Bronco Models have sent us their new 35th scale A17 Vickers Tetrarch Light Tank MkI/ MkICS to examine and show off for you. This kit is surprisingly dinky and the more you look at it the more you like the look of this ugly duckling. Let’s see what Clayton thought about the kit in his “in-boxed” review before he gets building it…
IN BOXED: A17 Vickers Tetrarch Light Tank MkI/ MkICS,
Three marking choices
Photo etch parts included
The feature set of the kit.
HISTORY of the A17 Vickers Tetrarch Light Tank MkI/ MkICS
Developed by the Vickers-Armstrong Company, work began on the Tetrarch in 1937. It was initially a private venture and carried no guarantees of success from the War office of the time.
The prototype was approved in 1938, and a contract for 220 tanks was set in place. This was however decreased in 1941 to only 177 tanks as the design had somewhat fallen out of favour.
Of the 177 units manufactured, 20 were shipped off to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program. A small number also saw action in West Africa during the invasion of French Madagascar, and the remaining tanks were supplied to the UK, Airborne Forces.
The A17 had armour up to 14mm thick and had a combat weight of 7.6 tonne. Powered by a 165bhp, 12-cylinder petrol engine, it was able to reach speeds of over 65km/h. It measured only 14.11 met long x 2.31 met wide. It stood 2.12 met high and managed to squeeze a crew of three in its belly. A driver, a gunner and commander.
The A17 was initially armed with a 2 Pounder anti-tank gun and a co-axial 7.92mm BESA machine gun. By 1944 some had been fitted with 3inch howitzers. These Tetrarchs were designated Mk.ICS. The remaining vehicles had ‘Little John’ squeeze-bore adaptors fitted to their 2 Pounder guns. The Littlejohn adaptor gave the 2-pounder a similar effect as the APDS round used with the much and heavier larger QF 6-pounder gun.
One of the Tetrarch’s most unusual features is the steering system that works by turning the road wheels and actually bending the tracks so that, on large-radius turns it can be driven more or less like a wheeled vehicle.
The tanks were part of the D-Day landings and were commanded by the 6th Airborne Div. Armoured Reconnaissance regiment. The tanks would later be relieved of duty once the heavier Cromwell tanks arrived on the front lines. The Tetrarchs’ service ended in 1945 and was held in reserve until 1950, after which they were all scrapped.
Hamilcar gliders of 6th Air-landing Brigade arrive on Drop Zone carrying Tetrarch tanks, 6 June 1944.
The kit includes 500 pieces over 7 coloured sprues, 6 pieces on 1 clear sprue, the moulded hull are turret are supplied as single pieces. There is 1 fret of Photo-Etch and the decal sheet as well as the instruction booklet.
The box art pictures the vehicle exiting the belly of a glider with the tank commander perched up high.
Opening the box finds all the bits and pieces in their plastic bags. The box is larger than it needs to be, but I would assume this might have been done intentionally to use existing box templates or to help it have a greater presence on the shelf. This is really just an observation, certainly not a negative.
The instruction booklet is an A4 sized, stapled booklet. The front page has a brief overview of the Tetrarch with the same image as seen on the box art.
The instructions are all nicely drawn in the standard line drawing manner. Parts and positions seem to be clearly detailed. One complaint I have is there are no colour call outs for the internals, so some research is going to be in order here.
Construction takes place over 30 steps.
…and a lovely personal message at step 30 !
There are 3 schemes on offer in this kit.
1. Tetrarch T9338 ‘Apple Sammy’ 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (6AARR) Normandy
2. Tetrarch I CS T9290 Independent Airborne Light Tank Squadron RAF Tarrant Rushton UK 20th January 1944
3. Tetrarch T9333 Independent Airborne Light Tank Squadron UK 1943
All of the schemes display the two-tone camouflage and look really interesting.
Sprue A predominately contains the topside and sidewalls of the tank as well as the running rails that will sit over the tracks. All of the parts present well and the detail around the rivets and hinges is excellent. The driver’s instrument panel is finely detailed and the teeth around the turret ring are beautifully moulded.
The upper hull is suitably detailed
The side fenders/guards are curved and with keepers for the equipment that isstoredd on them
The side of the hull has prominent exhaust vents also
Sprue B has multiple parts, some of which are very fine. Everything is crisp and clean. The radio and steering wheel look to have some lovely detail. The barrel is supplied on this sprue and is moulded in a single piece.
Slide moulds on the barrels are nicely done here.
Internal details abound but "not too much" as Bronco kits go...
I’m no rivet counter, but the detail on the nuts and bolts around the turret ring are outstanding.
Sprue C again has multiple fine parts. Internals of the vehicle can be found here. Care will need to be exercised when removing some of these parts from the sprues.
The detail in the little ammunition cases is worth noting. It is stunning. It’s a shame these little fellows will end up getting closed up!
The kit contains 2 trees of Sprue D, which obviously cover off on the wheels and the running gear. Again, some very fine pieces here just daring the carpet monster.
Spring suspensions without seam marks which is nice
Here is an up close shot of the detail on the wheels. I can just see all of these details dancing after a dark drown wash!
Two runs of Sprue E give us the track links. Yeah, there will be some clipping here…but zone out and clip away.
It will be worth the effort. The track pieces are tiny, but well detailed.
The hull is moulded in a single piece and has a very respectable level of detail. Looking at this you really get an appreciation of how tiny this tank really was. This piece alone measures only 110mm long, and 35mm wide ! Everything looks to be straight and cleanly moulded.
The single piece turret section is beautifully moulded and should really make it a very simple process to piece this all together. No filling required here.
The commanders hatch, on the top of this tank, should allow the viewer a good opportunity to get a look into this one, or at very least into the turret.
The photo etch fret in all its glory. There will be some work to be done on the bending tool here! As much as I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with photo etch, there is no doubting the fine details really do enhance the finished model.
The small decal sheet is clearly printed and in register. The decals allow you to build one of 3 schemes as outlined earlier.
The clear sprue even has a nice level of detail on the periscope.
You have to take your hat off to Bronco Models. They are constantly presenting the hobby with unique and interesting subjects, and this is no exception.
To be honest, when I first saw this release I had never even seen the Tetrarch before, and the thought of adding one to the collection was quite unappealing. It is an odd looking, misshapen little thing, with unattractive lines and angles. But the more I read about it and the more I looked at it, the more interesting it became, and now I am busting to get some clippers to it and start gluing.
The kit is finely detailed and will take some time to complete. This is not for the beginner, and even the seasoned modeller should be prepared for a journey.
From my experience, Bronco kits generally build up to be things of beauty, and this looks to be no exception. The part count is high, but that seems to be the Bronco way. Lots of tiny, fine parts, and a lot of building, but always worth it in the end.
The Tetrarch is one of those subjects that you never see on the modelling display table. It’s as interesting as it is dorky, and I have really grown to love it. So do yourself a favour and take a look at this kit. If you were like me, take a second look at it. It looks to be a real winner.
Really looking forward to building this one.
For more info check out the Bronco Models Website.