Friday, October 17

Review: Panzerwrecks 17 takes us back to Normandy for Round III

Rich pickings and a lot of material to choose from – the German armour on the battlefields of Normandy are of course right up there on WWII enthusiasts and modellers list of wants. This is why Panzerwrecks sees it fit to put out another book on this part of the war – let’s see if they are pushing it to thin or just  scratching the surface.

Panzerwrecks 17: Normandy 3
By Lee Archer & William Auerbach
Pages: 96
Photos: 126
Landscape format
Size: 280x210mm (L)
ISBN: 978-1-908032-09-6
Available from Panzerwrecks directly for £16.99 (€21.41) + P&P

There may be some of you cats out there unfamiliar with the “Panzerwrecks” series – well in short they are a series of softcover, landscape books which feature mostly picture-to-a-page size photos with text in captions to accompany them. The action of each title is usually broken into a battle or region per book. Some battlegrounds have been broken into a few books – like this version for instance. Panzerwrecks seventeen it is now in the series – is set in the hedges of Normandy in 1944 just after the D-Day landings.

Having three books full of unpublished photos set on the one battle is a high ask – in volumes of material alone and the fact that these are not heavily circulated photos if they have been published at all – well there must have been some work done on accumulating them. The authors mention some of the many people who helped them along the way in the forward – a few names in there you all might know. It does not matter though as the pictures are the stars of this book.
There are a few notes to each picture – all in English and well written as the Authors have some writing skills which are often missing from books like this. The stories – especially the series of pictures like the captured Panther being recovered are well told and you find yourself interested in all the scenarios presented here.

Although all of the pictures are getting on to 75 years old now the 126 rare and unpublished large format photographs are all clear and better than most of my photos at tank shows! There are several shots with the obligatory GI’s standing around a wreck or two but the ones with the “civvies” always make me laugh! Although a few of these pictures are stills taken from film they are in great focus.

All of the usual suspects you would expect from a German armoured unit at the time (including some you might not think of) are included in this book – the Tiger I & Tiger II ,Panther Ausf.G & A as well as the Jagdpanther, Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H & J also the Jagdpanzer IV, the Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G and Flakpanzer 38, le.F.H.18/4(Sfl.) auf Lr.S, Marder 38T, some captured and put into use Renault UE & Renault UE with 28/32cm Wurfrahmen as well as a smaller Pz.Sp.Wg.AB40 201(i), Sd.Kfz.251, 2cm Flakvierling 38 auf Sfl. (Sd.Kfz.7/1), Sd.Kfz.8 &  Sd.Kfz.9/1 halftracks with some 15cm Panzerwerfer 42 and a 2cm Flakvierling 38 auf MB 4500A - this was the list from their site as there are just too many vehicles to remember off by heart from memory.

We look at a panther recovery at the start of this book – taken from film stills this and several other wrecked vehicles make way for a cameo by Eisenhower himself inspecting overturned tanks on the roadway as well as several halftracks and Kubelwagens left in a state by their previous owners.
We look next at some rocketry on the battlefield in the form of 15cm Panzerwerfer 42 is evaluated in the course of several pages of text going in depth describing the thin-skinned launch vehicle and the effect it’s rockets had on the enemy. There are some great pictures from plenty of angles around the vehicle as well as inside the hull.

There are several pictures next of wrecked Panzer IV’s in the book – the fact that it would have been the most populous German tank at the time make this a logical choice. In these pictures as well as others here there are several unfortunate victims of war strewn around like broken mechanical parts. It is a sobering vision of the violence on these battlefields.
Several pictures of the mighty Jagdpanther (my favourite tank) are seen in the next section that features the Zimmerit in different patterns of the vehicles of s.Pz.Jg.Abt.654 in Normandy. This is followed by some very not-so-intimidating Renault munitions carriers left on the sides of the road by the Germans in the haste of retreat.

Next we look at a different type of armour with some concreted StuGs – the 'Funklenk' StuG is covered in the next part of the book. There are several different vehicles with info to accompany them describing the makeup of the units while the pictures show several overturned, knocked out and attacked StuG III’s. Several different self-propelled SP guns, L70 Panzer IV’s, a Marder, FLaKwagens and a panzerspahwagen (topless) are shown in several pages after this which are all interesting.
What “Panzwerecks” title would be complete without some Tiger I’s knocked out and several panthers which make interesting studies. Before we look at wrecked halftracks and a very interesting crane in cover in  a French village. The book is rounded out with some abandoned Panzer IV’s and a funny shot with lots of GI’s round a very old and out of place German PZ.kpfw 35R 731. It almost looks under-scale compared to the monsters through this book.

Well I would say at the variance of vehicles and the quality of the pictures as well as the insight given in the text here that indeed the battlefields of Normandy are still ripe for material and although I am sure that these books are not easy at all to make it looks to me like there is still a lot for even the most jaded expert to learn and see something new here

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the team at Panzerwrecks for sending this book for us to read and review.