the kit, including ammunition stowage bins and the driverís instrument panel. The driverís thick plastic hand controlsticks are replaced with PE, which looks much better. There is a replacement name plate (part no. 8) for the Glacis but as the molded name plate on the hull is quite good, I donít see why you would want to go through the trouble of removing it, to replace it with a separate piece, which you than have to blend in again. The instructions indicate this part is Ďoptionalí.
The suspension bogies receive some very fine detail on the top, but the instructions donít make it very clear that this should be added last during the bogie assembely, so care is needed here. The wheel are provided with small hub rings with bolt detail which is missing from the kit wheels, but the holes are off-centre, and these parts can not be seen on the finished assembelies at any rate.
The external tool stowage is different in that it doesnít use the sprung tensioned clamps so beloved on German AFVís, but rather crude brackets with wingnuts. Whilst the wingnuts look convincing, the threaded studs they screw onto do not. The flat Photo-etch does by definition not replicate rod very well, and these are better replaced by corresponding lenghts of plastic rod or stretched sprue.
The turret is provided with much improved detail, such as a better recoil-safety plate for the gun breech, various lifting hooks, hatch detail and a turret traverse wheel, gearbox and turret ring.
The plastic hinge bracket for the trench skid is replaced with a much better looking workable PE hinge, as is the stowage tray. The straps on the tray are extra long, and can be trimmed to lenght according to your needs
This Photo-etch set will really bring the best out of the Bronco kit. A subject like the H-39, which itís large access hatches, begs to display itís interior, and this set adds the detail that was missed by Bronco. At $19.95 itís not cheap, but the improvement makes it a worthwile investment. Highly recommended.
Read Terry Ashlyís comprehensive review on the Bronco kit of the H-39 on PMMS