by: Mike High [ ]
The German Berge-Panther mit aufgesetzem Pz. Kpfw. IV Turret is a one-off conversion that the 653rd Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung's maintenance company came up with (Thank you Jim D. [AikinutNY] and Gerald Owens [Gerald Owens] for the information). Basically, this is a Panther chassis that the 653rd added a non-rotating Pz. IV turret to. Certainly an unusual conversion (Cyber-Hobby - kit #6340) that diehard Berge enthusiasts will enjoy.
The first comment should be what this set does NOT include, as Voyager Model has an unfortunate habit of displaying a kit with, what appears to be, all available photo etch (PE) parts/sets made for the particular kit. For instance in this set, there is no rear storage bin, no side Schurzen, no turret armor (with the exception of one panel (T43/T44) for each side), and no mantlet nor barrel.
What IS included are: seven frets of PE, four pieces of plastic rod, two pieces of wire, four resin hooks for the turret, and two brass balls for the side markers. There are also the requisite instructions; two-sheets (four pages) that are well laid out and clearly defined.
This set will cover hinges and latches for the hatches, detail around the Commander’s hatch, basic detail for the turret (to include the well cast hooks), the tool rack, fenders and brackets, Schurzen hangers, engine deck screens and hooks, spare track hangers, muffler bracket, rear storage boxes, and various other detail items.
One note regarding the steps where the plastic rod is called for; the instructions indicate the diameter of the rod but there is no length given. Therefore, photographic references and/or scale drawings will be handy.
This Voyager Model set will do a nice job of adding detail to your Berge-Panther mit aufgesetzem Pz. Kpfw. IV Turret kit with 98% of the parts going to the Panther hull.
As mentioned, the instructions are quite clear and will leave little doubt as to where the parts are to be attached. Needless to say, with some of the parts being exceptionally small, I would recommend laying the PE down on a medium to dark (Tamiya or painter’s) tape to allow for greater visibility and to keep the part from “launching into the nether regions.”
The instructions are laid out in easy to understand sub-assemblies. All steps clearly indicate if a kit part needs something removed (molded-on hinges, latches, et cetera) or an area that may need a hole drilled or something “dimpled.”
The hinges and latches, as with PE of this caliber, are quite intricate and functional.
The width markers included consist of two small balls and a length of wire. The balls do have a small indentation for the provided wire, but I would consider using a very thin piece of brass rod instead. The wire in my sample has a “curve” to it that will be difficult to straighten out. Again, no length is given.
This is a very nice set of PE for the aforementioned kit. There are a lot of very small and delicate parts so attention and patience will be needed. The set covers a good variety of the parts for the Panther hull that are either molded on, over-scale, or altogether missing while adding some detailing for the turret. Again, the buyer needs to pay attention to the picture on the Voyager Model’s package to ensure they know what will be in the box.