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Bronco Models 1/35 Soviet GAZ-69(M) 4 x 4 Utility Truck Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review March 2011 Manufacturer Bronco Models
Subject Soviet GAZ-69(M) 4 x 4 Utility Truck Scale 1/35
Kit Number 35096 Primary Media 260 parts (227 in grey styrene, 22 etched brass, 11 clear styrene)
Pros First kit of this vehicle in this scale in styrene; prolific “Cold Warrior” with a variety of possible uses and finish schemes; parts breakdown says more to come Cons Very complex kit for a small vehicle, very fussy fit, fragile assemblies
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $38.95

First Look

During WWII the Soviet received massive numbers of vehicles via Lend-Lease, most of them being American military pattern trucks. They were taken aback by how backward their own vehicles appeared in contrast with the US ones, all of which had all wheel drive and full sets of brakes which their own trucks did not. They were particularly happy with the light vehicles, especially the Jeep and the Dodge WC-51/52 three-quarter ton trucks.

Their own light field car, the GAZ-67B, was a domestic vehicle which was influenced by the Jeep but never as good. It had only a small cargo capacity which limited its usefulness. Per a resolution of the Government the search was on for a new vehicle with all wheel drive and a cargo capacity of 800 kilograms (1,750 pounds, or roughly US 3/4 ton class) and able to carry heavy machine guns, 82mm mortars, ammunition, and a crew without needing a trailer. It was powered by a 55 HP GAZ-20 engine, and even though it was a bit less powerful than the GAZ-67B it had a better transmission and drive train so it achieved better performance. The vehicle was to seat eight (six in the rear and two in the front) or carry equivalent cargo. Lead designer was G. M. Vasserman.

The first prototype entered testing in October 1947 but did not enter full production until August 1953. During that same time frame, a second model was offered - the GAZ-69A command car with four doors and seating for five.

Over its production run the little trucks were built both by GAZ as well as the Ul’yanovsk Automotive Plant (UAZ) as the UAZ-69. From 1953 until production ended in 1973 (when the more modern UAZ-469 entered production) a total of 634,285 GAZ-69 vehicles were produced in several different variants. The vehicle served with some 56 countries throughout the world, and commercial copies built in Rumania were offered into the 1970s for sale throughout Europe. (I thought of buying one for $4400 new but the icy look from my wife had a solid NO behind it...)

The (M) variants were slightly modified variants with more power suitable for use in tropical or desert climates. There were also the 2P6 launcher for the 2K15 “Shmel’” ATGM, the GAZ-69Eh with shielded generator for use as a radio vehicle, and four different small fuel tanker variants. Over the years it was affectionately named the “Gazik” among other names – “Little GAZ.”

Up to the present time Soviet Cold War softskins have only been perfunctorily served. In plastic, up until the present time there have only been six produced: a basic but serviceable GAZ-66 family from Eastern Express, the Omega-K Ural-4320 5 ton truck (and BM-21) which need TLC and a bit of work, a good Zil-151 3 ton truck by Zvezda (converted from the Italeri BM-13 Katyusha), a very good Zil-157 3 ton truck from Trumpeter, the massive MAZ-537 with tank transporter from Trumpeter as well, and the relatively forgettable UAZ-469 from a set of molds that frequently change hands. But as noted the light GAZ-69 escaped their view until now.

This kit is a joint project of Bronco (China) and SKP Models (Czech Republic), and as a joint product is also offered by both companies: SKP has kit SKP 110 which comes with Czech army markings. It is a very nicely done effort and comes with a nice set of slick instructions with a color handout for finishing directions. Credits are given to the Dailan Classic Car Museum (China) and Frantisek Koran (Wings and Wheels Publications) for their help with the project.

Considering the small size of the little beast, it is amazing how many parts are in this kit! The actual assembly of the model is pretty straightforward to anyone familiar with modern softskins. However, fair warning that it is VERY “fussy” and takes time and planning to assemble.

As a general rule, this kit uses more parts than it needs to for a given assembly, which causes parts to very small and difficult to clean up and install. I recommend NOT removing the parts from the sprues until you really need them; this slows down assembly but keeps the “carpet monster” hungry.

Step 1 covers the frame and springs, as well as the “knee” type rear shock absorbers which are very petite. However, the mounts are etched brass – fine, but there is nearly no “footprint” to attach them to the chassis and axles! I replaced them with sections of Evergreen profile strip – not as petite, but you CAN assemble them in that fashion.

Step 2 is the cross members and steering gear, as well as the front shock absorbers. The same problem exists for the front shocks as well.

Step 3 are the axles: the front axle has no less than 12 parts with the tie rod, and the rear one only 5. The parts do go well but I suggest using a high-tack plastic cement (I used Tamiya “Orange”) to hold them in place.

Step 4 is the installation of the axles and drive shafts to the chassis. Note that the rear springs have a tendency to pop loose and may require high-speed cement (again, here I used Tamiya “Green” for that reason). The directions are not really clear but the entire transfer case assembly is offset to the right in order to clear the gas tank - the directions tend to show it the other way around but the drive shafts cannot clear if you follow that route.

Steps 5, 6, and 7 cover the engine and its installation in the chassis. Anyone familiar with AFV Club kits will note this a very detailed and fussy item, but one with amazing details only missing the wiring. Note that the directions correctly indicate that everything except the engine block is gloss black, which was the standard Soviet paint scheme for softskin trucks from the 1930s onward. There is a filler and breather assembly on the left side that if used will not permit the left side to fit in the next step, so I suggest leaving it off.

Step 8 is the body floor pan and details, including the forward pair of seats. Each seat consists of a two-part frame and seat pan and back pads. Check the floor pan for trueness of the parallel edges; I found that there is a problem here which causes the body to “spring” at the rear and that will affect the tailgate assembly later on. (Being Soviet, note that part A13 is a spare hand crank for the engine!) The floor is attached in Step 9 and Step 10 covers the main wheels. While the directions show a keeper trapped inside the wheel with a “Do Not Cement” flag it is better to mount the wheel back (parts C1) and then attach the keeper (parts C5) before cementing the front of the wheel in place if you desire the wheels to rotate. If not, I suggest cementing the “keeper” in place and then assembling the wheels, sanding to eliminate the seam and installation when you choose. Be careful as the front wheel attachment points are vulnerable to bumping and can break off without warning. (Experienced modelers may want to drill them out and use brass pins for security.)

The body is mounted in Step 11 - note that the vehicle had asymmetrical doors (with both inner and outer handles) to allow for access to the rear bench seats as well as to provide for mounting the spare tire behind the driver’s door. Step 12 covers the hood (bonnet!), grille, and cowl panel and dashboard. A somewhat obtuse comment on the spare tire mount (A38) actually indicates a close fitting when the canvas roof (H1) is not used; a separate extended mount (A39) is used if the canvas is installed but the directions never really tell you that, only showing it in Step 18!

The headlights are mounted to the fenders in Step 13 and the fenders to the body in Step 14. Note that they are handed so do not cut them off without ensuring which is which! Also the headlight inserts are slightly different in taper so pay attention to them as well. The windshield is also installed in this step along with all of its parts – counting the etched brass bits (sun visors, wipers and mirrors) there are 10 parts to this assembly alone.

Step 16 covers the troop seats and tailgate. The seats on the original are designed to flip up for access to stowage bins under the seat; oddly enough the bins have the interiors molded into them but the covers for access are molded closed on the bin tops (parts B11 and B12). The tailgate may be mounted open or closed and also comes with an optional sign board mounted on it. But as noted the body is “sprung” at the rear and I had to shim the tailgate to get a good fit.

Step 16 is the troop seat backs, Step 17 the assembly of the window to the canvas, and Step 18 is final assembly. Note that the seat backs (B5 and B7) need to have their braces trimmed off if the canvas is used – something they didn’t say in Step 16! – so it is easier to do that prior to installation.

Basic finish is identical for all variants in this kit - black underframe and wheels (optional) with black headlight trim and “Khaki No.2" protective green paint (dark olive, similar to WWII 4BO green but a bit greener) everywhere else. Markings are provided for four different vehicles: PRC Armed Peoples’ Police, 1950s-1960s (license 01-04531); Staff Vehicle, General Pavlovskiy, Operation Dunay, August 1968, Czechoslovakia (VAI - Military Automotive Inspectorate - roughly equivalent to the Military Police - license number 23-66ShA); unidentified Soviet Army, 1960s-1970s (Soviet SA roundels); Nationalesvolksarmee, DDR, 1960s-1970s (DDR roundels). A small sheet of decals is provided along with a set of standard vehicle operating placards. Note that the latter two options should have plates but none are provided; normal Soviet format was four digits - two Cyrillic letters - two digits.

Overall this is a nice little kit but one requiring patience and skill. But with the tiny parts and alignment problems I suggest that experienced modelers would find it more enjoyable to assemble and less frustrating.

Thanks to Ken Jones for the review sample.

Sprue Layout

  • A 59 Body, bench seats, lights, details
  • C 30x2 Two wheels, one seat, body hardware and details
  • D 11 Clear styrene
  • E 38 Engine, transmission
  • F 66 Frame, fenders, hood, spare, suspension
  • G 3 Weapons - 1 x AK-47, 1 x RPG-7, 1 spare rocket
  • H 1 Erected canvas top
  • P 22 Etched brass