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Bergepanzer Tiger (P)

DML 1/35 Bergepanzer Tiger (P) Kit First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review March 2005 Manufacturer DML
Subject Bergepanzer Tiger (P) Scale 1/35
Kit Number 6226 Primary Media 382 parts (351 in grey styrene, 16 etched nickel, 8 etched brass, 3 lengths of copper chain, 2 track sets from DS-100 plastic, 2 lengths of braided steel wire)
Pros "Iin the box" kit of a well-known conversion that DID see service; nicely done and with careful building will be an impressive model Cons "Not a gun tank"
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $21-24

First Look

When armies first created tanks for combat, nobody seems to have thought much about what to when they no longer work. Considering the unreliability of the first vehicles, it would seem to have been something that should automatically have been considered, but it was not. As a result, when the first tanks broke, they stayed where they were. Some were buried, as the discovery last year of a Mark IV in France in the middle of a field would serve to illustrate.

But even when dedicated repair and recovery vehicles were created, many planners seemed to miss one key point: if the retriever isn't as big as or bigger than what it is supposed to recover, the concept is going to be hard to make work. The Soviets found that out in Finland , when the prototype T-100 tank struck a mine and could not be recovered by the T-28 tanks escorting it. (They had to come back the next spring with the SMK and prototype KV tank to pull it out.)

Even the Germans seem to have found it hard to grasp this concept. The idea of recovering a 56-metric-ton Tiger in combat with three 18-ton halftracks does not seem to have undergone a great deal of thought, or somebody figured that the Germans couldn't lose so would not have to worry about pesky things like enemy infantry and artillery in the area as it would be recovered behind German lines.

Someone appears to have been much brighter in regard to the 65-metric-ton "Ferdinand" and "Elefant" 8.8 cm SP antitank guns, as they were not likely to be saved by anything short of a similar vehicle. As a result, three of the vehicles were converted to retrievers – bergepanzer –by removing their casemates, giving them a truncated armored casemate and a collapsible jib crane for repairing their fellows. They were assigned to sPzJgAbt 653 in Russia , where they would be needed and their crews would have surely appreciated the protection and pulling power of the chassis.

DML has now provided the fourth kit on their new series Porsche Tiger chassis, the Bergepanzer Tiger (P). This kit is similar to the others but adds two new sprues of 78 parts with the new casemate and the jib crane, as well as more parts for tow cables and external kit. They also provide a sprue from a StuG III kit, apparently just for the close defense machine gun mount.

This kit also provides some brass and nickel bits, as well as two single-piece tracks made out of the new Dragon "DS-100" glueable plastic. They are in a light tan (the current giveaway for the material) and can be cemented together with normal plastic cements. This solves the problem of getting the tracks to lie down properly on the wheel sets (photos show the tracks should run along the tops of the numbers 3 and 4 road wheels when in adjustment) but the modeler will have to plan ahead. This means keeping sections of the tracks free of paint and also cleaning off the tops of the road wheels with sandpaper or a knife in order to get a good bond. (I do not recommend using ACC cement – "Superglue" – as it is harder to get a good fit and clean up afterwards in this situation. The paint is easier to touch up and leaves no messy "fillet" where it seeped out like ACC does.)

DML claims if done right the chain hoist on the jib crane will operate, and if careful I have no reason to doubt that claim. Modelers will want to dunk the copper chain in a model railroad "blackening" agent first thought as they are very hard to paint when done, and this looks much better. If not, separate parts are provided for the crane in the "stowed" position.

Painting and marking schemes are included for all three vehicles built, with 1st Company, 2nd Company and 3rd Company of sPzJgAbt 653 in mid-1944, as well as one of them in late 1943. The 1944 schemes are more attractive but more complex. 

Overall this vehicle should provide a nexus for a lot of dioramas on the Eastern Front, as it gives the modeler a lot of options for it to "not just stand there but do something!"

Thanks to Freddie Leung of Dragon Models USA for the review sample.

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