The Bergepanzer IV (recovery vehicle) was a conversion of standard Panzer IVs with 21 being built from October 1944 to early 1945. From photos available most appear to be based on rebuilt late Ausf.H, early Ausf.J hulls featuring the four steel return rollers.
The turret was removed and the turret ring covered over by a wooden plank cover with access hatch as well as a 2ton jib crane and rigid towing bars.
This new kit is basically all new (apart from the transmission/gearbox and tube idlers) with all other parts either new or retooled with altered or updated features.
The kit has a total of 826 parts (602 for the vehicle and 224 individual track links) on 18 sprues moulded in the usual grey plastic plus 140 etched parts on 2 frets, a length of chain as well as the decal sheet and 20 page instruction booklet.
As there are only 5 parts indicated as not being used this isn’t a kit you will put together overnight with the standard of moulding overall well done. There is some fine flash and pin marks about the place as well as the usual moulding seams which required a bit of cleanup on some parts. Also some of the mating surfaces needed to be smoothed out and a few locating holes opened out further for a better fit but nothing too extensive.
Dimensionally the kit matches the 1:35 Bergepanzer IV plans in the Panzer Tracts book No.16 Bergepanzerwagen very well in all major areas such as hull length, width and road wheel/drive sprocket sizes although there a few minor discrepancies with some of the smaller parts but overall things are within acceptable tolerances (i.e. less than 1mm).
The most notable feature of the kit is the complete interior included; this has the forward driver’s compartment with seat/controls, full transmission/gearbox/radios assembly, the central fighting compartment floors and bulkheads. At the back is a full Maybach HL120 TRM Engine and large radiator as well as the two prominent fans inside the engine compartment door should you wish to display this open.
Also included are the 75mm ammo bins on the floor and side sponsons and while not used for the Bergepanzer IV this would allow you to use the interior parts for a Panzer IV gun tanks should you wish to just get the kit as a cheaper update set than corresponding resin interior sets.
This is a conventional tub with separate rear plate and includes nicely rendered underside panel and bolt detail although there is still a strange rectangular indentation carried over from the previous hulls in the centre panel. The sides have the final drive gears moulded on along with the bogie mounting brackets, return roller posts and rear idler support fins with all other detail separate parts.
One minor “annoyance” with the hull is there are a number of square holes along the side and on the rear plate which are in fact open locating holes for some of the interior parts. It may be an idea to fit the interior before adding the running gear so there is working room to eliminate these holes, the interior locating pins will fill most of the holes leaving just a little filler required.
On the rear plate there are separate central towing plate and four part idler mountings that have excellent detail included. The small L shaped lever on the mountings is supplied as a plastic or etched part depending on your preference.
The large muffler is in five parts with the two mounting supports and all these fit with no problems as does the rear plate to the hull. There are a couple of issues with the muffler; firstly you may want to drill out the exhaust pipe a bit more as the pipe edges are on the thick side. The overall length of the muffler is 1.5mm shorter than indicated on the Panzer Tracts plans as shown in the accompanying images.
One thing to watch is the instructions (step 3) indicate to open up two locating holes for the auxiliary motor muffler but this wouldn’t be fitted as there is no turret so don’t open the holes and leave off the muffle (part C13).
The lower rear hull panel (part B8) has two locating tabs included but due to the angle of this to the lower plate they hinder the proper alignment of the panel and it’s best to simply cut off the tabs completely and the panel then fits perfectly.
There are two style of bogie bump stops provided and it’s best to use the later type (parts A16/A28) while the final drive housings have nice detail with separate front armour panels added.
The final drive housings have a series of very small pins around the inside that are supposed to fit into corresponding small holes around the hull FD gears, but these only hindered to proper placement and again its better to cut off all the small pins and fit the FD flush to the hull housing.
The bogie units are simply affairs with the two axles and main spring in one moulding with separate hull mounting bracket and alternate front securing plate. These fit together without any problems but the moulding seams will need to be carefully removed while the fit to the hull is also good overall.
The road wheels are two individual wheels in the conventional manner and have excellent rim details with very fine weld beads around the outer rim and fine embossing on the rubber tyre sections. There are alternate hub caps and it’s again best to use the later style (parts A17) for this model.
The drive sprockets are in two halves with well done spoke and rim details including bolt heads around the rims on both sides of each sprocket, there is some very minor flash inside the sprocket spokes but this is easily dealt with.
At the back the tube idlers are also very well done with just the mould seams to be removed from the spokes and rim, both drive sprocket and idler are glued to their respective axle stubs. The axle stub for the drive sprocket needed to be shorten slightly to better align with the road wheel centreline but other than that all fitted perfectly.
Included with the kit are the early style rubber rimmed return rollers but available references indicate the rebuilt Bergepanzer IVs were refitted with the later steel return rollers.
If like me you also bought the Trumpeter Ostwind kit (#01520) this comes with a set of steel return rollers that are not used with that kit and could be salvaged for this kit.
But I choose to use the superb Orange Hobby set of brass/etched steel return rollers (set #G35-006) as these add considerably to the level of detail. You can either completely replace the kit roller assembly by removing the moulded on support posts or simply add the steel rollers to the kit posts ensuring they align correctly with the track guide teeth.
The kit has 224 individual track links for the later 40mm style cleat track and includes open guide horns; these are not designed to be workable but simply to be glued together.
There is a bit of cleanup required on each link with three sprue attachment burs and the odd bit of fine flash to remove, this flash was only on about 10% of the links assembled for this review.
Detail on the tracks is nicely done but they are not handed unfortunately. Handed track refers to the track pin bolt being longer on the outer side of the track runs while the bolts on the inner hull side are shorter and slightly larger in diameter. This means the tracks can’t be swooped from side to side as a rule and the kit track links have the track bolt applicable to the right hand track run only with those on the left side are reversed.
This is only a small discrepancy in scale and some may not even notice but the purist may wish to address this oversight.
Assembling the track is very straightforward, you simple glue each link together to form the track run and before the glue has dried completely fit the track around the drive sprocket and idler as well as adding the top run track sag which is evident on all Panzer IVs. This sag will also allow for any slight miss-alignment when joining the ends of the track runs together which can be an issue with some individual link track.
Note steel return rollers added from Orange Hobby
As mentioned the kit includes extensive interior detail for the lower hull but not the turret obviously as the Bergepanzer doesn’t have one. The level of detail is good overall but the forward transmission is better detailed than the Maybach engine which is fairly basic.
There is a full length floor plate to which you add all the interior parts and this ensures everything is aligned correctly with the floor plate fitting snugly into the hull tub after adding the interior parts.
The front transmission/gearbox is from the Brückenleger IVb (kit #00390) and has nice bolt and other details including the driver’s instrument panel with moulded on dial needles as well as multipart clutch/brake assemblies with separate drive shafts. Assembly was straightforward without any problems if you follow the instructions carefully.
The Driver’s station has a two part seat, separate steering levers with the gear lever on the transmission, there is also the accelerator and brake pedals included and again there were no issues while assembling these parts.
The central fighting compartment has the raised central floor with the batteries and added tread plate section, as well as the rear engine compartment bulkhead with nice detail included. Also included is the three full 75mm ammo bins on the right side or an alternate wall panel with additional pioneer tools. I don’t have any info on the interiors of Bergepanzers but my uneducated guess tells me they wouldn’t carry the ammo bins as there is no gun?
There is additional detail added to the sidewalls after the interior/floor plate has been added but take note you can’t remove the interior after these side details have been added so fully detailing and painting the interior would be the go before proceeding.
As mentioned above the locating pins on the sidewall parts mostly fill the holes in the hull sides leaving just a small filling job to completely eliminate these, it would have been nice if the locating holes didn’t go all the way through the hull wall but I guess moulding constraints came into play with this?
The Maybach HL 120 engine is a multipart assembly that requires a little care during assembly to ensure some of the smaller parts go in the right place There is also some join seams to be eliminated on the smaller sub-assemblies before fitting to the main engine which adds a little to the assembly time.
All the basics of the engine are provided if a little basic in places and adding additional detail if displaying the engine would improve the overall appearance. The large rear pulleys don’t have any belts and these could easily be added using tape or similar.
The assembled engine fits neatly into the bay floor but there are quite a few large pin marks on the engine bulkhead to fill if you are going the have the engine bay cover open on the final model?
The large radiator on the left side has subtle grill mesh detail without any blemishes and this is attached to the hull side (with more of those locating holes to fill) but you must fit the engine before attaching the radiator as you can’t afterwards, but this should be quite obvious.
Additional plumbing can also be added to the radiator and the engine bay to finish off what is a very good overall representation of the engine/radiator assemblies.
The final detail if showing the engine hatches open are the two large fans on the inside of the right engine door. These are made up of the two fan units with connecting fan shafts, the detail on the fan blades is again fairly basic as they are on the thick side and not angled but give a fairly good impression for most instances.
The front glacis plate has separate central and brake access hatches allowing these to be shown open to display the interior if you wish. Additional track links are supplied to add to the glacis and hull front plate with either plastic or etched brackets for the front plate brackets. Strangely there are no brackets supplied for the glacis track and these would have to be added.
Each fender is in full length plastic with nice tread plate included on the upper sides only and fine bolt heads on the front and rear extensions. The small retaining springs at front and back are only in plastic and not the real springs as supplied with the Fahrgestell and Brückenleger kits and are not as well defined as a result.
The fenders fit easily to the hull sides and added to these are the pioneer tools with moulded on tool clips as well as the front head lights made up of two parts and includes the cable ducting plus the rear tail light. The large jack (two are included in the kit) has five parts and a choice of plastic or etched mounting brackets, the etched brackets obviously have finer details but requires more assembly time.
The fender supports are also provided in plastic or etched parts depending on your choice and once the fenders are attached to the hull there is the upper bulkhead spar and support added.
Also included are the large 75mm ammo bins carried on the hull sponsons over the fenders but again these would probably not be carried on the Bergepanzer and additional pioneer equipment may be carried in these spaces. But again this is just an uneducated guess on my part as I have no definite reference on this.
The upper hull shell has a separate front and rear plate with cut-outs for all the top crew and engine hatches as well as separate engine side intake louvers in two parts.
Detail on the upper hull is nicely done in both engraved and raised detail with the correct depiction of the reduced turret ring splash guard in accordance with the Panzer Tracts plans.
Added inside the front plate are the driver’s visor details (3 parts) and a full hull MG34 mounting with a two part MG34 and 4 parts for the mounting. The MG34 is a little basic and the barrel armoured sleeve is undersized and the muzzle not opened out. The easiest solution is to replace this with any available metal barrel and I have used the Adlers Nest MG34 late tank barrel (set # ANM-35002B) which just requires you to cut away the kit barrel (leaving the small guide underneath) and drilling a .85mm hole for the new barrel pin.
The hole in the outer ball mounting has to be enlarged slightly to take the metal barrel as it’s thicker than the undersized plastic barrel sleeve with the rest of the mounting as per instructions.
Added to the hull are the spare track rack on the right side with etched brackets and the wooden jack block and heater intake on the left side. The crew hatches have the correct shaped lock holes but the hinge bolts are raised and most photos show these are flush screws. If showing the hatches open there is no inside detail other than four pin marks that need to be removed.
The engine deck hatches can be fitted open or closed as required to show off the interior but again there are some large inner pin marks to be filled if you do. The turret ring is blanked off with the round wooden plank cover. This has a separate entry hatch with both the cover and hatch having subtle wood grain texturing included but the inside of the hatch is again just bare plastic should you want to show this open?
The notable feature with all the additional gear added to the Bergepanzer is that all the mounting brackets are supplied in plastic as well as etched parts depending on your choice.
The larger etched brackets for the jack and on the left hull side have workable hinges should you wish to go that far. The strange thing is these two large side brackets may actually be too thin in the etched brass as they were quite heavy steel brackets on the actual vehicle and combining the plastic and etched parts may offer a better representation.
The pulleys stowed in front of the turret cover and right rear also have alternate plastic or etched mountings as does the brackets for the large unditching beam carried on the top right of the hull. The wooden beam is lacking wood grain texturing but this could easily be added for effect.
The large jib crane has four “arms” with separate attachment brackets and these can be assembled so the arms are movable if careful with the glue, this will allow you to deploy or stow the crane as you wish. The chain supplied is used to support the extended crane arm when deployed along with a nicely detailed block and tackle made up of 12 parts for the end of the crane arm. Apart from the careful cleaning of the moulding seams on the arms and other parts there were no problems with the crane assembly as it’s really a quite basic affair as far as cranes go.
Finally there is the spare road wheel rack carried on the left fender and this is again supplied as a basic four part plastic assembly or entirely in etched parts for far better detail definition. As with all the etched parts additional work is needed during assembly over the simpler plastic parts but the choice is yours which way you go.
These are the standard exploded view drawings for the assembly sequences and are well laid out and easy to follow, there are some quite busy sequences due to the number of parts but by carefully studying these before gluing should eliminate any problems.
I didn’t find any miss-numbered parts in the sections I assembled but as with any instructions you should study the sequences thoroughly before any cutting/gluing as well as test fitting to avoid any issues.
This kit is a marked improvement over the previous Panzer IV based kits from Trumpeter with overall dimensions matching available data very well and having some excellent detail such as on the running gear and interior.
The standout feature as mentioned is the extensive interior fit-out which makes the kit very attractive just as an interior update set for other kits as well as for an excellent representation of the Bergepanzer IV.
The choice of plastic or etched parts for many of the tool and equipment brackets gives another nice choice depending on your preferences.
This is not a shake and bake kit and there is a bit of work needed along the way in part cleanup and minor trimming to fit some parts better but overall the main parts fitted well. There is scope as with any kit to add additional detail with the interior parts especially the engine should you want to fully show off the interior.
The only real issues other than these are the incorrect return roller type provided and the unhanded tracks and considering all the interior details it’s strange none of the hatches have any internal details at all.
Overall though this will produce a nice kit of the Bergepanzer IV but will need a bit or work along the way.
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