Monday, March 4

Read n' Reviewed: Sturmgeschütz III and Sturmhaubitze 42 from Panzerwrecks Publishing

Panzerwrecks new special is a book covering the "Ostfront" operations of the long-gun’ Stugs; Ausf.F, F/8 & G and the howitzer armed Sturmhaubitze 42. We read "Sturmgeschütz III and Sturmhaubitze 42: Ostfront Warfare Series Vol.1" and thought we would share our experience in the east in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: Sturmgeschütz III and Sturmhaubitze 42: Ostfront Warfare Series Vol.1
From: Panzerwrecks Publishing
Author: Vyacheslav Kozitsyn
Language: English (UK)
Physical: Softcover, 280 x 210mm, Landscape Format
Pages: 112 / Photos: 142
Colour artworks: 6 + unit insignias by Felipe Rodna
ISBN: 978-1-908032-19-5
Price: £21.99
Product Link on the Panzerwrecks Website
Today we are looking at the new bok from Panzerwrecks publishing, authored by  Vyacheslav Kozitsyn, and featuring the tank destroyers of the German army of WWII - the title says it all really - "Sturmgeschütz III and Sturmhaubitze 42: Ostfront Warfare Series Vol.1"

As the title suggests, this new series features vehicles from the eastern front of WWII. I would assume that each has a clearly defined vehicle as its focus, and this book in particular features the ‘long-gun’ Stugs; Ausf.F, F/8 & G and the howitzer armed Sturmhaubitze 42.
The book comes in a familiar format for those who already know the Panzerwrecks series: A softcover, 280mm x 210mm landscape format book with one hundred and twelve pages are made from a high-quality gloss art paper. Each of these pages are usually is filled with one large format picture, but sometimes more than one photo in a smaller format, all in black and white. The text is in English language and it accompanies the photos which are the real feature of the book.
All of the one hundred and forty-two pictures in the book are of the previously unpublished nature - so everything you see here will be new to you in one way or another. The vehicles are the stare of the show, although the crews, other soldiers and the conquerors of these vehicles are also noted as part of the vehicle's story. 

And the word "Story" is the appropriate word here, as the book progresses pretty much in the order of the construction dates of these StuGs. We get then a progression that roughly shows us the evolution of the vehicles through the construction, upgrade and alteration phases. The text that accompanies the photos points out the differences between these and previous vehicles shown in the book and often where and when the vehicles would have been made through close examination of the on-hand evidence by the author. The bar-codes in the corners of the pictures can be tracked via taking a picture on your mobile phone to the exact location on Google maps which is an interesting facet of the book.
Included in the book are six full-colour artworks and unit insignias by the artist Mr Felipe Rodna. These are presented in a style that mirrors each other either side of the pages of the open book. The black and white large format picture is interpreted and transformed into "living colour" by the artist. This is a boon for modellers, especially if that picture has taken your interest and you want to know maybe attempt to replicate it in model form. The colours really flesh out the otherwise cold black and white into something more relatable to the reader and they are a real highlight of this series going forward.
Illustrations, like this one below flesh out the story of these vehicles even more. This time we see a diagram of how the recovery vehicles pulled disabled and stuck vehicles to recover them. On this page, we see the method illustrated in the three pictures on that same page. The illustrator, Mr A. Lyubimov and the author teaming up to help the reader better understand what is going on.
The author has also grouped pictures of either the same vehicle or the same uint and scene in the one place. You can have one, two or a few pages dedicated to one tank or a group of tanks and her men in the one place. This again tells a story to the reader and the pictures and text give me personally a lot more insight into that vehicle and the men who were captured in the photo at the time.
The book does not group all of one sub-type together, as you may have seen in the similar books to this, and that is good and bad in some ways. The concentrated focus on one type can be easy to research or to understand, but it can also be dull to a reader who is not interested in that particular type of tank. The nature of this sequential layout is, I suppose, up to personal choice and I can't decide which I prefer.
When it comes to individual vehicles, there are just too many to mention here, and my usual style of reviewing that follows what happens in the book does not work within this book's structure. The Sturmgeschütz III & Sturmhaubitze 42 are covered in pretty much all of the variants that I can think of, with popular features that modellers and armchair historians like to poke out on many of the pages. These tanks with add-on armour, from steel bolt-on plates, shurtzen to added tracks. We see normal and "Ostketten" tacks on these tanks, from snowy surrounds, mud and dusty roads, railway yards to areas that look arid enough to be Italy in some of the southerly most pictures included in the book. Not only do we see the tanks and scenes evolve, but the men who crewed them change in appearance, uniform and general bearing over the space of the book.
 The book comes to conclusion as late as May 1945, with the StuG's seen more and more closer to Germany in each page (a reversal of the first half of the book's images) and we see more and more destroyed vehicles, with their conquerors standing beside or atop them. It is surprising to see such a basic vehicle still punching above its weight although it has often been long overshadowed by the wonder weapons of the German late WWII effort.
Well that is all for the first in this series of Ostfront - "Sturmgeschütz III and Sturmhaubitze 42". 

I can say that the author Mr Vyacheslav’s debut in the series is very well put together, and like all of the other Panzerwrecks books that I have read it has that touch of what good books do best - they educate, stimulate the mind but more so the imagination. The coloured illustrations, the great overall quality of photography and choice of original and unique (often) subjects really pique mine, and I am sure many other model builder and armchair historian's interests.

If you are familiar with the other books from Panzerwrecks and especially if you like the StuG you will like this book very much

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Panzerwrecks for sending this book to us to review, "Sturmgeschütz III & Sturmhaubitze 42" is now available from the Panzerwrecks website