With the introduction of the Tiger 1 and Panther tank to the battlefield it quickly became evident that a more realistic way to recover damaged tanks needed to be found. It required two or three SdKfz 9ís to recover a single Panther or Tiger 1, and so Heinz Guderian ordered a series of Panthers to be converted to Bergepantherís with Man be ordered to convert 10 vehicles in May 1943. The first series of vehicles were completed in June of 1943 and had wooden floors and carried some spare rounds of ammunition. This Bergepanther represents I believe one of the first 12 Bergepantherís built as it is based on a Panther D hull and it has two Notek lights. This model is a very close match for vehicle 128 in the first batch. The Bergepantherís were based on hulls returned to factories for repair with initially of course older versions of the Panther being utilised starting with the Panther D and then A.
This release from Revell of Germany
is supplied in the typical end opening card box seen in most of their releases. The packaging is in my opinion reasonable in order to protect the model parts within. Inside the box the parts are packed in a single polythene bag with a re-sealable tab inside of which you will find;
- 4 black sprues of individual track links
- 4 tan sprues of kit parts
- A lower hull
- An upper hull
- A decal sheet
- An instruction booklet
- A safety advice sheet
The contents of this model being supplied inside a single polythene bag has caused some distortion in some areas which I will cover in more detail shortly, otherwise the parts are cleanly moulded with the exception of some very light flash in a few places and I do mean light. The sprues containing the wheels are duplicate sprues and on the same wheel in the same place there is an identical very small amount of flash, this will not be difficult to clean up. Apart from that the pieces are very well moulded with a few flow lines present but which do not feel to have left any imperfections.
This model being the latest release of the ICM product under the Revell of Germany
brand means I believe that the moulds are about 8 years old, however I can only presume that the moulds are either holding together very well or that some remedial work has been done to bring them up to a good standard again.
The instruction booklet supplied with the model covers construction in 48 steps, this may sound a lot but Revell of Germany
has made the instructions easy to follow by not overloading how much is done in each step. The instructions use black and white line drawings on a matt paper and which as stated should be easy to follow regardless of your ability. One aspect that could be better is that the parts map at the start of the instruction sheet needs to be continually referred to as there are no numbered parts on the sprues. At the end of the construction steps you are offered 2 finishing options which are;
- Bergepanther der s.Pz Abt 505, Russia 1944
- Bergepanther der s. Pz Jag. Abt 654 Ruhr Kessel 1945
The decal sheet supplied with the kit I believe is unique to this Revell of Germany
release. The 2 unit badges supplied on the decal sheet are accurate for the units mentioned as finishing options. The two cropped German crosses look right for the location in front of the hull mounted tool racks as indicated in various vehicle drawings. The two other emblems included on the decal sheet are to indicate a motorised maintenance unit, I however have not been able to locate an exact match for them.
The instructions as is usual begin by adding the swing arms, drive, idler, and road wheels to the hull. First the bad news the sides of the hull have bowed in from when they were packed, however it is not yet time to shout for replacements; by simply adding the rear hull section the sides are pushed out to their correct place but I would also add a plasticard stiffener to the hull roughly where the engine bay fire wall would be, if you intend to dress your bergepanther up this will need to be done anyway. Alternatively you could immerse the lower hull in hot water to soften it slightly and then use the rear hull piece as a spacer while the plastic cools which should lock in its new position. Please Note
I said hot water and not boiling water. I should also mention that not all of the kits will necessarily have this issue.
With that overcome its back to adding parts to the lower hull. The swing arms can be positioned to show your model traversing uneven ground as they locate into holes via a peg, in fact as the pegs are perfectly round it will likely be harder to make a model that sits correctly on a flat surface but I will look into that further when construction starts. The road wheels look very good as regards the outer face detail and should look good when painted and dirtied up. The inner face of the wheels is not so good but then again you are never going to see them again once assembled. The idler wheel looks very good being made of 4 parts which allows a good amount of detail to be included, the arm for the idler unlike the road wheel swing arm does lock into a set position via a half moon peg and which I hope means the tracks will fit perfectly. The drive wheel does have some very minor push out marks hidden away on the inner face, these would I feel best be removed with a light sanding for peace of mind. The teeth on the drive wheel look a little square to me but I will let you decide that one from the included pictures.
The rear of the hull is next on the list and considering the age of the model I am very impressed with the detail present. The exhausts, jack and jack mounts look good as does the beefed up tow hitch with a separate locking pin. The entire hull has a nice subtle texture to it which I am looking forward to seeing how it looks when painted, a quick look over the parts that make up the hull show this texture everywhere except on the engine deck access panel which is smooth.
The tracks are next to be looked at and it is an area that may cause some controversy. The individual track links are provided on the four black sprues with 54 track links on each sprue, so no shortage there then. The detail is fair for the age of the kit and will be acceptable for a majority of modellers I believe. The biggest complaint I suspect from those modellers who donít find them acceptable will be about the guide horns; the guide horns are simplified having flat featureless faces, they also do not have the hollowed cut out present. So it depends on what you want to get out of this area of the model, if you are going to slap on plenty of mud they should be perfectly fine, if you are making a model to enter competitions with I would look for a set of DML Panther tracks or Bronco Models Panther tracks as the cheapest likely option. I will add that these are much better than the rubber band tracks offered most often with model kits.
The upper hull is next on the agenda. The hull looks perfectly acceptable to me with no issues that I am aware of. There are some locater holes to be drilled and the drivers viewing port hatch cover to be added before mating the lower and upper hull. One thing I would have liked to see Revell of Germany
add is clear plastic periscopes, however anyone who has built some of the DML Panthers could source them from the spares box along with the torsion bar suspension detail. It is at this stage that if you are going to add any interior detailing that construction will grind to a halt; from what I have seen I would suggest that detailing the interior of the model could go a long way to making this a stunning kit.
Moving onto the exterior hull detail you will not for the most part find any parts that are uncommon to most Panther tank builds until you get to the lifting frame. I do recommend that you look into getting some photo etched engine deck grills as these will lift the look of the finished model regardless of the detailing you decide to add or not to the base kit, and in my opinion are a must have items that are easy to source. The provided parts have fair detail that should look fine. The tools of course have moulded clamp detail but again there are plenty of options for adding your own photo etched clamps, and you can either remove the clamps from the provided tools or source alternate offerings.
The exterior construction will continue with the addition of the last of the Bergepanther specific parts in the form of the lifting frame and turret ring hatch. The lifting frame is very fair detail wise and should look good with careful painting, however this again is an area that the scratch builders could go to work on if wished. The two part rigid tow bar is also very well replicated. The turret ring hatch is a fantastic looking piece in the kit with very nice wood grain detail present, yes it is over emphasized but that is something that many of us like to see I believe. There are also some very nicely moulded butterfly nuts and latches supplied separately for locking down the turret ring hatch, these add that little something that will be missed by most but leave you chuffed because you know they are there.
Construction will finish with the addition of the side skirts and an MG34. The MG34 supplied with the kit is mounted on a bracket on the driverís or radio operators side, however I believe you can have two MG34ís or MG42ís mounted on these vehicles so check your spares box. The side skirts are supplied as a single piece for the model, these parts have like the lower hull been bowed from being packed however should not be an issue and is easily corrected. If you wish to show some of these side skirt panels missing it will be far easier to source aftermarket parts than to modify the kit parts. I almost forgot that 3 aerials are supplied with the kit which makes a nice change from stretching sprue which is a plus.
Some may groan that Revell of Germany
has released this kit originally from ICM, however I am not one of them. The pluses are many in that the price is reasonable, it is the only early version of the Bergepanther D I am aware of (unless you count other releases of the same kit), it is a great model for anyone new or returning to the hobby with which to find their feet or earn their spurs if you prefer, and there are a host of aftermarket products available both specifically for this kit and general ones. Yes there are a few issues such as the bowed parts to overcome, but as I said they are easy issues to correct and will provide a sense of achievement for new comers. I really feel that this is a great kit to learn the skills that will serve you well in the hobby while providing a realistic chance of a great looking model after your efforts. I very highly recommended giving this model a go.
from AJ Press
Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For
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