I must admit to having a much stronger interest in the 'earlier' German AFVs of WWII than I have for the later subjects. The PzII, 35 (t) and, the subject of THIS book, the 38(t) featuring amongst my personal 'favorites'. Although much of my (limited) bench-time is taken up by M4s, Allied Armored Cars and the occasional KV, I have got a couple of 38(t)s sitting there waiting for the attention they so (richly) deserve.
The 38(t) was one of the backbones of the Panzer Divisions in both the 1940 'Blitzkrieg' and the initial stages of the German invasion of Russia in 1941. In France its counterpart was (broadly speaking) the Renault R-35, In Russia, until the KVs and T34s could be sufficiently mobilized, it would be the T-26. When the Soviet Union managed to deploy (and USE) the T34s and KVs, the days of the 38(t) were, effectively, over...
The Book - the basic Details
4012 - Panzer 38 (t) ~ The Panzerkampfwagen 38 (t) Light Tanks Model A to G has just been published by the German Publisher, Tankograd Publishing. The book follows the standard format of 64 pages in this the company's '4000 Series' which concentrates exclusively on vehicle types and technology of the WWII German Armed Forces. The book is written by Markus Züllner. The emphasis on this series is clearly on images. 4012 is no exception, presenting 108 B & W photos and another 6 in color (of preserved examples). It's also worth noting that, in common with the Publisher's philosophy, the photos in these books are unique. They won't be found in half-a-dozen other publications from other publishers.
The Book - In Depth
The book begins with 7 pages of good, general information about the vehicle. It's 'acquisition' from the Czech Army and the country's heavy armament factories is documented to give the reader an 'orientation' on the subject along with some comments on it's rise and (inevitable) decline when faced with heavier and better-armed opponents. The last three pages of this introduction present tables which cover the 6 'Ausfs' (Marks) of the vehicle from A thru G. Areas such as production figures, armor etc. are all presented in an easy to read format.
The rest of the book is dedicated to presenting in (broadly) chronological order the evolution of the vehicle from Ausf. A to G by means of a (large) series of black & white images culled from a number of sources - not least of which were snapshots taken by personnel themselves. Each photo is extensively (though not obtrusively) captioned giving, whenever possible the unit the vehicle belonged to, location and, always welcome, anything on the vehicle of particular interest. Regarding the images themselves, for those who are used to the publishers who cram as many postage stamp-sized on each page as possible, Tankograd put two (very) occasionally three and frequently only ONE image on each page. This allows the modeler, who is looking for details in markings, stowage etc. to find it easily, rather than straining their eyes through a magnifying glass. The crispness of the images is another area where the Publisher excels at - for too many years we became (badly) accustomed to published images which were too dark, too light or simply too muddy to discern much in the way of detail that is a necessary part of modeling a vehicle convincingly. Because of the size of the images, areas such as Uniforms become clearer. There are also additional benefits - particularly with the other vehicles which appear in the background of the photos - along with a variety of other subjects such as pontoon bridges, railway flatcars, tank transporter trailers or even, for the dioramily-minded, the vegetation... Destroyed or damaged vehicles, whitewashed vehicles, vehicles in snow, the effects of mud or dust all add to the overall utility of the book.
on the 'Debit' side, there is one thing which I would take issue with. I would have preferred that the images had been grouped together in a clearly-defined series of marked sections (according to their Ausfs). Although the Editor has presented the subject chronologically, there is, I feel a need for a seperation - if only to 'break-up' what looks like a wave of images.
I would also (in common with many other Tankograd books, have liked to have seen a bibliography published at the end of the book. Yes, it's a reasonably well-covered vehicle, but some suggestions for further reading would have been VERY welcome.
If you're looking for 'Rivet-by-Rivet' coverage of the 38(t) there are a number of books which DO cover the purely technical aspect. This book does not, at any point pretend to be anything more than an extensive collection of some first-rate images. The vehicle is photographed in the field in a wide variety of typical scenarios and, as such, this is its immense value.
Sensibly, only the 38(t) Gun-Tank is covered. It would have led, in my opinion, to an inferior publication if both the standard vehicle AND its variants had been jostling for space in the same book. Both the Marder on the 38(t) chassis and the Hetzer should be treated as seperate entities - reflected in this book.
Other publishers are producing the technical manual kind of book and do it more than competently. Markus Züllner, the author, has brought together a superb collection of images which will, if it's used will give some good insights of what the vehicle looked like in the environment it was designed for - the battlefield and not in the museum or the workshop. VERY Highly Recommended
Highs: Image quality - both size an clarity is superlative. Captions are concise and clear.Lows: Lack of a bibliography and the lack of (seperated) chapter headings.Verdict: Great value for money and an excellent source of some very inspiring images. If you're doing any one of the 38(t)s available in 1/35th or 1/72nd scale, get it!
Our Thanks to Tankograd Publishing! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAńA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...