|TANKOGRAD - Panzerhaubitzen der Bundeswehr|
Chris Smith takes a look at another of Tankograd's latest releases...
Panzerhaubitzen der Bundeswehr
Author: Peter Blume
Softcover; A4, 72 pages
From their formation in 1956 until the introduction of the PanzerHaubitze 2000 the Bundeswehr used American supplied self-propelled howitzers. The first was the war time M7 Priest, followed by the M52, M44, M55, and finishing with the M109, the last of which was only retired in 2007. This does not cover the M107 self-propelled gun or the M110 self-propelled howitzer as it was unarmoured.
Being 72 pages this book is slightly larger than the normal Tankograd volumes but as always it is in both German and English.
The book begins with a brief overview of the development of self-propelled howitzers during World War Two and then goes straight into the M7 B2 Priest. This was to start with a M3 Lee chassis with a new fighting compartment to accommodate a 105mm howitzer. The later B1 and B2 models used the M4 Sherman chassis and it was the B2 which the Bundeswehr received. It remained in service until 1964. The development history, a technical description and a history of Bundeswehr use is given along with illustrations from the US Army technical manual although these show a mixture of M7s and M7 B1s. These are followed by 9 period B/W photos and 5 colour photos of preserved vehicles.
The next chapter covers the M52 105mm howitzer. These were developed after World War Two and were based on the M41 Bulldog light tank. They entered service with the Bundeswehr in 1957. The chapter is split along the same lines as before i.e. development, technical description and service history. These vehicles were retired from service in 1964. There are eight illustrations from the technical manual as well as twelve period photos of vehicles in German service and one colour one of a preserved vehicle. In one of the photos the crew are wearing the early pattern camouflage uniforms that are very reminiscent of Wehrmacht splinter pattern.
Another vehicle based on the M41 was the 155mm M44. Whereas the M52 had an armoured turret the M44 was open topped and also had a recoil spade. It was also a post war development and entered service with the Bundeswehr in 1957 and was replaced in German service by the M109 and M110 in the mid-1960s. The chapter covers development, technical description and service history. Again there are illustrations from the US technical manual, twelve of them and fourteen period photos. Most of these seem to have been taken during firing camps and so give a good impression of how these vehicles were used. One is shown with an improvised winter camouflage and another shows possibly the same vehicle with its crew sat on the engine decks to keep warm. Several seem to have a sprayed camouflage scheme which is unusual for early Bundeswehr vehicles. Finally there are three colour photos of a preserved vehicle.
Completing the line-up of early Bundeswehr howitzers is the nuclear capable 203mm M55 which also entered service in 1957. It was based on the Patton tank family chassis and had a large enclosed armoured superstructure and a recoil spade. Only 16 were used by the Bundeswehr and they were replaced in 1966 by M110s. The development, technical history and German service are covered and there are seven illustrations taken from the technical manual. There are nine period photos one of which is in colour. Again the photos seem to mainly have been taken on firing ranges although one does show a M55 being moved on a semi-trailer by a prototype Faun tank transporter.
Almost the entire second half of the book is devoted to the M109. The first chapter on this vehicle covers the basic M109 G which entered German service in 1964. The German version differed quite a bit from the standard American version having better range and rate of fire, amongst other differences, which is why it was given the “G” designation. The chapter is broken down into development and technical description. There are four illustrations from the US technical manual and show the howitzers as they were delivered to Germany but before the upgrade program. There are also two period photos of unmodified vehicles just after delivery. In the photos that follow the modifications are pointed out with the use of close ups of the external differences. As well as the black and white period photos there are also colours ones, some of Olive green finished vehicles and others of vehicles in a camouflage scheme that was trialled before the standard Nato scheme was introduced. The final three photos show vehicles finished in the standard 3 colour scheme that was introduced in the 1980s.
The next chapter covers the combat capability upgrades that were introduced over the years that the M109 was in German service. These gave rise to the designations M109 A3 G/ GE A1/ GE A2. The first of these programs was carried out between 1986 and 1990 and involved replacing the gun completely with a new type which lead to better range and increasing the ammunition stowage. The next program saw the introduction of an Integrated Artillery Command and Control System and an Auxiliary Power Unit was became the M109 A3 GE A1. Due to the later than planned introduction of the PanzerHaubitze 2000 a final upgrade program was carried out in 2000 which lead to the M109 A3 GE A2. These vehicles were finally retired in 2007. There are eighteen photos of M109 A3 Gs including two good ones of the tool stowage on the turret roof, not something that is easy to photograph normally. These are followed by fifteen in detail close up pictures, mainly of the upper hull. Next is a mixture of photos of GE A1 and GE A2 vehicles including three internal photos of the fighting compartment.
The last chapter of text covers the service history of the M109 in German service and the book finishes with a page of three photos of the driver training version of the M109 and a comparison table of technical data for all the vehicles covered in the publication.
While the development, technical details and service history are interesting for modellers it’s the photos that count and as usual Tankograd have found a good selection showing not only vehicles on the ranges which is good for diorama builders but pointing out important features of the different versions to allow modellers to make accurate representations of the vehicles. While the M52, M44 and M55 are unlikely to appear in plastic Revell have made a M109 G in the past, although they tend to be like hens teeth to find these days. If you were building one however this book would be an invaluable asset.
My thanks to Justin at Bookworld for the review sample.