I don't consider myself any kind of expert on the last variants of the Panther or Tiger and even less the extraordinary projects which rarely got beyond the drawing boards. Saying that, I've long held a fascination with the last battles for the Reich and more than a passing interest in the extemporized nature of the seemingly invincible Panzer Divisions in the last days of the War in Europe. I've also tried to keep as 'current' as possible on some of the extraordinary color schemes which were fielded by the 3rd Reich.
To the Last Bullet: Germany's War on Three Fronts - Part 1, The East is written and Illustrated by Dennis Oliver. The book is published by the Firefly Publishing Group in Australia. The book is Soft-Cover, A4 and consists of 34 pages. Of these, 8 pages are taken up with Orders of Battle, Maps, background to the battles and items such as ACTUAL (as compared to 'theoretical') strength.The remainder is taken up with the color plates covering a wide variety (and not a few surprises) of the principal vehicle types to be seen on the Östfront in the period covered.
Publishing any book of this type without historical notes is, in my opinion, a futile and pointless exercise. Images or color profiles of vehicles on their own WITHOUT putting them in a location and historical timeframe is, in my opinionated manner, the modeling equivalent of washing your feet with your socks on. Units, vehicle types and even markings and color schemes were all dependant on the actual situation - ignoring the 'Historical' is ignoring a vital part of the full story.
The book begins with just 4 pages - two pages of background and two full-pages covering a map of the existing situation on Östfront in June '44 looking at the 4 principal Army Groups: Súdukraine, Nordukraine, Mitte and Nord.
From here, the book begins the real business of this series - the Profiles. Markings:
The author, Dennis Oliver, has with the other books he has published in a similar format, taken a very detailed approach to the subject of markings and color schemes. This book is NO exception. Each page of the color profiles presents a side-view of each vehicle with notes on date, location, unit along with an enlargements of Tac signs and Unit Insignia. Where necessary, adiitional illustrations show variations in placement. Although the book would be useful if it simply presented markings, it goes further still. Modifications:
Field-appled modifications such as different styles of Schürzen are highlighted - a good example of this is a Stug II Stuh 42,with a double layer of added side armor - which extends to the side of the fighting compartment. Color Schemes:
While this is NOT the last word on color schemes and the author admits that, inevitably, some ARE open to interpretation, there are a huge range of different color schemes presented. Tri-tonal, Dazzle, Dots, Smudges and Whitewash are all there along with (unusually for Late-War vehicles) single-color schemes. The Vehicles:
Virtually ALL the principal vehicle types of this period are represented. Exceptions include the JagdTiger, Jagdpanther and the Königstiger. As this is the first in a series, these will inevitably be covered in later books. Many of the vehicles covered are Panthers. This is good as there are some staggeringly-interesting schemes and variations in markings. Also welcome are the numerous 251s, Tigers, PzIVs, and Stugs. Less widely-seen is a single Pz III Ausf N, and by way of surprise a couple of Beute vehicles. These are two good subjects - an M4a2 and, (very welcome) a T48 57mm Armed H/T. Unusually, there are a good number of the turrets used in the fortification of Berlin - mainly Panther turrets although a Pz IV turret is also featured. Full markings, color schemes and (where known), street locations are presented.
The final five pages of the book look at the (theoretical) strength of a Panzer Division, the ACTUAL strength of Panzer Units on the Östfront, a map of the German situation in April 1945 along with some historical notes on the final battles.
The current situation is that with the models which have recently produced by the major manufacturers, there should be little difficulty in doing a variety of vehicles for the Late-War period. Added to that, is the promise of parallel decal releases from Bison (Waterslide) and Nordland Models (Dry Transfers) of some of the subjects in this book will enhance its value even more.
If this was a 'stand-alone', the value of this book would be considerably lessened. The promise of further books on this subject makes for a tempting proposition.
Quality of the Profiles is excellent - once again, with the additional details, doubly so. As to variety of the subjects covered - there are inevitably gaps which with a book of this size is clearly understandable. I'm not sure the inclusion of the profiles of the Schmallturms was entirely necessary - I'd have liked to have seen more on FULL vehicles in the Berlin battles.
All in all, an excellent addition for those wanting some VERY specific information on some fascinating vehicles.
Highs: Consider this a 'Project Book' and you won't go wrong. There are several dozen potential and attractive subjects which should liven up the usual vehicles.Lows: Although the format works very well, it does leave the reader wanting much more. Some may look for what is 'missing' rather than what is present.Verdict: Another publication which puts Firefly up there in the top 4-5 publishers of this kind of detailed material.
Our Thanks to Firefly Books! 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 / ESPAñA
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...