World War II demonstrated that air power was the ultimate enemy of ground-based forces. When the post-war German government was allowed to form an army in 1956 it had to incorporate some form of anti-aircraft vehicles to accompany its armoured units, and started by adopting surplus American hardware. Once Germany began designing its own tanks, a new AA tank was inevitable – this was the Gepard, based on the new Leopard chassis. More recently the Germans have developed missile-based anti-aircraft vehicles based on the Marder armoured personnel carrier hull, named Roland.
This book covers the history and specifications of four main vehicles in use since 1956 – the US M16A1 halftrack, the US M42 Duster AA tank, the Gepard, and the Roland.
The book is 64 pages long in A4 (8.5 x 11.5” or 210x297mm) format on thick glossy paper, and is divided into chapters for each vehicle, along with a one-page general introduction. The text is in German and English in the usual Tankograd manner.
Each chapter starts with a text section outlining the development of the vehicle, its technical specifications, and then its use in Bundeswehr service. These are then followed by a selection of sharply reproduced photographs at two or three to a page. Each photo has a useful caption.
The M16A1 chapter is very brief (3 pages, 6 photos) and the images are monochrome. This reflects their short service carrier from 1956 to 1958.
The M42 chapter is much more substantial at 14 pages and 31 photos (plus one in the introduction and another at the end of the book), but only two are in colour. Most of the shots are of vehicles on manoeuvres, but there are a few transport and motor pool shots too.
The Gepard chapter splits into two sections, since it covers the Gepard 1A1 and the upgraded 1A2. This chapter is 27 pages long, with 3 pages of text, 75 photos (mostly in colour), and a set of 1:35 scale plan & elevation drawings. Best of all, there are complete photo walk-arounds of the 1A1 and 1A2 versions! This chapter is truly a boon to the modeller with the old Tamiya kit.
The final chapter on the Roland is 16 pages long, with 43 mostly colour images including a walk-around photo section. Detail is very good, and should help anyone brave enough to attempt a conversion of a currently available Marder kit.
There is a single page of comparative data for the M42, Gepard, and Roland at the back.
One of the strengths of this book is the wealth of information hidden in the captions. I looked at the Gepard images for a project, and noted that the tracking radar on the front of the turret looked different in most of the photos compared to the Tamiya kit, and thought I might have to do some scratch building. However, a note in one of the captions mentions that the dish in that picture had been rotated to the rear (tucked into a recess in the turret front) for transport, and I suddenly realised it was just the back of the antenna mount that I was seeing! Until then I did not realise the tracking radar even rotated at all…
Over all this is a superb reference on the three tracked AA vehicles, and certainly offers lots of modelling possibilities. If there is a weakness (aside from wanting scale plans of the rest of the vehicles) it would be the lack of information about markings. These are plainly visible in many of the photos, but it would have been handy to have some sort of primer on the markings.
This is a must-have reference for anyone wanting to accurately model the M42, Gepard, or Roland in Bundeswehr service. Well worth the price I paid for it!
Highs: Lots of great photos, 1:35 scale plans of the Gepard!Lows: Not much info on markings, could use plans of the M42 and Roland.Verdict: A must-have for modellers of Bundeswehr AA tanks!