CB-35036, Hungarian 40/43M Zrinyi II 105mm Assault Gun. 1/35th-scale injection-molded styrene/multimedia kit. Contains: 641 styrene parts (including 7 clear and 216 for the tracks), five photo-etched brass frets, one piece of nylon string, three decal/marking schemes and 24 pages of instructions in 33 steps.
Ostensibly an ally, Germany often refused to sell contemporary tanks to its co-belligerents on the Ostfront. Such was the case with Hungary during the Second World War. However, Hungary had an indigenous ability to produce tanks and other AFVs and so turned to foreign designs, which they built under license. One such AFV, the Zrinyi assault gun, was derived from the Czech T-21 tank, which was also adapted and produced as the Turan medium/heavy tank. With a wider hull than the Turan, the Zrinyi II assault gun mounted a locally designed Mavag10.5cm 40M howitzer in a low casemate with up to 75mm of frontal armor. Sixty-six of these 21.5-ton assault guns were built between August of 1943 and July of 1944. Zrinyi IIs were assigned to equip the 1.rohamtuzer osztaly (1st Assault Gun Group), which saw its first actions against the Soviet Red Army in April of 1944.
Nowadays, we modelers are almost literally showered with near-perfect kits of the Sherman or the Tiger; soon the well will run dry. Some manufacturers are already branching-off into lesser-trod territory, with Bronco perhaps being at the forefront of this trend. Now, they have produced what will probably be the first in a series of Zrinyi- and Turan-based kits; in fact the Zrinyi I (only five of which were built, including a prototype) mounting a long 7.5cm gun, has already been announced.
These are of the individual-link type and click together. They are crisply-molded and do not have any ejector pin marks. Each link is connected to the sprue by three very fine gates, which will all require care in elimination; the parts are rather delicate. The links fit together very positively, but will not take rough handling, so I would recommend gluing them in place once they are properly positioned. They mesh perfectly with the sprockets.
This is the most complex part of the kit and typically for Bronco, is fully articulating. Consisting of two Vickers-style bogie units per side, each of which mounts four dual road-wheels and two leaf-spring bundles, there is also a single set of dual road-wheels up front, which acts to adjust track tension. The rear powered drive sprockets are complimented by front-mounted sprockets, similar to Germanys Porsche-designed Tiger. Two-part final drive units are fixed back aft, as well as an etched brass mud-scraper. Up forward, a mount for the front sprockets is also fixed in place. Five pairs of five-part return rollers are mounted onto separate axles.
The road-wheels, all thirty-six of them, are mercifully easy to clean. This is because the mold seam is virtually completely hidden on the edge of the tire rim, instead of dividing it down the middle; this saves quite a bit of time from what is otherwise a very tedious clean-up job. Some other manufacturers have occasionally chosen this path; it is a pity that this type of molding is not an industry standard. Including the road-wheels, each of the four suspension bogies consist of 23 parts, all of them (thankfully!) styrene. Some parts are rather tiny, but this results in an extremely well-detailed assembly.
A prominent seam will result when parts C-7/C-8 and C-9/C-10 are glued together. A dollop of putty and some light sanding will do the trick without too much fuss. Also, parts C-27, all eight of them, will need to be trimmed slightly to fit in place on parts C-7/C-8 and C-9/C-10.
Finally, each pair of suspension bogies is connected to each other by a girder. If the modeler chooses to mount the side skirts, many of the styrene hooks on which the hanging brackets are to engage, are placed along the girder.
A multi-part slide-mold was used to render this part, so details have not been compromised. Bolt, rivet, access plate and panel line details are present where necessary and there is also some access plate detail inside the engine compartment. The side walls include molded-on mounting plates for the two bogie units, the adjustable idler/road-wheel up front and the five return rollers. The angled lower stern plate is molded in place and includes rivet details and part of the mounting plate for the tow hooks in-situ. Several gussets are fitted in their appropriate places around the hull.
The lower bow plate is a separate part featuring rivet details and mounting plates for the two separate tow hooks. The glacis plate is also a separate part featuring molded-on rivets, a circular access plate and part of the mounting plates for the track-guards. A pair of tiny etched brass detail parts is covered over with a peculiar fitting whose actual purpose escapes me; this is finished-off with two tiny wing-nuts.
Track-Guards and OVM.
The track-guards also cover over the bottom of the casemate. Each features two robust tabs that fit into depressions inside the hull molding, ensuring very positive alignment. At the bow, separate inside segments of the track-guards also contain part of the mounting for the forward (non-driven) sprockets. Where these segments meet the glacis plate, tools are stowed. On the starboard side a sledge-hammer and a track joining tool are held in place with a pair of separate wing-nuts. On the port side, a wire cutter is stowed; it is also held in place with a single wing-nut and features an etched brass detail part.
Up front, separate mud-flaps are now fitted, with each one mounting a single Bosch-style black-out head lamp. These are made up of a main housing and mounting pedestal, each of which is detailed with two tiny etched brass parts. A clear lens or a slotted black-out cover can be installed. Just forward of these, again on both sides, is fitted a styrene jack block, featuring a convincing wood-grain effect. Each is held in place by etched brass brackets. The starboard side has a separate horn added, while the port-side mounts a fire extinguisher on an etched brass bracket. The rear ends of the track-guards each feature a separate mud-flap.
If electing not to use the skirts, a two-part etched brass sand shield unit can be fitted to the track-guards on either side.
The characteristic perforated side-skirts sometimes seen on the Zrinyi II (and also the Turan) are provided as an option. Based on a single etched brass part for each side, the actual skirts were in separate segments. If the modeler wants to keep things simple, he should probably leave them as is. But, since the segments often did not line up perfectly, or were lost after being knocked about in the field, carefully cutting them apart may be a consideration. There is a fine line between the segments, which can be used as a guide for cutting them apart. If this route is chosen, the modeler should proceed with care and use a fresh knife blade.
Small etched brackets are fitted to several places behind each skirt. Because of their size, the number of them (32), and the way in which they must be bent, the modeler may wish to create some sort of scrap styrene jig to ease the bending process. The complete skirts are hung on styrene hooks, for strength, which is a good idea. An etched brass fillet is also fitted between the track-guards and the skirts, on each side.
Superstructure and Casemate.
This is where the character of this vehicle is most prominent. The large slide-molded superstructure consists of the casemate (minus its front plate), the engine deck and the stern plate that ties the engine deck to the hull, all as a single part. Rivets, bolts, panel lines and the facets of the armor plates are crisply rendered. In two places, due to molding constraints, a separate part, detailed with rivets is added. In another two locations, rivets are provided on the sprues for placement in those areas. The large engine deck grill also has rivets added by shaving them off the sprue.
Every hatch lid is separate, some have interior detail, and some hinges are also separate for better detail definition. Clear periscope heads, with etched brass details are placed into separate rotating plates; naturally the latter can be positioned as the modeler sees fit. There are a total of four of these assemblies; all except one are positioned on the roof, with the odd one being positioned on the two-part gunners hatch lid. Another non-rotating periscope head, for the driver, is covered by an etched brass guard.
The molded-on bases for lift hooks are detailed with separate hooks, while a separate antenna base is also given. The instructions show how to create a rod antenna by stretching some sprue, but no dimension is given for its length. Two pistol ports are molded in place on two rear faces of the casemate.
The front of the casemate comes as two options, each consisting of two parts. The differences are that one has a circular plate molded in place, while the other does not; each ones separate central plate also is differently contoured on its top edge, so be careful not to mix parts when considering the option. Either option has separate hooks for stowage of spare track links. The drivers view-port cover also comes as one of two options and features a four-part internal frame and latch system; if these options are tied in to the different casemate front plate configurations this is not noted on the instruction sheet. The final item for the front is the internal curved gun shield; a long shaft, which I believe also represents the gunners monocular sight is inserted from the inside.
The port side of the casemate features molded-on mounting plates for separate tools, in this case a pick-axe and a large sledge-hammer. The starboard side features hooks for tow cable stowage. The cable itself is made up of nylon string with styrene end-hooks. It terminates at a three-part styrene and etched brass bracket on the rear end of the track-guard on that side.
Each side of the engine deck features a two-part grill and flap arrangement. These are embellished by tiny etched brass parts. Further back, also on both sides, is a smaller intake flap; in this case, the separate grill is inside and un-seen after assembly. The port-side of the engine deck also stows a large shovel and a pry-bar. On either rear corner of the engine deck, a two-part exhaust muffler is then fixed in place. The engine access hatch lids are in some cases detailed with tiny etched brass parts, while other etched brass parts are fitted to various locations on the engine deck. Multi-part styrene mounting brackets are provided to hold a pair of multi-part vehicle jacks at each rear corner of the engine deck.
The rear plate is also rather busy with stowage items and other fittings. On the port-side, a two-part stowage box is fitted; on the opposite side, a two-part spare road wheel is held in place by a separate plate. Each upper corner mounts a marker lamp, while the port-side gets a brake/tail lamp. To starboard, a typical German distance-keeping tail-lamp is mounted to an etched brass bracket. A molded-on bracket to hold smoke candles is fitted with two more parts; one represents a cluster of five smoke candles, the other a part of the mounting plate. Two tow hooks are then fitted to the lower corners.
10.5cm 40M Howitzer.
The main armament is based on a slide-molded gun tube that includes a molded-in-place Solothurn-style perforated muzzle brake; a separate ring is then fitted on its open end. A multi-part breech-block features a wedge that is movable after careful assembly. A two-part sled is then fitted to the bottom of the assembly; this then fits into the three-part cradle. The cradle is further detailed with several etched brass parts, to include a recoil guard for the gunner. A three-part spent shell deflector basket frame is fitted behind the breech block, while another U-shaped guard fits below the cradle.
The trunnion frames come as left- and right-hand parts, which sandwich a number of parts between them. This includes, of course, the gun cradle, a two-part elevation gear/shaft assembly and multi-part base plates; the latter allows for traverse. The gunner also has an elevation hand-wheel, but there is no traverse hand-wheel. As mentioned above, there is also a tube that connects to the gun-shield, which I presume is the gunners monocular sight. Finally, a three-part frame acts as a base for the entire assembly.
A partial drivers compartment is supplied. It features a four-part seat, a gear-shift lever, a three-part steering-brake unit and a foot pedal unit. A lateral stiffening girder is fitted behind the seat, while several items are fitted on the sponson to the drivers right. The locations of some of the latter parts are slightly ambiguous since there are no locating marks and the instructions are not clear. However they are placed, the modeler must take into account the side-walls of the casemate when fitting them. The ceiling of the casemate section features internal framing and rivet details and there is a small grab handle fitted over the drivers position.
Bronco provides eight 20-liter jerry cans and two 200-liter fuel drums, all of which have lettering and stampings that identify them as being specifically of Hungarian manufacture. The jerry cans are conventionally-molded in two halves, with an etched brass insert to represent the weld bead that joined them together. The handles and pour spouts are also separate parts. Test-fitting indicates no problems with the etched brass and styrene assemblies. The fuel drums come in two halves, with separate caps for either end. A pair of separate, two-part hoops is then fitted around the waist of each drum. It should be noted that Bronco has also issued a separate set containing six drums and 12 jerry cans as item AB3557, W.W.II Hungarian 20L Jerry Can & 200L Fuel Drum Set, reviewed separately here at MLs Time on Target page.
As this assault gun had no secondary armament for close-in defense, a very nicely-detailed MG34 is also given, which can be placed loosely on the roof. Presumably it was manned, at need, by the loader, as the Germans did with their own Sturmgeschütz III. The weapon comes from a slide-mold so it is pre-bored, has properly-rendered perforations on the barrel cooling jacket and a detailed, opened receiver. A separate receiver cover is given as is a choice of opened or closed bipod. A slide-molded, but closed ammunition box, three drum magazines (with a slide-molded, three-part carry frame for two of them) and a length of belted 7.92mm ammunition are also provided. Note: the belt cannot be run from the ammunition box to the gun because the box cover is molded in the closed position.
Molding, Fit and Engineering.
Molding overall is excellent, while fit for such a relatively complex kit is rated as outstanding. The rendering of the gun tubes muzzle brake is especially noteworthy. As I progress through the kit, fit has been very good or excellent, with only one (very minor) exception, regarding the suspension, noted above. Flash is almost non-existent, but it is present here and there. Mold part seams are subtle and easily dealt with, there is no shrinkage of any note and ejector pins are not visible after assembly.
As far as accuracy is concerned, the kit matches drawings in reference 1 and photos in reference 2, below, to well within acceptable limits. The drawings in reference 3 do not match photos in major areas, and therefore should not be used as a reference.
These are in the line drawing style and are computer generated, which means they are quite detailed in appearance. This also makes them rather complex and in some places a bit confusing. I have noted one instance of this regarding the placement of some interior bits in the drivers compartment. There are no color call-outs for any of the internal components.
Decals and Markings Information.
The provided water-slide decals are in perfect register, have crisp edges, excellent color saturation and thin, close-cut matte carrier film. Markings are provided for three vehicles; two are painted overall in dark green, while the third is in a three-tone scheme of dark green, yellow ochre and dark brown. Bronco has wisely provided an etched brass stencil to air-brush the tactical numbers for white 1+1, since these numbers and the large white Balkenkreuz placed between them were applied to the perforated side skirts. Although white 37 was also applied to the side skirts, curiously, there is no stencil for those tactical numbers.
White 33, 1st Battery, 1st Assault Gun Battalion.
White 37, 3rd Battery, 1st Assault Gun Battalion.
White 1+1, 3rd Battery, 1st Assault Gun Battalion.
Photos show white 37 to be accurate; I could not find photos of white 33 or white 1+1, but both follow the style seen in photos. I also believe that if the tactical numbers followed the conventions of the time, white 33 belonged to the 3rd Battery and white 1+1 belonged to the 1st Battery; the instructions most probably have the unit assignments transposed.
Low, wide, with multi-faceted, angular armor plates, and festooned with rivets and bolts, the Zrinyi II looks almost medieval, or like something seen in some current Sci-Fi war-gaming sets. Regardless, it is really quite a distinct design and sure to grace any collection to which it is added.
Frank V. De Sisto
References consulted for this report included the following:
1. Magyar Steel; Mushroom Model Magazine Special No.4101, by C. Becze, W. Rynkowski & M. Filipiuk.
2. Czechoslovak Armored Fighting Vehicles 1918-1948; Schiffer, by C. Kliment & V. Francev.
3. Czechoslovak Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945; Bellona, by C. Kliment & H. Doyle.
4. The Eastern Front, Armor camouflage & Markings, 1941-1945, Squadron/Signal Publications 6102, by S. Zaloga & J. Grandsen.
5. Hungarian Firepower; article by S. Zaloga. Military Modelling magazine, Volume 29, issue 4, pages 30-37.
6. The Royal Hungarian Army in World War II; Osprey Men-at-Arms 449, by N. Thomas, L. Pal Szabo & D. Pavlovic.
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DragonUSA, Bronco Models current North American distributor. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
Bronco kits are available in North America from DragonUSA. For details see their web site at: www.dragonmodelsusa.com.
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