Bronco Models
DAK "Topolino" (German/Italian Light) Staff Car
w/Crew & IFS Infantry Cart

Bronco Models 1:35 Scale Kit No. CB35156
Build Review by Terry Ashley
Updates shown in blue text
Bronco Models
Instructions notes by Phil Greenwood

In 1935 the Italian Fiat company began work on a small car for low income families, which became known as the "Topolino" (little mouse). Powered by a 4-cylinder 569cc engine it was capable of 85 km/h. Construction was advanced for its day and although sold as a 2-seater, it was strong enough to carry 5 people. Production started in 1936 at Fiat and it was soon judged a success. A close copy of the Fiat 500 was made in France as the Simca 5 the same year, and in Germany the NSU-Fiat was built from 1937. At the start of WWII many of these cars were pressed into military service. Most were used as run-about's by the Italian and German armies, seeing service in Europe, North Africa and Russia. It was a rugged little car that stood up well to military use, many were "liberated" and used by Allied armies as they drove the German's across France and Belgium.

The kit:
This new kit from Bronco Models represents the Model A Fiat 500 “Topolino” produced between 1937 to 1948 with only minor changes, subsequent Model B and C were produced from 1948 up to 1955. The Model A was produced in hard (coupé) and soft top (cabriolet) versions with this kit being the hard top version with the soft top to come soon in Bronco kit CB-35165.

The kit can be built in civilian guise as it was often used in military service with just a paintjob or as a fully militarised DAK version with additional items such as Notek light, tail lights, tools and fender width indicators plus a roof jerry can rack and the bonus of an IF8 (or infanteriefahrzeug ausf 8) Infantry Cart which was one of the most common infantry supply carts of WWII.

The kit comes in the standard sized Bronco box (as with the Jeep) and consists of:

Etched and clear parts
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Bronco Models

The standard of moulding is exceptionally high with clean crisp parts without any discernible flash or pin marks seen after assembly with just the usual mould lines to be removed. There are numerous very small parts that will need care removing from the sprues and in cleaning up the sprue bur and the mould lines

The main body in moulded in one piece with quite thin body panels for a good scale appearance, this
is the largest part in the kit and comes packaged in its own clear Acrylic container for added protection with just a single moulding point on the roof. There is a little ‘roughage’ for want of a better word as it’s not really flash in the usual sense around the lower edges/wheel wells that is easily removed.

Details in the kit include the full engine and radiator, separate chassis frame, interior details with separate doors and engine hood, the suspension parts especially the front and steering linkages are quite small and delicate requiring care but allows the front wheels to be positioned at any angle for some animation. The separate wheel hub caps have “Fiat” embossed as per the original with nice tread pattern on the wheels and you get two spare wheels for the rear mounting allow you to mount one or two spares as was sometimes seen.

There are numerous small etched parts for added detail such as the windscreen wipers, radiator badge and decoration, the engine hood latches, door handles plus the DAK items of Notek light mounting, shovel mountings, number plates front and rear, the Jerry can rack straps and the trailer tub as a large etched part.

500cc Engine/Engine Compartment:
This is made up of 19 parts and due to the small size many parts are also quite small and care is needed removing the mould lines and during assembly. Detail on the parts is well done and has all the main engine components plus the radiator which is mounted behind the engine. You need to watch the direction of the radiator grills when fitting the top tank as there are the two radiator hose that also serve as the mountings to the engine assembly with the front suspension springs also fitted around the engine crank case for a quite compact yet nicely detailed sub-assembly.

The compartment behind the engine has the rear interior bulkhead with the fuel tank plus side walls with nice details included; these also form the insides of the wheel wells as well as the radiator bulkhead. This compartment is basically empty as it serves as the air intake for the radiator that is located behind the engine facing backwards.

Construction notes:
Assembly of the engine was quite straightforward apart for some very small plastic and etched parts that need care in handling; the fit was good with the only alteration being to shorten the pin for the fan by about 0.5mm so the fan cleared the radiator better. If showing the hood open to display the engine you may wish to add the wiring and other finer details if you have the references available?

The engine is attached to the chassis (after you have assembled the chassis as below) by way of just two locating points and you must ensure the engine sits level with the chassis and also that the springs ends are aligned with the suspension arms on the chassis. There is some movement possible with the engine locating points so this alignment is important for the proper alignment of the front suspension.

The engine compartment has the rear bulkhead with half the fuel tank, the other half protrudes through the bulkhead into the cab compartment but as you can’t see this isn’t a problem, the fuel lines can be added if you are going to have the top louvered doors open to display the compartment interior.

Assembly of the engine compartment requires a little care to get the front side panels positioned correctly as there is only fine raised lines to indicate the correct position on the bulkhead plus the cross member at the front, if these aren’t positioned correctly it can affect the fit of the side panels to the body, fenders and the front engine cover later.

The assembled compartment fits snugly to the body pan recesses without any problems as does the smaller radiator bulkhead with the engine fitting snugly inside the compartment without any snags or other issues.

The full chassis is separate from the floor with the rear suspension arms separate again from the main chassis frame which included the front suspension arms. The chassis frame is moulded solid but the actual frame has numerous lightening holes along the central and rear chassis frame and those wanting total accuracy may want to drill into the frames, but as it not really visible on the finished model can be left as is.

The rear differential and drive train has four parts with separate side spring units and this sub-assembly is attached the main chassis frame to form the full chassis. The engine assembly is then added to the chassis along with the exhaust pipe and fine front wheel mounts and steering linkages with the full chassis sub-assembly glued to the underside of the floor pan.

The wheels are moulded in one piece with separate brake drums and hub caps which as mentioned include the “Fiat” name embossing.  The attachment of the front wheels to the steering mounting is quite small and care will be needed when fitting and not to put pressure on the join after assembly.

Construction notes:
Assembly of the chassis was again quite straightforward with care needed for the fine parts especially the delicate front suspension arms and steering linkages. There was a small issue with the rear springs and differential which is separate from the main chassis, the fit was fine but after the chassis is attached to the body the ride height at the back was slightly too low. This is only a little under 1mm but the visual effect is greater as the wheels sit too high inside the rear wheel wells but this isn’t apparent until the final fitting together of the chassis, wheels and body. The easiest method to remedy this after assembly is to put a 2mm square section of plastic rod as a spacer between the underside of the body pan and the spring unit, this will ensure the ride height is correct (see image). The 2mm spacer is due to there being a space between the floor and the springs of about 1.5mm so the 2mm spacer block accounts for this as well as lowering the axle to the correct ride height. You could also make sure the rear suspension arms are angled slightly down for the main chassis frame and not parallel during assembly to arrive at the same result.

Adjustments for correct ride height as above
Bronco Models

The wheels are designed with a small plastic ring that secures the wheel to the brake drum pin allowing the wheel to rotate but given the very small clearances between the parts it’s virtually impossible to not get glue where it shouldn’t go so just glue the brake drum and hub caps to the wheels and glue the brake drum to the axle mountings, it’s far easier.

I also altered the assembly by gluing the brake drums to the axle mountings before fitting the wheels due to the fragile nature of the front suspension in particular and letting the glue dry completely before fitting the wheels. Also note you can fit the front wheels at any angle for steering animation if you wish.

Floor Pan/Interior:
The interior is quite basic as was the real vehicle interior with just the separate driver’s brake and clutch pedals but oddly no accelerator pedal, there is the gear shift lever but no hand brake either plus the steering column and wheel. The instrument panel has engraved dials with two decals for the larger dials and the two large seats are very well done depicting the plush seats very well. Another item missing is the rear view mirror which can be added from thin card.

The insides of the doors are free of pin marks and include the storage flap as well as the moulded on door handle and latch detail.

There were no issues with the interior as everything fitted perfectly for a quick and easy assembly, you would obviously paint the interior before proceeding further. Also note if using the driver's figure this must be fitted before adding the body as it is hard to fit later.

The large body moulding is superbly done with nice body contours and just some smoothing out of the lower edges needed. The openings for the doors and front and back windows are included along with separate front compartment louvered doors and engine compartment cover with finely rendered grill details. The two louvered panels can be shown open if you wish with small rods to hold them in the open position provided, the grills on these panels and the front engine cover are moulded solid being just too fine to mould open plastic.
Added to the grill are an etched name badge and top adornment, plus the fine etched side securing latches with this whole cover opening on the real vehicle for engine access.

The windows are clear plastic with etched door handles, windscreen wipers, and the headlights are attached to the front fenders and there is a choice of lights with different style blackout strips. There are alternate windows, fully closed or open with the front section slid back as per the original and this gives a choice as does fitting the doors open or closed.

Added to the lower sides under the doors are the step/guard panels as well as choice of front bumpers, one full width bumper bar and one with just small bumpers bars in front of both fenders. Images indicate many vehicles had no bumper bars at all so you basically have a choice of three configurations and it’s best to refer to references for the appropriate bumper configuration. There are some fine raised locating marks on the front of the fenders for the bumper bars so if not fitting the bars just trim off these marks.

At the back is the spare wheel recess with a choice of single or double spare wheels, the single wheel has the normal hub cap while the double wheel stack has the central retaining bracket. The single wheel being more appropriate for conscripted civilian vehicles and the double wheels for the specific DAK and other military modified vehicles although these is no set rule for this.

Construction notes:
The wipers blades are two very small and thin etched parts that WILL bend as you remove them from the fret, so after straightening these you have to glue the arm to the blade before fitting to the small locating stub on the body and will require a lot of care to fit. You should also note the Tololino was only fitted with a single wiper blade on the left or right depending if the car had left or right hand drive, the kit should have the left wiper fitted. The instructions are a little misleading on this showing the two blades fitted in step 10 and 11, so just fit the left blade for the correct arrangement, the second wiper is included as a spare given the fragile nature of the etched wipers.

The fit of the doors is very good if closed as is the fit of the separate top louvered panels on the forward body and as mentioned these cam be shown open for a diorama setting if preferred? The clear windows need care when fitting as it’s easy to get glue on the window while fitting as they don’t include the frames.

The body fits neatly to the floor with the fit excellent along the sides and the rear but some work was needed to get the front fenders to fit properly to the body, I first glued the body along the sides and rear joins and left for the glue to dry completely before tackling the front end.

When it came to fitting the fenders to the engine compartment sides it became apparent that the left fender had a very slight outward twist which left a gap of a little over 1mm between the engine compartment panel and the fender, the right fender/engine compartment panel join on the other hand was very good.

Before gluing the fenders into position you need to decide if you are going to show the engine hood open or closed, if open there are two hinges on the front of the chassis that mate with the small hinge stubs inside the lower hood. If having the hood open the fenders need to be glued to the engine compartment side panels and the left fender will need to be firmly held into position until the glue dries completely to compensate to the slight outward twist mentioned above. The hood can then be simply glued to the hinge stubs at the desired angle as per the images.

If gluing the hood closed I firstly glued the top and left side of the hood/body join as these fitted perfectly and when the glue had dried I then “coaxed” the left fender back into the correct position and firmly held in place until the glue had dried. This needs a little care to get the fender in the correct position and while the amount of fender twist was only very small due to the contours of the fenders was quite stubborn about being aligning correctly, but as can be seen by the images everything lines up okay after this process. And of course this won’t be needed if the fenders on your kit are all okay, test fit first to see if there is an issue before gluing.

With the body in place the additional items such as the head lights, tail light and the small etched door handles as well as the lower running boards and the bumper bars if you are using them and there weren’t any problems with these parts.

German Bits:
It should be noted the DAK configuration in the kit is based on a preserved “Topolino” in a museum exhibit and may or may not be an authentic period configuration, so you can use some or all of the additions included in the kit as you see fit.

Museum exhibit
Bronco Models

The inclusions for the DAK version include the Notek light with etched mounting, the shovel with etched brackets, the pennant post and the two fender width indicators at the front while at the back are two different tail light configurations with a choice of three style of etched number plates.

On the roof is a finely moulded jerry can rack with etched straps to hold the two jerry cans in place, the jerry cans are the same as in other Bronco kits that come in two halves with engraved details along with the etched central flange and separate handles and filler cap for nice representations of German Jerry Cans. There are locating studs on the roof for the rack and if not fitting the rack these studs can easily be trimmed off.

It should be noted the DAK configuration in the kit is based on a preserved Topolino in a museum exhibit and may or may not be an authentic period configuration, so you can use some or all of the additions included in the kit as you see fit.

Construction notes:
On the roof is a finely moulded jerry can rack with etched straps to hold the two jerry cans in place, the jerry cans come in two halves with engraved details for a ABP manufactured can along with the etched central flange with separate handles and filler cap. There is a slight dimensional issue with the Jerry Cans in that the Height and Width measure out well to the actual scale size of 13.5mm and 9.9mm but they are slightly too thick and the handle slightly too narrow. The thickness is over by a little under 0.5mm (not a lot in the scheme of things) but the handles are about 1mm too narrow at the base and the result is the handles don’t align with the sides of the cans like they should but are noticeably inboard.

Jerry Can issues as outlined above
Bronco Models

Fitting the rack to the roof is quite an exercise as there the four studs on the roof with small pins that fit into the holes in the etched mounting strips (parts P9) but there is no locating marks on the plastic rack frame (part C3) so it’s just guesswork and if guessed wrong the strips will not align with the roof studs. The only solution for this is to assembly the rack in situ on the roof by first gluing the etched strips to the roof studs and then carefully gluing the rack frame to the top of the strips. This is a simply butt join so you need to take care to get the rack frame positioned perfectly and using a thicker cyanoacrylate is advisable to give a little working time before the glue cures.

With the plastic frame in place I then firmly glued the jerry cans to the strips to give rigidity to the assembly as the etched strips will bend easily if pressure is applied, with the jerry cans in place I then added the two part top securing straps to complete the assembly which is probably one of the most time consuming sub-assemblies of the whole kit. Seeing as the rack is rather non-standard it could be advisable to simply bypass this step and cut off the roof studs to save a lot of work.

IF8 Infantry Cart:
The bonus infantry cart is a little kit within a kit and is nicely done with very finely moulded floor and side frames that need care removing the fine mould lines before assembly. The cart ‘box’ is in etched brass for a nice thin wall appearance with additional duckboards for inside the box plus there is a canvas cover or you can leave the cart open to fill with supplies for a diorama?

Two sets of wheels are supplied, one with spoke wheels and the other with solid wheel discs although the instructions only show the solid disc wheels. If fitting to the back of the Topolino there is a small tow bar to be added to the back of the body with the tow bar fitting to the trailer or it can be used separate as you wish.

Construction notes:
It should be noted this is a completely new cart and not the same as the one included with the previous Bronco kit CB35034 2.8cm s.Pz.B.41 Anti-Tank Gun and assembly will require a little care. The frame floor and sides are extremely fine but fit together well although you do need to take care to get the corners and other joins in the exact right position and let dry completely before fitting the etched box.

The etched box just needs the sides bent at right angles using a good etched bending tool but is it is essential to have the bends precisely on the edges of the box floor and I mean precisely, even the smallest excess width will see the box not fit inside the plastic framework. To get the bends edges perfect I had to first bend using the bending tool and then with the box supported on a hard surface used a small jewellers hammer to lightly tap along the bends until the sides were bent perfectly level with the floor section, tap very lightly and with the head even so as not the damage the etched sides and after a bit of careful hammer work the bends were tight enough for the box to fit perfectly into the box frame.

From there the inner duckboards fitted perfectly and you can add the top frame as well as axles and other details as per the instructions including the wheels, either the solid and spoke wheels as you prefer.  The trailer is attached to the bar on the back of the “Topolino” by a simply of a simple U bolt that can slid along the bar and I assume this is how it was fitted in the museum as I doubt this would have been a satisfactory fitting in actual use with the trailer hitch sliding all over the place as you went around a corner?

The two crew figures are broken down in the conventional manner with separate torso, legs, arms and heads plus separate caps but no other personal gear is provided. The DAK uniform detail is nicely done overall with the seated drive in shorts and the standing officer in trousers and lace up boots. The figures should paint up okay to use with the kit or elsewhere.

There is no personal gear supplied for the figures apart from one MP40 but it should be easy to scrounge the required gear from any other kit or figure set to use with the figures.

The decal sheet is nicely printed with good colour register and has markings for the three options provided with three allied stars, two Red Cross badges and three Balkenkreuz plus tactical signs and pennant plus the obligatory palm tree emblem. There are also data blocks for the doors and one WH number plate supplied along with dozens of small numbers so can basically make any number plate you wish. As is the case these days the swastika is in parts on the decal sheet so as not to offend the thought police that want to change history to suit their PC agenda, sorry got a bit distracted there.
Option 1: Unidentified Army Unit
Based on wartime photo, possible a French Army unit?
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Option 2: Unidentified DAK Unit
It should be noted this configuration is based on a museum exhibit and may not be authentic.
Bronco Models
Option 3: Unidentified Wehrmacht Unit
Bronco Models
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These are the usual exploded view drawing that are easy to follow as there are no really complicated assembly steps of what is a very small vehicle. But as usual you should sturdy the sequences carefully beforehand to ensure there are no problems.

This is a diminutive little kit of the early Fiat 500 “Topolino” with cleanly moulded parts that is packed with fine details such as the complete engine and delicate suspension but being small means most of the parts are correspondingly small as most are not moulded over scale as can happen with smaller subjects. There are also some very fine parts that will need care in the clean-up and during assembly such as the quite fragile front suspension but this also gives a good scale appearance.

Overall the fit of the parts was very good but care is needed due to the many small parts included in the kit. The standard of moulding is very high with some very delicate details which match reference photos very well but due to this and some assembly sequences needing care this kit isn’t really suited to young or inexperienced modellers. But the end result gives a very impressive kit that given the level of detail could be the centre piece of a diorama or excellent scene “filler”.

The inclusion of the IF8 Infantry Cart and figures is a also a nice bonus and can be used in any situation away for the kit which offers many possibilities for dioramas being used on most fronts during WWII and by various owners as well as a civilian car.

Rating 8.5/10

Build Detail Images
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The Sprues:

Kit Sprues
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Sprue detail images
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Thanks to Hobbyeasy and Bronco Models for the review kits.

Page created May 28, 2013
Updated June 1, 2013
Updates shown in blue text

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