Thursday, October 29

Read n' reviewed: Nuts & Bolts 34 Volume 34: Sd.Kfz.7 - 8 ton Zugkraftwagen Krauss-Maffei and variants

Nuts and Bolts series has a new subject in its headlights this time the up gunned half-track that many modellers seem to like and that was pretty well used throughout the war. Seems like a good book subject? Let’s see if it made any traction with this reviewer…
Nuts & Bolts 34 Volume 34: Sd.Kfz.7 - 8 ton Zugkraftwagen Krauss-Maffei and variants
By Vinnie Branigan, Dr. Nicolaus Hettler
Soft cover Portrait format
German & English texts
184 pages
334 photos (169 historic, 32 model, 133 modern)
80 blueprints
20 camouflage schemes, tactical markings, table of organsisation (KStN)
Price: 29.90€ + P&P directly from Nuts & Bolts

New Nuts & Bolts? Well it’s always an interesting read, with some truly weird and wonderful subjects and a lot of information inside their books these have developed a bit of a following. The modelling section as well as line and profile drawings are  a good premise. However there is a tightrope to the trading off of a lot of information versus the ease of reading. Let’s see if this version of the series on the backbone of the German Army – the Sd.Kfz.7 - 8 ton Zugkraftwagen Krauss-Maffei and variants – is a good read or not…

These books are usually released at about two or three a year. A lot of information is crammed into the  slightly larger than A4 size softcover book (dimensions: 29,5 x 21 cm) with a large number of thin glossy pages (184 in this issue) the book is broken up into six main sections.
The first section is pretty text heavy. The text is in dual English and German. Funnily enough sometimes you cross over into the German side when reading the English text because you expect to see a lot of German names. It always made me chuckle when I realized that I am just not understanding what I was reading. Thankfully the text is simply laid out after you get the format. The text is fairly small so there is a LOT in this section of description.

This big block of intense learning will suit those who really want to get in depth knowledge of the types of half-track, the history of the development and variant tables and organization in tables and graphs. Covered by the author Nicolaus Hettler in his second Nuts & Bolts books concerning half-tracks (his first in this series was the 18 tonne Sd.Kfz.9 (N&B 12) / 12 tonne Sd.Kfz.8 (N&B 16) und 3 tonne Sd.Kfz.11) I could not think of a better candidate to do this book which concerns the  1 tonne / 3 tonne / 5 tonne / 8 tonne / 12 tonne/ 18 tonne Sd.Kfz.7 - 8 ton Zugkraftwagen Krauss-Maffei and variants of half track.
The info in this section does not seem so heavy to me this time around. Looking back I checked to see the last issue – no# 33 on the Leichte Feldhaubitze 18, GW II für le.F.H. 18/2 “Wespe” and “Hummel-Wespe” there was a whopping fifty pages of straight block text. This issue has twenty pages of text, tables and info and so this one seems a lot less daunting to the casual reader in me. More space for models, drawings and walkaround pictures whilst still covering this half-track and many more vehicle types than I knew ever existed.
Pretty organically we slip into the next section of the book which shows us picture after pictures of period snaps showing all of the variants from the start of development till the end of WWII. These shots are usually two or three to a page but they are clear and in focus. We start by looking at factory fresh example with crystal clear pictures. Some of these are close ups of the vehicles dials, instruments and finer points of detail. Some of these shots of brand new production vehicles look like they were shot last week on a cold day in Germany they are that clear in detail.
Gradually we see the development from a standard troop and cargo vehicle into more specialized variants of this popular half-track. We also see their drivers and soldiers who populate these vehicles in a great deal of pictures which makes them more interesting and a good judge of the scale of some of the additions that have been made to the vehicles.
Tarps, anti aircraft guns, large cannon, on top and towed behind, rollers and snow ploughs, a captured halt-rack in service for the RAF and armoured cab and rear quarters are some of the more interesting pictures not often seen towards the back of this section. A great selection of pictures that show many more variants than most would imagine this chassis could be adapted to fit.
We continue the reference with line drawings next. In several different aspects we see these vehicles in 1/35th scale drawings which is mighty helpful. Although there are a lot of the “vanilla” troop carriers featured (they were by far the most numerable) there are several of the AA and armored cab half-tracks on show here which is great as they are very popular model kits. This can only make this book a much better source of reference as these guys have done their research on this vehicle.
The profiles of this vehicle, ten pages, and therefore twenty half-tracks are the next part of this book.  Well drawn and in full colour, these would serve as a good reference or maybe a little inspiration for the future of a model you might have in mind.
Well drawn and the fact that there is a little picture of the real thing connected to each profile is that little extra bit of gravitas behind the authenticity of these profiles.

Next we have another quite revealing section of the book that probably shows us the most about these half-tracks. Six half-tracks were selected by from the several that still exist in museums (they are listed here) and this next fifty-five pages features a back-to-front walkaround of each of these vehicle’s points of interest. This large section in full colour captures the various conditions of these  half-tracks, be it either in a museum unused or in working conditions in collections.
Most of these vehicles are captured either by snappers who had special access or a sneaky way about them because a lot of these snaps are of vehicles familiar to me and I could not get this much access to some of them so kudos to the effort taken with the shots of the interiors, higher elevation shots and  hard to get to areas like underneath and above the vehicles.
The inside of the vehicles are especially hard to get to – so this and the close up focused shots sometimes reveal a lot about the texture and make up of some of the parts which I did not know they were made of. Certain parts being of canvas and wood which I would have rusted and scratched if I had not have seen this book.
Lastly the modelling section of the book. There are three models of this half-track but firstly Kudos to the fully scratch-built version by Guillem Marti Pujol. Seen unpainted it sure does show you some of the detail he has put into the model.
Next we look get to see Tony Greenland’s Sd.Kfz.7 early half-track. The very professional looking  Afrika Korps kit has been given the hairspray treatment to reveal a scratched, worn and beaten vehicle that looks pretty spectacular in the final shots.
Tony then makes the armoured cab Sd.Kfz7/2 AA gun with a 37mm cannon on top of it. My favourite incarnation of this vehicle, it’s just as nice as his troop carrier from Afrika.
The front inside cover also has a model on it. I found from the publisher it is in that spot to make the costs cheaper to keep the coloured pages together. It is another Sd.Kfz.7 late version that is a carrier of cargo. Tony’s model again, it is just as well made as the others in this book. These models are not start to finish build logs butt hey do serve as a nice little bit of inspiration for the modellers amongst the reading audience.

These Nuts & Bolts books premise is in the title of the book really isn’t it? The Nuts and the bolts level of these vehicles are examined in pretty exhaustive detail in these books. I for one am glad that the block text has been reduced to give more air to the other sections of this book.

A popular subject with some very well composed chapters that bring a lot of quality research, reference and inspiration. If you are interested in the Sd.Kfz.7 half-track and want to know more about it then this is one book I would grab right away.

Adam Norenberg

You can get your own copy of this latest issue and all of Nuts & bolts previous issues directly from their website or from their distributors worldwide