Saturday, October 31

Read n’ Reviewed - PANZER - The German Tanks Encyclopedia from Caraktère Publishing.

Remember the Encyclopedias you used to look at as a kid? Ever wanted a dedicated book just on the German Panzers, Panthers and Tigers of WWII? Well an encyclopedia on exactly this subject has just been released from Caraktère from France. We have a copy of this thick book and after a read we thought we would show you what the tome has to offer in today’s review.
Read N reviewed:
PANZER - The German Tanks Encyclopedia
By Laurent Tirone.
From Caraktère Publishing.
Text and picture captions in English.
196 pages Softcover
21.6cm x 27.9 cm portrait format
Inside France 39.90 € / EU  & Switzerland : 44.90 €
Outside the EU : 49.90 € +  P & P – Product Link

PANZER - The German Tanks Encyclopedia is the tittle of this new book and guess what it is and what it’s all about? Yes the armour of the German forces from 1935- 1945. Produced by French publisher Caraktère, this thick book is printed in English and dedicated to tanks and mechanized warfare. Let’s have a look at what’s inside and the breadth of the knowledge it holds, but first a few more details about the physicality of the book. 
Caraktère publishing new book is a matte softcover book 21.6cm x 27.9 cm portrait format with just over a centemetre and a half thick. There are one hundred and ninety-six pages in this book with all text in English language.  This is No#1 in this series so maybe it will be joined by the American, French, Japanese, British and Soviet tanks volumes in the future? We will see about that, but more about the German armour for now… 
…And a good thing as well. Because I know that a large section fo people out there will moan about “not another book about Panzers” -  but in reality German armour items sell 4 to 1 over all of the other countries in WWII items o it makes some sense to strike where the iron is hottest. This book takes us through a roughly chronological but more of a developmental path of the development of German tanks during WWII. Now not this is just tanks. No Half-tracks, armoured cars or support tanks. Just the heavy, medium and light fighting tanks of the German forces.
Ten types of tank are discussed and there are a total of forty-four single types taken from these ten (although the Neubaufahrzeug only has the one variant). The break up of each variant covers the “Ausf” letters – E.G. the Panzer III has the Ausf A, B,C,D,E,F&G,H,J,L,M,N. No smaller denominations that that to further muddy the waters. 
The main types of panzer are shown here along with the many sub types in the menu.
With some tanks you would be there for ages looking into sub-variants of types so that’s not a bad thing. There are only 196 pages to cover all of these so as you might think the coverage is brief on each type and sub class.  
 After the shortest of introductions we start in our journey from the Panzer 35t  through to the King Tiger Henshel turret type. Each of these sections has a similar break down so it’s kind of repetitive to take you through every one so I will break down what to expect in each of the ten types of tank. What is featured and maybe what is left out.
The chapters each start with some graphical information on each tank type. The outline of the tank, the factory they were made(mostly), armour specs all around the  hull, radio and engine output also on and off-road capabilities are shown in detail. 

There are also side profiles or four angled view colour artworks that give us many different schemes for an idea of what these tanks looked like in different theatres. There are no comparison pictures so I can’t check the validity but they do look well drawn.
Armament is also included on the graph as well as a little graphic showing the gradient, step (trench crossing width) and fording depth of each vehicle. This is shown for each sub-type so in just this part it’s a ready reference to some basic capabilities straight away.
The next interesting part I found was the text in each of the chapters. Although there is not a lot of space for a really in-depth look at each vehicle there is some very important details of each of these tanks here. Especially at the start of each type’s chapters there is a larger overview before we go into the sub-types of each tank. Stuff that you might not have known it before in some cases. However those hard core Panzer or even tank enthusiasts will not find much they do not already know. Having this information readily at hand however in such an easy place to find it is very beneficial.
The sub-types have a shorter information text block – the graphics telling the vital statistics is accompanied by only a paragraph or two of information which shows the differences between the types.
 One more thing that is of note in this book are the photographs. There are more than 200 unpublished and rarely seen photographs in this book it is claimed. Often one or two to a page so of a regular format. I found a few that I have seen before – especially in the King Tiger pictures during the Battle of the Bulge which you cannot say that one or two of them are rare at all. However alternately for example some of the Tiger I pictures I haven’t seen published before. This feature gets a pass mark from me. But like everything in this book looking a little deeper shows off the true value of what is inside. 
And that is the thing. This book can be easily supplanted by going to Wikipedia. Now some might say that that is the review right there – but I say differently. At first I saw this book and thought “Why spend my money?” but like I said this book goes deeper than what you might see on first glance. The graphical ready-reckoners of each sub-type’s capabilities tied in with the deft descriptions of the differences between a Panzer IV AufC & AufD for instance, I could not say off my head. This book shows it right there in handy detail.

If you were to go to the internet and Wikipedia for everything exclusively well you wouldn’t even read books would you? I know that even though you go to the Modelling News for info, you also have books you cherish right? Well this book is a handy first stop on getting to know and understand your Panzers a lot better. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

It is not a specialized tome of knowledge on one single tank, or a lavish pictorial photo essay, but what it IS is a perfect book for the beginner or less familiar modeller (without putting the contents down too much) or the person wanting to know the difference between types and practical knowledge of each tank.

Adam Norenberg.

You can get your copy from the Caraktère Website or their distributors worldwide