Sunday, 30 August 2015


A little while back I found out about the Bergehetzer having never heard mention of it before, so I decided to collect photos together for all the different WW2 German recovery vehicles and group in one place as some are far less common than others.

Bergepanzer III

After 1943 the Panzer III had seen its day as a front line tank and hundreds were converted to other functions.  Apparently over 150 were converted to Bergepanzers but photos online seem fairly few.  They were also converted into munitions carriers, command and observations vehicles.  Some prototype assault guns and mine clearance vehicles were made and many of the turrets made it onto fixed fortifications on the Atlantic Wall.

Bergepanzer IV

This one seems very elusive, there are  hardly any photos available online,  Some appear to have passed through eBay auctions so may have been published somewhere very specialised like the Panzer Tracts books.  According to Achtung Panzer, 36 were made but there's not much for the modeller to go on, although Dragon do a 1/35th kit.  It seems they plugged the turret ring with wood and added a crane, along with some other fitments for stowage.

Bergepanzer VK.1601

This is an odd one of which only a single photo seems to exist, possibly of only a single vehicle.  Only 22of the VK.1601 were made as an experimental run of where there are few photos.  Apparently just one was later converted in 1944 into a bergpanzer.


In late 1944 a 'Bergetiger' was found abandoned in Anizo.  There are several photos of this vehicle but facts beyond this are debated.  Some say it was a unique field conversion, others commonly say three were purpose made, some say any more but I think that rather unlikely given how little evidence of their existence there is.  No one is quite sure what it was for either.  Dubbed a 'bergetiger' by allied forces it doesn't seem capable of recovering vehicles due to the small crane and winch.  Unlike more recovery vehicles it still has the turret, although modified, which suggests a quick field conversion.  Together these things would have prevented it towing vehicles or even performing many maintenance task.  Some suggest it had a role in laying demolition charges.

Bergetiger (P)

Many photos exist of this one despite only three being made.  When the Tiger (P) was turned down in favour of the Henschel chassis, Porsche had already made nearly 100 VK.4501 chassis.  These were not wasted and 91 Ferdinands were made.  Around half of these were lost at Kursk and were refitted to become the Elefant.  Of the original VK.4501 chassis five were mounted with the Krupp turret and one was used as Tiger (P) command vehicle.  In late 1943 three of these five were converted into the recovery vehicles.  Supposedly at least one other was to be turned into the Rammtiger but no real evidence supports this.

The Tiger (P) hull was altered with the turret removed, the engine moved to the middle, a small raised structure in the back and fitted with a two ton crane.

Bergepanzer 38(t)

Or perhaps Bergehetzer, some 170 of these were made on a mixture of Panzer 38(t) and reused Hetzer chassis. This seems a huge number given how rarely seen it is, there are fairly few photos around and few give hints as to the layout of the interior.  30 were further used as the basis for a 150mm howitzer carrier.  One made it to Aberdeen in the US but was scrapped after testing,


There seem to be a wealth of photos of the Bergepanther as nearly 350 were built.  Unlike other vehicles retrofitted with recovery gear, these appear to have been mostly purpose built for the task.  Later on vehicles were repaired and delivered as Panthers without the turret, lacking a winch making them towing vehicles only, but still described as Bergepanthers.  Some had their recovery equipment removed and were used as ammunition carriers.

The Panther chassis made it heavily armoured and it could tow the largest vehicles, even potentially under fire.  Some continued to be used after the war by the French army into the 1950s and a couple survive in museums or collections today.


The Tiger II chassis was supposedly used to make 18 Bergewagens but there's no real evidence of this, so file it along with the Rammtiger and E-100 turret.  It also seems a bit redundant alongside the Bergepanther which could tow the larger vehicles.  Some pictures included for the sake of completeness show a Tiger II chassis with towing fitments, the vehicle possibly being used to clear wreckage.

Friday, 28 August 2015

P1000 Ratte - Nazi thousand-ton megatank

The Ratte is one of those things that barely counts as a 'paper-panzer', given that it consisted of a design sketch on a napkin and some speculative number run up from someone's imagination.  Years ago before regular internet access I read about Hitler's supposed 1000 ton super tank but never found any detail on it, the legendary Maus was mysterious enough.  While a few resin models exist, an injection plastic model has been released in 1/144 and there are lots of mock up photos of the Ratte online.

Apparently, Hitler really was interested in an absurdly massive super tank in the style of the fictional Bolo or Ogre tanks from books and games.  It was to be armed with naval artillery guns, armoured by nearly a foot of steel and powered by a series of engines similar to those used in U-Boats and E-Boats.  All the problems with the Maus would have been magnified many time in the Ratte.  Impossible to transport it would have had to move everywhere under its own power, crushing all bridges and roads it attempted to cross.  And frightening as it might have been to initially encounter, I suspect it would be vulnerable to air strikes and bombing.

Apparently Albert Speer thought similarly and threw the idea in the bin in 1943.  Hitler's interests had probably moved on to some other pipe dream by this point and it was forgotten about.

The model from Takom comes crisply cast in two colours of plastic and looks a straight forward build.  This is all good quality though the model does rather lend itself to being featureless in places.  They have attempted to create suitable detail where possible and there are good features such as hand rails that run around the edges.

The colour scheme for this vehicle is open to interpretation.  I have no plan as yet, but feel its important that it look like a very large vehicle, so no intricate camouflage schemes with swirls and spots.  Painting it in a scheme more suited to a 1/35 model will betray the true 1/144 scale, this has to be painted like a battleship.

The Ratte is enormous and dwarfs the two Maus tanks included - these are a nice extra!  Given they are nearly 200 tons each themselves, the vastness of the Ratte by comparison is probably closer to 10,000 tons!  But it does appear accurate to the speculative sizes given by various sources, the model is nearly 10" long even in 1/144th.  As it's a bit featureless, I located a dozen 1/144th germans that originally came with the Dragon Karl Mortar kit a few years ago.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Rubicon Models 1/56 Panther G

Recently I picked up a couple of the Achtung Cthulhu miniatures which are very reminiscent of things like the Wolfenstein PC games and other weird-WW2 sources.  But on their own they seem to lack any sort of focal point and needed a suitably speculative vehicle.

The Rubicon 1/56th Panther G is overall a good kit for 28mm figures.  It was a very quick build and with a crisp casting.  It seems a particular advantage of the Rubicon model over others that are cast in solid pieces is that it is effective in achieving the effect of the separate interleaved wheels while keeping the number of parts low and the kit simple.  This is done by the wheels being cast in strips with attaching pieces that are hidden once assembled.  The only disappointing aspect of the model are the tracks which are very crude both inside and out.  There are alternative parts offered in the kit but no explanation as to what the alternatives suggest in a finished model. I chose exhausts and engine deck parts based on photos of late war Panthers.  Overall a good kit with many good aspects, only let down by the appearance of the tracks.

Once finished I chose a speculative very-late-war and 'rushed out the factory' look to use lots of red oxide primer on the model, as well as a grey primer barrel.  Usually I would avoid such a colour scheme on a historical model but this felt good to play with something different.  Mostly the Panther was painted with Vallejo colours; Middlestone #118 for the yellow and Cavalry Brown #137 for the primer.

As it wasn't a historically accurate model, I took the opportunity to practice weathering streaks with oil paints and chipped paint effects dabbed on with a sponge, and likely will take this over to more serious modelling projects in future.

A very fun build -hopefully it will make a great terrain piece or focal point for a Weird-WW2 game at some point in the future.

A Panther defends the ruined Reichstag

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Panther G Night-Fighter from Dragon Models

My most recent project has been some very late war German vehicles.  The first was aPanther G with Vampyr Infra-Red gear. Dragon 1/35 model, mostly from box.  Wanting something striking and unusual, I chose a camouflage scheme as used by Panzer Division Müncheberg in Küstrin in March 1945.  At some point these vehicles and Panzergrenadiers were equipped with the infra-red gear used in limited quantities towards the end of the war.  Müncheberg fought all the way into the centre of Berlin and were defending Zoo flak tower.  Their last tank was a Tiger 1 disabled on Unter den Linden straße just in sight of the Brandenburg Gate.

As a point of interest I include a photo below.  A fascinating photo in that it shows an almost entirely early version Tiger with the original wheels and cupola. 

The Dragon kit model is an older kit now but the only I know of that models the infra-red gear fully in plastic.  The equipment was initially used only on the commander's cupola as 'solution A'.  Later sights were to be added for the driver and gunner 'solution B' but there's little evidence to show whether it was actually done in the field.

I chose the following colour scheme as seen in a couple of photos.

The kit was built almost straight from the box with only the addition of brass mesh on the engine deck.  I found the tracks to be a lot of work to assemble.  These are not the modern smart track links and tended to be a very tight fit with a very minor flash or mould lines being a very big problem.  Tracks and wheels were painted before assembly and patched up afterwards.

The rest of the vehicle was a quick, efficient build as I'd expect with a Dragon kit..  Once undercoated with dark green I then roughly worked out the areas to be brown and painted them in hand.  Ragged lines between the green and brown would not matter as they would be neatened up by the straight yellow lines between brown/green.

At this point I was a bit concerned, the brown and green were not that easy to discern and the whole thing looked rather messy.  I masked areas off to leave the strips that would be yellow and pressed on.  This model used Vallejo colours 70.882 'Middlestone', 70.826 'German camouflage brown' and 70.979 'German camo Dark Green'.

Once the tape was removed the model rapidly went from being something looking very rough and ready to a neat and pleasing effect.  A little patching up was required and hand painting over awkward areas that the tape would not conform to.  A fine black wash was applied to lines and recessed areas and a drybrush of light grey to bring up raised areas.  A very gentle weathering process for now which I intend to revisit when I have several vehicles to display together. 

Overall a decent kit other than the tracks which were a lot of work.  The kit also did not include side skirts which I felt was a bit cheap. There are a couple of minor issues, as I understand that one of the stowage bins on the back was specifically changed for the infra-red vehicles and yet these are as the standard model.  The camouflage scheme I was very happy with and the green and the brown are far more distinct with the yellow stripes, making for a striking model.  I plan to continue these colours onto other similar vehicles to display together.