|Review Type:||In Box|
S u m m a r y
|Contents:||352 parts in tan styrene|
|Advantages:||Kit is far better than the other kit of this vehicle on the market; includes "link and length" track; includes a basic engine bay|
|Disadvantages:||Same problems as other Italeri Tiger kits|
|Recommendation:||for Tiger afficiandoes and German armor fans|
B a c k g r o u n d
For a number of years, this vehicle has incited a lot of conversation among Tiger fans as to its real purpose. When the one photo of this vehicle appeared in AFV News 30 years ago, the immediate assumption was that it had to be a "Bergetiger" as there was a "Bergepanther" and other "Bergepanzer" maintenance and recovery vehicles. But in comparison with those vehicles, this tank did not have a spade or a heavy duty winch, nor did its turret appear fixed which would give it sufficient leverage to deal with heavy items like a Maybach engine.
Other theories did not work either. One idea that "war weary" tanks would be modified to use as recovery vehicles worked well with vehicles like the US M3 Lee, but there was never really any such thing as a "war weary" Tiger. Careful reading of the histories of these tanks by noted German armor experts and Russian writings on the combat with them indicates that these were status machines, eagerly fought over by both sides when damaged in action. The Germans repaired and rebuilt them for combat, while the Russians sent them off to distant tank gunnery ranges as targets. (One question of note is how many German soldiers died recovering knocked out Tigers from the Soviet forces during the war and how many Russians died trying to get them back?)
The most current theory holds that this tank was one of three converted in Italy to use as mine clearing vehicles, handling explosive charges used in clearing, as it would be virtually impervious to most unfocused explosions at point blank range. This would also indicate why its turret appeared to be functional and why the crane was relatively lightweight. Still, it remains an enigma as to why the Germans would waste such a useful defensive machine on this function.
F i r s t l o o k
Italeri's kit is based on their earlier late production Tiger I kit with its link and length tracks and engine bay details. It comes with "zimmerit" panels to replace all but the turret sides, and "wrappers" like those found in the Panther kit for the sides of the turret. This isn't as bad an idea as some people have declared, as it covers the rather odd joint between the turret sides and the turret roof which Italeri decided to use in its Tiger kits. The zimmerit panels are relatively thin, and have allowances built into them for the bumps on the turret which mean that the modeler does not have to sand the surface detail from the turret sides first.
The main components are relatively free of ejection pin marks, but the same cannot be said for the track links. These will be somewhat tedious to clear up, but for the most part, Italeri is at least placing the pin strikes in places which are easy to reach and clean up. The only major sink marks are unfortunately right around the center of the new gun mantelet, and these will be a pain to fill in as they are surrounded by details. It would have been better to make the cover plate a separate part, but Italeri tends to minimize assemblies at the wrong time of late, and this is one that was treated in that fashion.
Still, this is a current, modern kit of this subject, and from comments made by a number of modelers a far better effort than the CMK/Czechmaster kit of a few years ago which used the obsolete Tamiya Tiger I kit as its basis. It does come with the right parts and right details, as well as the right number of wheels, the parts do assemble (the CMK version was cited as having some very poor fit problems in what should have been pretty sturdy components, such as the turret roof falling into the turret as the turret was a bit overscale) and its proportions appear correct with published dimensions. Those of you who frequent TRACK-LINK on the Internet will know that the Italeri Tigers have inspired a fair amount of discussion pro and con, but in this case, it is really the best game in town if you want the "Bergetiger" variant on your shelves and do not want to scratchbuild one from a Tamiya kit.
Thanks to Dana John Nield of Borgfeldt Canada Ltd. for the review sample.
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