Sunday, November 16

Review: Panzerwrecks 18 German armour at it’s most wrecked and ruined..

The Panzerwrecks series is well past being a fledgling publication – this edition we are looking at is the eighteenth edition of the publication and the creators do not look like they have run out of ammo yet! This issue is dedicated to German armour from the last year of the war – get ready to see some late war and modified earlier AFV’s in this review…
Panzerwrecks 18 German Armour 1944-45
By Lee Archer & William Auerbach
Pages: 96
Photos: 126
Landscape format
Size: 280x210mm (L)
ISBN: 978-1-908032-10-2
Available from Panzerwrecks directly for £16.99 (€21.41) + P&P

Panzerwrecks are a series of softcover, landscape books which feature mostly large format or a- picture-to-a-page size photos with accompanying captions in English which enlighten you as to the vehicle, it’s settings and any interesting details along with sometimes the reasons for their demise. This book follows the usual format with ninety six pages filled with black and white pictures – this one however starts out with an interesting addition - More on that later…

 Panzerwrecks has ditched a region or a certain front for a time in their latest book – number eighteen in the series. This edition features German (with some other captured vehicles) armour in the last year of the European conflict – 1944-45.
There are an incredibly diverse group of vehicles captured in this book – I have copied them from the Panzerwrecks site so I would not get anything wrong and there are just so many on display: Tiger I & II & Jagdtiger, several late model Jagdpanthers and panthers Ausf.D, Ausf.A, Ausf.G as well as some Panzer IV/70’s, Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf. A, G, H & J models, Sturmgeschütz IV, Hummel,  a Flakpanzer IV 'Wirbelwind', Jagdpanzer 38 and Marder 38T as well as some Pz.Kpfw and StuG III’s, a Panzerbefehlswagen III Ausf.D, Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.A, Pz.Kpfw.B2, a pair of Pz.Kpfw.35’s, UE Carrier with MG15, Pz.Jäger LrS für 7.5cm Pak 40/1, 4.7cm Pak(t) auf Pz.Kpfw.35R, m.SPW (7.5cm Pak) (Sd.Kfz.251/22), m.SPW (7.5cm Kanone) (Sd.Kfz.251/9), m.Funkwagen, (Sd.Kfz.251/3), m.Zgkw.8t Holzpritsche (Sd.Kfz.7), s.Zgkw.12t (Sd.Kfz.8), 2cm Flak 38 auf Sf. (Sd.Kfz.10/5), s.Pz.Sp.Wg. (2cm) (Sd.Kfz.234/1) 

– All of this diverse collection of machinery is staggering in any book – but to come out with this type of diversity the authors have undergone a wide search for this material and you can see in the credits of the book that they have done a lot of work to bring this book to the table

The bright blue book opens up into a gatefold sleeve of a clear wide shot of a Panzer IV/70 – this is a nice unexpected surprise to see an addition like this that did not have to be there but was included. It gives a nice start to the book in a manner of the expression “start off in the manner you wish to proceed” it sets the scene for a high standard of pictures.
The first real grouping of pictures in this book features modified Jagdpanthers with splinter protection on their rear engine decks. Brought about by advances in proximity detonated artillery shells and allied air attacks this method of protecting the last of the Jagdpanthers is shown in several pictures here. It is my favourite tank so I enjoyed this a lot.
Some interesting and very clear shots of some of the “stars” of the German tank force are next. A four barrelled Wirbelwind AA tank, a few panthers and Tiger I’s as well as an overturned Tiger II “121” which was righted and shown in a fair few shots as it was to end up at the testing ground in the US at Aberdeen. 

A few more Tiger II’s and two wrecked Jagdtigers (one with the roof blown clear off) demonstrate how big they were next to the people posing beside them. Several clear pictures of two rare Fahrgestell Panthers with improvised turrets are here along with a series of the wrecked Panther ”424” with which the author adding some excellent insight into the tank.
We next go into the gritty scenes of the streets of St.-Amand in France where a column of AVF’s was ambushed along the main street by the Resistance IFF fighters. The carnage of the pictures is well described by the captions underneath them which help you understand the reason and circumstances surrounding this grim scene.
Beaten, exploded and bullet-ridden wrecks are all that remain of this street scene that included the wreckage of the human occupants of the four vehicles as well.

Several late war Panzer II’s and even two tigers are included in the next gathering of pages, some even converted into running on the “Treibgas” and for convenience the author shows you just how this alternative fuel system worked on the Panzers. 
Several pictures of mostly wrecked 8 tonne Zgkw Holzpritsche halftracks are next. These are seen in various states of disrepair from just destroyed and burning fiercely to stripped for parts and overturned. Several different views of this vehicle make for some good diorama inspiration.

Crazily small looking in comparison to the massive Tigers in the start of the book, the captured and improvised tiny tanks in the next section are a nice diversion. You see lots of these with civilians surrounding them and soldiers treating them to what look like joyrides. It is good to see these other odd looking vehicles in the book as well. Some ruined Panzer IV’s and a freshly out of fuel StuG II segue into the next part of the book.
We see the fighting continue with the operation 'Terrier' in the Battle of Raamsdonk in Holland. This was a battle in which we see a great deal of StuG III’s (and a few Shermans of the Black Watch) in a series of shots after the battle. Many of the watch’s soldiers posing on top of the wrecked German tanks also with a few civilians getting in on the act. Several FlaK halftracks and a Hetzer are included in the series of this battle as well.

The home stretch of the book features a good deal of Panzer IV’s  in various signs of distress and a completely wrecked StuG IV called “Kunigunde” which has been torn asunder and under scrutiny from GI’s, something you might not think to have seen in 1945 are some Panzer I tanks  again compared to the soldiers these are tiny!
Several SPG’s and halftracks round out the book with two shots of the protagonist of the cover shot – the GI and his faithful Bazooka looking like he is out shooting bucks on a trophy hunt.

As we mentioned earlier –the book starts out in the way it is meant to continue – with another great rear gatefold sleeve of several already surrendered German vehicles on the move through Czechoslovakia into Germany to avoid Russian imprisonment. It is a great image and worthy of such a good treatment in this book.
Well that is it for issue no# eighteen – I am constantly surprised at the regularity and quality of these books as messirs Archer and Auerbach keep finding these great and mostly unseen images for collection. The writing is insightful and interesting as much as it can be in this brief space and the subjects are great inspiration to modellers and historians who will like what they see here as well.

I know I did.

Adam Norenberg

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