A look at the latest volume in the Panzerwrecks series....
Authors: Lee Archer & William Auerbach
Price: £16.99 (£13.99 if pre-ordered)
Softcover; A4, 96 pages
Lee Archer & William Auerbach began the Panzerwrecks series of titles in 2004 with the aim of illustrating wrecked German armour from WWII through the use of period photographs. They're now up to the eleventh edition in the main series, as well as beginning to publish several other series promising series such as 'Repairing the Panzers'.
This particular Panzerwrecks edition extends the eighth title in the series, in that it is subtitled '2. Normandy', and as in Panzerwrecks 8 it concentrates on wrecked German armour during and after the invasion of Normandy.
The book is in the usual landscape format, but unusually both the front and back covers are gatefold and open up to reveal panoramic images that would otherwise have been impossible to include in a book of this size. An introduction by Bill Auerbach sets the scene for this volume and acknowledges the contributions of those that helped in the collection and identification of the photographs.
There are four main sections of the book, the first the largest by far, and concentrating on those German vehicles photographed in the vehicle collection yard at Trévières. This section is more than twice the size of any of the other three sections, reflecting the diversity of vehicles abandoned there, which is itself perhaps indicative of the desperate German defence of Normandy. Wherever possible the authors have reproduced the period black and white photographs full page, only resorting to the use of smaller images when reproducing the particular image in a larger form would have served no useful purpose. This first section also begins with what has to be one of the clearest photographs I've seen of wrecked German armour taken during this period. It consists of a wrecked Pz.Kpfw.IV pushed into a roadside ditch, the effect of small arms fire on the turret zimmerit being clearly visible, along with many other details. Since it is so clear, it can make one wonder why some of the images shown in this volume are less so, until it is remembered the conditions under which many of these images were captured, and by whom and with what technology. i.e. amateur photographers on active service, not far from the front line with 1930's and 1940's cameras! I think it's amazing we have the images we do. The large majority of this first section shows Pz.Kpfw.IV's in various wrecked states, with many of them having been seen in earlier volumes, in different photographs. These are different photographs however, of the same vehicles and so deserve to be published. In some cases more information has been unearthed about specific vehicles, and if this is the case, this is mentioned in the accompanying caption. Speaking of which, each photograph is as you would expect, well captioned with pertinent information, and special points of interest where known. In addition to the overwhelming majority of Pz.IV's in this first section, other vehicles shown are mainly SPG's such as the 4.7cm Pak(t) auf Pz.Kpfw.35r(f) ohne Turm, Marder III M's StuG.III Ausf.G, 251 Ausf.D's Sd.Kfw.10/4, StuG.IV and Tiger I and Tiger II.
The second section consists of photographs of an unrecovered Bergepanther, taken where it was abandoned outside shops in a small village. It's an excellent series of photographs taken from all sides, and this section also includes a series of smaller photographs taken of the winch compartment from a different example, included no doubt for their clarity. Inbetween the section on the Bergepanther and the third section labelled 'Scrapyard Panzers', we're given ten pages of large clear photographs of various vehicles including Marder 38(t) and Marder I, Flakpanzers, Famo's and Pz.Kpfw.II and also a useful series of three different camouflage schemes taken by a British soldier.
The third section is descriptively titled 'Scrapyard Panzers', thereby enabling the inclusion of any vehicles of interest...as long as they're wrecked! To this end we're offered various photographs of Pz.Kpfw.IV, Sd.Kfz.223, Sd.Kfz.10/5 Marder 38(t). Panther and a couple of interesting photographs of a Goliath being unloaded from a British truck and examined further.
The final section consists almost entirely of photographs of the Sd.Kfz.234/2 or Puma in various states of involuntary decrepitude. Various examples are shown, some decorated with unknown civilians...towards the end there are examples of other vehicles such as Panzerspahwagen P204(f), a Schutzenpanzerwagen U304(f) which was a version of a French Unic Kegresse armed with a 20mm gun, Sd.Kfz.10/5, Sd.Kfz.7 with 307cm Flak, a Skoda Radschlepper Type 175L and a load carrying version of a 15cm Panzerwerfer 42.
It has to be said that the authors have done an incredible job, first in sourcing so many 'new' photographs for our enjoyment, and secondly in the job of examining each photograph minutely for information and markings, plus other points of interest to indicate in the well thought out captions. Many of the photographs have no doubt been enhanced using various techniques to bring out detail etc., and yet nowhere does this appear 'overdone'. Overall, a great addition to the series, providing not only specific reference, but also inspiration and just great photographs! Well done!
Get it now on Pre-order at the special price of £13.99 from the link below!
My thanks to Lee Archer of Panzerwrecks for the review sample.