Saturday, July 17

Read n' Reviewed: WWII German Most Iconic SS Vehicles. Volume 1 from AK Interactive.

Panzer III's? RSO's? Half tracks? - No? What about Schwimmwagens and StuG's? There are twelve iconic vehicles of the SS from WWII in this, the first of two books in a series from AK Interactive. We have read it, now we review book one in today's story...
WWII German Most Iconic SS Vehicles. Volume 1
Published by AK Interactive
English or Spanish languages. 
160 pages. 
Soft Cover.
The book features twelve builds
Price: 24,95€
Also available as a digital copy at AK-Interactive app for IOS and Android
Product Link on the AK-Interactive Website
Recently AK Interactive published two books in a dual set under the moniker"WWII German Most Iconic SS Vehicles". The two books were released within a month of each other with a similar format and subjects of - you guessed it, SS soldier's mounts of World War Two. Many people did not pick up the subtle "SS" that was lacking in the title that was reflected in the lettering of the SS runes in the writing on the front cover. The contents better explain that as you read deeper into the book. 

"What's it all about?" Synopsys:
"This is the first volume of the two that will feature the most iconic vehicles of the Waffen SS. In this book, we focus on medium tanks, self-propelled guns, half-tracks, armoured cars and soft skins. The scenes and vehicles included in this collection are shown in a compilation of step by step articles with great photographs, perfectly combined to obtain maximum realism in the models. A must-have book for all fans of German WWII vehicles."

The book is part of a two-part series from AK Interactive featuring WWII German vehicles of the SS...
OK, now we know what's on offer and we have read the book, we can evaluate the contents. First up, let's look at the package.

The book in its physical form:
One hundred and sixty pages in either Spanish or English text, compiled by Carlos de Diego Vaquerizo and written by the authors/ modellers who make these works in the book. The softcover (it says hardcover on the website?) is full of high quality models with excellent photography of each. The articles are in a step by step (SBS) method, with numbered text next to (usually) a numbered photograph that reflects what the modeller is talking about. I like this way of communicating model builds, nothing worse than a "picture orgasm" or worse a wordy article with no photos to support them. A good approach to a nicely laid out and "schmick" looking package.
WWII German Most Iconic SS Vehicles. Volume 1 from AK Interactive Contents:
Introduction by Carlos de Diego Vaquerizo
Sd.Kfz 234/3 by Roger Hurkmans
Panhard P204(f) by Abilio Piñeiro Grajera
Sd.Kfz. 124 Wespe by Rick Lawler
Pz.Kpfw. III Ausf. M by Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek
Steyr RSO/01 by Fabio Mosca
Sd.Kfz. 247 Ausf. B by Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek
Pz.Beob.Wg. III by Jaffe Lam
Sd.Kfz. 251/9 Ausf. D by Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek
VW Type 166 Schwimmwagen by Marcin Skrzypek
StuG. III Ausf. G by Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek
Sd.Kfz. 250/1 Neu by Fabrizio Mercuri
Bocage Road (Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. C) by Roberto Del Cima
Some talents in amongst these authors /modellers, what about their works and how they are relayed to the reader inside the covers?

We start with an introduction from the compiler of the book, Mr Carlos de Diego Vaquerizo. Carlos explains both the raison d'être behind the book's publishing, the attraction for some modellers to take on the controversial subject of the SS in model making and a little of the symbols and a brief history on some of the SS units featured in this book. He also provides us with a preview of each of the stories inside, the vehicles and the scope of each of the builds.
Roger Hurkmans is one of my favourite builders, because he includes many figures in his work, and first up is a recent favourite of many modellers, "Fruhlingserwachen" SS Pz.AA12 Hitler Jugen Ungarin Marz 1945 - set in Hungary in March 1945. The diorama features nine 12th SS soldiers around a farmer's house or barn with an Sd.Kfz 234/3 in front. The farmer showing the soldiers where they need to go on the map the officer is holding.
The article spans five pages, and although we do not actually see much of the vehicle or house being built and painted, Roger explains pretty well the way he makes and adapts the figures to the scene and the vehicle, how he uses blue styrofoam to make the building and how he lays out and creates the base. This article could easily be double the length and size and it still would not cover everything to be seen.
Abilio Piñeiro Grajera's ICM Panhard P204(f) scene is next. This article has eleven pages that enable the publisher to show the painting and weathering of the vehicle much more. The "Pan Pan", here used by SS units of the "Totenkopf" and in a simple grey colour scheme. the Panhard and driver are shown near a farmhouse near a peasant farmer woman (and her cat).
I really like the way that Abilio shows in step by step how he paints and shades this Panhard to give shade and depth to an otherwise dull grey coloured vehicle. He uses some stowage on the car, masks for painting and shading, oils, and a fair bit of dirt and dust to further differentiate the greys and bring interest to the vehicle. The house that the vehicle is next to is shown just a little, with it already made I suppose before he took photos, he has to explain it to the modeller more than show a build process. Still, it is a very nice article...
Next up is Rick Lawler, with a favourite of the community next, the 1/35th scale Sd.Kfz. 124 Wespe no "307" in the service of "Das Reich" division that he had seen in newsreel footage of the scenes near Roncey in France on the front after D-Day in 1944. Rick gives us a nice introduction to the vehicle and the scene and we find that this Tamiya kit does still take a fair bit of building in a nice construction guide where he shows and explains his thoughts on adding scratchbuilt parts, photo-etch, Fruil tracks and an RB barrel to the kit.
Rick's article is thorough, and he shows us how he paints his Wespe with AK Real Colors, weathering pencils and ABT 502 oils. The photos and text are clear and simple to follow if you wanted to do the same thing. The base of the diorama is shown from nucleus to texturing, to the laying of AK earth products and paint. The flora is added through a show-and-tell of several steps using aftermarket bushes and grass (and some of these even go onto the tank itself). Rick really understands the concept of this book about the "Iconics" of the WWII SS in his article and he touches on all of the parts he needs to to make this a great story.
 The talented Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek is next with his 1/35th scale Dragon kit of the Panzer III Ausf.M with many aftermarket additions. The tank is seen here on a simple rectangle base covered with grass, rocks and some flowers. A simple scene but a beautifully painted (especially the camouflage) model.
the article is eleven pages, and in here we do see the many steps of the major points of note in the construction and the additions of tracks, large photo-etch shurtzen extra armour, metal tow cables and their spider-web-like layout on the tank, the sculpting of canvas over the extra stowage on the rear of the tank. I love to see the construction as well as the finishing. Speaking of painting and weathering, the step by step nature of the book comes into good use again with the painting, camouflage, the use of oils, chipping, scratches graphite on the tracks, the Nazi flag on the rear of the turret and the painting and making real all of that stowage on the rear deck. The whole this is very well put together and we see a lot about just how to replicate it in the photos and text.
One of my favourite vehicles is next, and I guess you can call it an "iconic" German vehicle also, the Steyr RSO/01 by modeller Fabio Mosca always come across to me as an interesting subject. His recreation of a scene of the tracked truck used as a mule for the SS division "Nordland" on the eastern front spans fifteen pages, and it can be said that this really is a full build from the groundwork, to the sculpting and altering of the figures, to the construction of that old Italeri RSO kit and all of the upgrades in photo-etch and aftermarket wheels. He really leaves no stone unturned here.
Fabio really works wonders with this kit. as I said his additions in aftermarket, as well as using A + B putty to sculpt the seats, the soldiers and the tarp that bends and billows with the folding and the wind is as impressive as I have seen on models of this type. He takes us through the layout of the elements of the kit, the base elemental set up and the adaptation of the figures and the sculpting of their clothing before he paints the RSO with Real Colors, then covers it with snowy whitewash shade worn down from Andrea colours and oils. the other real star of this diorama is the base and all of the wicker ammo holding baskets, crates and shells from 105mm guns that fill a ditch at the front of the scene. The muddy and wet scene with that barren tree adds so much atmosphere to this scene.
Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek is back for a second bite of SS icons with the Sd.Kfz. 247 Ausf. B resin armoured car kit in 35th scale from Sovereign. Not so common to modellers but definitely Germanic in shape and design, the armoured car presented in this resin kit was unknown to me before, but I am glad to have seen this as the quality is excellent, the additions to the scene are listed by Łukasz here which is a handy piece of knowledge. The figures from Alpine and Stalingrad Miniatures are other key parts of this scene as is the field he has constructed with sunflowers and the "Totenkopf" armband on the front of the diorama which adds to the scene.
the four-wheeler is painted with a mixture of Tamiya and then Real Colour and Vallejo paints which I like to see (we don't all use just one brand) and then scratched, scuffed, dirtied and dusted using a multitude of products before we skip to the large sunflower covered base. The modeller shows and tells of how he created the track for the vehicle, the grass, flowers and sunflowers to match the muddy and dirty vehicle. There is nothing really about the figure but they are almost off the shelf and of high quality and fit in pretty simply to the scene Łukasz has created.
Jaffe Lam is next with his 1/35th scale version of the Pz.Beob.Wg. III by Dragon. this command and radio vehicle with its extra and dummy equipment is discussed (and like all of these models a picture of the original subject is presented which is great). We see a little too little of the construction process before the painting begins in a step by step process. 
Using Vallejo, Tamiya acrylics and oils Jaffe makes this intricate and winding camouflage pattern before chipping, applying rust and dirt to the tank, the roadwheels tracks and the tools and pioneer equipment, grass, a battered tree and several bits of roadway detritus were also treated to the super-realistic treatments to leave the tank looking like it deserves to be sitting on a country road in the summer on the Russian front. Jaffe explains and shows how he made his simple but effective base that has three levels of interest to the modeller, he is a student of composure you can see. 
The third helping from Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek is next, with his version of the 1/35th scale Sd.Kfz. 251/9 Ausf. D halftrack from Tamiya operated by SS "Nordland" on the Russian front. A scene on a chilled, snow-covered road that is shown to be windswept also by the soldier's ushanka's flaps billowing to the side. Being an older Tamiya kit, we see the addition in tracks, scratchbuilt details, photo-etch and tyres that are added to the kit before the hard-edged camouflage is applied with AK's Real Colors paint.
Decals, whitewashing and the removal of that temporary coating with the mud applied to tracks and roadwheels are seen in detail with the step by step method and placed onto the impressive base and figures. Unfortunately, we do not see any of these three great figures and base in construction and painting as they add so much to the vehicle.
Along with the RSO,  the curves of the German VW Type 166 Schwimmwagen are my other favourite and definitely an icon of WWII German vehicles. Marcin Skrzypek that talented man - is next with his "Schwimm" from Tamiya in 1/35th scale.  It is decked out with all of the best improvements, Def Model wheels, Mantis Model stowage and extra details and painted in Tamiya acrylics. This is a solid base to build upon.
Although we do not see the figures from Evolution and Alpine Miniatures being converted to Estonian SS soldiers, we do get a description and precise paints used run-down in the pages. We also see the briefest of in-process photos from the groundwork and the building. I do suppose this book is about iconic vehicles of the SS, but to add these would make it all the better for the reader.
The fourth and last offering in this book from Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek is the undoubtedly iconic StuG.III Ausf.G. This model (I think it's a Dragon kit we aren't told) is shown in the construction of the most important parts and the added Aber, tracks and Eureka model additions along with some Milliput tarps and blankets were added to the front mantlet and rear deck of the tank which set the kit off with the use later of alternate colours and shades.  
AK Real Color paints and acrylic washes are used on the base vehicle, decals applied, and then scratches, scuffs and wear are applied before the tracks are painted and applied. Tricks from Łukasz like the use of boot print stencils, Eduard flora and all of those extra tacks, blankets and jerry cans are painted and applied. The modeller has taken some good time in this article to show and tell in that SBS method, pictures and words combine to give the reader insight into not only the tank but this time a lot about the simple but very nice looking base he has made to suit the 10.SS StuG.
Fabrizio Mercuri is next, with his 1/35th scale version of the other German halftrack I think of when these types are mentioned, the Sd.Kfz. 250/1 Neu from Dragon. Fabrizio shows us just the right amount of information to keep things interesting and flowing when you see the interior construction, extra parts and then painting and wear inside of the kit when used in wartime.
The Rel Color and Tamiya paint is complemented with Abt.502 oils, "SS Nordland " decals and washes before the scratches, wear, dust and dirt are added to the outside of the vehicle. The groundwork of the base is next, with a scene of a deserted vehicle on a muddy track with equipment and weapons placed carelessly around the ground near the halftrack. Another great show and tell article in SBS.
Something of a departure next. I have been slightly complaining about the lack of figure works in this book, but at the end, we are treated to a twelve-page chapter called "Bocage Road" in which Roberto Del Cima shows us his diorama of an Sd.Kfz. 251/1 Ausf. C. Mostly in focus this time however is the figures of SS men that take centre stage in the Normandy diorama. 
The groundwork also is discussed, with the base and the flora that grown everywhere in the French countryside in summer is shown and described. The excellent painting and diorama section at the end of the book is a nice companion to the series, and it is a great way to end off this title, just when I thought I could do ith some more figures and greenery tutorial. Very nice!
And that was all they wrote...

This book certainly does capture the iconic vehicles of not only the SS but also the German vehicles of World War Two. Job done then?

One or two of the articles were a little light on the building of the kits (which is a thing I love to see) and there were some little ink issues on some of the pages leaving some smudges on two or three pages. It is good also to try and include a larger variety of paints in the book, which I think does happen here, but I can see why you would get the people making models to try and use your own paints if possible inside a book published by a painting company. There is nothing new in that and I understand completely. Not a big deal but these were the only nitpicks I could find.

The builds at are on show are simply best in class. The step by step (SBS) method of showing them off is really effective, and the learning came as easily as the reading of the chapters allowed. 

A great book that is only half of the story, Volume II is up for review next week! 

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to AK Interactive for sending this book out to me to read and to review for you.