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  1. German Bergepanzer Hetzer late 1:35 Thunder Model The Hetzer was a highly successful tank destroyer that was based on the Czech P38(t), which mounted a powerful 75mm gun in the glacis with limited traverse capability, obviating the need for a turret and thereby reducing its profile, but requiring the driver to slew the vehicle for gross re-targeting. The Bergepanzer variant was fitted with a smooth glacis with no gun port, and had an open top for ease of ingress by the crew, who would be in and out connecting up towing ropes etc. to any vehicle in distress, possibly whilst still under fire. Due to its designation as a "light" recovery vehicle its use was limited to an extent, and only 170 were built in total, with later models benefitting from experience in the field, and from side skirts that helped defuse the blast of shaped charges that were in use in the later part of the war. The Kit This is a variant on Thunder Model's original Bergepanzer Hetzer late, which has been released with different parts to bring a total of four boxings including this one, which is a Limited Special edition with some upgrades to detail in the shape of metal and resin parts. Thunder Model are another Chinese company, with a number of unusual kits under their belts already, and some more to be released going forwards. Their tooling style reminds me of Hasegawa, whether it's the colour of styrene they use, or the look of the parts, I'm not sure. Their boxes have captive lids, opening up to reveal seven sprues of that grey styrene, plus the extras, which you will find in a ziplok bag. Take care when opening the bag, as some of the parts are necessarily small and easily lost. There are two sheets of copper Photo-Etch (PE), a small sheet of brass PE, another nickel plated fret with painted dials, a length of brass chain, three lengths of braided string/rope with no fuzzy threads, a length of brass wire, two short loops of thicker gauge steel and copper wire, and two resin towing cable eyes. Almost everything you will need other than glue and paint to complete your model. The instructions are printed on an A4 booklet in portrait with greyscale isometric views, and the painting guide is printed on glossy stock in full colour. Due to the open top, quite a lot of the interior will be on display, so construction begins with the engine, which is nicely detailed, with ancillary parts also included, such as fuel tanks, radiator and air ducting parts. A number of tiny rivets are added around the inside of the hull by the final drive housing, and the leaf-spring suspension units with their large wheels are added all around before the link-and-length track is built up around the road wheels and drive sprocket. The rear bulkhead is added to the hull along with the towing cables, lifting eyes and towing hooks, while the transmission box is constructed over a number of steps before it is dropped into the front of the hull, and the driver's position with PE pedals and controls are glued into the left side. Behind and to his right a power take-off runs the internal winch that passes out through the rear armour, and behind that the bulkhead is fitted to separate the engine bay from the crew compartment. The upper hull is open at the top and has a separate engine deck, which is constructed by adding an inverted T-shape with PE grilled to the centre, and fitting the two access panels at the top left and right, the winch cable exiting from the starboard side. Various PE brackets and a length of replacement track are used, and the special edition rear fenders are built up from the included PE, which can be deformed to show use in a more realistic way, as well as having more scale thickness. The Pioneer tools and the bergepanzer specific tools are festooned over the slab sides, and the crane can either be shown collapsed for transport in the port side, or with the addition of its cabling and hook, it can be shown erected on the top of the hull. A choice of PE or styrene side skirts are also fitted to the hull and fender edges, which can also be dented, twisted or plain-old ripped free depending on how good your imaginary driver was at his job. A shallow stowage bin is fitted into the crew compartment aperture, which can be fitted with a choice of pulley assemblies, and the final act involves building up the chunky entrenching blade that fits to the rear of the vehicle and hinges vertically for travel. Small PE lifting eyes are added to the rear of the blade, and an addendum is included on a slip of paper in the box for the support arms, so staple it into the booklet before you start to remind you. Markings There are two markings options in the box, but as neither have any stencils applied, there are no decals, just instructions on how to paint your Hetzer. From the box you can build one of the following: Germany, March 1945 - Dotted ambush pattern in red brown and green over a dark yellow base. Rhineland, 1945 - Wavy-edged hard demarcation pattern in red brown and green over a dark yellow base. There are tools out there to help with these schemes, such as masks for the dotted pattern, and the Clever Putty to achieve the hard lines of the wavy edged pattern. Conclusion It's worth picking up the limited edition boxing for the extras that it includes, which includes the engine compartment, as the cost saving is notable, and it will be interesting to work with the softer copper PE for the first time (for this modeller at least). Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for
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