Wednesday, June 17

Read n' Reviewed: WWII photobook series Vol. 21 – Panzerwaffe on the battlefield 2 from PeKo Publishing

I have read twenty volumes of the "On the battlefield" series from PeKo Publishing, but this one had a few surprises in content waiting for me when I took a read. See the contents and what we thought about this book in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: WWII photobook series Vol. 21 – Panzerwaffe on the battlefield 2
From PeKo Publishing
Author Jon Feenstra
A4 Landscape Format
112 Pages
Photos: 105
Price: €28.95
Product Link on the PeKo books Website

Today for you degustation we have a review of PeKo Publishing's latest edition of the "On the battlefield series - volume twenty one (wow 21!) of the series, this book being the second to focus on the Panzerwaffe of WWII.

"On the Battlefield" series from PeKo
This book follows neatly into what has already been established in this series, but for those of you unfamiliar with this series, these books are a usually around one hundred or so pages of large-format (mainly unpublished) photographs, published in the highest possible quality and described throughout by illustrative text of the machines and men who used them in all theatres throughout WWII from 1939 to 1945. Often these books cover just one type with all of its variants, but this one has a wider focus on all of the vehicles of the German armoured forces.

Physical description & contents:
Written by Jon Feenstra, and translated into a dual language of English and Hungarian, this book is a hardcover, landscape formatted book. There are one hundred and twelve pages inside the 300mm x 215mm covers, with one hundred and five black and white pictures in large format throughout. These pictures are for the most part very sharp in detail and focus and for their age very clear and well composed and I have not seen most of, if all of them before, so I knew that reading the book would be a little bit of a voyage of knowledge...

Page by Page:
The author, Mr Jon Feenstra, gives us a brief introduction to the book in pages of block text in both Hungarian and English. We understand the differences in the armoured arms of the German armed forces of WWII and what to expect in the book. A little of the history of the forces also that make a short, but useful appetiser for this volume.

The brief introduction is followed with the earliest tanks of the war, German vehicles starting with Panzer I & II's & Pz 38t's in Poland and France - not just the usual shots, but something that follows across the pages after - the more interesting and some esoteric tanks with different uses to just point and shoot panzers we will see in most pictures around, especially on the internet.

The large white crosses of the Polish and French campaigns in very light tanks give way to heavier tanks like Panzer III's and Operation Barbarossa with the short-barrelled Panzer IIIJ's in various incarnations. All with the helpful explanations underneath with just enough text to get you interested but not to bore. The visual images being the main selling point of this book. There is an interesting series of three photos in a row showing a Panzer repair depot which stirs the imagination. The longer barrelled Panzer IIIL & N's mark the last of these tanks in the book by page thirty.

"Afrika" is next, with plenty of pictures of Panzer IV's now. Models D, E and F with their short-barreled cannons in the hot desert of Africa in convoy and at rest give way to the longer barreled  Panzer IV Auf G's in a much colder climate of Russia. The accompanying soldiers in fur and layered clothing in the cold in the fighting near Kahrkov in a series of four pictures of tanks from the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland in a set. The surroundings are a stark contrast, but the comments with the pictures pick out the slightest details to the reader, be it hubcaps on a tank that are out of place or  

The winter war gives way to high summer in Russia and the time of the Kursk offensive, Panzer IV'G's with 75mm guns, with and without shurtzen are shown before then we jump to late 1943 and the fist vehicles with Zimmerit, a Panzer IV H and a Panther Ausf A. Some at a middle distance, but several photos showing the close up of the tanks are handy when trying to "decipher" the patterns of anti-magnetic past on these tanks.

Spring 1943 onwards gives us five pictures of the Tiger I Ausf E in various locations and weathers. The net for these pictures is cast very widely which is good for the reader. The Tiger Ausf.B (Tiger II / King Tiger) is only shown in two pictures, but I suppose it gives us more room for other, rarer vehicles we have not seen before - and then again, most of the Tiger II pictures are already known because it is such a popular tank. 

Speaking of different vehicles, we next venture on to the work fo the German Half-track. many different types are here and again the chronological nature of the book show the earlier vehicles and pictures through to latter ones. Smaller, thinner skin machines tend to show more of the crews that are with and in them, and that is what is seen here as we venture into wheeled vehicles of the Aufklärung (reconnaissance) machines. Two-wheelers, 6 and 8-rad's, as well as captured vehicles, are on show in these pages, the author taking us through the images with helpful text illuminating the scenes as we look on.

The Panzerjägers are next, with the mixing of small hulls with bigger guns mounted on them being in the frame for twenty pages. We again start at the earlier part of  WWII with Panzerjäger I's and conversions from captured vehicles, Marders I through III right to the Marder IIIM are featured before we see a rare picture of a Nashorn.

We then move to Zimmerit (in various conditions) covered Jagdpanzer IV's. After few close-up shots of the tanks are great to see as it is an often forgotten tank I think. The shots in a sequence showing the shurtzen in place and then raised for maintenance are great and ones I have not seen before. In the relentless nature of the progression of the tanks in real life, we move on to the Jagdpanzer IV/70(A), a Jagdtiger & a Ferdinand in only one picture each. This book certainly does look further than the normal fare for its subjects...

Speaking of esoteric - after a few pictures, fo Jagpanzer 38t's we stumble into shots of captured universal carriers with rocket launchers pressed into service before we go mainstream again with the Sturmgeshutz III. Short-barreled guns, shurtzen, and then later versions with longer barreled guns, concrete & extra track applique armour are very interesting but also brief, but I suppose this vehicle is featured in dedicated volumes of this series 😎.

The tiny - but very large gunned Bison, Sturmpanzer IV.M in two shots as well as a duo of Wespe's are next, the Hummel in three pictures and last the Nebelwerfer carrying Panzer Werfer 42 and four barrelled FLakverling 38 finish up the last gasp of vehicles in the book that really are not just your typical Panzers, Panthers and Tigers in this book.

These books have, in just a short time developed quite a following and rightly so, and therefore the pressure must be always on the creative teams to add new volumes of the same quality to the collection, more often than not the readers often are the winners in this series... and that is the result with this volume, Panzerwaffe on the battlefield II being yet another great addition to the series.

There was much more variety and learning in here than I had thought I would see. The images and supporting text are excellent, the author and publishers have done a great job here.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to PeKo Publishing for sending this book to us to read and review. If you like what you see here you can get your copy from Peko's Distributors Worldwide.