Saturday, September 8

Read n' Reviewed: Peko Publishing's Panzer III on the Battlefield 2 (vol 18)

The second book featuring the Panzer III during WWII arrived on our doorstep. This book is written by Tom Cockle, and decked out in the usual intuitive format that we had come to expect from PeKo Publishing. After a leisurely afternoon reading, we can share what we found and thought of the book in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: Panzer III on the Battlefield 2 
World War Two Photobook Series (Vol.18)
From PeKo Publishing.
Dual Hungarian-English language books
Author: Tom Cockle
No of Photos: 104
No of Pages: 112
Physical: Hardcover, 300x215mm, landscape
ISBN: 978-615-5583-10-0
Price: €28.95
Seeing that this book has just been released we thought we would show you some of the images and give some insight from us into Peko Publishing's second volume in the "On The Battlefield" series that focuses on the Panzer III in WWII. 
We have already looked at a book on the Panzer III from the same author and in the same series nearly a year ago here on TMN, so we were happy to check this one with high hopes, but would the quality be here for a second helping? 

The Book's Format:
For those not familiar with the series I will go through logically the format and flow of the books in this series that this edition follows also. The hardcover glossy black and white (and grey) with a stiff spine and dimensions of an A4 (11.6 x 8.3 x 0.5 inches). This opens up to one hundred and twelve pages, written in both Hungarian and English languages side by side.

The first few pages of the book are an introduction in both Hungarian and in English in thick block text without illustrations, this gives way to the regular format of the rest of the book which is a picture to a page with dual text below it explaining the scene, the tank, it's surroundings and often time that the picture was taken. 

There are one hundred and four pictures in this book, all in black and white, while the photos are often in landscape format, and although they are taken from many (notated) sources in the book, the quality is of a high standard. Most, if not all of these photos I have not seen before, however, I am not the foremost expert on the Panzer III so you may well know them. Several of these shots are in a series which really fleshes out the situation and more about the particular vehicle/s in the frame.
OK, so now you know what the book looks like and the inside format, I will go through it in a walkthrough to show you just what is in the book. 

The introduction of the book covers the history of the Panzer III, where Mr. Cockle talks about the various Ausführungs of Pz.Kpfw.III covers in a logical order with some interesting types included in a brief summary. This is followed now by the picture-to-a-page style with large format pictures being the norm. The first few pages have the rarer Ausf.B, D & several Ausf E's before page seventeen when we see our first Ausf.F models on transportation trains in two interesting shots.

The author shows us some more pages of Ausf. E and Ausf F Panzer II's over the next few pages, all the while in the usual style of these books denoting the points of interest on each vehicle, the unusual points about it if any and often the location and circumstances of the photo if that can be pinpointed. From some nasty river crossings in Europe to the tropical surrounds of "Afrika", the book keeps pretty much to a particular model before it moves on throughout the Panzer III timeline.
The author describes the very subtle external differences between the Panzer III Ausf.E & Ausf.F models as the narrative winds through this tank's development and use. We start to see the first tanks with the mantlet and 5cm L/42 gun in these pages, with several variants in many theatres on the Panzer III G & H's including some D.A.K. variants in the field and being loaded on to ships, also an amazing photo series of three shots of an Ausf.G with its top superstructure blown of and flipped landing back on top of the tank. One wonders what happened to its inhabitants...
We are now firmly along the production series into the Panzer IIIH by page thirty-five. Again we get an ongoing narrative of how this version different from previous marques in the series, It is not forced, but naturally comes up as the author points out the various new and removed modules on each of the tanks in these pictures. By Page thirty-nine, we are already progressing on to the Panzer III Ausf.J. Posing with the tanks in several different pictures are some really varied personnel which are of interest to this reader,  Kriegsmarine crew in a series of shots, Italian soldiers, DAK troops, SS tankers and later on tankers in winter white next to their charges that were by the winter of 1942/3 wearing "Winterketten" track extensions and in whitewash hastilly applied ot their surfaces.
Page forty-eight sees us travel into the era of the Panzer III Ausf L, with its thick rounded mantlet, 20mm Vorpanzer and even at this point in May 1943 Schürzen on the sides of the vehicles' hull and turrets. It seems that even this extra armour was not enough, as several of these tanks have extra ersatz armour in the form of extra tracks on their front glacis.  We see these tanks in Africa and in Russia. Waiting for the enemy, under repair and in camouflage and in the middle of some high corn fields in what looks like Russia in summer.
Page sixty sees us looking at the Panzer III Ausf.M, starting with a Panzerbefelswagen with the signature larger turret ring, with a converted Panzer Ausf.M with Schürzen taken from two different angles in two pictures. You can see the extra features of the deep wading kit applied to the tank which were of interest to this reader.
Wow, Panzer III Ausf.N!  it seems like a whirlwind tour of these marques as the author points out the differences and changes as we go model to model. He always informs you in an interesting manner of the changes while keeping the setting and an extra point of interest in the story. Sometimes you wish there was more to these stories as the pictures are enough to draw you into the settings. 

A series that fleshes these out a little is this set of five pictures showing the recovery process of an Ausf.F(T) "Tauchpanzer" III as it was known.that fell off a wooden bridge in Russia in 1941, we do get to see this one from most angles! In fact, for the next few pages, we look at various marques of the Tauchpanzer in action in several settings.
We next flip back to the early war period when we look at the Pz.Bef.Wg.III Ausf.D1, with its complicated suspension and the frame antenna on the rear of the vehicle being a dead giveaway. 
There are several of these special Panzer II's in the book, with the Ausf.E Ausf.H and Ausf.J vehicles in the series also shown over twenty-eight pages. There are so many types in here it goes past the scope of this review making it interesting to the reader explaining the differences. This is something that the author does with ease, however.
 The last two pages of the book feature the Panzer Kampfwagen III Ausf.G (Flamm) tanks, both in worse for wear status (knocked out). This brings us to the prescribed one hundred and eight pages of the book.
OK, so that is all he wrote. 

Now I did say this in the last review that covered the Panzer III in that the vehicle itself really does not hold that much interest to this reviewer, however the author's comments, a collection of pictures and insightful knowledge sure to make you sit up and pay attention when reading the book. Once I started I read it all through in an hour or so, and by the end, I knew a heck of a lot more about this versatile tank that I had no idea of beforehand.

This book is another great volume in the series that has had some hard work put into it. The author and Publisher should be proud of the result and the reader or modeller should well be interested in this book.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the people from Peko Publishing for sending this book to us to read and to review for you, It is available from their Website now.