Wednesday, July 18

In-Boxed: Takom's 1/35th scale Bergepanther Ausf. A (assembled by Demag) full interior kit

Takom's new Bergepanther has been a surprise but gratefully reived addition to the plastic modelling world, but would it be a good kit? The only way is to build on up to find out - and Andy King is going to do just that - first - he is giving us an In-Box review of what is in the box and how the model looks before he cuts plastic. Let's see what he found...

In-Boxed: Bergepanther Ausf. A (Assembled by Demag) 
Full interior kit. 
From Takom 
1/35th scale
Kit No #03.01.2101 
Plastic injection moulded kit with photo etch, cables, thread & chain.
Decals for four Bergepanthers.

With the introduction of heavier tank types into German service during WW2 a more capable vehicle was required that would be able to recover them when they broke down or were damaged by enemy action. Previously it would take three Sd. Kfz 9 Famo’s to tow one tank so a better recovery vehicle was needed. 
Planning started during 1942 and in March 1943 M.A.N (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nurnberg) was given the contract to design the new recovery vehicle due to their work on the Panther, coming up with a drawing by June the same year. The layout drawing showed some of the components specifically designed for the Bergepanther which included a 2cm gun with armour shield, a 40-ton capacity winch, Ladebrucke (the superstructure over the winch) and a large spade on the rear.  
Bergepanthers were assembled by M.A.N, Daimler-Benz, Henschel and M.N.H (Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen Hannover) during 1943 with Demag taking over production in March 1944 for the last 123 Ausf. "A" versions (which is the subject of this kit). 
The Kit from Takom in 1/35th scale:
The Bergepanther has been poorly served in the injection-moulded arena for years with only Italeri and ICM issuing plastic kits (the Italeri one is not the best, don’t know about the ICM kit) and prior to the expensive one done in resin by Tiger Model Designs you had to track down out-of-production conversion kits. 

Considering the amount of Panther versions done by Dragon even they never got around to the Bergepanther so when Takom announced they were going to mould one it has been eagerly awaited (especially by me) ever since. 
This then is the Bergepanther Ausf. A and it represents a vehicle from around May 1944 with the strengthened dozer blade. The rather large box contains some 23 sprues with over 900 very nicely detailed parts on them (the upper hull is separate), lengths of copper wire, chain and nylon rope.

A small sheet of photo-etch for the engine deck grills...
Moulding quality is very good with little to no flash although there are a few mould-pin marks present, particularly on the spade at the rear. The model features a full interior and although there are torsion bars for the suspension these are not the workable type as they are separate from the swing arms on the exterior. 

Here are a few parts of the kit of interest to you guys out there: The large 'dozer blade to dig the Bergepanther in has two ejector stubs that will certainly need to be removed but not much of a problem.
 The wooden textured decking for the rear compartment looks convincing.
 The swing arms for the crane are here, they are fairly thin so care must be taken in construction and handling.
 The drive parts of the crane
The whole engine can be displayed in open rear decks and it looks very nice here
 The full interior can be seen right down to the bottom of the hull where you will see the drive axels as you can see by this picture of sides of the hull.
 The not often seen surface of theunderside of the hull is still detailed like any other panther kit from Takom
 The drive socket, with easy to remove sprue gates on the cogs
The tracks are of the link-and-length type which should satisfy most modellers as some hate individual links and others hate the rubber-band type, however, the kicker here is that the guide horns are separate. 
To aid assembly Takom recommend you glue them to the tracks while they are still attached to the sprue although I’m going to have a think about that as it may be difficult to clean up the guide horns afterwards. 
The road wheels feature 24 rim bolts and there are two jigs supplied that are used to align the suspension swing arms and help assemble the tracks. 
When Takom said there was a full interior they weren’t kidding as just flicking through the instructions it looks pretty well packed with detail as you get a full engine, transmission, winch etc, and all that is missing is the fuel lines and wiring for the engine and batteries. 
The only trouble here is there is no option to open the deck in the wooden superstructure as it is moulded solid, so when you stick the structure on top of the hull it will hide all that lovely detail. When I get to this section I’ll work out a way to make this removable or show some of the deck planks open, at least there are optional parts for the canvas cover over the driver and radio operators positions.  
Unlike other manufacturers that show you the colours as you go along, there is a section at the back of the instruction pamphlet showing the interior colours and this is going to take some careful planning, especially if you are airbrushing the interior. Again I’ll be explaining how to do it in the build review once I’ve figured that bit out. 

The hull features a rolled steel texture all over it which is very nicely done although due to the time frame of the vehicle you will have to add your own zimmerit anti-magnetic paste as it was applied to Bergepanthers until September 1944. The rear of the upper hull features just the frame for the engine access hatch and cooling fans so you will need to be very careful when removing the mould-pins and waste plastic. I assume it has been done this way so that you can display the engine and cooling fans. 
The rear engine hull plate here that holds the top of the hull together
Whilst looking at the upper hull there is a mounting for a 20mm cannon on the glacis plate, however, there isn’t one supplied in the kit but from what I understand it was not widely used anyway, the MG34 and its mounting which was more common to these vehicles is included though.
Four colouring options are shown with paint references from the Ammo range by Mig Productions and you get two Bergepanthers from the Western Front (one in 1943 although that should be 1944 and another from 1945), a captured vehicle that ended up at Bovington Camp in 1945 (I wonder what happened to that one?) with all in three colour camouflage and finally an all-over dark yellow Bergepanther from Hungary, 1945. 
The decal sheet is well printed and in register, although to be really picky I’m a little dubious about the colours for the instrument panel dials, no doubt Archer Fine Transfers will be onto this pretty soon. 
All in all, this looks to be a superb model of a type that has been much needed by German armour modellers although as always the proof of that will be in actually building the thing, suppose I’d best get on with it then really. 

Andy King

History from; 

Panzertracts 16-1 Bergepanther Ausf. D, A, G by Thomas L. Jentz, Hilary Louis Doyle and Lukas Friedli. 

Many many thanks to Takom for sending this kit to andy to firstly review - then to build and paint for us to show you just what the kit really builds up like...
These two kits from Takom are due in May 2018