Saturday, December 21

We examine the Nuts & Bolts of the Marder II in this new title

The Nuts & Bolts series has sent their latest book to read – it is concerned with the Panzer II based heavy gunned Marder II tank hunter. Packed with period pictures, drawings, and even models of this T/D we are impressed by the prose of the book – but would it be a good read as well as just stats? Let’s have a look at it and see.

Nuts & Bolts Volume 31
By Joachim Baschin, Martin Block
Soft cover A4 Portrait format
German & English texts
176 pages
365 photos + scale drawings + profiles & tables

Let’s get straight into it. Nuts and bolts  - as their name probably implies - do not make brief pictorial glances at AFV’s and tanks – they make detailed studies of the types of vehicle they portray in their books. This Vehicle portrayed in issue 31 is the Marder II and it has been well received by modellers in discussions online because it’s a popular subject. All of those interiors and that big gun on such a small tank make it a favorite with modellers. Would the book meet expectations from modellers and the standard of previous books from Nuts & Bolts series?
This book is a glossy softcover in a modern attractive look about the fonts and drawings mixed with the picture on the front. It gives a hint of the internal structure. As inside is well laid out text – side by side German and English text – and lots of it! Sometimes you catch yourself spilling from a German word in the English version to a German word in the German text section right next to it! It makes me chuckle when I do that as it feels like the reading gets very hard all of a sudden! Really it’s not a problem though. Throughout the text is interesting and VERY comprehensive – so much so that it might put off the “lighter” readers – but their turn is a little later in the book when it opens up to a mainly pictorial and visual style. But first the main body of text awaits…
This first part of the book is a rivet counter’s dream, as it really goes into the aspects of the Marder II in not just construction but in allocation, uses of and by whom, but how. We spend a few pages at the start talking about the conception and introduction of the Marder into combat units and how each “companie” was put together for example there is a table in here showing which parts of the unit was equipped with how many Marder and the support vehicles – right down to the Baggage train. This section of introduction is accompanied with tables of organization and drawings of the armour thickness and a few photos up until page 16.
Then we go into an exhaustive unit by unit description of who got the Marder II and where and when – often they were replaced by other vehicles and often they were wiped out. This is a well-researched passage of the book but a little dry for most but the researchers amongst us. IT does offer the information no other books offers though so they must be commended for this. This section also discusses SS use of the Marder as well as Infra-red devices and the use of natural gas powered training Marders. Two not-often discussed subjects.

The author talks a little about the Merits of the Marder II before  discussing the surviving Marders in museums and the merits of the model kits in 1/35th scale that have been made – now this is more my cup of tea. After some well-deserved credits for the contributors for the info in this section and a bibliography its on to the pictures…
Fifty seven pages of pictures and text – usually two or three decent sized pictures to a page with text separated in language in grey and black so you doing get your language mixed up – this is the centre and main body of the book and I think one of the more impressive parts of the title. There are (in total) 190 historical photos in this book (mostly previously unpublished) which show you the Marder II from every detail, in all seasons and condition and fronts. I am glad these pictures are mainly of operational vehicles and not just deserted vehicles with GI’s standing on them.

The accessories and oddities of the Marder II design are captured to, with textbook shots of the engine and interiors, track and extra armour stowage; ammunition trailers, their crews and a really interesting section of pictures of the Marder being loaded into a huge “Gigant” powered glider transport plane make some interesting reading/viewing. There are some really very good reference pictures in here.
The next part of the book features some thirty-two well researched blueprints of the Marder II from early (very clean looking) versions to the later variants drawn up by John L Rue. Every Marder II that I can think of is here – and the isometric drawings help you visualize the interiors a lot easier. There is also a detailed drawing of the suspension arm on the running gear as well.
The next part of the book features 14 camouflage schemes of the Marder II in profiles – these are illustrated by Carlos De Diego Vaquerizo. These are very handy for modellers looking for inspiration. These include quite handily the original pictures of the vehicles the profiles were drawn from. There is a notice in some of the pictures telling you where this picture is in larger print and on what page inside the book . this section is a boon for modellers.
It gets better for modellers with the penultimate section of the book. Four different Marders from museums in 155 coloured photos from all around the world are captured in every little detail in complete walk-arounds from several sources.  A general walk around, the running gear, the gun and mantlet and then the internal spaces are captured here. Where we don’t have a good bit of detail on one Marder another museum’s vehicle has this detail – or indeed if we are missing the detail all together a number shows what should be there in text accompanying it. We get a wide spread of varied colours and marking and conditions to help you make your own degree of weathering on your own tank. This is as good as any set of walk-arounds in one book on the Marder II I have seen – not its better actually.
The last part seals the deal for a lot of model makers – Tony Greenland and Vinnie Brannigan – both very respected and talented modellers make their own 1/35th scale of the Marder II for you to aspire to with your own builds.
 Really there is a lot of detail in this book which caters for every type of modeller. If German tank hunters are your thing then I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the people from Nuts & Bolts – this book is available from their website and their distributors worldwide..