by: Mark [ ]
Henschel was given the contract to produce Bergepanther’s using the Ausf. A chassis. Henschel delivered 70 between July and November 1943. No vehicles were produce in December 1943 or January 1944. The production contract was then given to Daimler-Benz. D.B. only assembled 40 vehicles in February and March 1944. Demag then took over production for the remainder of the war. Demag produced 123 Ausf. A versions between March and October 1944. Production was then switched to the Ausf. G version.
The Ausf. A finally incorporated the initial MAN layout drawings which included the following items: 2cm KwK gun, 40t winch, superstructure, jib boom crane, hinged spade, and rear hull tow coupling. However, most of these items were not incorporated until after the start of 1944. The first winch was not installed until May 1944.
What’s in the Box
This kit is from Meng and released in 2018. This is a large box, measuring 15in x 9.5in x 5in (38cm x 24cm x 12.7cm). The kit has just over 1400 parts. What’s in the box:
13 sprues molded in beige
1 clear sprue
1 poly-cap sprue
2 PE frets
2 metal cables
1 metal chain
1 decal sheet
1 37 page Instruction manual with painting guide
Looking at the Kit
Instructions – Standard Meng format, consisting of 37 pages of line drawings. Assembly is broken down into 58 steps. For the most part, the drawings are clear and easy to follow.
Sprues – The quality of the styrene is clean and crisp. There is little to no flash on any of the parts. Any ejector pin marks are located such that they shouldn’t be seen once built.
PE – one brass fret and one steel fret are provided. The brass contains mainly the radiator grills and the 2cm gun shield. The steel fret contains the schurzen panels.
Let’s Look at the Build Process
The first thing you will need to do is decide between version A and version B. The difference will be which tooling is installed on the hull sides.
As with a lot of AFV kits, you start with the road wheels, idler wheels and drive sprocket. Fortunately, Meng uses polycaps for all these parts making it easy to remove and install for later painting. The road wheels are one piece, so the rubber will need to be painted separately.
You are not provided with a bathtub style hull. Steps 2 and 3 begin assembly of the lower hull with the bottom plate, torsion bars, and support frame. You need to drill out two 1.1mm holes in the rear lower hull. You drill these ONLY if you plan to install the reinforced lower hull tow bracket in Step 27.
Step 4 adds the hull sides, firewall, and forward bulkhead.
Steps 5-6 begins adding interior parts to the right side as well as the rear panel. You will need to drill out four .7mm holes for the main tow coupling in Step 25.
Step 7 adds the front floor plates along with the driver’s & RO’s/gunner’s seats.
Step 8 begins assembly of the transmission and radios.
Steps 9-10 completes the transmission installation and steering gear.
Step 11 adds the drive shaft.
Step 12 adds the crew seats.
Steps 13-17 focus on the 40t winch assembly. The cable should be 150mm in length. The winding instructions are not the clearest. Meng should have provided a couple different views to make it clearer.
Step 18 begins the upper hull assembly. Here is where your decision between versions applies. Each version has you drill a number of holes in the side panels. Once you have drilled the holes, you are locked into that version.
Step 19 adds the periscopes and front armor panels for the gunner and driver. You also add the one piece radiators. There is no engine compartment in this kit, so the details here are lacking.
Steps 21-22 complete the rear engine deck.
Step 22 adds the battery and attaches the upper hull to the lower hull.
Steps 23-24 build-up the inner panniers and installs them to the hull.
Steps 25-26 builds-up the rear panel. One item of interest is that the kit only has the two single pipe exhausts. The added cooling pipes on the left exhaust are not included in the kit. That means that this can only be built as a pre-January 1944 “early” Henschel version.
Step 27 adds the swing arms. Remember that there are three different types of swing arms, so pay close attention when installing. You also have the option to install the lower hull tow coupling. This was only installed in November and December 1943. Because of ground clearance issues, these were quickly removed from all versions.
Step 28 adds the roadwheels.
Step 29 adds the tracks. Each track link is made from one link and two guide horns. With 87 links per side, that makes a total of 522 parts to assemble two track runs. The tracks are not workable and have to be glued together.
Steps 30-32 assemble the spade.
Steps 33-37 add all of the external tooling and spare tracks. The tooling will be based on which version you selected. I would suggest not installing the tooling until after everything has been painted.
Steps 38-44 build the wooden “superstructure” assembly. You can build this with the sides up or down. You can also choose between the rain cover open or retracted. Showing the jib crane in the stored position are included in Step 41.
Steps 45-47 add the schurzen and some additional items to the front of the hull.
Step 48 gives you the option to have the driver’s and gunner’s ports open or closed.
Step 49 gives you the option of having the front fenders installed or removed.
Steps 50 to 54 assembles the 2t jib crane. You can configure for the left or right side.
Step 55 assembles the AA MG.
Step 56 assemblies the 2cm Kwk gun.
Step 57 installs both guns to the front hull.
Step 58 assembles the loose hardware for the jib crane. However, it doesn’t show where to put them. In this case, it is builder’s preference what to do with them.
Painting: Paint codes are for Ammo-Mig and Acrysion products. A 2 page guide is included for the unknown unit camo patterns. Call-outs are provided during the assembly process for the interior.
Decals –These are printed in China. They lack the crispness, and clarity, of those you see from Cartograf. Options are provided for two vehicles:
Unknown Unit, France, 1944 (version A)
Unknown Unit, Eastern Front, 1944 (version B)