Nuts & Bolts Volume 22 delves into the 15cm sIG33/2 ‘Grille’ Ausf.M and is authored by Jari Lievonen, Tony Greenland and Martin Block. This soft cover book contains 122 A4 format pages printed on high quality paper, with all text written in both English and German. As with the Marder III series previously published by Nuts & Bolts, this volume is labeled Part 1 with a future volume most likely to cover the Grille Ausf.H.
The book opens with the main text section, containing 27 pages and interspersed with photos and tables. Since the Grille M has much in common with other AFV’s, previous Nuts & Bolts releases that are relevant are noted in the introduction as further reads. This section also contains information on the development of the Grille and the improvements made from the Ausf. H.
A well written technical description along with a data table is followed by the production history. A monthly production chart from November 1943 through April 1945 is included listing production numbers for both the Geschützwagen and Munitionswagen, although some are left open due to the lack of documentation.
Organization and deployment follow, along with respective charts, ending with an inventory by unit shortly before the end of the war. There are also sections on the tactical use of the Grille, along with camouflage and markings. Tony Greenland writes a short section on modeling the Grille M. Since the Cyber Hobby Munitionswagen was released just prior to publication, a more in depth view is given to the aged Alan kit. The inside front cover and the last six pages of the book show both these models completed by Tony, and a table of available kits and accessories available at the time of publishing is included.
Wrapping up this section, the publisher acknowledges the people that helped make this book possible, and includes a bibliography. All in all, this section provides a more than adequate reference for the modeler, and makes for an excellent read.
Following this are a series of black & white wartime photos, generally two per page with captions giving a general description and/or pointing out specific areas of interest. These photos are grouped in sets, starting with the factory fresh Grille M at the BMM plant including a couple of shots of the bare chassis with the superstructure, followed by seven views of a gun carrier captured by the British in June of 1944.
Next up are photos showing the gun carrier in the field, filling nine pages with a good variety of images. The last few pages in this section are the photos of the Munitionswagen, all taken in the BMM factory yard.
John L. Rue provides the technical drawings in 1/35 scale of both the gun and ammunition carrier covering front, rear, top, side and cut-away views. These are very well done and will be a great asset to the modeler. John also includes isometric drawings to further aid the modeler in the overall layout of both carriers. A wiring schematic for the radio system is also here.
Camouflage and markings are rendered in full color by Laurent Lecocq, with small B&W photos showing the actual vehicles these schemes are based on. One scheme is included for the rare 3cm Flak 103/38 photographed in Prague 1945, a nice addition for those modeling the CyberHobby kit.
The lion’s share of the book is devoted to full color photos of the two surviving vehicles, both residing in the United States. The gun carrier rests at Aberdeen Proving Grounds whilst an ammunition carrier can be found at the Patton Museum Fort Knox. Both have been subjected to the ravages of time and the elements, though remain intact enough to show many details.
The photos in this section comprise of a complete walk-around of the gun carrier, and numerous close-up shots of both vehicles highlighting just about every detail of the exterior and fighting compartment. It’s obvious that the photographer had the modeler in mind while shooting these, and the captions once again explain what is shown and point out the details.
Spending $50.00 for a reference book was a difficult thing for me to do, although after having this book in my hands for about a month now, I can see that it was money worth spending. As a reference for modeling it is fairly complete, especially given the lack of documentation that has been found on the Grille M. The photos are high quality for the most part, the technical drawings are top notch and indispensible, and the color plates of the camouflage and markings are beautifully rendered.
Since the Grill M had much in common with AFV’s that Nuts & Bolts have covered in previous volumes, some areas may have been given less coverage to avoid being redundant. The authors state this in the introduction, referencing previous volumes by number that are relevant. Even so, there is enough reference material in this volume, which I’m sure will please the majority of modelers. Highly recommend.
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