Thursday, October 12

Read n’ Reviewed: Lee Archer & Darren Neely team up in for more unpublished photos in Panzerwrecks 21

We see that Panzerwreck series has now “come of age” at issue twenty-one – what has it learned? We had a look and a read of the book to see just what is new and what there is to view in this latest edition of this well known long-running series...

Read n’ Reviewed: Panzerwrecks 21
By Lee Archer and Darren Neely
Pages: 96
Total Photos: 128
Colour artworks by Felipe Rodna: 5
Landscape format - Size: 280mm (W) x 210mm (L)
ISBN: 978-1-908032-17-1
Available from Panzerwrecks directly for £17.99
Shipping: UK: Free/ Europe: £4.90/ Rest of World: £7.10
Some would say that the Panzerwrecks series came of age a long time ago, however, if twenty-one is the number then we must surely be able to go to any bar in the USA and order a beer. Indeed the last twenty issues of this magazine are followed here at first glance. With the glossy softcover landscape format of 280mm wide by 210mm in length again the order of the day. As usual, one of the rarer and popular panzers in the case of a Bergerpanther graces the front cover.
We see that there are ninety-six pages in the book of large-format photographs, most in the shape of the large pages with some text at the foot of each to describe the scene. The author, Mr Darren Neely of the “Forgotten Archives” fame (whose book we just reviewed this week) gives us some insightful info on each of the captured subjects with his usual easy but informative style. You also get a hint of how hard some of these subjects are to place when you see the delight in comments like “A welcome surprise chassis number” - it's not an easy thing to do this type of research, but this team is one of the best at their job.

These photographs area each in a varying quality, with the publisher, Mr Lee Archer himself stating in his forward that as usual they are chosen for interest factor rather than quality being the arbiter of selection. He almost seemed apologetic, but I actually think that these before unpublished photographs that are included are not that bad in quality as he might think. They are certainly interesting, as well will see.
These books are easy to review – but also it is easy to be very vague about what is inside and that doesn't help the reader of this review very much!. As a part of getting the opportunity to read new books for review I think it is always important to give people a decent understanding of what they are buying with their own money - So I thought that now we have looked at the book I will take you through it on a walk from the start to finish and describe the pages as the turn over.

After introductions and salutations (and a very interesting picture of the Panzerwrecks crew in a tankette) we dive straight into the series of pictures of the “cover girl” in the form of a German Bergerpanther. The peculiarities of this popular and pretty rare vehicle are discussed before we start into the book proper, with a bigger scope of the mass of different vehicle types in the book shown – the line up on the page on the right below is a great example of a parking lot any museum would like to own...
We look at four pages of Panzer IVs over the next few pages, the way the author picks out details and points of interest throughout the book never ceases to amaze me. The knowledge the Panzerwrecks authors all seem to possess, I can only wish to have one day. A massive help to the reader of the book.

The first of five artworks that are direct facsimiles of the photos – this time drawn and coloured by Felipe Rodna in full colour is next. The Tiger II is always a favourite subject and I am sure it got your attention. The quality of the artwork, and the fact that it brings these black and white photos to life with colour and enhance details that the reader might not have seen are combined with the inspiration these selected vignettes give the historian or modeller are a great recent addition to the series that I am happy again to see here in this book.
We see out the rest of the pages until about P20 with several wrecked german mid-war vehicles. A very iconic looking shot of a “Brumbarr” (Sturmpanzer IV), a Panther A, the StuG III & IV as well as a Panzer IV that was captured by a US Navy doctor on a fact-finding mission just show how far the team are going for these not-before published shots. Six pages of one of my favourite vehicles, the Jagdpanther are next. A few of the same vehicle taken from different GI's, and some other of the same type in various and abandoned or immobile states. Great artwork of a crest of one of the vehicles is done by the book's artist Mr Rodna showing a little more of the detail in colour.

This command Jagdtiger in the pictures below still exists, the details of where and the finer points of this picture, and the history of the shot in a lower quality are told as a part of this book., along with this, a better quality picture of the scene.
There are some other Jagdtigers in the book in this section called “Hellcat Wrecks” on the following pages – one “topless” from a hight looking down into the hollow interior, before we go to the other end of the scale with the huge-looking soldiers in comparison to a seemingly diminutive Jagdpanzer 38 (the “Hetzer” to all the heathens like me). We look at a Panthers over the next six pages, all in various conditions and one that looked like a colander made from Swiss cheese it had been shot so many times. A series of smaller pictures form soldiers of the US 65th Armoured Infantry Battalion show more panthers in distress on two pictures to a page over a few pages.

Some StuG's are the subject of the next few pages, again the author pulls out the detail I never would have thought about, before we see a completely turned out (and upside down with back to front) Panzer IV before we move on to several pages of German half-tracks. These include a “Red Cross” painted version and a very interesting captured Sd.Kfz.251 in “French Forces of the Interior” service missing some vital parts. Again Felipe Rodna offers his drawing of the scene on the opposite page bringing colour to the scene. There are some further shots of half-tracks, again from this same vehicle, and some very nice snaps of other marques with G.I.'s and even locals' children taking a ride!
The next four pages are titled “NSU Springer Evaluated”, and they feature the very rare “Funklenk Panzer NSU Springer (Sd.Kfz.304) tracked vehicle and the findings of the US ordinance team sent to evaluate it. The general impressions of the vehicle on the team, it's physically and description of the demolition charge it carried are covered in a largely text-based two pages before we take a large format walk around of the odd remote controlled tankette and it's interior. It is in exposes of vehicles like this and features like the artwork that the series continues to grow despite shrinking timeframes of finding new material and years increasing since the war making the gathering of details on this level (regularly) such a high achievement.
Several more vehicles of different types pass over the next ten or so pages before we see a StuG and a Cromwell working together as a pair of armoured recovery vehicles. It is very odd to see a Stug with no gun, and odder still to see it with a big Allied star on it. We see up to page seventy-seven with several more pictures of Panzer IV's of different flavours, some dramatically destroyed, others posing and one or two looking at them very close up. We round out this section with another comparison of the real thing and artwork with a Tiger I from Abt.301 looking very forlorn.

This starts a section of heavy German armour. Another shot of the same Tiger, alongside massive Tiger II's over the next five pages. Two of those pages being a series of a burning Tiger II that halted allied advance when active and when on fire, we also see it after the dust settles.
Again from the largest to one of the smallest. A Panzerjaeger für 7.5cm Pak 40 (Sf) Lorraine is next in both Artwork and the photo that it is inspired from. Interestingly we have the same vehicle with a size comparison to its gun on the next page with another Marder 38t on the page after that.
Some interesting variants of the Jagdpanzer IV in some of it's rarer variants including the high casemate variant – one with a detailed picture of the MP44 self-defence bent barrelled gun used by its crew are the subject of the next few pages. Followed by a bit of where we started off with a Bergepanther A and two 12 tonne halftracks that round the book off nicely.

I don't know how these guys get the leads, the information and the stories that make these books so readable and so re-readable. A series like this is very easy to pick up and put down, and that makes the first as fresh as the latest issue.

There have been changes along the way for this series, the books now possess some winning strategies that I really like. I like the way that these vehicles are grouped in small clumps and series together, I like the insight from the author, the inspiration - some would say the distraction - it gives me as a modeller, but that is a very good distraction of that is the case. I like the reproduction artwork and the subjects which remain varied, interesting and often unique.

Twenty one today – and this series has not at all lost its charms - not at all, well done to everyone involved.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the team at Panzerwrecks for sending this book for us to read and review. The book is now available from their website – with Issue 22 just around the corner!
I thought that I would include a list of the vehicles, tanks and AFV's inside this issue – I pulled it from the Panzerwrecks site so it's gotta be right! - In this issue you see:
Tiger II
Tiger I
Panther Ausf.G
Panther Ausf.G (last steel wheel)
Panther Ausf.A
Panther Ausf.D (+Befehls.Pz.)
Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.J
Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H
Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.F
Panzer IV/70(A)
Panzer IV/70(V)
Jagdpanzer IV
Sturmgeschütz IV
Sturmpanzer IV
Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G
Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G
Sturmgeschütz III ARV (British)
Sturmhaubitze 42
Jagdpanzer 38 (Hetzer)
Marder 38T
Pz.Jäger LrS für 7.5cm Pak40/1
Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.D
Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.D (US)
Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.C (FFI)
Sd.Kfz.250 Ausf.B
Panzerwerfer 42
Sd.Kfz.7 gepanzerte
Sd.Kfz.8 Holzpritschenaufbau
Zugkraftwagen S 307 (f)
NSU Springer