Sunday, July 31

Read n’ Reviewed: Panzerwrecks 20: “Ostfront #3”

The Panzerwrecks series turns twenty with a trip to the "Ostfront"  - but this time, it's a whole different journey - we see these tanks through the eyes of a Russian Airforce study of weapons and tactics evaluation. This is a new approach and one that warrants investigation - see how it comes out in our review...

Read n’ Reviewed: Panzerwrecks 20: “Ostfront #3”
By Lee Archer & Kamen Nevenkin
Pages: 97
Photos: 98
Colour artworks: 6
illustrations: 8
Period sketches: 49
Maps: 1
Landscape format
Size: 280x210mm (L)
ISBN: 978-1-908032-10-2
Available from Panzerwrecks directly for £14.99 (US $19.49) + 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-seven pages filled with black and white pictures.

The shape of each page is a large format picture with explanatory text beneath each image. The pictures are usually (and are here) very nicely preserved and the text from the authors is informative and interesting. This has not changed for this issue I can say right away. There are, however, some changes to the usual programming ahead…

In the normal format, these books usually take a collection of several studies of destroyed and captured tanks, often with some linked picture sets of the same wrecked tank or battlefield scene and these make a collection. There have been twenty books so far that follow this format – so it would be hard to keep this high standard up with the same book time and time again. Far-reaching and thorough research have enabled this series to not become stale up till now.
This book forges a new territory in the Panzerwrecks series, with a different focus altogether to the issues I have already read – it is a book dedicated singularly to the findings of a Soviet study in aircraft weapons against these German vehicles. The pictures, information and illustrations include here are all based on genuine after-action and field reports and the study by the 17th Air Army on the effects of their weapons and tactics during that period.

A product of the collected works of Soviet air force survey teams, who toured the Hungarian battlefields of late WWII in an effort to properly analyse battlefield attack tactics of their aircraft. In particular, their Sturmovik IL-2 & IL-10 “concrete bombers” as they were called by the Germans. A study by the Soviet 17th air Army of these wrecked German vehicle “trophies” was conducted to see which of their weaponry performed the best versus the tanks and AFV’s of the enemy, and what tactics best suited their aircraft’s attack.
As a way of explanation of what is to come, we look at the IL-2/ IL-10 Sturmovik and the air to ground weapons this aircraft employed. Great drawings in colour by Felipe Rodina to show you a little more about the bombs, rockets and cannons that these aircraft used and these colour illustrations help you to physicality better relate you to the effects of these weapons and their size and shape. With these drawings there is some great research in block text over five pages by Kamen Nevenkin is the real key to getting the most out of what is happening in the rest of this volume.

We go straight into the book next, and the study of each of the tanks in turn. You will notice that each of these vehicles has a white number (not the tactical number applied by their former owners) that has been painted on to them. This is the “Trophy number” that helped the surveyors (and us) identify the wreck. We look at each of these vehicles in numerical sequence, starting at #3 and going all the way up to #402. What we have is a selection of vehicles from this study, and not all of them are included here.

Instead of going image to image and page to page in my explanation, boring the hell out of you with 10, 000 words of text, I have the vehicles that are shown off here in a list ( often several of these types through the book) from the publishers website so I don't make a mistake. It is a staggering list of vehicles and sure to be of interest to regular and new readers. They are… (hold your breath)

Tiger II, Tiger I, Panther Ausf.A, G & G (IR Ready.) The Bergepanther, Jagdpanther, Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J, Pz.Beob.Wg.IV, Jagdpanzer IV, Panzer IV/70(A) & IV/70(V.) We also see the Hummel, Möbelwagen, Pz.Beob.Wg.III, Sturmgeschütz III, Sturmhaubitze 42, Wespe, Jagdpanzer 38 (German and Hungarian), Marder 38T. There are also a bunch of half tracks, the Sd.Kfz.7/1, Sd.Kfz.7/2 (Flak 36), Sd.Kfz.7/2 (Flak 43), Sd.Kfz.7, Sd.Kfz.8, Sd.Kfz.251, Sd.Kfz.250 Ausf.B, Sd.Kfz.222 and even a Hungarian Nimrod AA tank.

Another feature I liked was the inclusion of the forty-nine wartime sketches that accompanied the studies being attached, often to the appropriate picture of the wrecked tank and text to explain the way it met its demise. These are well drawn and add to the authenticity of what is being portrayed on the page.

The last singular feature I might point out are the coloured illustrations by Felipe Rodina. These mirror several of the images, and the full-colour nature of them help you discern the camouflage aspects of the vehicle. With the aid of the text, these images bring to light facts you may have glossed over without these inclusions. They are a great addition to the series – especially for modellers who would like to replicate the scenes shown here.

I was surprised to see the detail of which the end of these vehicles could be shown here, usually you can see the impacts and damaged areas on these vehicles, and after a while I started guessing what had totalled the tank before I read the text. I was not always right, but this book does engage the reader to keep on looking at how the next tank met its end.

I liked the approach of this book, having read most of the other issues in the series I was surprised to see this new direction, but in light of the publisher’s previous special on the Hetzer  which was also off the regular track we might expect from Panzerwrecks Publishing, I was happy to see that there is a lot of life left in this particular series yet. Keep on changing the game guys, It’s working for you – and for us.

This book is an unexpected but very welcome change in direction, but one that works in this case quite well.

Adam Norenberg

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