by: Jerry Jackson [ ]
introductionThe Sd. Kfz. 179 Bergepanther is based on the Panther Tank and was developed to furnish tank units with a powerful armored vehicle to recover heavy tanks damaged in combat or having mechanical failures. Furthermore, it was equipped with a heavy duty winch, which was useful for front line field tool shop operations.
"The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II" By Chris Bishop states that the Bergepanther was operated by a crew of 5. Other sources show this number lower, even as low as three; a commander, a driver and a mechanic. My question would be, where do they all ride, there are only two seats!
reviewIn the store, excitement set in looking at the box art showing the exposed pulleys and steel cables of the winch system, only to be disappointed upon opening the box. I imagined small lengths of steel wire to simulate the cable, but what I found were the pulleys with the cable molded onto them. Not only that, but the pulleys are molded in two sections that have to be glued together. I imagine this will be quite a chore getting them to line up properly and appear correct. Because these pulleys will be a prominent part of the model, I really counted on them looking good. I will attempt the kit parts, but may end up scratch building these pulleys and cables.
Another prominent item of this kit is the gun mounted on the front; the 20mm KwK 38 L/55. Although it may appear small mounted on the front of the Panther chassis, this is definitely a vehicle mounted weapon! This is the same weapon used for the main gun on the reconnaissance light tank Panzerkampfwagen IIís. 20 mm guns were used mainly for aircraft and short-range anti-aircraft weapons but also for small naval craft. Based upon my limited research, the gun depicted in the kit appears accurate with the exception of the scope. I haven't found any reference photo that shows this gun with a scope mounted. It seems a large anti-aircraft cross hair would be more appropriate.
The kit includes a crude engine block. However, it hardly looks like the 650 hp Maybach HL 210 engine that powered the Bergepanther. Luckily it's not viewable with the engine hatch closed since itís not very accurate.
Upon inspection of the parts trees, most of the ejector pin marks appear to be on the 'underside' of the parts. The skid plate has 4 large ejector pin marks inside which will be hard to remove because of the tight space. If you display the model with the skid plate in the down position, they won't show. However, an option in the instructions is to have the skid plate in the up position, thus revealing these rather nasty blemishes.
The wood grain is molded in where necessary, and the large timber that the Bergepanther commonly carried is also included in styrene. With some careful painting and weathering these items should look the part.
As far as part molding, the 'A' tree looks really good. There seems to be a bit more flash on the 'B' and 'C' trees, but nothing a little extra clean-up time wonít take care of. Some of the parts have really good detail, the rivets and bolts look especially crisp, given the age of the kit.
The hull, both top and bottom, appear to have sufficient detail; portals, rivets, welded seams, etc. There are a few pieces in this kit (see close-up image of the bottom half of the hull) that show blemishes in the molds. However, there is nothing that I can see that can't be easily taken care of.
The kit includes two sprues of tracks, with 6 links and 2 lengths each. The instructions recommend melting the tracks together with a hot metal tool, though I've had success with this type of Italeri tracks using Super Glue and trimming the excess stems.
The instructions appear clear and concise including a paint color recommended for each part. Also included is a small decal sheet.
conclusionAlthough out of production, this kit can still be found in various places. I found this at 50% off, a deal I couldn't pass up! While there may be extra work cleaning the flashing and working out the ejector pin marks, this seems to be a good kit. Overall I believe this will make a good build straight from the box. With a little more research, and some after-market detailing this would make a great kit!
The PE fret shown below is included in the newly released kit by Italeri, image and update provided by Darren Baker.