Friday, August 7

PEKO Publishing’s Zyrinyi II Assault Howitzer - Hungarian Steel read & Reviewed…

Peko Publishing’s new book on the tough, hard hitting but relatively obscure Zyrinyi II Assault Howitzer is with us and we have learnt a few things from reading this book. Have a look to see what we learnt and what we thought of this new hard bound volume from Peko.

Read N’ Reviewed:
Zyrinyi II Assault Howitzer

Publisher: PeKo Publishing
By: Attila Bonhardt
Hardcover: 112 pages
Photos: 104 (b/w)
Language: English/ Hungarian
Product Dimensions: 29.9 x 21.3 x 1.3 cm
Price:  28,95 Euro, 23,99 GBP, 41,95 USD + P&P direct when ordered this from:

Most people hat know history and the story of the axis armoured forces may never know that this heavy assault gun ever existed. You can always see a fair bit about the Axis power’s armour, Tigers, panthers and Panzers. But not too much on the allies of Germany’s fighting vehicles. Who better to educate people about this Hungarian tank than a Hungarian publishing house? Enter PeKo Publishing.

PeKo have made quite a few books in their short time. Rather in the mould of the “Panzerwrecks” series of large format pictures in landscape format with insightful text to each shot. Most of these shots are exclusive to these books and there are LOTS of pictures in each book. Several subjects have a few volumes to them already.
Although there were a few tanks and AFVs made by Hungary, notably the Toldi, and the Nimrod AA tank (a volume on this soon to come from Peko) - the Zyrinyi II Assault Howitzer is perhaps the best known of their home grown vehicles. Although before I saw the Bronco Models kit of this AFV I had forgotten that it even existed. Having read all of PeKo’s books and liking their format as well as wanting to know more about this heavy hitter I was therefore curious to read this book to find out a little more.

Future title on the Nimrod in development...
The book is in the tried and true PeKo format so far, a landscape format with product Dimensions of 30cm wide x 21cm high and just over 1cm thick. The 120 pages of this book are filled with just over 100 almost-full page sized photographs and English/ Hungarian text – which should suit the home market where no doubt this book will be most popular.

Although on the outside the book looks like their “on the battlefield” series it is on the inside that there is a slight difference. Like the others from this publisher it also focuses on just this one type of assault gun in its many guises there is a much bigger section of twelve full pages of history in this book, and boy it IS a lot of history there.  If you are interested in the history of the Hungarian armed forces this is really a good place to start. 
The author tells about the restrictions passed on to Hungary after the Armistice of WWI and just why the vehicles that were built were constructed and why the home grown solution was the answer for Hungary. The development of these tanks, their commanders, tactics and battlefield deployment are included before we dip into the real treasure of this book – the photography inside.

The large format photography in this book is all new to this reviewer. In fact I have not seen this many pictures of Hungarian armour in one place. The book traces right through the development and training as well as battlefield uses of this vehicle. Some nicely intimate pictures of the crews from official (and perhaps some personal collections?) show not just the Assault guns in action but several of their crews in varied stations and situations. These photos are like gold to the amateur historian and modellers alike. 
After we learn about the history of these tanks we go page for page thru the genesis of the Zyrinyi, often we look at a series of initial prototypes on testing (one of the iron-bodied guns even got to the top of a hill) and several of the pictures of these have the names of some of the crew and all are credited to a source throughout this book.

In fact this gun seemed to be quite a powerful beast. Some of the pictures show this to good effect with the powerful gun it seems always in shot. The low squat profile of this tank shown off to good effect with several riveted armoured sides adding even more so to the tough look of this gun 
Several of these pictures are taken of the same vehicle in a series. It gives the author a good licence to talk about this particular vehicle’s history or differences from a different angle and what is of not compared to other vehicles. The people are often a focus, with names and photos large enough to be able to relate to the photos being a really good feature of this book. You can tell the subject is close to the author’s heart and so what better person to write it?
We go from the training field into battle with several vehicles in many a climate. From snow to hilly to muddy to bridges (one collapsed) we look at this vehicle in service from all angles and environments.

We also get a look briefly at the rare long barreled 75 mm 43m Zyrinyi which never got past the initial phases of prototype ( and so a rare picture) as well as some interesting shots showing these guns at transportation stations being loaded on to trains and milling for advance. Some assault guns with side shields are rather interesting to many modellers as well.
Again we see some interesting series of photographs, like the funeral of the tank assault arm’s creator in Hungary - proudly taken to his burial by this beast of an assault gun. My favourite though was this partially destroyed bridge under the bulk of this tank...
Late war sees the desperate defence of their homeland. On the streets of Budapest we see many shots of the same vehicles out of service. Many shots just after and several months after the war show how these tanks were cannibalized and pilfered off – quite an interesting section and just one of many in this book. 
…so there we are – I think I have given you a pretty good run down of what to expect – a LOT of history and a LOT of photographs. If you are interested in some Axis armour that ISNT a panther or tiger I would suggest you give this a read – it’s a very good book and a credit to the author.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to PeKo Publishing for sending this book for us to read and review – you can get it from a lot of model shops (check the PeKo homepage or by emailing them directly at