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Book Review
Nuts & Bolts 16
Nuts and Bolts #16: Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 12 To and Variants (Daimler-Benz) Sd.Kfz.8.
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]

introduction

One of the more important “overlooked” vehicles is the Sd.Kfz.8 12 ton prime mover. It was part of a series of half-tracks developed by the Military Procurement Office (Heereswaffenamt, often shortened to Waffenamt) to augment the strategic doctrine of Bewegungskrieg ("maneuver warfare")— which became popularly-known as Blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) after the fact. Intended to avoid the horrendous static battles of the Great War that killed millions and produced continental-wide stalemate, Bewegungskrieg relied on fast-moving spearheads, including tanks, motorized infantry and transport to pull the heavy guns needed for smashing enemy strong points.

The first vehicles tested were trucks intended to make use of Europe’s expanding network of paved roads, but soon half-tracks replaced trucks once track systems were developed that could handle the requirements of speed and quiet on paved surfaces, as well as off-road needs, especially in the East. A series of schwerer Zugkraftwagen (“heavy towing vehicles) with towing capacities ranging from 1 to 18 tons was developed, later included into the half-track category in general (Sonderkraftfahrzeug, or "specially-powered vehicle," and abbreviated Sd.Kfz.). The group became the workhorses of the German army, their various forms a source of endearing interest to armor modelers.

The Heereswaffenamt parceled out contracts for the various vehicles depending on their size and mission to different Patentfirmen (“contract manufacturers”) across the spectrum of Germany’s emerging truck and car companies, with the newly-merged Daimler-Benz getting the 12 ton version (later designated Sd.Kfz.8). The Sd.Kfz.8 is in the middle between the more-famous Sd.Kfz.7 and Sd.Kfz.9 (“FAMO”), and was intended to pull heavy guns like the 15cm Kanone, and the 21cm Mörser (“heavy mortar,” but really more like a huge cannon). Throughout the war, the Sd.Kfz.8 towed a wide variety of artillery pieces, including the famous 88 and the many large artillery pieces captured in France, Belgium (including guns turned over by Germany as part of the reparations following WW I) and later Russia.

The Review

Currently the Sd.Kfz.8 is available in 1/35th scale only in a $140 resin kit from France’s DES Kit; there are several resin kits in 1/72nd scale from Romania’s Wespe Models. Thankfully, Heiner Duske has not waited for a new styrene version to devote the latest edition of his “Nuts & Bolts” series to this important half-track. With over 4,000 produced, the Sd.Kfz.8 served on all fronts, and is one of the real lapses in styrene, especially following Trumpeter’s recent release of the 15cm Kanone.

The 136-page volume is printed on high-quality glossy stock with a soft cover, and opens with a 13-page detailed discussion in German and English dual-language versions laying out the history of Germany’s half-tracks. One of the book's few failings is its assumption you own— or at least have access to— the previous publication, Nuts & Bolts #12: Schwerer Zugkraftwagen 18 To and Variants, Famo "Bulle" (Sd.Kfz. 9)) which chronicles that history prior to the war in more detail. The good news is the background material here is still pretty thorough, setting up the particulars about how the vehicle came into production and its evolution into the final model. Included are tables, a thorough bibliography, and a list of all surviving vehicles and their locations.

The introduction is followed by a 52-page collection of period historical photos showing a mix of pre-war, production, action and wrecked Sd.Kfz.8s. The pages contain 3-4 photos each in reasonably high-quality form, hampered mostly by the poor resolution of many wartime German snapshots. A variety of loads are shown, including captured guns, and all the major theaters of war. Unlike its more-famous, smaller cousin, the Sd.Kfz.7, the Eight was not adapted extensively for other uses, serving mostly as a prime mover for heavy artillery. One exception was the mounting of a FLAK 18 88mm gun for a truly formidable-looking tank-hunter.

The next section is a four-page set of color illustrations of the Eight in a variety of camo schemes, including the pre-war tricolor green-brown-gray, “panzer gray,” two Dunkelgelb-based variants, one Winter scheme, and an “Afrika Korps” version that is incorrectly “sand yellow” instead of one of the two-tone patterns recent scholarship has identified.

The final 55-page section chronicles the 12 surviving examples of the vehicle. Stuck in the beginning of the section is an 11-page set of line drawings showing the technical specifications and detailing of the body, chassis, suspension, etc. These will be invaluable, whether for assembling the resin kit (or hopefully a future styrene one), or for aiding the hardy scratch-builder.

Sandwiched around the book on the inside of the front and back covers are eight color photographs of a DES kit built and painted by Tony Greenland. It served to whet my appetite for a model of this important and unjustly little-known vehicle.

conclusion

This is THE book about the Sd.Kfz.8 for both the hobbyist and anyone interested in German halftracks of WW II. The only limitation I see for its acceptance is the current lack of a good styrene kit in 1/35th.
SUMMARY
Highs: All-around excellent overview of this lesser-known German half-track, with ample photos (period & modern), camo schemes and information.
Lows: A bit pricey, but not out-of-the-ordinary for a specialized title.
Verdict: If you only want ONE book about the Sd.Kfz.8, this is the one.
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: Nuts & Bolts Vol. 16
  Suggested Retail: $44
  PUBLISHED: Oct 17, 2009
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 94.00%

Our Thanks to Nuts & Bolts!
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.

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About Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright ©2019 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Excellent and thorough review, Bill. I have three questions: are the plans 1/35, does the book include a blow by blow modification history a la Panzer Tracts, and is the cover basically the same paper as the pages. I really dislike the covers on the Nuts & Bolts volumes I have. At the price point these things command, they should be hard bound. -Doug
OCT 17, 2009 - 11:13 PM
Thanks, I'm having fun growing into the role of "house Nazi half-track geek." Dunno, I don't know how to measure for scale. They LOOK to scale, but I don't have an Eight to measre against. It includes a photo of the DB 7 (for Daimler-Benz, the Patentfirma that developed the vehicle, just as the early Sd.Kfz.7s were known as KMs for Kraus-Maffei), but the Eight did not go through the various permutations the Seven did. The cover is slightly heavier, but the stock is very good. I should add that to my review. I hear ya, but the prices on specialized WW II books in hard cover are OUTRAGEOUS. Part of that is the high cost of producing them on special presses for a really fractional audience share. I prefer soft bound because a hard cover increases the weight, making the book even more expensive because of shipping, especially from overseas.
OCT 19, 2009 - 03:08 AM
I did not know that. Thank you. That's good to know. I consider the "paper" covers a negative, and it factors into my buying decisions. Check check. I prefer hard covers because they hold up much better to use and, when calculating cost per page, most come out less expensive than equivalent soft cover volumes. But it's a subjective choice. I am thankful that books like this are available in the first place. Keep up the good work! -Doug
OCT 19, 2009 - 11:45 AM
   

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