Book Review, Reading Material, Reference

Biber Leopard 1 Bridgelayer

This review was originally published on Track-Link in 2016.

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Trackpad publishing recently released a book on the Leopard 1-based Biber bridgelayer vehicle, by author Kenneth Ostergaard, which will be the subject of the present review. I believe this is the third book (ISBN 978-0-9928425-7-4) of the Model Foto Focus series from Trackpad. (I reviewed the first book of the series on Canadian Leopard 2s in Afghanistan here). Both books left me largely impressed for the quality of their pictures and the coverage of their subjects, and this new book is no different.

After a quick one-page intro, the book goes straight into full-color pictures of the Biber. Most pictures are of a quarter of a page, but some are full or half page ones. Just like the previous two books, the quality of the pictures presented on this new installment is excellent (as you’ll see above on the excerpts chosen for this review). Pictures are crisp, often the angles are well chosen to show specific details. Captions are somewhat succinct but to-the-point.

The book is divided as follow:

  1. Biber Introduced
  2. In the Field
  3. The Bridge
  4. Picking it Up!
  5. Launch Mechanisms
  6. The Launch Vehicle
  7. Variations on a Theme

The intro and the first two chapters, covering only a few pages, present the vehicle in wide, overall shots, while the remainder of the books get up close and show details of the bridge itself, when it is launched, the launching mechanism, the chassis (including a few detailed interior shots) and variants as used in the Netherlands, Australia and Danemark, foretelling the arrival of another Foto Focus book on the Leopard 1A5DK1. Canadian, Chilean, Italian and Polish Bibers aren’t shown, but all countries have some of the specific variations described in a short list.

Here’s a quick run-down of the highlights of what is being shown in the book:

  1. At least two multi-pics sequences of Bibers launching their bridges;
  2. Detailed walkaround picture sets of the bridge, the chassis and the launching equipment;
  3. Various interior shots;
  4. A small detail but we get a glimpse of the inside of the traps on the rear extension typical of the Biber;
  5. Pretty much all vehicles are shown in the field, with corresponding reference on mud spatter and weathering;
  6. Pictures of German, Dutch, Australian and Danish Bibers.

Of course, the Biber isn’t your typical everyday armored vehicle and it is not at all a common modelling subject. But in case you are wondering if this thing exists in 1:35, well, IT DOES! Perfectscale Modelbau has a [limited edition] rather extensive resin conversion kits related to the Biber without the bridge. Elite Models have a full offering including the bridge. These are pricey items to be sure, but the point is that if you ever fancy modelling the Biber, Ostergaard’s book is an obvious must-have reference, especially if you are into ultra realistic finishing, since the book provides so many detailed pictures of the exact aspect of each surface. You’ll probably want to double that with tome 2 of Michael Shackleton’s excellent trilogy on the Leo 1 for the 1:35 scale plans and some additional background info.

Also note that Revell offer a 1:72 offering, too. In addition, they apparently offer it along a Dingo and another box set with a Leopard 1A5.

Conclusion

Great book about an intriguing and undeniably cool but relatively uncommon vehicle. Must-have ref for anyone attempting to scratch it or going for the PSM kits. Clear colored pictures of the overall vehicles in their operating environment as well as thorough coverage of the details. Excellent finishing and weathering reference. Now Trackpad please do the same for the Gepard!

Book provided to Track-Link for preview/review purpose. You can obtain this book here.

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