Saturday, January 3

Review: Nuts & Bolts 33: Leichte Feldhaubitze 18, GW II für le.F.H. 18/2 “Wespe” and “Hummel-Wespe”

Nuts & Bolts publishing house are now up to Volume 33 in their comprehensive vehicle and weapon study with their latest book on the "Leichte Feldhaubitze 18, GW II für le.F.H. 18/2 “Wespe” and “Hummel-Wespe.” These books are known for a threefold approach trying to capture all pertinent to a weapon or vehicle through text, pictorial and then some modelling prowess thrown in. Let’s see if their latest is up with their greatest.
Nuts & Bolts Vol. 33
Leichte Feldhaubitze 18, GW II für le.F.H. 18/2 “Wespe” and “Hummel-Wespe”
By Joachim Baschin, Martin Block, Heinz Tippmann

Publisher: Nuts & Bolts
German & English text
Softcover 184 pages
Dimensions: 29,5 x 21 cm
Price: 28.90€ from the Nuts & Bolts site directly or from their Distributors.

There are several good books on the market that are “all in one’s” and several, well… others.. If you know what I mean – A few good book makers tend to usually get it right in mixing contents of pictorial  past and present, detail shots, a decent amount of interesting text to cover the object’s development and deployment and last of all for this audience at least – some modelling interest thrown in. I mean, if you aren’t modelling something you are just talking about it. It is the books which have all of that AND modelling relevance that I find the most interesting. Nuts & Bolts is usually one of these publishers that manages to collect all the bits I want to see in one spine in high quality. So I do expect a lot from each subsequent release.

I also understand that there is more than just me to please when making a book so different aspects of this mix will be more important to others. There are armchair enthusiasts. Detail freaks who love plans and counting those rivets, and others who like artist’s profiles. These book usually cover all of these so I can understand that this publisher has been turning out these books for nearly 20 years. Quite an achievement.
It was a long time ago – before I even was reading modelling books after my 20’s “lost decade” of modelling (didn’t we all go there?) that Nuts & Bolts released a book on the “Wespe.” It was pretty much like what we see now but a lot less in each book. In those eighteen years since No#2 “Wespe” was released there have been a lot more included in the books in the way of so much more than museum visits and walk-arounds and some text. I will take you through this new book that not only features on the Hummel –Wespe family but also opened up to include the artillery piece which bears the Leichte Feldhaubitze 18.

Like the others in the series this is a portrait format book (dimensions: 29,5 x 21 cm) of German & English text with a glossy softcover binding filled with 184 pages packed with 353 photos of which there are 198 historical pictures, 40 model shots & 115 modern walk around images. Included are scale line drawings of forty variants in 2D & 3D of this gun and the AFV that carried it as well as artist’s renderings of thirteen camouflage schemes in profile… Ohh don’t forget the illustrations of tactical markings and table of organisations these vehicles operated within. There is a hell of a lot more here than you might have found in the original volume it seems. Let’s have a look at each of the sections in turn. 
We start off with the text section at the start of the book. To be honest it is a bit daunting to flick through at first and there is so much presented I will just give a brief rundown of the contents. Fifty pages of pretty much text only with a few pictures to illustrate the points the author is talking about. The trick is just to dive in – as before you know it you are a fair way into the book and each page you are finding out about more and more aspects of the gun and the AFV that carried it. Secondly the block of text is not so daunting when you realize that each page is only half a page – as the other side is always in either German or English depending on what side you are better at reading. So really it is under twenty five pages of insightful info on the development of the weapons and their employment and use.

The development of the 10.5 cm Leichte Feldhaubitze 18M and how it was conceived in a mate with Russian carriage, it’s running gear the mounting on the Wespe and Hummel is discussed as are the camouflage and markings and dispersal of each gun and AFV in a unit. To be fair the main part of this block text describes the deployment to each of the artillery units of these guns and AFV’s so again if this type of detail isn’t your bag you can skip parts of it as it is clearly marked with headings. There are some very interesting parts of the text describing the Wespe class in combat in “after action reports” that should not be missed. They talk of an integrated fully mobile artillery that works in combination with other assets behind the lines – something armies around the world take for granted now.
The reader breaks through this section into the clearing of period photographs. These black and white shots show firstly the Leichte Feldhaubitze 18M in many theatres and conditions as well as being manipulated by it’s crews and in action as well as being drawn by horse and truck.  We look at the early mating of this gun and hull to make the Wespe along with initial trails and early deployment of these AFV’s through to the many different theatres of war the Hummel/ Wespe served in showing all types of conditions from snow to arid climates. The soldiers who crewed them are featured as well as their transportation on rail and road.
This section is set out as usually three or four pictures to a page, so if you are looking for large format images only this isn’t all you need. The pictures used are all pretty clear and well shot by mostly the people who were in the same unit and not beaten up examples after destruction. It gives more of a sense of the diorama in your mind. Helpful text in both English and German is included to pick out interesting points in each shot as well. 
Next we get all technical again with scale line drawings of every type of incarnation of the le F.H 18M and the Wespe/Hummel family I could ever think of. Thirteen pages of 2D and 3D plans are included – even the munitions schlepper and the horse drawn limber are included in these drawings. Certainly in line with the rest of the book showing a completist’s collection.
The next part I liked quite a lot – it features a colour profile of twelve of the Wespe’s featured in this book. Ammo carriers and the ammo they carried are also included. Small pictures are included showing each in it’s prime which is a thing I always like to see. Historical evidence is after all why we buy these type of books! Some great schemes in there – it sure gets your modelling juices flowing. 
Now we go back to the future and all around the world with visits to fourteen different museum locations to see how that guns and AFV’s have fared in the 70-odd years since they saw combat. The pictures of each of the guns and mobile pieces are earmarked with which museum they are from and interesting text on each of them. It’s interesting to see what colours have been applied since the end of the war. Some being left pristine and some with some “enhancements” in colour. 
These are true walk arounds with the best angles and variations in slight detail captured with the best photographs we think the authors had of each type. This gives us more variation and the ability to choose between sub-variants and to indeed be aware of new types, parts and materials used. Inside and outside the buns and tanks are show including radios and optics. I really do feel for the photographers who have done an admirable job of taking good shots – often in really crappy light! I'll wager some museums provide poor lighting  as standard so you keep on coming back to try to get better photos I swear it.
The last section is again interesting for it’s own reason. Tony Greenland who often models for this series again does an admirable job on a scale model of “42” Wespe as well as his le F.H 18M. These are two very nice models and although the field gun isn’t finished you can see he will do a good job on it if the paint is anything like the Wespe which is a first class build.
That rounds this book out. I for one am glad that this subject of the le F.H 18M field gun and the Wespe/ Hummel family are the highlight of one of these books. This book updates the volume#2 from 18 years ago and adds so much more you could well forget the older volume existed. There textual history and minute detail, the plans, colour schemes and walkaround as well as a model (and a half) build up are in there so this book pretty much captures the everything for everyone tag.

The Nuts & Bolts team have covered this gun and the tracked version comprehensively and more importantly it’s been done in an interesting manner. This is a good book.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the guys at Nuts & Bolts for sending this book for us to read and review.