Monday, April 19

Read n' Reviewed: T-34 Colors. T-34 Tank Camouflage Patterns in WWII from AMMO by Mig Jiménez

Clayton Ockery loves two things (that we know of) that is T-34's and books with plenty of coloured profiles in them. Just so happens AMMO's new book "T-34 Colors. T-34 Tank Camouflage Patterns in WWII" ticks both those boxes for him. See what Clayton thought about the book and what he found inside in his review...

Read n' Reviewed: T-34 Colors. T-34 Tank Camouflage Patterns in WWII
Author/s: Igor Donchik, Daniele Guglielmi
Published by AMMO by Mig Jiménez
Product Number #AMIG6145
Languages: Multilingual. English, Spanish & Russian
Softcover, A4 format
88 pages with high-quality full-colour illustrations.
ISBN: 978-84-17846-33-6
Price: 17,95 €
Today’s review sees the latest release from the team at Ammo by Mig Jimenez land in my lap. The publication is the latest release in a string of colour profile books the company has released over the years. This one features the one and only T-34 and the schemes it wore during WWII.

I’ll start off by saying I am a shameless ‘user’ of these colour profile books. I have spent hours upon hours flicking through the pages of this style of book, to only make it to the end and start all over again. I seem to find something new every time I look and find a glimmer of inspiration to build on.

The other confession I have to make is that if I was to pick my favourite tank of WWII it would be the T-34. So, when I was handed this publication I was quite excited to say the least.

With the T-34 being so prevalent in numbers and in the most part being painted in Russian Green, it was my hope that this book would enlighten me into some of the more obscure and unique schemes that found their way onto this icon, and again be the source of inspiration for my next build.

Whilst the publication falls under the Mig Jimenez label, the authors / illustrators are Igor Donchik and Danoele Guglielmi. The book comprises of 88 pages with a soft cover and includes English, Spanish and Russian translations through-out.
The credits are at the beginning of the book and highlight all of those people (or at least most of those people) who played a part in the publication. I was pleased to see there was a dedicated person to help with the English edits. I am an English speaker, so one of my great frustrations in the past has been poorly translated English. It can make the information extremely hard to read and really tends to let some of these publications down. Hopefully that has been addressed in this new release.
The introduction to the book is short and to the point, but really it was all that was required. The writing had a good flow to it and had clearly been translated well (that is of course assuming it wasn’t writing in English in the first place?). I can’t make judgment for the other languages - Spanish and the Russian, but so far so good.

The book begins with a brief history of the tank as well as a number of historical pictures. The flow of the writing is very good (at least the English translations are), however the depth of detail is very basic and really only spans over a couple of paragraphs per translation. But we are here for the schemes right??

The first schemes presented were that of some of the captured T-34 placed in service with the Wehrmacht. All versions are of the T-34/76. Interestingly the introduction sentence suggests the Wehrmacht even produced some T-34 in captured Soviet factories. Something I was previously unaware of.

The Illustrations are quite nice. The descriptions of the subjects are very brief but enough to give an insight to the roots of the tank…kind of…

The next section in the book is dedicated to a Soviet detachment known as ‘Jaguar’. Interestingly this detachment was made up of Russian speaking German soldiers and Red Army defectors. The groups were issued with Russian uniforms and went on a mission of sabotage and disinformation behind the Red Army lines. A very interesting story that I was also unaware of until now. 4 tanks are presented from this detachment.
Subjects from the Polish People’s Army. Examples of pretty much all Dark Green with only one with a whitewash variation on the turret. A guide to the markings for the Polish panzers is also a handy piece of information.

Czechoslovakian markings soon follow. More green with some interesting turret markings…but essentially more of the same.

I am finding right about now that some of these descriptions really aren’t giving me the insight into the finer points of these schemes I’m looking at. What I mean by that is some of these vehicles have really unique graffiti / turret markings or different configurations with fuel drums or armour, but it all seems to be ignored (other than in the illustration) and we get something like – ‘T-34/85 1st Czechoslovak Tank Brigade, Ostrava, May 1945’. It would have been really nice to know what the big word scrawled across the side of the turret (ZIZKA) means or how it got there. I appreciate some of that information would be almost impossible to source... but it’s amazing the stuff you can find when you start digging a little.
Although not photographed for this article, the Russian Liberation Army is the next chapter. Somehow a bicycle made it in there as one of the profiles…

Let’s move on shall we…

The Finnish Army is the next to step up to the plate. I have made a Finnish T-34 before in a 3-tone camouflage, so I knew the Finns would present us with something a little different.

The introduction of the chapter begins to give you some of the information that would be nice to have pointed out on the actual individual profiles, but again the descriptions just fall a little short.

Six schemes with whitewash over Dark green and a couple with a very muted three-tone camouflage.
The Red Army is next to feature, and it was here I started to look at this book with my modelling hat on. Although we are all familiar with the T-34, what became so glaringly obvious here were the unbelievable differences between each subject. Wheel and turret configurations were just the start of it. Each turret would be a little different depending on when and where it was produced. That’s when it hit me what was letting me down with this book. I wanted a little insight into each of the illustrations to better help me understand what I was looking at. Pointing out unique features or interesting combination would have been far better for us as modellers rather than just what Regiment the tank was part of and what season it is depicted in.
The book is of course heavily weighted to the T-34 in Soviet service, and a good chunk of the book features 76’s and 85’s. Essentially it becomes quite repetitive with really the only thing to add some spice is the different turret marking. This is exactly where a little more insight would have elevated this book to better help the reader understand the subtle differences and some of the stories behind these schemes.

A mentioned earlier, the T-34 saw many variations over the years, most notably the wheel design. Page 85 outlines the 12 different styles the T-34 wore.

I hate to be critical, but the detail in the descriptions is far too basic to serve any real purpose and desperately needs some expansion.
On the surface you may think a T-34 is a T-34, but in reality this tank is actually an extremely complex subject due to the amount of variation with them. Differences in turret and wheel designs over the years and variation in production methods when paired with field upgrades and improvisations really made for every one of these vehicles to be unique in their own right.

As I made my way through the book I kept finding myself wanting more information and more of an understanding as to what I was looking at. Whilst the illustrations are great, it could have greatly improved with a little more detail in the descriptions. Highlighting what type of turret and perhaps noting the style of wheel or what factory the subject came from would really help the modeller pair their inspiration with a kit and bring it into reality.

As a scale modeller I also feel the publication should have really dug a little deeper and tried to present some more interesting schemes and combinations. Off the top of my head I can immediately think of multiple whitewash patterns and field improvised camouflage that I have seen in reference pictures. A quick search on Google and I have found a plethora of unique subjects that would have been perfect for a book like this. One in particular has all of its wheels replaced with Panther wheels! Now that would have made for an interesting modelling subject!

Overall, I am trying to not be too critical because the book presents really nicely, and the brief introductions to each paragraph are quite well written. PLUS, any book that provides us with some inspiration is a good thing. I just can’t help but feel a little disappointed with this one.

Clayton Ockerby

You can find out more about AMMO's products on their website - thanks to them for sending this book to Clayton to read and to review...
See more of Clayton’s work at his website “Workbench Hobbies” or join him on his Facebook page