Wednesday, January 10

Read n' Reviewed: Panzer Tracts No.12-1: Flakpanzer IV & other variants from Panzerwrecks Publishing

The updated, refined & reprinted Panzer Tracts no.12 with the Flakpanzer in Panzer IV & other variants is the subject of our review today. We note what has been changed & our thoughts on this cornerstone of reference in our review...
Read n' Reviewed: Panzer Tracts No.12-1:  Flakpanzer IV & other variants 
From Panzerwrecks Publishing
By: Hilary Doyle & Thomas Jentz
82 Pages
Perfect bound softcover, portrait format : (280mm x215mm)
83 period photos
14 pages of 1/35th scale CAD drawings
Price: £19.99
Product Link on the Panzerwrecks Website
We are lucky enough to read the recently updated, improved & selectively revised book from Panzerwrecks. Authored by Hilary Doyle & Thomas Jentz, this book has been the closest thing to a primary source in print you could get on the variants of the German Flakpanzer family. This has been a valuable resource for modellers and WWII vehicle historians alike. 

If you have the original, what has been changed in this version?
The problem was, these books were out of print (the original was 1998 vintage), and often hard to find or expensive. Panzerwrecks publishing has taken up the mantle and reprinted them, but also improved them in structure - they are perfect bound with fourteen more pages, with another eighteen large and clear photos added. The publishers have revised some of the detail on the Ostwind, taken the effort to re write some captions for the photos, of which have been reworked for clarity and tonal quality. Of course with this rework, more pages and image the layout and contents have been reworked,

The book's physical form and make up:
The perfect bound, softcover book in a portrait format has a glossy white cover, with pages inside a thinner but semi matte appearance and thick enough feel as to not be opaque. On the pages the text is in English (although there are heaps of German terms), with all-black and white images, of which there are ninety two of them in great quality. 
In amongst the photos there are also fourteen pages of 1/35th scale CAD images of the machines  features in the chapters of this book. There are indeed ten chapters in the book where you will find each machine and the illustrations.

Chapter contents:
-The Need to Defend
-2cm Flakvierling auf Fahrgestell Pz.Kpfw.IV
-CAD Drawings
-Flakpanzer III
-Panzerkampfwagen 38 für 2cm Flak 38

OK, so that is it in the book's upgrades and make up. I will go through each of the chapter's contents to give you the real feel of what's inside.

Page by Page
The book start with an informative introduction from the publisher Lee Archer who was the collator of this series and this book. He explains the make up of the book, and the interesting methods that they went to to replicate the CAD drawings as accurately as possible. One has to admire the effort hat has gone into the improvement of this title at the avoidance of making it a mere re-pop. 

The first chapter "The Need to Defend" is actually two pages that sum up the challenges and the needs of the Panzer regiments from airborne attack. This is an interesting document that explains a lot about the design of the vehicles in this book, why they were a success, and why some were not.
The 2.2cm -2cm Flakvierling auf Fahrgestell Pz.Kpfw.IV is the first subject in focus, with three pages covering the vehicle. A full page of block text and two of great photos of the test vehicle in its different configurations. Discussed in the text was the design elements, the long trip the vehicle too to be tested and the results after, and why the vehicle did not continue into production over other variants.
A natural progression one might think, is the next vehicle featured, the Möbelwagen. A favourite with modellers, we see fifteen pages devoted to this vehicle. Two pages of block text explain the development of the vehicle, with the elements of Panzer IV that were used. The combination with he 3.7cm AA gun and last alterations made before the wagon went into production in 1944. We see production changes and numbers in helpful tables and text hat also talk about the issue of these to the units. There are thirteen pages of the Möbelwagen in the earliest stages and modifications, right though the machine's service life. The pristine vehicle photos give us great reference of the tanks and the guns, while the in theatre photos show us a lot more of the day-to day look and wear of these vehicles through their short service lives. A chart of equipment & machinery on each vehicle is presented before we progress to something even more lethal in this family, the Wirbelwind.
There are ten pages in the book covering the Wirbelwind. Two of block text detailing development, issued numbers & organisation within the units and s chart of production contain of the type. The rest of this chapter contains photos with captions and lastly the chart of equipment & machinery on the vehicle. It is great to see some of these extremely clear images of these vehicles here. A collection of the Möbelwagen, Wirbelwind & Ostwind give the modeller nice perspective. While other images show the internal fighting compartments and the shape of the open topped armoured turrets off to good detail and shape. This gives the reader an understanding of all the aspects of the Wirbelwind.
We now have fourteen pages of CAD Drawings in 1/35th scale. From reading the forward / introduction, we know that all of the available vehicles an their components that could be measured (in multiples from surviving examples), with original blueprints used. The correct scale of these drawings has been taken very seriously indeed. One would say with confidence, that these are the most accurate scale drawings of these machines in existence. 
In total, there are  drawings of the 2cm Flakvierling auf Fahrgestell Pz.Kpfw.IV (x3), the Möbelwagen (7), the Wirbelwind (x8) the Ostwind (x8), the Kugelblitz (x4) the Flakpanzer III (x1), the Panzerkampfwagen 38 für 2cm Flak 38 (x 5).
An odd- bird but obviously more effective, the Ostwind is next up, with six pages. Block text describes the now-familiar format of development, Organisation & issue of the type and the vehicle equipment of fitment of parts, a production date and number chart is also included. Again we see interesting photos of the inside of the vehicle from above. We make out the six sided "cookie tin" turret and how it was different from the Wirbelwind's  nine-sided turret. There ae not that many photos of this vehicle, and precious few of it in service however.
the fan-boi favourite is next, with all of those new Panzer IV and even Jagdpanzer 38t kits with the  Kugelblitz turret coming out, this will serve some interest indeed. The REAL information on this turret and its mating with the Panzer IV hull can be found here folks. We have seen so much spurious information on this combination, but with this book you can cite away all you like with confidence! We get the same block text, with interesting snippets about the failed design before this example coming from U-boats, the development and (very limited) production. There are some great mock up images & shots of the gun at firing tests, the modified PZIV hull that this turret was to go on before we see the lone surviving turret as it is now.
We get only a page of block text telling us all there is remaining about the Flakpanzer III before we move on to the Panzerkampfwagen 38 für 2cm Flak 38. There are some excellent shot of this vehicle (a rather pristine set in a walk around) with a few pages of the vehicle in use on the front. These combine with the excellent text for the images and the block single page of text telling us of development, production and issue. This really was something different to the PZ IV derived versions and the text tells us a little more about the uses of the gun on the machine and why each was preferred.
Lastly, another vehicle for the limited issue crowd, the  88mm gun on a Panzer chassis, the Versuchsflakwagen. We get just under nine pages of this rarity with the big gun and side protection. We learn of the difficulties in design this gun & hull provided in real use, We see photos of both the 88mm Flak 41 L/71 & Flak 37 armaments.
And that my friends, was all they wrote!

Having not owned the original of this book I cannot compare it directly to that version. However, after reading what has been altered and improved, and on reading this book, looking at the photos and the drawings, I can say it is the core, the base on whatever knowledge you want to have on WWII Flakpanzer variants.

Credit to the publish & his team for the work done here. I think it is a great title, and well worth the buy - comin gin at 20 pounds UK. light on the pocket also.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the team at Panzerwrecks for sending me this book to read and to review. You can purchase this book (along with others in this series getting the same updated & reprinted treatment) from the Panzerwrecks Website directly...