Tiger Support Vehicle - "Bergetiger"


Catalogue No.: 362
Scale: 1/35
Media: Injection Styrene
Review Type: In Box
Rating: Recommended

Reviewed by Cookie Sewell

S u m m a r y

Contents: 352 parts in tan styrene
Price: not available
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 far 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.

F i r s t l o o k

The T-28 has always been an impressive LOOKING tank, at least! With its hulking shape and triple turrets clustered at the front, it gave off an unwarranted image of power and might, in which the Red Army of the 1930s took great pride. ICM's concurrent kit of this tank (along with the T-35) captures most of the tank's features intact, and is a much cleaner, neater, and far more accurate kit of this subject than the AER kit (which beat it to market by several months).

The kit shares 143 parts with its larger stablemate – the turrets and the engine – but has a completely new hull, final drives, and crew compartment within the tank. The parts, being shorter, are less prone to warpage than the T-35 parts, and as a result this model is a bit easier to deal with when constructing it. It does have the same problem with the fit of the machine gun turrets -- the locking flanges are too thick for the races, and as a result it is recommended in this kit to simply use a Dremel or a sharp knife and just mill them off. The turret race can be sanded out and still achieve a good friction fit, and the turrets are too small and light to overbalance and fall off. The main turret will need some TLC in fitting as well.

The tracks are equally as good as the ones on the T-35, but suffer from none of the sinkhole problems found on that kit. They do take a lot of time and care in installing them, and some modelers who have started this kit have complained about that. The only recommended solution is to get a set of mid- production Panzer track -- the 40 cm variety without ice cleats -- from Fruilmodellismo and replace it, or some Tamiya Pzkw. IV tracks (with extensions, as this is a bigger model).

The kit does not come with the stowage bins on the rear quarters, which means that the modeler will have to make his own from Evergreen or similar styrene strip. It's hard to say, but the version represented appears to be a late 1937 or early 1938 production version. With some work, the model can be upgraded to the T-28Eh version if the modeler doesn't mind wrapping .030" styrene around the turret or adding appliqué and having to change all the rivet patterns around.

There is only one serious reference which can be recommend for those who want to detail this model into a real show-stopper. That is Arsenal Series "The T-28 Medium Tank" by Mikhail Baryatinskiy and Mikhail Pavlov Moscow Askol'd' Press 1993 (32 pages). This is available from Squadron Shop via mail order and, while in Russian, provides a decent set of plans and references for the tank. Also, there is the Concord book by Steve Zaloga and Janusz Magnewski on "Soviet Tanks in Combat 1941-1945".

Review by Cookie Sewell, June 1998.
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Page Created 18 July, 1998.
Last updated 22 July, 2003.

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