Thursday, September 23

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

AK Interactive's "WWII German Most Iconic SS Vehicles" is the second in the two-part series about... well, you guessed it! Having read the first volume a while ago and liked it we thought we would look at the sequel in today's review...
Read n' Reviewed: WWII German Most Iconic SS Vehicles. Volume II
Published by AK Interactive
English or Spanish languages.
171 pages.
Soft Cover / A4 Portrait format.
The book features ten 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 II of a two-part series from AK Interactive featuring WWII German vehicles of the SS...
We have read the book, so now we can properly evaluate the contents. First up, let's look at the package the book comes to us in.

The book in its physical form:
One hundred and seventy-one pages in this book which is written in either Spanish or English text - your choice. It is 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 much more than several photos without context, or, even worse, a wordy article with no photos to support them. A good approach to a nicely laid out and "schmick" looking package.

Contents: WWII German Most Iconic SS Vehicles. Volume II from AK Interactive 
- King Tiger by Kreangkrai Paojinda
- Bergepanther Ausf. A by Kristof Pulinckx
- Tiger I Early by Napapas Kangrat
- Panther Ausf. A by Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek
- KV-1 Model 1939 by Kristof Pulinckx
- Tiger I Mid. Production by Rubén González Hernández
- Panzer IV Ausf. H by Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek
- Panther Ausf. G by Lester Plaskitt
- Tiger I Late by Kreangkrai Paojinda
- Flakpanzer IV “Ostwind” by Rubén González Hernández
Again, like the first edition we have some talents in amongst these authors /modellers, what about their works and how they are relayed to the reader inside the covers?

The man responsible for the book, Mr Carlos de Diego Vaquerizo gives us a brief introduction and explanation about the reasons for the book and the subject matter, that being the SS and their vehicles of note during WWII. He mentions the basics about the SS, how it started, some of the units and a decent short summary of their histories. He also talks briefly about the models shown in the book and a few points about the authors/ modellers work on each. Two pages are there to explain the brief history of each of the SS units featured in this book and to show some photos and the unit insignias of each to the reader. He does not glorify the SS - and neither does anyone else in the book, which is good because this is a sensitive subject to a lot of modellers out there who might just want to see the builds without the context.
The first build is from Kreangkrai Paojinda and features the "King Tiger" of the cover page, this kit is the Meng Models King Tiger with some excellent work done on the zimmerit by this modeller who used a tool, putty and a steady hand to apply it. The build process of the KT is shown in step by Step 9SBS) fashion, all added to with aftermarket tow cables and loops.
Undercoating, base colours and camouflaging go on in the space of one page, which is a little fast, we then spend the next seven pages looking at some very nice weathering of the turret, hull, dirtying the road wheels and running gear and then the tracks which shows how much goes into that apart of the model's overall look at the end of the build. These are all detailed again in SBS form, and it makes them easy for you to follow and understand. The base work and finished kit shown over the next two pages reinforce the importance of all the little details added to gether to make a great end result.
Next, we have an open-topped Bergepanther Ausf. A by Kristof Pulinckx. The Meng kit is a complicated kit, and thankfully we see some of the main parts of construction throughout the SBS sequences over five pages.
Distressed whitewashed paintwork is a skill, and Kristoff shows us just how he achieved such a good final result in the SBS painting and weathering sequences after this. Of course, for all of the whitewash, you need dirt, grime, mud and dust on top of that. Wear on the dozer blade, the wooden sides and the top surfaces of the tank that the crew scramle over is shown in steps, as is the separate base groundwork and figure that accompany the excellent diorama you se in completion.
The mighty Tiger I Early is next, made by Napapas Kangrat from the base of a 35th scale Ryefield Model kit. OF the thirteen pages of the build, only two are dedicated to constructing the maligned (in some circles) kit. The undercoat, base shades and camouflage are on the next two pages, with the rest of the article concerned with weathering and wear on the kit.
Oil paint rendering, then the dirtying and soil added to the road wheels and then tracks are displayed, Stowage is added before an impressive but simple diorama base is made by the modeller in the SBS style showing and telling us as we go just how to achieve the same result yourself.
Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek is next up to bat with another iconic vehicle of the SS and Panzer Korps - the Panther Ausf.A, in 35th scale in a  kit by Meng. Most interestingly, he did not use the Meng Zimmeritt but the ATAK kit, as well as some Eureka XXL towing cables. The build sequence is shown only in the superficial details again over two pages.
A black undercoat and real color Dunkelgelb base colour are added to with green and brown splotches to the tank before some impressive dirt and dust effects go on to the tracks, road wheels and suspension and the sideskirts of the hull, very graduated and rather realistic.  Camouflage netting, stowage and two SS Panzermen are added to the tank before again, we get a simple but step by step tutorial of the base this tank sits on, very nice indeed!
On to a Russian tank now - Iconic SS vehicle? Hmmmmm😕 - the KV-1 Model 1939 from  Kristof Pulinckx with his second article. A Beute Panzer might be out of place some might think in this company, but a lovely model nonetheless. A lot of work had to be done to this tanks fenders, armour texture, torch cut edges and stowage boxes, along with 44 Gal drums, extra roadwheels and towing cables definitely give this tank more of a workman-like appearance before the paint starts to flow on to the kit. 
AK real colors are again used, and the panzer grey colour is fairly light, but realistic because of the scale effect and dust, dirt and grime that then get added to the vehicle. He shows us in SBS how to apply the exhaust stains, dirt and mud to the suspension to the undersides of the hull, the groundwork diorama base as well as two SS tankers about to celebrate to finish off the scene very nicely.
Another Tiger I is next, this time a "Mid. Production" version of by Rubén González Hernández. Rubén does a wonderful job of explaining the process in SBS of the application and wear of the Zimmerit coating, the bent and beaten up fenders and cables, and the use of aftermarket tracks from Modelkasten. Real colours are again the paint of the day, and in a page and a half, we have already applied the full camouflage and tank number! The darker chipping works well on the light coloured camouflage, and the light coloured dust and dirt as well as the undercoated red oxide in some of the hull where the zim has chipped off give a great contrast and interest to the scheme. The article's only bad side is it is a little short at eight pages.
The workhorse - the venerable Panzer IV Ausf. H is definitely an icon of the Panzer Korps and SS tankers, and this one by Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek again has all of the features you would expect of a heavily camouflaged example on the western front in 1944. Too many extras to name have been added to the very simple base Zvezda kit, and it shows in the quality of the result shown in SBS style, pictures and text explaining many of the stops along the way.
Homemade Zimmerit coating on the standoff panels and armour, a nice three-tone camouflage and extra camouflage in the style of a captured British camo net added to the tank make this something of an original in a well-populated genre. The original approach to this model is seen here again the heavily flora-filled base and groundwork, and also the excellent addition of the soldiers of the SS seen bustling past the tank in what looks like a frenzied scene. Urgency is given by the body language of Rado's Miniature figures to the diorama. I like how he explained - and showed - how he put this all together.
Lester Plaskitt is next, with his 1/35th scale Panther Ausf.G. that replicates the vehicles of the SS led by Joachim Peiper, a noted SS commander with a notorious resume. This tank is based on the Dragon kit and is represented as a late version from MAN in a late-war camouflage pattern. Very good SBS sequence of the build in process and the addition of damage, extra top armour, stowage and fuel tanks to the base kit are displayed clearly and simply. The mud on the wheels, the cables and the extra tracks added to the vehicle really add to the result further down the track.
Real color paints and ABT 502 oils make the painting combination pop, with the addition of the dirty undersides are shown in SBS examples. The splattering and streaking of the sideskirts wet and dry mud look are a great exercise by the modeller showing us clearly the look he/you are trying to achieve. The leaves and bushes added to the kit are often a make or break, He shows us how to make them work here, along with a nice base to set all of this upon. This is a great build article that represents the SS Kampfgruppe Peiper Panther we have all seen in newsreels very well.
The last tiger of the war, the Tiger I Late from Kreangkrai Paojinda is next. With The donor Trumpeter kit being altered from the off with a great demonstration of Zimeritt application, the altering of some Alpine Miniatures figures to better fit the tank and a Daimler Dingo scout car to fit into the diorama are a great way to set the scene. The construction and composition 
Gentle chipping and corrosion to the most used parts are displayed, as was the build, in SBS fashion. Tracks and road wheels are weathered and dirtied in this same picture/ paragraph style.  The base is also shown in construction to complement the pair of vehicles and SS soldiers in a very convincing scene.
The very easily recognizable Flakpanzer IV “Ostwind” from Rubén González Hernández set during the "Spring Awakening" in Hungary in the late months of the war in 1945 is next and last in the sequence of builds. This one is set on a small diorama with a roadway, some SS men and a motorcycle rider setting the scene. The Trumpeter donor kit is put together over four pages, with the internals painted and detailed to add to the tri-tonal camouflage of the exterior.  
A step by step explanation is again offered throughout the article. The guns, with all of their metal and worn parts, the suspension and all of that mud and dirt and tracks are all given the wet road treatment. The accompanying Zundapp bike is shown completely mud and dust-soaked. To finish off the SBS sequence the groundwork, wall and figures are added. The article is a very nice way to finish the book on two iconic vehicles indeed.

So - that's all they wrote!
This is the second book in this series I have read. And together they make a one-stop-shop of many of the iconic vehicles of the German armed forces in World War Two. In a way, the publishers could dodge some controversy and make this just the "German" Iconic vehicles instead of the "SS" iconic vehicles, they are one and the same to me.

The articles themselves are excellent - all of them in an SBS style which works the best to educate poor fools like me and experts alike. The models are some of the best around, and the photos and writing it great also. I have nothing really to complain about there. One might like more brands of materials being used, but hey, someone's got to show you how AK's paints work also don't they?

A great book to round out the series of two - the publishers and modellers involved with this deserve top marks - well done! 

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to AK Interactive for sending this book out to me to read and to review for you.
These two books are also sold together as a package at a slightly cheaper combined price for 49.95