Wednesday, May 21

Review: Panzerwrecks 16: “Bulge” - This bulge was more than we expected...

Issue sixteen of Panzerwrecks sees the “Battle of the Bulge” covered. All familiar territory from a well-established publishing house you might expect – Old dogs can sometimes have new tricks - something i learnt myself after I settled in for a read…

Authors:  Lee Archer & William Auerbach
No of Pages: 96/ B&W Photos: 150
Size: 280x210mm Landscape format
ISBN: 978-1-908032-08-9

Those uninitiated with the Panzerwrecks series need to know that these series of books (this being no 16) is a landscape format publication with a soft but very glossy cover. Filled with large format pictures – usually one to a page and supplemented by handy text setting the scene and interesting points of the photos. Sometimes there are a few pictures in a series of the same setting.  The book is also usually 90-100 pages in length (this issue is  96 pages)

 The formula: One image a page/ some text to add to the scene = a lot of inspiration
Like a veteran rock and roll band that keeps on pumping out the hits we all love, Panzerwrecks offer us their latest sure fire hit this month. The old rock and roll analogy struck me as the first surprise I got when I opened this book was the tri-fold gatefold sleeves on the front of the book. Wowsers! – a scene of three pictures of a two wrecked Panthers and an SWS ammo carrier in a destroyed hamlet with a couple of civilians standing by. What a good dio I thought – but then I got greedy – and flipped to the back of the book thinking there might just be another gatefold sleeve..
 The front gatefold cover
…To find that greed is good! There is indeed a large (very) picture fold out of a destroyed Jagdpanther at two different times – with the almost mandatory civilian sitting on the tank. The wreck is seen as just put out of action, and then later after it had it’s roadwheels pinched - it is great to see such a wreck at different times (and a pity about the magnificent view in the background)

 The rear gatefold - these must be seen in the flesh to be appreciated fully
This book – covering “The Bulge” battle in the Ardennes pocket is made up of three main chapters or groups of similar photography topics. The 96 pages are mostly one to a page – but here again I am surprised with a fair few pages broken down into a few images a page. The paper is thick enough and glossy enough you cannot see the image on the other side and the pictures are all pretty good and each one I find interesting for one reason or another. There are some slightly “jaggy” images of “radio-pictures” here – images transmitted by telephone. But none of these really effect the overall feel I get from these pictures that I would say are a collection of high end  images. Some of these vehicles - a king tiger for one i notice - tie into Panzerwrecks current release  "Duel in the Mist III" which we are currently reading   this was a nice surprise as well. It seems that this could almost be an additional very visual companion publication to these books.
Like the tittle of this series suggests here are many pictures of destroyed or immobile panzers or German vehicles ( plus some Allied vehicles – too many to mention – but the Panzerwrecks site says that included are: Tiger II & I’s, Panther Ausf.G & Ausf.A & Ersatz M-10, Bergepanther, Jagdpanther, Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G, Ausf.H & Ausf.J &Befehlswagen IV, Hummel, Flakpanzer , Wirbelwind, Sturmgeschütz IV, Panzer IV/70(V), Jagdpanzer IV, Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G, Bergepanzer III, Pz.Beob.Wg.III, Jagdpanzer 38, 15cm Grille, Captured M4 Shermans, Captured M2A1, Captured M3, Captured M3A1, Sd.Kfz.251,Sd.Kfz.251/3, Sd.Kfz.251/8, Sd.Kfz.251/9, Sd.Kfz.251/21, Sd.Kfz.7, Sd.Kfz.7 Pritschbau, Sd.Kfz.7/2, Sd.Kfz.10, Sd.Kfz.10/5, Captured M8 armored car, Sd.Kfz.234/2 Puma, Sd.Kfz.233 s.W.S,RSO/01& RSO/03 and the Sd.Kfz.4 Maultier
….can you forgive me for not going through and listing the different types myself? There is definitely not just one type dominating proceedings here. The many different terrains and settings of the book (although all images were in the same area of the bulge) make this a little endless source for diorama inspiration. Indeed some of the pictures were taken with several months’ difference in between (some as late as 1946), so there are often winter and summer shots of the same vehicle with the ravages of time and the trophy hunters that make this compelling reading. 

The first group of photos on a type of subject – this being captured or disguised vehicles is called Subterfuge - Allied or German? This chapter shows us some familiar vehicles and some not so. The Ersatz M10 disguised panther is seen here crashed into the café where it was abandoned and with several of the suspiciously large haired locals in a photo opportunity. There are also some captured Shermans sporting markings pressed into use along with several other tracked AFV’s of the Americans under new management. 
A lovely brace of pictures showing a Sherman near the “Hotel Des Ardennes” looks straight out of a movie set. The picture breaks format and is seen “sideways “on the page but gee it’s worth it to include this great image in this book. There is also an example on a few pages of the French made ammunition carrier I had never seen before. Like I said in the intro – old dogs (me) can be shown new tricks!
Some blown completely apart Panzer IV L-70’s feature in the section called “Mauled in Marnach” - along with Panthers with their turrets blown asunder and wrecked Panzer IV’s the effect of war and firepower is a shock.  This is especially evident in a series of shots showing a retreat river crossing by the Germansover the “Our” river. Torn asunder by aerial bombardment or wrecked by their own retreating crews these vehicles and others throughout this section really were mauled. The trend of showing destroyed vehicles could not be better served with reference than this section of the book. Even commentary of the aircraft pilots is included here as well.
The last large section of grouped photos is called “Wrecks at Celles.” It shows us a massive collection of parked vehicles and guns collected by the allies and left by the germans after battle. There are an amazing collection of not only German but Allied vehicles and equipment there – in each pictures several types. It really makes you wonder how much effort it takes to wage war.
Interestingly there is a Panzer IV observation tank with a submarine-type periscope called the Turmsehror. It was earmarked for examination after capture as you can see from the pictures. We are treated to pictures of the inside as well as the exterior and close ups of this unique device which will help armchair historians and modellers.

Several tracked AFV’s and some Panthers and Panzer IV variants tipped at precarious angles on the sides of high roads and covered with snow top off this section of the book.
Well if this series is an like an old rock band it is much more Rolling Stones than a one hit wonder - meaning that just when we think we have seen it all and there could not be anything left in the tank these guys continue to give us more of what we want to see. In this case fresh perspectives of similar material that still captivates and draws a crowd.

Keep on rocking on Panzerwrecks!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Lee at Panzerwrecks for sending us this book to read and review – Get in quickly if you like the look of this book – as there is a pre-order for £13.99, saving you £3.00 on now - The book is shipping in June.)