Kit Review: Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale =9139-=9145 Series Kit No.6438; Sd.Kfz. 164 Bergepanzerwagen IV - Smart Kit; 950 parts (584 in grey styrene, 288 =93Magic Track=94 links, 59 etched brass, 16 clear styrene, 2 copper chain, 1 twisted steel wire); estimated price US $50.50
Advantages: first kit of this variant from DML; nicely done jib crane and associated kit
Disadvantages: still comes with =93Magic Track=94 links
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all German and Pzkw. IV fans
It did not take long before =96 even in WW I =96 before the countries building and using tanks realized they needed specialized vehicles to recover and repair them. While the Germans initially attempted to use heavy halftracks to carry this task out in WW II, eventually they realized a fully tracked vehicle of the same type was best qualified to do the job. Therefore it was only in October 1944 they began to build dedicated conversion of the Pzkw. IV chassis as tank towing and retriever vehicles =96 Bergepanzer =96 to deal with their then standardized medium tank. Only 36 of these vehicles, useful as they were, wound up being converted.
Each came with the basics of the time, mostly focused on being able to tow stuck vehicles or turn over vehicles which had flipped over for one reason or another. For this a winch was mounted in the center of the hull where the turret had previously been fitted. They were also able to pull engines and transmission components for repair or replacement using a manual jib crane which could be dismounted for travel. (For some reason there does not seem to have been any thought =96 as with American recovery vehicles =96 to sheave the cable from the winch to the crane boom to power these operations.)
DML has now added a version of this popular conversion subject to their line of Pzkw. IV =93Smart Kits=94 using most of the components from their recent Pzkw. IV Ausf. H Late kit (No. 6300). The turret parts are now mostly removed from the kit and two new sprues with 82 new parts for the Bergepanzer details and the jib crane have been added.
The jib crane is a very neatly detailed assembly and consists of some29 styrene parts and two lengths of copper chain cut to fit per the directions. There are two different versions of the crane offered so be very attentive when assembling htme as they are difficult to tell apart other than by parts numbers. Note that this is what the Russians call a =93trinoga=94 or three-legged jib and that parts have to be left loose until mounted on the hull.
The kit also provides two different style towing pintles (which they dub =93small=94 and =93large=94 for obvious reasons) and each one takes different fittings.
The majority of the rest of the kit will be familiar to anyone who has built one of the =93Smart Kit=94 Pzkw. IV variants. Drivers now consist of only four parts; the separate bolts are gone. Bogies are now nine piece affairs without separate tires. New details are provided for the tow hook at the rear of the hull as well.
The upper hull again consists of a deck and framework with applique sides, front and rear engine intake components and fenders. The muffler has a central tube section and six add-on parts to complete it along with a =93slide molded=94 exhaust pipe, but note that a new stern plate has to be used for the Bergepanzer variant.
All ports and hatches are separate parts so they can be posed open. While no interior components for the lower hull are yet present, the hull still provides a rudimentary firewall for the engine compartment, and the various vents and louvers are also posable either open or closed. The bow also comes with a well-done machine gun and ball mount. Note that all ports have clear styrene inserts as well.
The kit comes with a large wooden beam and this will take work to make look more like wood. While split lengthwise diagonally to hide the long seams on the edges, the ends will take some sanding and scraping with a razor saw to look like sawn timber and not plastic.
Etched brass is kept to a minimum and only covers items such as the engine air intake louvers, the inner guides of the idler wheels, some small brackets, and the flaps for the engine air intakes on the sides of the rear deck.
Tracks are the =93Magic Track=94 snap-together-then-cement type, and modelers are advised to recall that when facing the head card the left side track links (light grey) are on the left and right (dark grey) are on the right.
Two finishing options are provided along with a small set of Cartograf decals: Unidentified Unit; Germany 1945 (panzer brown overall); Unidentified Unit, Germany 1945 (tricolor upper hull). Alas, the directions do not indicate which is a =93small pintle=94 or =93large pintle=94.
Technical assistance was provided by Notger Schlegtendal, Tom Cockle and Gary Edmundson.
Overall this is an excellent choice but one which will not go over well with the =93after market boys=94 who have made the conversion kits for this variant.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.