Tuesday, August 1

Read n' reviewed: Through the lens - WW2 Vehicles Through the Lens Vol. 1 from PeKo Publishing

PeKo Publishing's new series of photographic books from the WWII era, called "WW2 Vehicles Through the Lens" presents exclusive photographic albums of military & civilian vehicles during World War Two. We tell you what we thought about the book in our review...
Read n' reviewed: Through the lens - WW2 Vehicles Through the Lens Vol. 1
From PeKo Publishing
Author: Tom Cockle
Hardcover, A4 Portrait Format
124 Pages
English language
Weight 800 g
ISBN 9786155583926
Price €24.60
Product Link on the PeKo Publishing Website
We were interested when we saw this, the first in a new series of books, collated by Tom Cockle & published by PeKo Publishing, with their new series of photographical books from the WWII era, called "WW2 Vehicles Through the Lens". The Author and publisher are a proven winning team, so we looked with interest when their new book presenting photographic albums of military & civilian vehicles during World War Two arrived on our doorstep. What better to read the book, and perform a little show and tell for those of you that want to know more also?

This book is new to all of us, so it is good to explain the makeup of it. The series will have six-to-eight chapters in every book, each dealing with a different subject featuring mostly previously unpublished photographs.  Here is what is included in the first volume...

Through the lens - WW2 Vehicles Through the Lens Vol. 1 Contents:
  1. p4-23: Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 202
  2. p24-43: Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf.E (Sd.Kfz.181)
  3. p44-63: Lend-Lease Tanks
  4. p64-83: Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.A to F (Sd.Kfz.161)
  5. p84- 103: Marder II (Sd.Kfz.131)
  6. p104-123: Miscellaneous Vehicles
If the series is anything like this, you can expect English text in cations that go along with one hundred and twenty photos, these are on one hundred and twenty four pages in roughly an A4 book (295 x 210mm) in  a hardcover. The photos inside are almost all previously unpublished, which is a great premise, knowing how long it is since they were originally taken.

Let's look at the chapters and their contents of the book and see what we think...

Page by Page:
The first chapter, a section of nineteen pages that focusses on the vehicles of Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 202 gets straight into the stride of the book. Large format, previously unpublished photos and handy English text captions pointing out the intricacies of the vehicles in the photos, when and often where. One of the most successful German assault gun units in the Second World War, its is hard to find new photos of anything to do with Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 202. I was immediately struck with the amount of photos & the depth of time over which they were taken. In 1941, with StuGs from the Ausf.C/D in the cold and mud of the Eastern front, to the StuG Ausf.E in early 1942, transitioned to the longer barreled Ausf.F later that year.
Indeed, if you just bought Takom's StuG Ausf.F you have a great source of reference here, with many versions in a series of photos (several of the same vehicles from different times or angles) detailing the wooden protection given to some of the unit's vehicles. The Ausf.G in 1943-4 with and without Zimmerit, side skirts, in snow and in mud. There is a great amount of reference and choices for your next kit subject ready to be picked here.
The second chapter is also nineteen pages, and it features the Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf.E (Sd.Kfz.181). Most of these shots are from the Eastern front, and most from a variety of different heavy tank battalions during 1943, with one shot of a captured Tiger in 1944 under US care.  Again, there are some shots in a series, like the one below with this interestingly camouflaged Tiger that make it such a great section for modellers.
In the field, on the road, undergoing repair, on trains, mud, snow, hot and dusty conditions, we see the crew and surrounding soldiers in all types of garb to suit the conditions. I notice the subtleties of the scenarios, the camouflage while tanks are being repaired, the battle-worn survivor broken down on the side of the road in 1944 - it's crew looking like it wanted to save the tank. There is a lot to take in, and the author helps so much with his helpful commentary.
A recent spike in interest in the Matilda will get people enthused about this chapter. "Lend-Lease Tanks" features not only the Matilda Mk II, but also the Sherman, M3 Stuart, the Valentine, the M3A5 Lee are all featured in mixed photos throughout the nineteen pages of this chapter. 
It is often hard to find good photos with accurate descriptions of Lend Lease tanks. Often the internet does funny things to translations or to the telling of the story. Here you have the resources direct from the primary sources, with text that helps inform the reader of how many of these tanks saw service and often, their ends. Indeed, the only point that seems to be made about the section needing more could be that all of these were taken from German photo stock after these vehicles were captured or destroyed. This is pretty standard however, and I only bring it up to be the devil's advocate.
We next take a chapter of nineteen pages to look at the Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.A to F (Sd.Kfz.161). We walk through the Ausführungs, from a shot each of the short-barrelled  Ausf.A in Poland in 1939 and Ausf.B in France, through the Ausf.C in 1940, The author explains the differences between the tanks & the subtle points of each photo in those great captions as we go from marque to marque.
You can see the noticeable change in terrain and the men and their vehicles when the Ausf.D, E & F's are shown on the Eastern front. I love it that the author describes not only the vehicle and its circumstances when shot, but the ways and the reasons for the changes made to the vehicles as they develop. It ads to your general understanding and appreciation of the types a great deal, thus getting the reader more engaged and interested. Textbook stuff, but well done.

We have another nineteen pages in the next section about the Marder II (Sd.Kfz.131). This open topped tank killer is seen throughout in the snow, mud and dust of the Eastern front in 1942 & 43. Rarely do we see so many photos of this type in a book that is not dedicated to it, and certainly not this many previously unpublished photos. The descriptions in the captions highlight the changes, differences & features of each vehicle and the men around them. Another great chapter for the modeller looking for inspiration.
The last chapter "Miscellaneous Vehicles" is a mix of several different types and makes from different makers. Each page is a new vehicles, from a civilian car from the 1930's, to mostly WWII era vehicles throughout until 1944. Most of these are taken on the eastern front in various conditions, usually with the original owners, there aren't too many wrecked or captured vehicles here.
There are really rare things, (like the Diesel electric snow blower) but mostly utility vehicles that you could see on any road during that time period and theatre. The captions flesh out each scene, while the photos often tell a lot of the story. It is not often we get to see much about these secondary vehicles, so it is great to see them covered in this book with unseen photos like these. 
...And that, folks - is all they wrote! So what do we think?

Well I was expecting something good, but was unsure about what would be inside or the format. One can expect something very similar to the books Me Cockle has made in the past, but more of that. I think this is a very good thing. PeKo are great at producing these titles, and the author's work on the captions really ties together these collections of photos nicely.

Looking forward to seeing more of this series of randomly picked but carefully collated gems.

Adam Norenberg

The book is available now for €24.60 - Thank you to PeKo for sending it to us to rear and review. You can find out more about this, and PeKo's other publications on their website...