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Bronco Airspeed A.S.51 Horsa Glider Mk.1 - 1/35 Scale


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Bronco Airspeed A.S.51 Horsa Glider Mk.1

Available from many online-stores around £109.99



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 Kit and Contents.

This kit is BIG, the large, packed box screams size.  From the thick cardboard box itself, the very well illustrated box top and the large cardboard protective packaging everything is on a big scale with this kit.  The contents consist of:

18 regular grey sprues,

3 clear sprues,

1 heavy nose weight in its own protective box,

1 small etched fret,

1 set of self adhesive vinyl window masks,

1 sheet of decals,

A really nice piece of artwork that matches the box art (a nice touch I think).


There is a lot of plastic here, it took me over an hour to photo it all, and it all looks well cast with no noticeable flash.  There are some prominent pin marks from the moulding pins on some of the larger pieces but they do seem to be in places where they will either be covered by other parts and most looks easy to deal with where they are not.

The kit looks to have a decently detailed cockpit (moulded in seat harnesses) though I'm sure the aftermarket people will be out with some updates soon.  

There is also what looks like a very detailed hold space along with a large port side cargo door that can be posed either open or closed along with a smaller what looks like personnel entry door at the rear.  The fuselage looks to be built as per the real thing with an inner tube of supports, bracing and floor/roof components.  Added to this are the troop seats (again moulded strap detail) and some smaller internal detail parts.

The skin of the fuselage comes in large sections and wraps around this tubular core.  I imagine the modeller will need to be very careful with this approach as the slightest misaligning of parts will result in a bigger misalignment in the next stages.  Onto this the wings and tailpieces fit, along with the pose-able control surfaces as does the large undercarriage.  I wonder how strong the undercarriage needs to be to ensure this stays on its wheels but the kit parts seem very sturdy. 

All external panels are smooth and Ive seen some criticism for this as some period pictures show noticeable deformation around the frame of the aircraft.  I can see both sides of this and personally I'd rather it wasn't there and do some work myself to reproduce it if I see it necessary at the time.  There are plenty period photo's around should the modeller wish to replicate this.

The painting guidance and decals exist for 3 versions of the aircraft.  Two UK RAF and one US D-Day airframe, there doesn't seem to be any guidance on differences in the build or fit of the aircraft depending on the theatre.  Guidance is in the instructions for the width of the painted on invasion stripes in 1/35th scale, which I think is a great feature.


The Sprues

The 18 sprues are as follows.


Sprue A (x1)

This sprue contains the Tail parts of the aircraft including the fuselage sides for the tail, the pose-able rudder and the support struts for the horizontal tail surfaces themselves.



Sprue B (x1)

This sprue contains the upper fuselage and wing spar parts along with some of the outer body panels.



Sprue C (x1)

This sprue contains the majority of the cockpit parts along with some internal bracing for the wing structures.



Sprue D (x1)

This sprue contains the bulkheads for the inner fuselage parts.



Sprue E (x1)

This sprue contains the horizontal tail surfaces and pose-able control surfaces for the tail parts.



Sprue F (x1)

This sprue contains some more internal bracing for the wings, outer fuselage skin parts and some undercarriage parts.



Sprue G (x2)

These contain further cockpit and fuselage pieces along with some of the troop seats.



Sprue Ha (x1) and Hb (x1)

These are the wings.  Large mouldings of both wings split in the usual upper/lower piece manner.



Sprue J (x1)

This contains more internal bulkheads and some further fuselage pieces.



Sprue K (x1)

This contains more floor pieces along with parts for the large port side cargo door.



Sprue L (x1)

This contains the large wing control surfaces.



Sprue Ma (x1)

This is the bracing for the Undercarriage.



Sprue Mb (x1)

This is the large, one piece cockpit canopy structure.  Its very clear and looks to be free from defects and anomalies.



Sprue Mc (x1) and Sprue Md (x1)

This is the side windows for the fuselage sides.

A further, very small bubble window and smaller side window.



Sprue N (x1) & Sprue P(x2)

Sprue N is further bulkheads and some side panels for the fuselage.

Sprues P are further parts for the interior including parts for the cargo seats.




Etch Fret P (x1)

This small fret has some straps for the pilots cockpit and some small bracing for the cargo seats in the rear of the aircraft.



The Window Masking and Decal Sheet

The Window masking is for the main canopy itself and the various windows on the side of the fuselage.  These are laser cut vinyl and are self adhesive.  I can see these being a big part of the build given the size and prominence of the cockpit windows themselves.


The Decal sheet looks well produces, in good register and seems to have all the necessary markings and national insignia.

The schemes are:

RZ108 of RAF 'Operation Overlord', France, 6th June 1944.

PW773 of RAF 'Operation Mallard', Normandy, France, 6th June 1944.

RF141 of USAAF 'Operation Overlord', Normandy, France, 6th June 1944.



The Instructions Sheet.

This is really well printed on glossy paper.  Its illustrated really well and they are really clear and easily readable.  They are black and white, except for the external colour scheme and in english.  All paint guidance is given in MR. Hobby, Hobby Color, Humbrol and Tamiya.



The Schemes that are presented on the decal sheet are all presented on the last 3 pages of the Instruction Sheet.



The Nose weight.

There is a nose weight included.  This is very hefty and comes in its own cardboard box to protect the other parts from it rattling about in the main box itself.




I think this kit will fly off the shelves.  Bronco and a few other manufacturers, Tamiya included, have already released a number of Airborne figures, vehicles and small artillery pieces that will look great with this kit in a diorama.  The only figures that may be difficult to source at this time are the pilots but Im sure someone will remedy that soon enough.

The only quandary I have is how to build this, either as a Bronco loading up with personnel and equipment, or as a crashed example with the pieces of the fuselage scattered in a field and the occupants escaping from the site.  One thing that will drive this for most I am sure is space to keep and Display it.  At almost a metre in wingspan and almost as long in the fuselage this will be difficult to find space for even once you have discarded that box.  For those completely without space issues can you imagine this being 'towed' behind the upcoming 1/32 Lancaster that has been announced recently by HKM?  That really would be something to see.


Overall I'd say really highly recommended, especially if like me you like the idea of mixed aircraft, armour and personnel dioramas.  One last bonus us the artwork supplied below, its a really nice touch and would look good in a decent frame.



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  • 1 month later...

Being a volunteer at the Museum of Army Flying I have access to the biggest collection of British assault gliders in the world and this kit has been on my 'wants list' ever since it was first announced by Masterbox. My access to original Horsa gliders will be of assistance in adding all the detail this kit lacks, such as the structural texture (especially on those huge wings), wing bombcells / hinges and access hatches, tail prop, navigation lights etc. (and that's just the exterior)

One thing anyone building this kit will notice is that there are no colour call outs for the interior. The safe bet would be interior green all over but this would only be correct for the cockpit. In the cargo hold the interior green only came up to the line of the seat back whilst the rest was unvarnished wood.

To compliment this kit Eduard have announced a series of detail sets to be issued in the new year, and as a follow up Bronco have announced a Horsa MkII which will use many of the same parts as the MkI, although they seem to have failed to notice that the shape of the nose on the MkII was totally different from the MkI.

This kit may not be perfect but it builds nicely and it doesn't require any major surgery, just added detail to the level of your own satisfaction.

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Cees, I will build more than 1. The first is going to be finished in the markings of one used at the HGCU Brize Norton in all its faded and patched paintwork glory and another will end up in a LZ diorama. I'm undecided if I will be getting a MkII as the thought of scratch building a replacement nose is a little daunting.

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