by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
When it comes to 1/35th scale models there will not be many that can match the latest offering from Bronco Models for size. The Airspeed A.S.51 Horsa Glider Mk 1 measured in at a Span of 26.83 m and a Length of 20.43 m. the following text is as supplied by Bronco Models.
the Horsa was a troop carrying glider of World War 2 built by Airspeed, a company associated with small trainers and sports aircraft. Designated the AS51 the Horsa was built to a 1940 specification for a 25 seater glider for use by Airborne forces. An order for 400 aircraft was placed February 1941, with fuyll production beginning in February 1942. By this time orders had reached 2345 aircraft. Much of the production was sub-contracted to furniture manufacturers who built the glider in sections and which were transported to Airspeed for final assembly. The Horsa was used by both British and American Airborne Forces in all operations from 1942 to the end of the war. It was also used to carry jeeps and small artillery pieces. The Horsa Mk 1had a wingspan of 27m and a length of 20m, loaded weight was 7,000k. it was normally towed by a four engine bomber such as a Short Stirling or Handley-Page Halifax due to the weight. But the smaller C47 Dakota was often used in large operations as not enough bombers where available.
The model is supplied in a substantial box and there is not a lot of empty space inside. The box is also quite heavy and so should be a consideration for those who order from abroad. Inside the box you will find;
18 grey sprues
3 clear sprues
1 photo etched fret
A decal sheet
A masking sheet for the glazing
A large weight
An instruction booklet
A box top artwork poster
Well to be honest my first thought was ‘wow that is a lot of plastic’. An examination of the plastic parts tells me that the mouldings live up to the expected standard I have of Bronco Models and that is quite high expectations. The only obvious issue that will need to be dealt with are some minor ejector pin marks that are present on some of the bulkheads throughout the fuselage. All told I am a happy modeller at this point of the review.
The cockpit is very nicely detailed and looks a very good match for the online reference I have found, the checks I have been able to do against pictorial reference does not show any areas of concern. The instrument panels look good and have been supplied with decals for the dial details, but the modeller who wants to lift this area should think about adding some wiring detail to the rear of the instrument panel as this area is open to view on the finished model. The only disappointing thing about the cockpit is that Bronco Models have not supplied a couple of their excellent figures to crew the cockpit and the harnesses have been moulded as a part of the seat rather than being supplied as photo etched offerings. The glazing for the fuselage is a quite large moulding that has been done very well by Bronco Models, the only aspect I am unsure of is the opening panels represented on the both front facing outer glass panels as I cannot find reference. I really like that the framing detail is raised both inside and out and that Bronco Models have supplied masks for the glazing during painting.
The interior of the fuselage has also been tackled nicely by Bronco Models. The wooden rib detail has been moulded as part of the fuselage panels with separate wooden bulkheads and it looks to be accurate in shape, form and quantity. The floor ribbing is well represented, but may be a little heavy detail wise, that said it would certainly not have me complaining about it. The seating for the Airborne troops has been well replicated, but the lap portion of the harness has been moulded as a part of the bench seats and this means replication has taken place; the shoulder part of the harness is missing completely as far as I can see, but I suspect the after-market manufacturers will tackle this very soon. One of the loading options that Bronco Models has suggested here is to show a Jeep loaded, but if I have it straight the Mk1 could only be loaded via the side door and I feel loading a Jeep would not be feasible; (Ok where is the photograph to prove I am wrong). The loading door and ramps look good to me and should give a pleasing result if shown with Airborne troops loading or mounting the aircraft.
The fuselage has been provided in many pieces and this will mean taking care during assembly to avoid issues later. One thing I do like about this approach from a display perspective is that I think the model could be built with one side and part of the roof missing for various display options. The skin of the glider is pretty smooth and this is correct for the scale I believe as the skin was made of plywood, There is a rough texture to the real glider, like fine sandpaper and so would not be glossy in its finish. The rib which runs externally on the rear section to the tail is present. The port holes along the fuselage are present and the clear parts are of a pleasing thickness.
The undercarriage of the Horsa is fairly simple in design and that has been replicated in this model. The tyres have been provided with a weighted look and so if you are planning an aircraft in flight alternate wheels will need to be acquired. The skid is well represented, but the way it is connected to the bottom of the aircraft does not match the only reference I could find. The connection is a single fluted part with two tubular stringers; my reference shows two struts that I believe where shock absorbers.
The tail assembly of the Horsa model has been provided with all control surfaces being workable except for the trim tabs. I am pleased to see that Bronco Models has not overlooked the rudder mass balance on this offering.
The wings of the aircraft are assembled into a single sub assembly before being applied to the model and if the fit is good this will help those with limited display space as they could be removed for taking the model to shows. Some wing spar detail has been provided for the wings and this will be a plus for those modellers looking to replicate a crashed or damaged glider with or without troops. In order to prevent the wings drooping there is a frame work within the wings which should keep everything as it should be. The ailerons have been provided separately and while I do not believe they are workable they can be set at the angle desired by the modeller. Split flaps and airbrakes have been provided for the model and can again be set in the open or closed position.
Instructions and Decals
The instruction booklet is of the usual high quality associated with Bronco Models. Despite being a substantial model this one will be a lot less stressful than some of the armour models that Bronco Models have produced as the parts are not so small for the most part. The decals are of a good quality with only aircraft I.Ds having a lot of excess carrier film, this is of course there to keep everything together. Bronco Models have supplied three finishing options for this model covering two operations during World War Two, these are;
RZ108 RAF, Operation Overlord, Normandy, France 6thJune 1944
PW773 RAF, Operation Mallard, Normandy, France 6thJune 1944
RF141 USAAF, Operation Overlord, Normandy, France 6thJune 1944
This is one of those models that has been promised for a long time that never appeared, but now it is finally with us I feel it has been well worth the wait. Overall detail is very good and while not perfect the imperfections are not of a quantity or severity that it should deter possible customers. The urinal tube missing from behind the right hand side wall to the rear of the cockpit is one thing I would add as it will be easy to replicate and add a talking point. There are some parts that can be scratch built to enhance this model by the modeller, but it will still be impressive if built straight from the box.