Friday, January 11

Squadron /Signal Publications 39001 - We review the Elefant at close range

Squadron/Signal Publications have sent a copy of their latest published “Detailed In Action” series of books showing the huge German tank killer of WWII in various states during it’s short but eventful career – this book covers it all – and we take a detailed look at it and see if the new "detailed" part really needs to be added to the title or not…
Ferdinand / Elefant Detail in Action
by David Doyle.
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications
Photos: 198+ photographs (110 Colour + 88 B/W) + 15 Profiles & 16 line drawings
Paperback: 80 pages
Language: English
ISBN 978-0-89747-704-8, softcover;
978-0-89747-703-1, hardcover.
Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.3 x 0.2 inches ( A4 Landscape)

SS39001 Ferdinand/Elefant Detail in Action (Paperback) $18.95

SS79001 Ferdinand/Elefant Detail in Action (Hardcover) $28.95

Squadron/Signal productions have sent out a new “in Action” title to satisfy not just the German but all WWII armour fans out here – this book is on the Ferdinand/ Elefant series of tanks.
Vital statistics out of the way – this book is the usual 80 pages of coloured walk around galleries and black and white period shots of the vehicle. The A4 pages are of a glossy stock and this book is available in either flexible soft or robust hard cover for a slightly increased price. We have the softcover here to review.
The book starts off with the genesis of this tank tiller – through a failed design from Ferdinand Porsche - the Germans literally tried to polish a not so well smelling object and this book takes us through those early design and prototype stages through lots of early pictures and several line drawings – dispersed all through the book – which show the genesis of this not very suitable but deadly weapon of war into an only slightly more suitable but still very deadly weapon of war. Firstly we look at the initial design – the Ferdinand.
From the early shots of the prototypes and line drawings of early variants we go through to the pictures of the Ferdinand in action in The Kursk pocket in 1943. There are several shots of the machine in wait for the action than many of the vehicle looking rather staid on the battleground – fighting and then captured or damaged. There is a lot of detail in these shots and particularly the shots show off to a good extent the camouflage and markings of the vehicles.

The author is quite knowledgeable about the vehicle and his passion is evident in his wiring which turned up a lot of facts I had no idea of beforehand. Intriguing especially were the stories of the Ferdinand’s with the platform on the rear for defensive troops and the tales of the lengths the soviets went to trying destroy and capture these vehicles – one in particular story of a crew that survived a harrowing time at the hands of the soviets was really interesting reading.
The first of the walk arounds features eight pages of coloured photographs of the Ferdinand that was captured by the soviets and preserved in the tank museum at Kubinka near Russia. Although this machine’s camo is not original (as noted) the shots from someone who had the access to crawl all around the Ferdinand are truly helpful to a modeller looking to detail their kit. From the larger hull details to the smallest connection, and drive train details this vehicle is carefully detailed all over – even the roof! The one area of detail that isn’t really shown in the interior or the engine bay, although the grilles are recorded none of the interior of the compartments of the vehicle for the crew are shown either. Otherwise this is an excellent walk around, and more than one would expect in an “In Action” title.
The Elefant - the refined and heavier upgrade to the Ferdinand is the main star of the second part of the book. Again we have several line drawings showing the outlines of the slightly revised design. If you didn’t know the differences before you will after you read this!
After the brief introduction to the Elefant and we go into several pictures of the zimmerit coated vehicle in action mostly in on the Italian peninsular. In this section – along with the rest of the book we see the tanks usually very still looking with people standing around of or the vehicle knocked out or disabled by it’s own crew after not being able to leave the battlefield. The nature of the Ferdinand/ Elefant was that being a fixed design with not really much play in the gun the vehicle always looks very static – no turned turrets or variation in the vehicle’s stance make it a hard subject to portray. There are enough variations in the shots of these vehicles to keep your interest though.
The last section is a detailed walk around in coloured shots of the Elefant captured by the Americans in Italy and stored at the US Ordinance Museum in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Any fans of the documentary “Tank Overhaul” will be wondering what finally became of this tank – it was shown on one of the more interesting episodes being repaired and brought back into a restored state from a rusting hulk outside. This book shows you in many coloured pictures the details of the vehicle and highlights as well the change between it and the earlier designation the Ferdinand. The only thing I would add is interior or engine bay detail.
As these and the “Walkaround” books go these usually come a second for me – I prefer detailed shots for modelling reference. This new incarnation of both of the usual titles combined into one seems to work. It is no compromise in quality as the excellent period shots meld with the newer detailed shots to make a compact but very detailed reference for historian and modellers.
A great book on an interesting vehicle – and an excellent reference for model making.

Adam Norenberg
We thank the excellent people at Squadron/Signal Products for the book.