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  1. 1:35 Bergepanther Ausf.D – Umbau Seibert 1945 Takom Catalogue # 2102 With German armour growing bigger in the course of the war, the need for bigger recovery vehicles rose. One FAMO wasn’t enough anymore to pull a Panther or Tiger out of a ditch. As a matter of fact two Famo 18 ton vehicles were needed to pull one Tiger I tank. This is why the Panzer V Panther was chosen as the base for a new Bergepanzer: The Sd.Kfz. 179 Bergepanther. Still existing truck brand MAN was issued the order to produce the first batch which were delivered in June 1943. In total about 347 Bergepanthers were built on Panther Ausf A and G hulls with various lay-outs by different factories: MAN, Henschel and Demag. For this latter one please see James Hatch’s excellent reviewof the Ausf A version of this kit. Most of them containing a 40 Ton winch. This specific type was built by Sieber. If you are a U-boot nut this may sound familiar. Sieber was a company that had a lot of experience building U-boot hulls. They built / assembled 61 Bergepanthers Ausf.D (Umbau) between July 1944 and March 1945. The word ‘Umbau’ means ‘Conversion’. As you can see this Bergepanther resembles an ordinary Panther most. All it’s missing is it’s turret and transmission hatch and has a large round steel plate instead. The kit Takom is on a head to head race with Meng. Leaving Dragon and Tamiya in their wake. Where it used to be a no brainer buying a Tamiya kit for quality and fit and a Dragon kit for ease and detail, you now follow Takom’s and Meng’s releases with hawk-eye’s. With these two brands picking the same subjects over and over the battle for detail lifts their quality level to great heights. The boxes keep getting bigger and bigger, but the prices somehow stay in the green. I used to be an avid armour modeler and thought we were spoiled over our ears with detail, subjects and possibilities, but what this kit brings is something else… All this detail and what do we see in the end? You might want to make a cross section model. Check this out: I don’t think it’s fair to compare this kit to the 1995 Italeri Bergepanther nor the Revell or ICM offering. They all offer pretty basic kits that lack most of the interior. To get the full interior you would have to buy the resin Verlinden set, but that would still get you the early Maybach engine. None of the mainstream brands produced this particular late version of the Bergepanther: Ausf.D. For that you had to buy the Precision Models conversion set (which is not an easy find…). As you see a lot these days certain brands go head to head and tackle the same excotic subjects. I never got this… As it happens RFM (Rye Field Models) is releasing their own Bergepanther and knowing them, it will also feature a whole interior, just like their latest Sturmtiger. Takom: beware! The high heavy box is bursting with sprues and parts. 25 sprues in total (!). So I just started with studying the instructions, doing some research and unpacking the top sprue in the box. Overall the casting is really crisp with no flash anywhere. To be fair: Dragon, Meng and Tamiya have the same reputation. Hardly any cleanup needed. With a kit like this featuring a full interior the question is: where are the ejector marks?? More on that later. Another something to add here is that all parts on the sprue intended for the Early version are removed. This prevents an even more overload of parts, confusion, weigth and mistakes. Construction starts with the floorplate of the Bergepanther and is quickly followed by the gearbox and drivetrain. The suspension rods are then placed and we have seen this on other Panther kits, since they actually work on the finished model. Floorplate: Sprues A (2x) with the wheels. Lovely steel texture and bolt detail: Connected sprues E and D with the sprockets, suspension and various interior details. Drivers' seat with spring seat back: Periscopes. Usually these are provided in clear plastic. Since i never like that feature, I'm happy with grey plastic. Sprue E2: Sprue J2 with the jack, tools and towing cable eye lets: The tracks are done in an innovative way. Link and length, but with long stretches of track for the straight parts. The track horns for these stretches are all connected on one long sprue. You need to glue the whole stretch of horns to the track and only then cut the sprue loose. It will be interesting to see how this works. Word of caution: if you want to position this model in a diorama, the straight length of tracks on the bottom of the model will make it difficult to curve the track. So: this method saves time, but limits possibilities. There is also a handy tool / jig that helps you assemble the tracks before they go on the model. This way you can paint your tank and tracks separately. I like this. I’m curious to see whether my Friulmodel tracks fit on this kit. I think so… Sprue F (x2) and C 9x2) with the track links: The jig (x2) for left and right track assembly: On to the engine. This Maybach engine differs somewhat from the early Bergepanther. The detail is outstanding and so is the engineering. I reckon you only need some leadwire to spice things up here. When done, the complete engine drops in the hull of the tank. Just like on the real thing. Check out the differences in the early and late Maybach engines: Sprue N with the engine parts: Sprue J3: Sprue L: Engine piping with only a minimal seam line to remove: Sprue M: Sprue R2: Then work begins on the rear armour plate, grills and upper hull. Photo etch is supplied for all the engine grill meshes. All the tools that go on the sides of the Bergepanther are done nicely in injection moulded plastic, but I would recommend replacing the clasps with photo etch on a model with this much detail. I love the restrained surface texture on the hull, wheels and hatches. Sometimes this is overdone or omitted completely. It will be interesting to see how RFM approach this. As said in the introduction, ejector pin marks on a model that shows so much of it’s insides are crucial. Trust me: they’re hard to find and this saves you a lot of filling and sanding. I found a few on the insides of hatches but they’re not deep and probably disappear with some quick sanding. Sprue H3: Sprue K3 with front armor: Lovely steel surface texture and weld seams: The same goes for the upper part of the hull: One part you almost always want to replace with photo etch are the Schurzen panzer plates on the sides of the tank. In this case you may not have to. The plastic tapers to the sides, making it look much thinner than it actually is. Beware: if you want to remove one or two of these plates, you need to thin the new edges as well. The last items that go on the model are the wooden beam and crane. Real delicate with real chain provided that goes around the pully. Sprue Q2 with the crane and wooden beam: Exhaust stacks: Minimal ejector pin marks on the inside of the hatch: Delicate detail on the crane: Sprue U. Note the absence of the Early Bergepanther parts. Note the thin edges of the Schurzen panzer: Sprue G2: Delicate and refined wood texture on the wooden beam: Detailed Mg34. Only needs the barrel end drilled out: Copper wire, photo etch and chains: Note that the mesh isn't just a plate with holes but features overlapping wiring: Painting schemes Four full colour profiles are provided for you to choose from. All built in 1945 by the Seibert Factory. Reference photo’s are not provided and neither is information as to where what scheme was operational. You’ll find one in Winter camo and three three-tone camo patterns. What I love are the full colour 3d drawings on the last pages of the instruction booklet, showing you want needs to be painted in red brown primer and what need to be black or white. Lovely. Makes me thing of the 3D illustrated books by Kagero. A small sheet of decals is provided, giving you some data plates, markings and the instrument faces for the drivers’ compartment. The 3d drawings in the back of the booklet show you exactly where these go. The instruction manual: Conclusion This is an Epic kit with a dazzling amount of parts. It makes you forget your stash of DML/Dragon and Tamiya kits. The engineering is clever and the quality is top notch. The only thing I don’t like are the tracks that make it hard to position the tank on an un-even terrain. In terms of aftermarket this kit doesn’t need a lot. Maybe just some TLC in the outer detail, like photo etch clasps for the tools. This is a kit that I can whole heartedly recommend to any armour builder. I hope to see the first build here on LSM soon! PS: a fun detail. The brand name Continental is spelled fully and correct on the wheels. Dragon in the past placed the word: Continentau on them, since copyright and brand name protection didn’t allow them to use the name Continental. Wonder if laws changed? Thanks to Takom for supplying LSM with this sample.
  2. 1:35 Bergepanther Ausf.A – Assembled by Demag Takom Catalogue # 2101 The Bergepanther was an armoured recovery vehicle version of the "Panther" (Sd.Kfz. 179), often referred to only as "Bergepanther". The idea of a modified Panther emerged in 1943, due to problems in the recovery of heavy and medium tanks. The half-track vehicles previously used for salvaging, were rarely able to successfully recover a Panther or Tiger. Using another Tiger or Panther as a tow vehicle was also strictly prohibited, as this could result in the loss of both tanks. The first Bergepanther to be completed was based on the Panther Ausf. D, in which the turret was left off by the manufacturer (MAN). Henschel, Daimler-Benz and Demag (Deutsche Maschinenbau-Aktiengesellschaft) eventually took on Bergepanther production. The crew consisted of at least three soldiers, with two of those operating the newly installed salvage apparatus. Where the turret was originally installed, was now a square wooden and metal structure which sat atop the new internal winch, with a 40-ton tow capability. A large sponson fitted to the stern, served as support. The Bergepanther was quite reliable and could be used even under enemy fire because of its armour protection. From 1943 to 1945, about 339 Bergepanther all types were built by MAN, Henschel, Daimler-Benz (Factory Berlin-Marienfelde) and Demag. Adapted from Wikipedia.de The kit With the abundance of Panther kits that seem to have swamped the market this year, I somehow get the feeling that the turretless Bergepanther is what many modellers have reallywanted to see. Whilst we have indeed had the Bergepanther in 1:35 before, from ICM/Revell, and Italeri, these kits stretch back in origin between 13 and 25 years respectively. A modern tooling of this is what was seriously needed, so I can indeed understand the excitement in the armour-modelling community. This kit is based on the 2018 tooling of Takom’s amazing Panther kit releases (check out our LSM Pilot build HERE), and even better, Takom has just released this in both Ausf.A and Ausf.D flavours. Today I’ll be looking at the Ausf.A version. We have also been sent the other kit which will be reviewed in the very near future by Jeroen Peters. Takom seem to be the masters of very cool box art when it comes to armour kits. This one shows a sort of rear, three-quarter view of this unusual vehicle, obviously chosen as you can see all the general modifications from that angle. Even without the turret and interior, this kit packs a serious plastic punch with its new winch and wooden upper hull structures, etc. In fact, opening that lid will prove what a task it will be to get all of the styrene back in the box, once removed. It took three attempts for me after completing my photography. In total, this kit contains TWENTY-FIVE sprues of light grey plastic, one upper hull moulding, one photo-etch fret, braided copper wire, two sizes of metal chain, nylon cord, and a single decal sheet. All sprues are individually bagged except for the multiples. The remaining, whilst occupying the same sleeve, are folded over on themselves so the contents don’t foul each other. Lastly, two black plastic track assembly guides are supplied. These also serve as alignment tools for the swing arms. Invariably, quite a portion of this new release will be the same as that of the Panther Ausf.A I reviewed HERE, and the recent Zimmerit Ausf.A that I looked at HERE. As with these previous releases, this new Bergepanther also has a full interior. For clarity, areas of this review will mirror that of the previous, with the exception of the new sprues. I feel this is a better way to present this article instead of just showing you new parts and then having to run off and read about the standard Ausf.A sections. A quick look around the kit contents and you’ll notice a lack of the usual bathtub-style lower hull. For their Bergepanther releases, Takom has chosen to break down everything into constituent components, such as the hull floor, hull sides and forward lower glacis, although the latter is fitted to an inner plate that is connected to the floor. The reasoning behind this is to make everything as accessible as possible to the modeller as they progress through these easy hull construction stages where the frames, transmission, brake drums and torsion bars are to be fitted. Unlike Rye Field Model, Takom provides the lower hull frames as plastic parts, as opposed to their competitor who supply these in photo-etch. Both options work great for me, with perhaps the plastic parts being easier to fit and align. They are also moulded, as with the rest of the interior, with huge finesse. My test assembly of the initial release proved that this is a superbly engineered and moulded kit that should present no problems, provided you follow the chronology. A few very light ejector pin marks are found here and there, but these seem to be hidden by subsequent construction. Before the sides are fitted to the hull floor, they are fitted out internally with the brake drums etc. These side plates are moulded with the torsion tube sleeves in situ, so there shouldn’t be any wall to wall alignment issues. With the walls complete, these glue into place. Takom would have you insert the torsion bars before this, and as they don’t extend to the hull exterior, it might be wise to do as they say, but dry fit them in case you have any minor alignment issues that could arise from gluing them in place from the start. The swing arms are next to be fitted, and to help with absolute positioning, two plastic jigs are included. These have alignment holes for the swing arm axles to fit into. Takom hasn’t designed this kit to have articulated swing arms, so if you want to pose the model whilst sitting on uneven ground, this is the time for you to look at that and mock things up for later. It’s now the time for the interior to be fitted out, and this is no quick task, even with the lack of ammunition/storage in the Bergepanther. Even without the many ammunition shells and their storage racks, you still have what is probably one of the busiest detailed interior that I’ve seen in any kit thus far. Work progresses with the installation of the crew seats (moulded rear spring detail unlike the PE of the RFM release), interior walls and bulkheads, radio sets, drive shaft. No turret floor is fitted to this machine as even this element was removed during the conversion process. I hope you didn’t throw away the swing arm guides as these are now used to create the shape of the tracks. Onto the guides will plug the drive and idler wheels (no glue!) and then the tracks can be formed over the curves of the guide, with the drive/idler/track assembly being transferred to your lower hull. FOUR sprues of track links and associated parts are included, incorporating several completed sections of track, along with many separate links. None of the track links have moulded horns. These are provided as separate parts that are moulded to a tree that you install as a single piece, and then when dry, snip away the tree from the tracks. That’s a smart move that will save some swearing. After building the demonstration model, I can tell you that the tracks assembly without any trouble whatsoever. The Bergepanther’s Maybach engine is faithfully reproduced and is a project in itself, complete with its plumbing that interconnects to the engine bay walls. This, along with fuel tanks, engine cooling apparatus and more internal framing. This is a model for which you will need to carefully plan each painting and weathering stage ahead of getting to that part. You will need to ensure careful and accurate alignment of the engine for it to be able to mount properly and accept the plumbing. It’s a very cramped compartment back there! A single-piece upper hull is included with sections missing for the crew compartment, engine and engine cooling. These are moulded as separate parts, thus maximising the opportunity to show the interior of the model to its fullest potential. Even so, you would still be limited, under normal circumstances, to pose these off in any realistic way. The best plan with the Bergepanther would be to leave the wooden structure un-glued so that it could be viewed by lifting it off. The driver access plate on the upper hull, won’t be fitted to the Bergepanther, allowing a minimum of immediate interior visibility as it will still be somewhat hidden under the tarpaulin that extends from the front of the wooden structure. A bit like an early version of a sun-roof! This kit has SEVEN new sprues that are of course specific to this version of Bergepanther and/or the Ausf.D release. In the case of the latter, the Bergepanther-specific sprues in this kit are devoid of the parts for the other version, as can clearly be seen by the large voids in some areas. One standard Panther sprue also has many parts missing, as they aren’t pertinent to the Bergepanther. The new sprues have the same detail hallmarks that we can see from the rest of this kit, with rather nice moulding touches too, such as the integral chain detail (metal alternative provided), and the various winching wheels with their grooves. Of course, the recovery spade which raises and lowers from the rear of the Bergepanther, is also a beautiful piece of moulding that employs the latest techniques available to companies such as Takom. There isn’t any option for posing anything in an open position on the wooden structure, so you may want to leave loose. A very fine wood grain detail is moulded over such parts, and the large metal straps, locking clasps and brackets are superbly depicted. Also of note is the tarpaulin with its realistic sagging texture. I would’ve liked to have seen an option for this to be retracted, but we can’t have everything! Photo-etch, chain. etc. For such a comprehensive kit, there is surprisingly little PE in this release, with Takom opting to create many of the finer parts in standard injection plastic. Only six pieces of photo-etch are included in this release, and these are for the engine cooling grilles on the rear top deck. The mesh is certainly fine enough to pass muster, and the quality is excellent. Two small lengths of chain are supplied, of different gauges. These are of course for the block and tackle/pulley system that hangs from the Bergepanther’s lifting arm, and a section for the arm itself. Whilst the arm has a superb section of filigree-moulded chain, you may want to use a real section for more authenticity. It could come in quite useful too if the plastic detail breaks under ham-fistedness. Decals The decal sheet is quite small and contains the markings for FOUR schemes. Printing is thin, has minimal carrier film and is in perfect register. Those schemes are: Western Front, 1945 Captured, Bovington, 1945 Hungary, 1945 Western Front, 1943 Instructions A 34-page A4 manual is included (landscape format) which breaks the Bergepanther down into 54 constructional sequences. Don’t let that fool you though, as you can probably triple that number with the addition of sub-stages per sequence. As I said, this is no quick project. The cover of the manual gives a history of the type and we then get a comprehensive parts map showing each sprue, decal sheet and PE fret. Most of the constructional imagery, provided as shaded illustrations, is printed on matt paper except for where corresponding leaves are printed on gloss for the numerous colour illustrations, courtesy of AMMO. These images provide priceless info on interior painting and will save us countless hours trawling the information either online or in books. Painting reference is also provided in AMMO reference codes. The last pages of the manual are given over to the four schemes provided with this kit, printed in glossy colour and with more AMMO paint references to negotiate. Inside the manual, a small correction sheet is included for the track building section. Conclusion For me, I put this as perhaps being the best Panther/Panther-relative kit that Takom has yet produced. It has everything in that it’s one of the most detailed 1/35 models on the market, plus the esoteric-factor. This really is one that will catch the eye in your cabinet or model display stand. It really does cry out for a diorama though, showing off the best elements of the Ausf.A design to their maximum potential. My sincere thanks to Takom for sending out this kit for review here on LSM. To buy this kit, check out your favourite local or online retailer.
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