Bronco Models
Triumph 3HW Motorcycle w/British MP Set
Bronco Models 1:35 Scale Kit No. CB-35035
Review by Terry Ashley

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The Triumph 3HW was a 343cc overhead valve single cylinder motorcycle based on earlier civilian 3H with the cylinder head and barrel simplified to make production easier for military use.

It was built from April 1942 until the end of the war, with almost 28,000 produced and also shared components with the 3SW and 5SW bikes

The early 3HW had two tool boxes, a small rear carrier without a pillion or panniers with an 8" headlight. From 1943 a 6" headlight was fitted as well as pillion-carrying facilities, a large rear carrier and standard pannier-frames.

The Kit:

Bronco Models continue to release diverse subjects with this latest kit of the British Triumph 3HW Motorcycle bound to continue to please Allied modellers, something Bronco is getting good at doing.

The kit consists of 3 sprues with 153 parts in olive drab plastic, another sprue with 31 in beige plastic for the figures plus two etched frets with 54 parts along with the small decal and instruction sheets.

Etched parts x 2
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Included in the kit are two complete Triumph 3HW motorcycles, three figures with two riders and one MP plus a sprue with a selection of weapons and personal gear to use along with the figures in a diorama setting.

Each motorcycle is contained on the two identical sprue A and sees the standard of moulding extremely high with no flash or exposed pin marks to be seen and the usual mould seam lines are as fine as you could possible get and are all but invisible on some parts. There are some extremely small and finely moulded parts that will need care removing from the sprues and during assembly such as the separate filler caps for the fuel and oil tanks. The smallest being just 1mm in diameter and round making for a very slippery sucker to handle, so working well over the workbench is highly advised.

There are also two identical etched frets, one for each bike and the quality of the etched parts is equally as good with fine embossed detail and very thin wheel spokes. The detail definition on the chain is also very well done and if you want to get real picky you could say the holes in the chain links are not hollow.

As I don’t have any reliable 1:35 plans or other dimensional data on the 3HW at this time the review will concentrate on the kit contents with assembly notes as required.

The 3HW Motorcycle:

The bike is broken down in a fairly conventional manner for plastic motorcycles and can be built into smaller sub-assemblies which are brought together as you progress, this makes assembly a little easier and quicker as you can work on one section while the glue on another dries.

The Wheels:

The standout feature and the one that takes the most assembly is the front and rear wheels which include the fine etched spokes trapped between the two tyre halves. The kit provides a two part jig press to bend the spokes to shape but there is an issue with this making it usable for only the right front spoke ring with the brake drum and left rear spoke ring with the chain drive sprocket.

This is due to the jig having the centre section the size of the front drum brake and rear drive sprocket and is designed so you lay the etched spoke ring on the concave jig section (part A30) and press the other jig half  (part A31) into this to get the correct spoke profile.

Using the jig parts to bend the spokes
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As mentioned this is fine for the two spoke halves with the larger centre sections but if used on the other two spoke rings where there is a smaller diameter hub you will end up with a distinct “kink” in the spoke which is not correct, the spokes should be perfectly straight from the hub to the wheel rim.

For the front left and right rear spoke ring you will need to use a pair of tweezers and carefully bend the spokes around the smaller central hub, the outer edge of the spoke ring is divided into five sections which do make bending a little easier.
Once the spoke rings are bent to the correct profile you can assemble the wheels but you have to align both the tyre tread and two etched spoke rings correctly as you go which does require a little more work.

Each of the spokes on the left and right side of each wheel are offset from one another to depict the spokes correctly and unfortunately the instructions don’t show this and its best to alter the assembly slightly to get the spokes and tyre tread all lined up correctly.

I firstly cut off the two locating pins on the inside of the tyre halves (parts A57) and glued the first spoke ring into one tyre half using cyanoacrylate (super glue) ensuring the outer edge is as flush as possible with the inside rim surface. You can also glue the appropriate centre hub in place when the spokes are attached (image 1).

Next dry fit the other tyre half and align the tread pattern correctly (you can check this by dry fitting the halves together before cutting off the locating pins). With the tread pattern aligned correctly use a fine black marker and mark the position of the offset spokes at the four compass points around the inner tyre rim (image 2).

You next glue the etched spoke ring into the second wheel half using the pen marks to align the spokes around the inner wheel rim, again ensuring the outer edge is as flush as possible with the inside rim surface (image 3).

Adding the spokes to the wheel halves as per the text above
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You can then join the two wheel halves together with the tread pattern and the spokes aligning correctly following the above steps. Repeat for the second wheel and you are ready to proceed.

Assembled wheels
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Engine and Frame:

Assembly of the engine and fuel tank is very straightforward due to the excellent fit of the parts with the only cleanup being the fuel tank join line after the glue has dried but due to the good fit very little sanding and no filler was required to eliminate this join on the review kit.

Detail included on the parts is also very good with clean crisp detail and excellent definition such as on the cylinder cooling fins and small recessed bolt heads on the side cover plates. All the foot pegs/gear levers are separate parts and apart from the fine moulding seams to be removed also fit very well. Care is needed as mentioned above with the small parts but there shouldn’t be any problems if the instructions are followed.

The left side frame is attached to the engine frame and its best to allow the glue on this to dry completely before adding the right frame and rear wheel to make aligning the parts easier.

I also added the etched chain and drive sprocket to the left frame at this point with the chain designed to just slip inside the large side cover (part A32).

Do not try and force the chain into place or bend the chain away from the original position, if you align the chain ends correctly with part A32 it will just slip into place, so lightly fiddle the chain ends around without any force until they slip into place for best results.

The rear wheel and right frame can now be fitted and while the instructions show not to glue the wheel to allow this to rotate it’s best to glue this securely to the frame hubs for a more robust assembly.

The remaining parts such as the exhaust which has the pipe slightly hollowed out, the seat and seat springs, rear mud guards and chain guard can all be added and again there were no problems due to the excellent fit of the parts.

The rear numberplate/taillight assembly is a thin etched part with very small plastic light added and after carefully bending the etched plate mountings as indicated this is attached to the rear of the mud guard with a small dab of cyanoacrylate. Take care as the precise location is not indicated and referring to the painting guide will help with the placement.

The seat springs could be replaced with actual springs made from wire if you wished as well as drilling out the exhaust pipe further for a better appearance to enhance the assembly as well as adding the engine wiring.

There are two alternate bike stands provided, one long stand arm that attaches to the frame just below the seat and has to be glued either raised or lowered. The other is the more common going by available photos and is the large U shaped stand attached to the rear wheel hub and can be easily raised or lowered as required.

Front Forks:

This sub-assembly has numerous small delicate parts requiring care during assembly and I departed from the instruction sequences to make things easier.

Detail on the parts is again very well done but take care removing the fine moulding seam from the handlebars and forks before assembly.

The instructions show to assemble the handle bars and central spring, the two fork frames, head light, mud guard and front wheel all in the one operation but given the finesse of the parts this is asking for a headache.

Instead I assembled the handle bars/spring, the small cross member (part A43) plus the forks and left this assembly to dry completely before proceeding. One point to watch here is the sprue attachment point on the handle bars is on a small notch that butts against the central spring (part A50) and it’s important to trim all the sprue from the notch. You may also need to trim this a little more to get the handle bars to sit at the correct angle when fitted to part A50?

Front fork assembly as above and final assembly
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While the glue dries on the forks you can assemble the two part head light and add the thin etched support to the mud guard which is an exercise in itself.

This support fits inside the front of the mud guard but there is no indication where to bend the support to get both sides even and its best to mark the centre point with a fine marker and attach to the mud guard with cyanoacrylate.

Hold the etched support in place with a pair of stout tweezers and bend the support level with the edges of the mud guard, providing you marked and aligned the centre of the support to the guard the support “legs” should now be the same length either side.

The front wheel, mud guard and head light can now be fitted easily between the assembled forks without any problems and I again glued the wheel firmly in place for a more robust assembly rather than leave movable as the instructions suggest.

Additional items such as the lower mud guard support and speedometer can be added, there is a decal provided for the instrument face as well as an etched front number plate added to the mud guard. Note, the front number plate was not usually fitted to wartime motorcycles so this can be left off if you wish.

Attaching the front fork assembly to the engine/frame assembly requires care as there are two sizable “domes” on the spring mounting (part A50) that clip into the indentations top and bottom of the fork mounting at the front of the engine frame.

This is a tight fit and needs a bit of effort to get into place and given the many small delicate parts on the engine and forks care is needed. I gripped the forks at the strongest point where all the parts meet just above the mud guard attachment and with a finger also on top of the handle bars eased the forks into place over the mounting on the engine frame. Providing you don’t overdo the force this clipped onto place with a bit of coaxing allowing the forks to be steerable afterwards.

Luggage Racks:

A small pillion seat is added to the top of the rear mud guard and this has etched “legs” that need careful bending before attaching to the guard. Again the precise location is not indicated and referring to the painting guide will help with the placement.

A frame luggage rack is also included made from three fine plastic parts and this along with the side pannier racks were not always fitted to the 3HW so referring to reference photos if modelling a particular bike or as you choose if not.

The pannier racks are in etched brass with the edges requiring careful bending to shape and added to this are the side support arms (P6), lower strap clips (P10) and the side wing nuts (P12). Both the clips and wing nuts are extremely small and I drilled out the locating hole for the wing nuts slightly to allow a better fit. You could either solder the rack parts but given the small size and that they don’t take any stress after assembly using cyanoacrylate would probably suffice.

The assembled racks attach to the rear luggage rack sides and you are provided with two rucksacks to add to the panniers if you wish. These have nice detail included but are hollow at the back and blanking off with thin card will prevent you seeing this when added to the racks.


The kit includes three full figures to use as required in a diorama and the moulding and detail on these is again good although the mould seams are more prominent than on the bike parts and care will be needed when removing these from the fabric folds etc. to not damage the uniform detail.

There are two dispatch riders; one posed straddling the bike and other standing directing traffic plus one standing MP with a map board (with two alternate heads provided, with field cap and Officers cap). The bike rider and MP are posed to go together with the rider pointing out some location on the map the MP as depicted on the box art.

Each figure is broken down in the conventional manner with the torso, separate arms, head, head gear and two separate legs plus the personal gear and weapons to add as required.

Fit of the parts was quite good overall but there were some small gaps at the waist and shoulder joins on a couple of the figures that is easy to deal with by filling with small cuts of sprue plastic while the glue is still wet.


Included in the kit is the weapons sprue from the Humber Scout Car Mk.1 w/twin Vickers K (kit #CB-35016) that has a nice selection of weapons plus personal gear.

The weapons included are;
2 x Lee Enfield .303 Mk.3.
1 x Thompson SMG with round magazine.
1 x Bren Light Machine Gun with folded and extended bipod.
1 x Sten Mk.2 with alternate first and second pattern stock.
2 x Vickers K machine guns.

Both the Bren and Vickers K guns have the vehicle mountings included being designed for the Humber but these could be easily cut off if required?

Details on the weapons are well done with just the addition of slings as required to finish off.


The kit includes a small decal sheet with well printed items showing good colour register and cleanly printed text such as the 1mm high numbers that are fully legible. The sheet includes divisional markings and serial numbers for the two motorcycles as well as instrument dial as mentioned.

There is also figure decals such as arm rank insignia, arm bands and shoulder titles to add some life to the figures.

The full colour painting guide shows two motorcycles listed as;
  • Option 1: XXX Corps, North West Europe, 1944-45
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  • Option 2: 108th Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps of the 10th Armoured Brigade, 42nd Armoured Division, England, 1942-43.
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The markings provided on the decal sheet are a bit of a mixture unfortunately as noted below.
(Thanks to Peter Brown for the intel on the markings)

Option 1: There are two sets of white serial numbers provided with C602241 actually allocated to an Albion 6x4 lorry while C886687 was for a Triumph 3HW built between April 1942 and June 1943.

Option2:  Item 6 is the divisional sign for 6th South African Armoured Division, not the British 42nd Armoured Division as indicated on the guide.
Serial C5566925 was a 3HW built sometime between June and October 1944 while the guide says the motorcycle is from the period 1942-43?

For the figures the shoulder titles (item 15) should be “ROYAL SIGNALS” to go with the armband item 9, though note there was a change of style from "ROYAL CORPS of SIGNALS" to "ROYAL SIGNALS" in September 1944 and their backing colour was dark blue/black. Military Police would be "C.M.P." on a shorter red arc.


This is a superb little kit of the Triumph 3HW Motorcycle with well executed fine detail enhanced with the etched parts provided notably the wheel spokes, drive chain and luggage panniers.

This does result in some very small and fine parts that need care during assembly and the kit is not really suitable for inexperienced modellers with even some areas that could be a challenge to other modellers.

But providing care is taken assembly is quite logical and well thought out but as mentioned above diverting from the instructions at times will make things easier, especially with the wheels.

Getting the two full motorcycles and the three figures in the kit makes for a real bargain and also provides a readymade backup should there be any disasters during assembly.

When LionRoar/Great Wall Hobbies released their excellent kits of the BMW R75 and Zündapp KS750 back in 2008 they raised the bar for plastic motorcycle kits and with this kit Bronco Models have raised it even further IMHO.

Very highly recommended.

The Sprues:

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Detail Images
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  •  "British Forces Motorcycles 1925-45"
    by Orchard and Madden

Thanks to Bronco Models for providing the review kit.

Page created January 9, 2010