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L-4 Kit

Bronco Models 1/35 L-4 (O-59) Grasshopper Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2008 Manufacturer Bronco Models
Subject L-4 (O-59) Grasshopper Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35018 Primary Media Styrene/PE
Pros Nicely detailed kit Cons
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $69.95

First Look


Piper Aircraft Company's J-3 Cub was designed to be a light training and utility aircraft that would be built between 1937 and 1947.Following the same idea as Henry Ford's Model T automobiles that came in any color (as long as it was black), the J-3 Cub would become an icon in its standard "Cub Yellow). Powered by a four-cylinder 65 horsepower engine, this all-fabric covered aircraft was supposed to be elegant in its simplicity, ease of maintenance, grace in flight, and low cost. What Piper developed was, and still is a classic aircraft.

When the war drew close, the J-3 was the right aircraft at the right time to support the new Civilian Pilot Training Program and by war's end, around 80% of military pilots had received their initial training in the J-3.

When war did come, Piper performed an extensive modification to the basic Cub to turn it into a military machine - the aircraft recevied a coat of green paint. Actually, these aircraft would also receive more window area around and over the top of the cockpit to improve observer visibility.

Rosie the Rocketer was the aircraft flown by Major Charles Carpenter. He was assigned the duty of flying General John Woods, commander of the 4th Armored Division around the theater. One day he got the idea of mounting two bazookas to the wing struts of his aircraft, and in his spare time, he went panzer plinking. By the end of the war, Rosie was carrying six tubes and had accounted for five tanks and a number of other vehicles destroyed.

Not long after we reviewed Bronco's first release of the L-4 Grasshopper ( look here), Bronco released a second version of the kit - 'Rosie the Rocketer' and I just couldn't resist. The kit is identical to the first release with the addition of two spue trees and a new set of decals.

The kit is molded in Olive Drab styrene and presented on five parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. The glazing is done in styrene! A fret of photo-etched parts round out the kit.

Construction (of course) starts in the cockpit, and you'll be pleasantly surprised how the details in this cockpit are faithfully reproduced. The front seat has a map pocket molded onto the backside with a map portruding out of the pocket. Seatbelts and shoulder harnesses are provided as photo-etched parts. The tubular steel frame that surrounds the cockpit is also represented nicely. Note that the tubular frame isn't complete, but the more visible elements are replicated. The AMS modeler will want to grab some Evergreen tube styrene or brass rod and fill in the framework.

Remember that the interior surfaces of the cockpit are the same outer surfaces - fabric skin. The fabric texture is nicely done without being overdone. The few aluminum panels are also clearly represented on the fuselage and the underwing maintenance access panels.

Among the features of the kit:

  • The kit comes with two types of rear seat, depending on the version you're building
  • The lower entry door is positionable and is provided as both styrene or photo-etch
  • The upper entry door in the glazing is molded into the rest of the starboard glazing, but is molded to be easily cut away
  • The windscreen is nicely molded and Bronco opted not to mess with rivet details around the edges of this sharply curved part. Instead, the rivets are provided as photo-etched strips that will frame the windscreen after installation
  • Optional bedrolls and personal weapons are included
  • The rudder and ailerons are separately molded and positionable
  • The elevators are molded onto the horizontal stabs, BUT they are designed to be positionable. Nice touch!
  • The four-cylinder engine is very nicely detailed. All you need to add is ignition wiring (and that is a visible detail!)
  • An HF longwire antenna is also provided in the kit for your observation aircraft

What's new here are the two additional sprue trees that contain six standard US Army bazookas, two mounting plates, U-bolts to mount the plates to the L-4's wing struts, and U-bolts to attach the bazookas to the mounting plates.

Markings are provided for one L-4:

  • L-4H, 43-30426, 4th Armored Division, Normandy, Jun 1944, 'Rosie the Rocketer'

Here is a unique version of the venerable Piper Cub that survived the war as a Panzer ace. The kit is still beautifully done and will provide another distinctive, albiet slow, panzer plinker to your 1/35 scale flightline.

This kit is highly recommended!