The REFORGER NATO exercises have been getting decent coverage over the years, most recently from Tankograd Publishing, but one aspect was generally overlooked: the (West) German participation. Granted this is a very specialized subject and the German involvement was at times rather small or even non-existent, but nonetheless most REFORGER editions saw some German units involved. I believe this is the very first book published on this subject.
This fully bilingual book was written in German by Walter Böhm and expertly translated into English by Jochen Vollert. Containing 64 pages, it is the newest addition to Tankograd Publishing’s 5000 Series “Militärfahrzeug Spezial ”. Walter Böhm, an acknowledged expert on modern German armour, complements here his other volumes on NATO’s REFORGER (REturn of FORces to GERmany) exercises available in Tankograd Publishing’s 5000 Series “American Spezial”.
The book starts off with a thorough analysis of Bundeswehr involvement in Reforger exercises which occurred between 1970 and 1993 (1969 saw no Bundeswehr combat unit participation). The author of this preamble, Colonel Wolfgang Schneider, doesn’t pull any punches and his description of the different command structures in the US and German armies and the practical problems they generated when German officers commanded US troops and vice-versa is quite enlightening (and entertaining). He is also brutally frank on the quality, or lack thereof, of some of the German vehicles. For instance, speaking of the HS-30 armoured infantry vehicle, he writes “The Hotchkiss can well be defined as being one of the worst armoured fighting vehicles ever in German Army service”... After this general background info, Walter Böhm follows on with a minutely detailed listing of German units participating in each edition of REFORGER (sometimes there is no participation at all and this is duly noted).
The rest of the book is illustrated with many black and white and colour photographs. Those photos come from a large number or sources, including some official ones, but a fair amount are from Pierre Touzin. One sees the selection was carefully put together as the pictures never fail to be interesting and give a feel for the period “ambiance”; you really get to travel back in time with those! Some of the photos are very wisely printed full page, something I would like to see more in reference books in general. I found photo captions in the book to be always detailed and informative.
Of course this pictorial content will give the modeller many ideas for dioramas, as many of the vehicles are available in 1/35th from plastic and resin manufacturers. There is also a wide choice in 1/72nd, and even more so in 1/87th! To give you an idea of the scope covered in this volume, we get pictures of M48A2s and M48A2GA2s, Leopard 1s and 2s (and variants including Bergepanzers and bridgelayers), Marders, M88A1G, DKW Mungas, M107s, M110s, M113s and derivatives, Gepards, Hotchkiss APCs and variants, MAN and Faun trucks, Kanonenjagdpanzers, Fuchs, Luchs, Unimogs, KraKa, etc...
A very thorough book on this specialized subject. Modellers interested in this era should definitely consider purchasing it. I have many Bundeswehr books in my reference library and this one is a most worthwhile addition.
Highs: Unique book on the subject, in a little covered period. Solid background info. Atmospheric collection of photographs giving a great feel of those events.Lows: A few of the older photos may be of marginal quality.Verdict: Anyone interested in modern German military vehicles should definitely get this volume!