Wednesday, April 18

Read n' reviewed: Panzer IV on the Battlefield Vol 2 World War Two Photobook Series From Peko Publishing

Issue ten of this series saw the first of the two books from Peko Publishing that focussed on the Panzer IV - today we bring you our thoughts on the second book in the series on this - the workhorse of the Wehrmacht - with the "Lang" Panzer IV on the Battlefield Volume 2...

Read n' reviewed:
Panzer IV on the Battlefield Vol 2
World War Two Photobook Series
From Peko Publishing
Author: Craig Ellis
Format Hardcover, 300x215mm, landscape
Pages 112
Written in dual Hungarian & English languages
ISBN: 9786155583087
Price: €28.95
Having already had the good fortune to read and to review Peko Publishing's first book in the "On The Battlefield" series on the Panzer IV in Volume 10, we were quite happy to see this, the second part of the story about the Long Barreled Panzer IV's come past our letterbox.

The Physical Form:
This book follows the format of the rest of the "Photobook" series, being just of over one hundred pages (112 Pages) in length with hardcover binding in roughly an A4 portrait format (300x215mm,) that lets the pictures feature in an almost full page size. This book is written by Craig Ellis and translated also to Hungarian which is displayed, usually side by side on each page as a caption to the large format photo. These captions briefly but explain what is happening in each of the pictures, the model type and often the factory that the vehicle comes from. The author knows his Panzer IV's as he picks out so many simple but distinguishing details that let the reader know where and usually the time each of the tanks in the frame (sometimes a series) was made.

The Contents:
As I hinted at in the preamble, this volume of the photobook series features on the "Lang" or long barrelled Panzer IV from the F2(G) to J models. Mr Ellis takes us through the history of the production of this tank. From the four factories that produced the tank in different phases and when the productions changed and in some cases went over to the Jagdpanzer IV instead. Four pages, both in Hungarian and then in English languages, give us a great introduction and overview to the history of the production of these tanks, and in simple data tables, simplify the production of the tanks which factory made what feature.
After this preamble, the author takes us on a historical journey through the long barreled Panzer IVs, from the F2(G) to J models. Starting in the period of mid-WWII we look at the F2 (G) models first. From the eastern front where we first take up the progression of pictures, the author starts to break down the situations and little differences in each of the tanks pictured. There are some great pictures in this section (and indeed all throughout this book) that are often the star of the show. Many of these I have not seen before, but some I do know. I think they will be new to many people's eyes also.

The simplified turret of these early G model Panzer IV's can be seen and is pointed out by the authors in several different locations and situations as we walk through the progression of the tank's lineage. We start to see pictures of Panzer IV's in African colours (the Mk IV Specials" as the British called them) as well as the vehicle son the Russian front. There is a great series of eight pages of the same unit (Pz Abt.116). Series of photographs like this are a boon to the reader as the author takes his time and points out all of the features of these same tanks from the various angles they are captured at.

We move on through the pages looking at the evolution of the Panzer IV with the G model with easy to identify turret changes and the synonymous side and turret Schürzen. All along the way, the author lets us know the factory specifics and the little points of interest of each vehicle, almost to the detriment of what is going on in the pictures. He does manage to mostly let us know what is in the frame and what is happening in brief though.

We next see a series of photos provided by a tanker from "Das Reich"  where we see G models in the field and in an interesting brace of shots with heavy field repairs ongoing. The Panzer H model is next, at around halfway through the book.

We see how the Panzer H differed and the finer points of production between the three factories over the next group of pages. The thing that I had not mentioned yet is the abundance officers and support staff often in these photos. I prefer photos of the tank's crew in them although I think it gets int he way of the narrator's explanation of the tank and its subtleties. Myself I enjoy learning about the tank's circumstance and human connection to the men who crewed, ate, slept, fought in and serviced these tanks, and we see many pictures of all types of people in this book.

Side Schürzen as standard along with a standard anti-aircraft mount on the machine gun on the cupola ring denote further progress in the H model panzers, but we do still see in several pictures earlier hulls mated with the latter turret and other mish-mashes of marque types. The author points out all of these for the reader which is great. It is a wonderful help as a modeller to have someone so knowledgeable pick out these points. I fell also more confident in my own assumptions that the production types and parts were spread across vehicles over time. Well, that will be my excuse next time my kitbashing goes off piste!

As the war gets past winnable for the Germans we start to see fewer pictures of happy, grinning crews, and more pictures of Panzer IV's destroyed or disabled. Add-hoc armour
 for extra protection is added in many of these pictures. In spite of this, we see many more tanks with an allied soldier examining its charred corpse. The author continues to point out the peculiarities of each tank even when the charred hulk makes it harder to do so. He is a knowledgeable source when it comes to the Panzer IV. Weird and wonderful Zimmerit is included in some of these photos which again, the variation of photo and reference material in here just adds to the book's value for the modeller.

The book falls into a little bit of a patter, either showing very nice tanks with a full complement of Schürzen and neat camo, to broken and wrecked vehicles captured and even some short tracked vehicles ready to be prepared. The lack of regular, in service pictures, hints at the lack of time and resources that the Germans suffered latter on in WWII.

Towards the very end of the book, we look at the H model Panzer IV with its differences pointed out, we also see the late-type Schürzen with a mesh instead of the various plates (described by the author) by the different factories. Photos like this will be very appreciated by the armchair historians and modellers who love to portray something different and especially late war in their models.

So what to say about this book?

Well written by a smart author who certainly knows his subject. Sometimes a little too focused on the tank and not the surroundings would be my only point and gee it's a minor quibble. 

Another great book in this series that covers the "lang" Panzer IV in great detail - just as comprehensive as its stablemates, this is a worthy addition to the bookshelves of an armchair historian or the workbench of the modeller's desk for inspiration or fact-checking.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to PEKO for sending this book to us to read and review - This book and the rest in this series are available at this link or their website Peko Publishing