With a range of cheaper plastic and resin 15mm Panthers on the market now, I thought it might be interesting to try my hand at converting one to a Bergepanther ARV. The process is a bit complex for first timers, but should be relatively easy for experienced modelers. For this tutorial, I'm using a resin Game Models Panther tank, though the following will apply equally well to a plastic (PSC) or metal miniature.
- X-acto knife with a good sharp blade
- Sanding stick or jeweler's files
- Drafting triangle
- Plasticard in .10, .20, & .40 thickness
- 24ga. wire
- L-angle plasticard rod
- Square plasticard rod or I-beam rod
- 2 Paperclips
Fully assemble the hull leaving off (or remove from finished model) the hull ball MG mount, driver's hatches, & turret. You can either leave off the front and side mud guards or leave them on.
Step 1: Cut a two thin strips of .10 plasticard. One is placed vertically on the right of the glacis plate to represent the MG hatch, the other horizontally to represent the driver's vision slit.
Step 2: Cut two thin strips of .20 plasticard and glue them on the right of the glacis plate, just to the right and above and below the MG hatch.
Step 3: Cut two square pieces of square rod or I-beam. Cut a v-shaped notch on one side of each square. This notch is glued into place where the upper and lower glacis plate meet. Cut two square pieces of .10 plasticard a little larger than each rod. These are glued unto the end of each square rod.
Step 4: Cut a trapezoid-shaped piece of .40 plasticard as shown below. Drill a hole in the center of this piece. One end is glued to the top center of the glacis plate to represent the 2cm KwK38 gun mount.
Step 5: Cut a rectangular piece of .40 plasticard to represent the raised winch deck. This should be large enough the it covers the (removed) turret ring, leaving a little over 1/16" on either side of the hull, and stretches from where the engine deck begins to where the driver's hatches would have been (though NOT covering them up - this entire piece of the hull was removed to make essentially one large hatch in front of the winch deck).
Step 6: Cut a strip of 1/4" tall .20 plasticard long enough to wrap around the winch deck. If you have a scribing tool, you can scribe a line halfway up along the entire length of the deck sides to represent the upper "fold-away" section. Measure and glue all sides in place. In the center of the rear siding, drill a shallow hole for the winch cable (step 11).
Step 7: Cut six short strips of .10 plasticard and four longer strips. The six short strips are mounted vertically in a row of three per side halfway up the deck siding. The four longer strips are mounted vertically in a row of two in the front and back of the siding to represent the hinges.
Step 8: Cut four short strips of .20 plasticard of equal lengths. These are mounted just before the large driver's hatch at the front of the upper hull to represent the crew handrails.
Step 9: Cut two rectangular pieces of .40 plasticard. Cut one side of each piece with the same angle as the hull sides and glue one on either side of the hull, just behind the winch deck - these are the boom foundations. Drill a hole in either of the foundations (it doesn't matter which - the boom could be moved to either side in reality) and glue a 3/4"-long section of paperclip into it.
Drill another hole approx. 1/2" behind the last on the side of the engine deck, slightly bend a 7/8"-long section of paperclip. Glue the bent end of the paperclip into this hole, the other end should just about lean against the top of the first section. Repeat this step by drilling a hole just behind the winch deck and inserting another slightly bent 1/2" long paperclip.
Cut a 7/8" long section of paperclip, notch one end, and glue to the bottom of the first section - this is the boom proper. Cut seven thing strips of .10 plasticard and glue to where each boom section meets as shown below.
Step 10: The spade is probably the most difficult piece to assemble. I've labeled the parts below. First, cut two sections of L-angle plasticard to approx. 5/8". One section has its longer part cut to a triangle (lower angle piece), cut 1/2" from the center of the other section (upper angle piece). These are then glued side-by-side unto a .10 piece of plasticard.
Cut a small diamond shape of .10 plasticard. Cut the point off two opposite sides and glue to the center of the lower angle piece.
Cut two approx. 3/4" I-beam pieces and notch 1/8" off one end of both. Glue these notched sections to the lower angle piece of the spade. The opposite ends are glued to the rear of the lower hull, just below the exhaust mufflers. Then cut four small pieces of L-angle plasticard and glue them as brackets to either side of the spade boom.
Step 11: Cut a small square of .40 plasticard and drill a hole through the center, glue this to the rear of the engine deck. Cut a section of 24ga. wire and glue one end into the hole you drilled in the rear of the winch deck. Cut a small rectangle of .40 plasticard, rounding down one end with a file. Drill a hole in the end of this block and glue the 24ga. wire into it, then drill a hole through the middle of the rounded off end.
Step 12: Cut a thin piece of plasticard (or use GS) to cover the driver's hatch in front of the engine deck. If you have a spare 2cm KwK38 (or want to build your own like I did), you can mount it on the KwK mounting. If you just want to use a spare MG42, that works as well (though they were not mounted on the KwK mounting). Add any stowage you want at this point and you're done!