Norbert Számvéber should be known to those modellers who are interested in combat history as he previously authored books about Waffen SS in Normandy and Operation Konrad (Hungary 1945). Now, he has a new title out with PeKo publishing and it is dedicated to Assault gun battalion 202 or Sturmgeschütz Abteilung 202.
While you might not heard about that unit it was very successful and performed well when it comes to number of destroyed Soviet armoured vehicles and awards collected by the staff of the battalion. Formed in 1941, not far from the start of the Barbarossa invasion into Soviet Union its purpose was to provide infantry with fire support, however, later on StuG became a powerful anti-tank weapon especially after upgrade of the main armament to the long barrelled guns (L/43 and L/48).
StuG Abt 202 entered the battlefield on the approaches to Smolensk and then continued into the Moscow offensive. They participated in operations of German 3rd tank army near Vyazma, 9th tank army near Rzhev, 2nd army near Kursk, 4th tank army near Dnepr, 1st tank army in Korsun area, 8th army near Uman and finally in the 16th army close to the Baltic sea. The remains of the StuG Abt 202 surrendered in Kurland in May 1945.
Overall, this unit had around 1000 confirmed armoured targets destroyed but also carried other different tasks, like fire support, target suppression and so on. 88% of their time they were doing things other than anti-tank operations.
In total, there are approximately 250 pages dedicated to the history of the unit in this book where more than 1400 reports and references were used by the author. Norbert Számvéber carefully guides the reader through all the above mentioned events based on battle orders, reports and staff memoires. The latter might be the most interesting part of the information as it is not just “dry” official statements but personalized “first hand” text. Next section of the book contains a number of appendixes where you can read about the commanders of the unit, award holders, specifications of StuG’s, personnel numbers, field trials, unit inventory and index. One should be aware that the author used the German names of Soviet cities and areas and they are not the same as the English ones. However, you can easily find an English variant on Wikipedia or elsewhere.
The narrative part of the book is followed by sections filled with maps, documents, photographs and colour profiles. Here the paper changes to thicker glossy one for better representation of the material and I think this is a very good choice by the publisher. I believe it is the same type of paper that they have in their photobook series.
Maps show sketches of battles and battle orders. Documents include status reports, inventory lists, sometimes with chassis numbers of StuGs, different schemes on StuG tactics, for example cooperation of StuGs with infantry and others.
Photographs included in the book have been collected by Peter Kocsis, Thomas Anderson and Archive of Modern Conflict. Most of them have never been printed before and definitely they are a great supplement to the text. A path of StuG Abt 202 is illustrated in those photographs and you will find portraits of personnel, assault guns in various landscapes and camouflages, some photographs of interiors and maintenance of vehicles. Other equipment present are Sd.Kfz. 252 half-tracks and a couple of T-34. Photographs either take half of the page or occupy the whole page (page size is approximately 16x23cm). There are 108 photographs according to book metrics and they are then followed by several colour profiles. The latter can be used for painting a model that could be built based on the references and information presented in that book. A model with personalized history.
Clearly, the new book about StuG Abt 202 by Norbert Számvéber is a thoroughly researched publication and I can highly recommend it to anyone interested in German assault artillery during the WW2. It is a well-designed book with a hard cover and great printing quality. The total number of the pages is 396 and they contain a large number of photographs, maps, documents and detailed unit history. Impressive to say the least!
Highs: Throughly researched book about German assault gun batallion. Previously unpublished photographs, maps, diagrams.Lows: none so far.Verdict: Highly recommended.
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