Friday, June 29

Build review: Paul makes Bronco Models 1/35th scale Zil-131V Tractor Truck

Paul has been working on his 35th scale Bronco Models Zil-131(&130) tractor truck for a while now - And upon completion of the kit, he thought he might show you how he finished, painted, added a dash of realism to the kit in his article...

Build review: Zil-131V Tractor Truck
Manufacturer: Bronco Models
Scale: 1/35
Type: Polystyrene, vinyl, and photo-etch multimedia Kit
Available from Broncos distributors worldwide

The Zil-131 is the military version of the Zil-130 truck and was first introduced in 1967. With a wide variety of versions produced, the Zil-131 has been used widely around the world and kept in production from 1967 to 1994, and still in service today.
Bronco has already released the cargo truck version but has now released the 131V, which is the trailer tractor version. Quite often seen towing the SA-2 Guideline SAM, it is surprising that Bronco has not included one in this release but could be a pointer of things to come.
Construction starts with the chassis, and for those familiar with Bronco kits, this is another typical example of the Bronco school of modelling. While other manufacturers may give you the chassis frame in one piece, Bronco gives you four lengths to glue together, and then you get all the other details to add to the frame. Mind you, the fit of all the pieces is excellent, albeit the feeling that there are a thousand pieces to put together, however, bear in mind that this is just one sub-assembly so the test will be how all the other sub-assemblies go together so take extra care with the alignment of all the pieces. 
Note that in step 11 A, one of the pieces is mislabelled and where they ask you to use piece F11, it should be G36 instead. 
The instructions have you do the wheels next but I skipped it because I wasn’t attaching them yet so I moved onto the engine first. Again, lots of little pieces but Bronco have done an excellent job with all the details. There is a small amount of PE that is used with no plastic alternatives but it is simple enough just requiring a small fold. At this point, I have not installed the radiator yet, and with the benefit of experience, would suggest you leave the radiator off and will explain later as we go along.
With such a nice looking engine, and it is a main focal point of the build, I was eager to see how it would turn out so I started painting and sprayed it with an aluminium colour all over. I gave the engine a pin wash with diluted black oils to bring out the details, however, the real star of the show is Mig’s A.Mig 1407 Engine Grime, which is an enamel wash that I applied all over the engine and really gave the engine an aged look which is exactly what I was looking for.
The cabin interior comes next and presents no problems at all in terms of construction. PE visors are provided but only need to be attached if you want them lowered. Decals are provided for the instrument panel faces, although they do look a bit flat but are hard to see once it is all closed up. 
I had some problems trying to keep the engine bay sidewalls attached to the fenders which cracked apart in the end and not really satisfied with the end result. The fit of the front windscreen frame is definitely an area that Bronco could have improved on with no positive location points and sits slightly loosely in between the sidewalls so do your test fitting. Also, note that you can also see here that I have fitted the radiator in the relevant slot of the body.
The radiator was initially attached to the engine, but it turned out to be a very tight fit in between the front section of the engine sidewalls when I tried to slide the body over the engine for a test fit. With the coolant pipe being the only attachment point for the radiator, it was inevitable that the radiator would fall off which gave me the idea to attach it to the body first. While this helped, it was still a struggle to try and get the fan blades of the radiator into the radiator itself because you can’t just slide the body and radiator back over the fan blades due to the tight fit of the bits and pieces sticking out of the engine. I ended up cutting the fan blades off which made fitting much easier, and since the fan sits inside the radiator anyway, they’re going to be pretty much invisible so it isn’t a major loss to me. You’ll also notice in this picture that the flat rectangular bit in front of the pot like structure (As you can see, I’m obviously a mechanic in real life) has gone missing and I didn’t notice this until the build had finished. Despite the hour or so I spent trying to find it with no luck, it magically re-appeared on the floor after my initial batch of completed photos which is why it appears in the completed photos.
With that over and done with, it was good to get back into smoother waters once again with the remaining sub-assemblies which presented no problems at all. There is a PE frame which goes around the two fuel tanks, but they interfered with the fit of the tanks in between their frames on the chassis side so I left them off. 
It wasn’t until later where I figured out that I could have just cut the outward facing sections of the frame and attached them to the outside face of the fuel tanks but oh well. 
For all the PE parts that Bronco supply in the kit, this is the only one that has a plastic alternative and while all the other PE parts are quite straightforward to use, this is probably a relief to those averse to the “joys” of PE and I am referring to the headlight guards. A jig is provided for you to bend the PE strip into the shape of the frame, and I also used the jig to bend the “#” of PE to fit on the frame. The plastic alternative will obviously be thicker in appearance, and also features some ejector pins in an awkward spot and will require some very delicate cutting.
I’m sure you’ve already noticed that I’ve already started painting the interior as it would be silly not to have done so during the construction stage. For this build, I was given Vallejo’s Russian Green 4BO paint set to use, and it really is as simple as the back of the pack suggests starting with the green primer, then going onto the darkest recesses and getting subsequently lighter shades as you go and Bob's your uncle. However, I didn’t really like the final shade as I found it a bit too bright so I didn’t end up using it and was quite happy with the results already. 
The chassis is supposed to be black but I chose to start it off with dark grey for scale effect and then added some drops of white to lighten the colour for the more exposed surfaces, although I would later discover that most of the upper surfaces will be covered anyway.
The tyres are vinyl and have a raised seam that is very difficult to try to get rid of. I started work on the tyres by dry brushing the raised detail on the sidewalls as well as the tread detail with Vallejo’s dark rubber and weathered the tyres using Abteilung’s Basic Earth and diluted it with thinner to create a wash and generously slathered it over the tyres. I used a cotton bud to go over the treaded areas of the main tyres to show that they had been rolling on the ground, but kept the coat of dust on the spares. The spares sit well in their rack, but are on the heavy side for the thin plastic pieces which do not have a lot of gluing area so take care.
Being a non-combat vehicle during peacetime, I chose not to add any chipping but wanted to make it look like it had been in use so I used the same Abteilung basic earth wash but diluted it more and gave the truck a good all over wash to dirty it up.
With all this done I finally attached the cabin to the rest of the chassis and the Zil-131V is finally complete! Although this was short lived because while a nicely detailed engine is supplied, there is a fair amount of wiring that is not included so I added some myself although it is nowhere near what I would call accurate or realistic.

Now this time, the model is finally complete and I must say turns out to be quite an impressive looking model. Now, all it needs is a load to tow. 
This is a typical Bronco kit made even more complicated by the fact that you get a kit of the entire vehicle to put together. Coupled with Bronco’s style of individual pieces for each part, and the necessary use of PE, this is definitely no kit for a beginner and requires some work for the kit to go together. Persevere, and you will end up with an impressive model. That is the Bronco style. Recommended for experienced builders. 
Paul Lee

Thanks to Bronco Models for supplying this kit to build and review