The SU-85 and SU-100 were Soviet tank destroyers produced on the chassis of the T-34 tank in the second half of the Second World War to deal with German tanks like the Panther and Tiger. Mobile and powerful, they contributed to the Soviet advance and were used for many years after the WW2 by different countries even when they became outdated. Most modellers have based their models on Dragon’s kit (some even on the old Tamiya kit) and while it was quite good for its time it had a lot of mixed features and errors. Nowadays, finding information about Soviet equipment is much easier thanks to the internet and the many Russian modellers sharing information, however, the picture is far from complete. The new book from PeKo publishing will be hopefully of great use as a pictorial guide to different vehicles.
Similar to other volumes of the “World War Two photobook series” it is a bilingual (English/Hungarian) publication that has an introduction and lots of full page photographs. Entitled “SU-85 and SU-100 on the Battlefield” and authored by Neil Strokes the book has a hard cover and landscape A4 format. There are a total of 108 pages, of which 98 are occupied with quality black and white photographs. The complimentary introduction supplies the reader with very detailed information on SU-85/100 development including design features, production factories as well as their battle performance and unit organization. The author is a native English speaker meaning there are no unclear parts in the text; everything is done at a high standard.
After a 3 page introduction the main part of the book starts and here the photographs occupy most of the page space with legends underneath. The latter are bilingual and point out features visible on particular examples, such as cupola details, mantlet and so on. Where it is possible the unit is identified or the slogans are explained. Here, I would have preferred that Cyrillic slogans would have been given in the text as well, not just their translation as some modellers would like to reproduce these on their builds and it is not that obvious for people unfamiliar with Cyrillic handwriting to get the slogans just from the image. As before, most of the photographs featured come from private collections (eg. from Kocsis Péter, the owner of PeKo publishing, or well-known researchers like Mirko Bayerl) or archives such as Russian military archives. The latter ones I’ve seen before, in Russian language books, so assuming that these are not well known to Western readers and people without knowledge of Russian they would be of interest to many as well.
The book covers the development of the SU- from the first prototypes in the factories to their battle use and their end as wrecks on the battlefields, as well as some SU-85’s captured by the Germans and repainted to be used against their former owners. Summer, autumn, winter and spring photos are featured, meaning there are a variety of conditions, weathering effects and stowage to be seen. The quality of images is good and one can easily see the noted features in the legend as well as identify battle damage or paint scheme/unit markings. Further on, the book covers SU-100 in the same manner – prototypes, battle, wrecks/beute vehicles.
In my opinion this is a good book that would be interesting for those interested in Soviet self-propelled anti-tank artillery, but please be aware that this is mostly a photo-album.
Highs: Lots of good quality images of SU-85/SU-100 with detailed legend. Good introduction.Lows: None so far.Verdict: Highly recommended.