Monday, January 8

Read n' reviewed: Panzerwrecks 25 "Normandy 4" from Panzerwrecks Publishing

We really look forward to seeing each new Panzerwrecks issue arrive. This one in particular had some interest with build up within the community who got to choose the artwork! Vol #25 focusses on the vehicles of the battle of Normandy 1944. We give you our thoughts after we read it in our review...
Read n' reviewed: Panzerwrecks 25 - "Normandy 4" 
From Panzerwrecks Publishing
By Lee Archer
Colour profiles by Felipe Rodna
Softcover, 280mm x 210mm, landscape format
Language: English (UK)
Pages: 128 / Photos: 153 / Artworks: 6
QR-code locations included in this book
ISBN: 9781908032263
Price: £24.99 from the Panzerwrecks Website
Modellers love great references, and for years a great source of quality inspiration and quality information has come from the Panzerwrecks series. Today sees us with the twenty-fifth version of the series to review for you. It is important not for any great series to rest on its laurels however, so we  examine every issue on its own merits and content, but to also to compare them to previous issues in content and the subject matter as to their interest to modellers and armchair historians alike.

Let's look at volume #25, first in its physical form, then in the contents page by page before we share our thoughts.

The book's physical form:
The book is a soft bound, glossy covered, binding. This time in a lovely mid forest green and white motif. Inside the 280mm x210mm, landscape formatted book we have 128 pages, filled with 153 mostly large format black and white photos. This is complimented by six specially commissioned diptych artworks (in this case, two images that make up a whole picture) from the master artist Felipe Rodna.
Most importantly, each of these photos are accompanied by insightful text in English language by the author, Mr. Lee Archer. He offers information on the situation, machine and the interesting and sometimes overlooked details in these photos. the where, why and how. They are an important part of this combination.

Contents of Issue #25:
This book is divided up into some sections focussed on an event or certain subject, while other large groups of pages have only a series of individual shots or unrelated photos. In this issue our focussed chapters are:
-Rocket Attack Wrecks
-Converted French Halftracks
-RSO Evaluated
-Death of a Recon Column
Page by Page:
Issue #25 sees just vehicles from the Normandy Barrels of 1944 featured, although some of these photos are taken at a later date. Now Ill take you through a tour of what's actually IN the book as apposed to what makes it up.

We start with an introduction from the author with some brief discussion and a tip we will talk about later. He explains a little of the chapter subjects and we are off into the main book with four pages of Jagdpanzer IV's in various conditions & poses. Then, the first chapter with the British test images and results of the deadly rocket projectile attacks from aircraft in the Normandy area in the early part of Operation Overlord . This topic has been a hot button topic recently on the "you-tubes", with debate on if aircraft could actually hit and damage armoured vehicles or not. This series of fourteen pages, each with a large format photo and the results of the research team for each (incredibly clear) photo  included give you a great understanding of the test, what the investigators were looking for.
We have a series of images of a Flakpanzer 38 (minus it's gun in a great walk around, a Tiger I (the cover girl) with an accompanying artwork, the first of six by Filipe Rodna which we will talk about these later), followed by two other unfortunate Tiger I's bogged/suspended between trees during a bombing raid and later being ridden, with another derelict in the long grass. A pair of Hummels after the war heavily trophied lead into a series of photos of an unfortunate Sturmgeschütz III in an unnatural position in a river beside a bridge over the Orne. The shots taken at different times is of interest. 
What a great entry than, to include more StuG III's into the mix? We see several single and paired images of these vehicles, many from the same unit and featuring Zimmerit, in different positions under their original and in the hands of "new management". The author carefully points out how these vehicles relate to each other as he almost guides the reader through. We also see StuG IV's in a smaller number but no less interesting scenes. I love it that we often do see more than one shot of the same machine. It helps modellers so much and flames the inspiration for a kit you might have been thinking about in the stash.
The ever-present Panzer IV is the subject next, with again a series of two photos showing a "short-tracked" fix with two views of the tank at different times. Another PZIV. then leads into another of the six specially commissioned diptych artworks from artist Felipe Rodna. This one showing the next subject with several interconnected photos of the Grille (one with a bad smell attached to it). These images really do expose a lot of detail you may have first missed in this photograph. They are created from scratch & shown in colour in a process shown here in this blog post from the Panzerwrecks site. I think that along with the text to accompany them, they show so much more than a reader can ever glean from an often copy and paste comment from someone on the internet over a photo. THAT is the real value of this series to me. The knowledge it affords the reader is priceless.
The next chapter features the converted French halftracks used by the Germans, and sometimes made into pretty radical new designs. Three of this great named "Krankenpanzerwagen", Knocked out Somua MCG 7.5cm tank destroyers are seen in a series of great reference shots for such a rare specimen. We have another artwork from Mr Rodna, with the colour illustration revealing more of the camouflage next to the original vehicle before we see another MCG variation, this time theLeichter Reihenwerfer (16 Rohre) auf Somua MCG S307(f) self-propelled barrage mortar and we learn of it's end in 1948.
Where would we be without a Panther? Indeed, our wishes are granted with two different Auf. G models, one on a transport trailer. A series of shots of a Panzer IV in close proximity to a wrecked Achilles tank destroyer even out the scores a little. A great series of photos from each of the vehicles add the layers of interest and knowledge to the reader as they sift through the pages.
A heroic Polish tanker poses near some destroyed StuGs leads into another of the dual image & illustrations from Mr Rodna. From the accompanying text you know the author has gone to great lengths to try to identify some of these vehicles, and these efforts were much appreciated by this reader. I know modellers will think similarly to me on the effort.
Several more great shots of Panzer IV's and Panthers follow this. Fans of zimmerit application will go to heaven with some of these shots and the details in the clarity of images represented. What I have not mentioned this already but right throughout this book there are small QR codes on certain photos. These are a direct link through google maps to the same place as it is last time the area was mapped. You can turn the phone in the landscape aspect to match landscape photos also. It goes further to connect the reader from the past to the present and gives context to the location and just how much has changed since the original shot was changed. 
Four pages of smaller shots of the Mittlerrer Panzerflammenwagen Sd.Kfz.251/16 halftrack are seen next. This shows a series of photos taken from a GI evaluation team of the vehicle in Normandy. The working and parts of the flamethrower and tank are shown in this interesting series.
Another dual image & illustration next, this time of the Sd.Kfz.250/1 proceed several images of everyone's second favourite German vehicle, the RSO/01. The first two of an overturned vehicle lead to several in a series in the chapter "RSO Evaluated" of a vehicle that was being repaired and evaluated. The findings of the report are included in this book for some good reading, close up shots of the engine, tracks suspension and sprockets.

A "Puma" schwerer Panzerspähwagen (5cm) along with two shots of a 3.7cm Flak 36 8t halftrack & 4 barrel 2cm Flakvierling are almost as popular and shown here. Much of the rest of the book features halftracks of many types (one with the diptych artwork to accompany it). The last chapter is called "Death of a Recon Column". It features the photos taken from a reel taken by US Signal corpsmen after an attack on a German recon unit around St Aubin-d'Appenai.
This series of film captures & still images rounds out their anniversary #25 number. Happy Quarter century to the team!

But is it one to celebrate? Well, I think so - with clear and interesting images and text that not only open the subjects up to the reader, but correctly inform them of the situations, the who, where what and why most often. Well written and obviously researched in great detail, there is so much work plainly evident in this well-presented volume.

Celebrations all-round then - another essential volume of Panzerwrecks that I have seen is already inspiring modellers on the internet!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the team at Panzerwrecks for sending me this book to read and to review. You can purchase this book from the Panzerwrecks Website directly...