This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Tank Craft series looks at the Panzer IV 1939 - 1945. This book as with all of the titles in this series are I feel an attempt to offer the modeller a combination package covering both reference on the vehicles and a look at the models available to replicate the Panzer IV as a scale model.
This offering from Pen and Sword is authored by Paul Thomas, who is an author I have knowledge of from the 'Images of War' series. This is a soft backed book with a good card cover protecting 64 pages of semi gloss paper. The contents of this title are laid out as follows:
On the Eastern Front
Kursk and Beyond
Camouflage and Markings
Panzerjager and Flak Vehicles
Panzer IV (PzKpfw IV) Variants
The text in this title begins with a well written introduction that covers the intention of the author in this title. It has to be remembered that the Panzer IV saw many changes during its life, and that is before the tank destroyer and self-propelled gun variants join the mix. so what has the author managed to provide us with here due to the limitations in the number of available pages?
The origins of the Panzer IV get looked at in the first section of this title proper and it spells out how the Panzer IV was originally produced to perform the role of a support tank. Its role was to tackle anti-tank guns and fortifications. The Panzer III was to tackle enemy armour while the Panzer IV carried out the other tasks and this was as Heinz Guderian envisaged.
The next area looked at is the Blitzkrieg Years in which the Panzer III and IV combination worked well for the most part and succeeded on nearly every occasion despite the forces they met often having superior armour. The Panzer IV and III were so successful that it was not considered that it was the tactics that won the day rather than how the vehicles were used.
As the war progressed and German forces were sent to Russia the shortsightedness regarding the Panzer IV were brought into stark relief. The Panzer III was not equipped to tackle the Soviet Armour and it largely coming down to German artillery to tackle it. The issue was that the Panzer III did not have and was not able to accommodate a gun of a suitable size to tackle the soviet armour and the short barrelled weapons on the Panzer IV were in the same boat. As the Panzer IV was changed from an infantry support tank into a tank versus tank weapons platform it became a very capable tank on the Russian Front.
A section providing prints of a fair number of Panzer IV tanks and the vehicles based on the Panzer IV chassis is next up. All of the vehicles are shown from the left side and offers some nice close ups of the turrets from the same side. The other vehicles that get covered here are the likes of the Stug, Brummbar and Nashorn to name just a few. The captions that accompany each of the images is firmly aimed at providing details on the specific vehicle identified and camouflage applied.
The next section is a very nice article on camouflage and Zimmerit. The first winter after the invasion of Russia saw German armour with no camouflage and so easily spotted; this was due to supplies of white paint not arriving soon enough in many cases. The result of this was crew applied camouflage in the form of white wash, chalk, material and even snow being applied by hand. This section also covers the advent of the yellow, brown and green paint schemes that appeared after winter in Russia. Zimmerit gets very little in the way of text but the patterns used is covered well.
The modelling section starts with a showcase of finished models that are nearly all displayed in vignettes and a list of these can be seen after this paragraph. The section covering the kits available is a reasonable section for the modeller who wants to see where to aim his or her pennies at. Models in 1/76th, 1/72nd, 1/48th, 1/35th and even 1/32nd scale and covers injection moulded plastic offerings; I have noted a small error here in that the moulds taken from Tristar have been listed as Hobby Boss production and how good they have become.
Panzer IV Ausf H, Normandy 1944 by Dick Sermeus in 1/35th scale. The model is very well presented and results in an appealing finish.
Panzer IV Ausf H by Brian Richardson in 1/16th scale. This example shows a lot of detail not seen in smaller scales and I like that some images show what work the modeller has done in the way of scratch work.
Panzer IV Ausf D/Tauch by Bill Goodrich in 1/35th scale. What I like about this model is the weathering to the wheels and lower chassis.
Panzer IV Ausf F2, Russia June 1942 by Brian Bocchino. This model is too clean for my tastes or it could be that the photographs don't show the work done well; either way it is a very nicely done model.
With the modelling sections out of the way the book returns to the Panzer IV or more accurately the Panzer IV chassis mounted vehicles. This section looks very quickly at some very good vehicles and possibly the best defensive weapon the Germans came up with during World War 2 the Stug series of vehicles that served admirably in their designated role. The title comes to a close with a quick look at the variants of the Panzer IV from A to J.
Paul Thomas has attempted to tackle another vehicle type that I feel is just too varied in scope for the available space in this title. With that said I will say I enjoyed this title as a modeller even if I would have been disappointed as someone wanting to read specifically about the vehicle. I was surprised to find errors in the way of list of contents spelling Blitzkrieg as Blistkrieg and the Tristar model being noted as an example of how far Hobby Boss had come. On the plus side I found some very interesting snippets of information on the Panzer IV and the black and white period photographs with well presented captions that rated highly with me.
Darren Baker takes a look at one of the Tank Craft series of books covering the Panzer IV 1939 - 1945 from Pen and Sword.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...