For a considerable period of time following WWII, Europe's road transport relied enormously on ex-military vehicles. There were several reasons for this. Firstly, many of the manufacturers, rather than developing NEW models, used existing blueprints of Wartime vehicles and put them back into production. A good example of this is with the production of saloon cars - the Mercedes Benz 170 Series was produced before and during the War and re-entered production in 1948. Secondly, as the conversion from Wartime to Peacetime production was to take many years, it was easier to keep producing 'dual-use' vehicles - many of which had been produced for the various combatants. Thirdly, there were so many government surplus vehicles on the market (for knock-down prices) it was easier for haulage contractors to buy these vehicles rather than buy the emerging models.
So, with the (broadly) described situation above, comes the collection of photos in this (and the previous) volume. They were taken throughout Western & Eastern Europe in the 1970s when many of these vehicles were entering their 4th decade of service. What is a testament to the manufacturers lies in how tough these vehicles must have been to have been knocked around on farms, in forestry or on construction sites and STILL run speaks volumes for the original designers...
Frituur Zorro - a Second Life for Army Vehicles Volume 2 is written, edited and designed by Theo Barten and Maarten Swarts. The book is published by the Dutch publisher, Narwal Press. Containing more than 500 hi-quality photos, focusing on civilian use of WW2 soft-skin vehicles, (often unrecognizably rebuilt), which were photographed in the 1970s. The book is hardback with 171 pages and costs 38,50 Euros, 65 US dollars. Both this and volume 1 can be purchased together for 75,00 Euros or 100 US dollars via the publisher's website.
There are some books which you can immediately identify with. Those of us who grew up in Britain in the 1960s/70s can probably remember when traveling fairs or circuses used to visit one's home town. What I remember (inspired no doubt by the Airfix Matador Gun Tractor) were the vehicles that brought the attractions. Scammels and AECs (with even the occasional Austin Champ) are what sticks in the memory. This is essentially the subject of the book. The large numbers of ex-military vehicles which (even in the 1970s) were to be seen throughout Europe. The first book concentrated on ALLIED vehicles, this, the second volume, has a much broader remit, covering many different types of vehicle from many different manufacturers. From Studebaker to Tatra with many in-between...
The authors have done a very interesting thing with this book. The introductory chapter covers a visit to a French scrapyard in the 1970s. Now this, for vehicle enthusiasts, must have been the most incredible experience. Only going by the images and the text, the number of different vehicles mentioned is extraordinary. Panthers, Sd.Kfz 251s, a Luchs, Flakpanzer 38Ts etc. etc. The introduction is like another volume of Panzerwrecks or an edition of After the Battle.
From the scrapyard the book moves onto to the coverage of the vehicles 'in-work' beginning with an Sd.Kfz.8 with an impressive crane welded on, an Sd.Kfz.11 abandoned on a farm with a sidebar of an Sd.Ah.116 trailer. The sections in the book then become clearly defined. The authors have separated the coverage into manufacturers which begins with Volkswagen. Two vehicle types are given a lot of coverage in their civilian afterlife - the Kübelwagen and Schwimmwagen. Both of these vehicles seemed to have been pretty popular in Czechoslovakia for some reason. Highlight of the images is undoubtedly the Kübelwagen with the racing stripes...
Now, there are, in practical terms, far too many vehicles to list. Here are some of the highlights:
A VERY ample coverage of the Opel Blitz (1.5 & 3 Tonners)
The Skoda Ostradsclepper (ORS). A rare enough beast in WWII – Post-War even more so.
Hanomag Tractor Unit
Somua (particularly an MCG)
Gaz (including the Studebaker US6 'clones')
Dodge (some impressive WC conversions and interesting images of the 3 tonner)
Diamond T – the big wreckers doing what they did best.
Pacific: an M26 in a scrapyard
International: M5 HST
When it's necessary, the authors put the detail to the photos. This isn't always necessary as many of the images are self-explanatory. What is VERY useful, is the explanations of some of the manufacturers who were subsidiaries of larger companies and relatively unknown. Cases in point was the (Swiss) Saurer company or Matford (absorbed by Ford, Germany). The captioning is excellent and detailed with the English text helpfully highlighted in blue...
What makes (or breaks) a book of this type is the quality of the images. Sometimes, it may be tempting for a publisher to cram as many images as possible in a book, this is not the case here. All the photos are large. All have been re-scanned and, without exception are crisp and clear. Quality is not good, it is truly superlative. Although the images are all Black & White, what does come through is the ravages of time on many of the vehicles. Particularly in the case of those rusting away in scrapyards, the patches of rust come clearly through. Of course seeing it in another manner, it isn't just the vehicles themselves. The vegetation which grew round some of these vehicles, the additional detritus of old tires or even more unidentified rusty metal parts all adds to the ambience and is of great use to the dioramist.
For the Modeler::
Where does one begin? Yes, all the photos in this book are of (broadly) civilian vehicles which have served their stint in the military. However, there comes a point when you really want to do something different. Civilianizing a Blitz? Converting a Praga RN into a beehive? Putting racing stripes and spotlights on your Kubel? The possibilities are infinite. As I mentioned above, diorama possibilities are equally immense. Going from the 'Junkyard Dogs' to the Post-War collection points for German vehicles in France. Now, with the amazing number of German and (more limited) Allied softskins a lot can be modeled - there really are some exciting possibilities. It's also a nice selling-point for the pigment manufacturers. I doubt anyone could pick up this book and not have a quick look at what they have available in rust or weathering pigments...
For a while now, I've been getting more interested in the possibilities which present themselves with softskins. This is due, in no small part, to what the companies have been releasing in the last year or two. Yes, I still want a Scammell and a Diamond T (amongst many others) but there are a lot of kits out there just waiting to be 'Demobbed'. A book like this serves as an incredible source of inspiration. Whilst the authors make it very clear that with the books in the Friutuur Zorro series DON'T exist to provide data on the subjects covered, they give a glimpse of a 'bygone age' which is almost always overlooked as a subject area for modeling. We tend to (still) concentrate on the 'Glamour-Boys' of military vehicles, the Shermans or the Tigers etc. and forget that for every one of these were hundreds of fuel-tankers, workshop vehicles or transports. This is what this book highlights as well as the astronomical number of military vehicles which found a new lease of life in civilian roles.
It's a pretty big book by specialized publishing standards. However, it leaves you wanting to see even more images of what are incredibly interesting subjects. As I said in the Introduction, it's also a testament to the designers and constructors of these vehicles that they were still serving a useful function long after WWII ended.
This book should be bought, not just by the 'motivated' amongst us, but for everyone who needs to re-launch their modeling. There are some books out there which really give you that 'buzz' with seeing something different. It's perhaps going too far to call it 'inspirational' – if your modeling's in the doldrums, take a look at it and it may just give you the kick in the butt you need!
What's in a name? for those of us (many) non-Dutch speakers the name might be a touch confusing. It originates from the first volume where one of the vehicles featured was an Austin K2 which had been converted into a mobile chip shop with the name Frituur Zorro painted on the side. Don't translate it into Spanish or you'll get 'Fried Fox'....
My grateful thanks to Theo Barten and Maarten Swarts for the review copy.
Highs: The production quality of the book, quality of images and the amazing breadth of coverage.Lows: Not for everyone perhaps? Verdict: Extraordinary - dioramists, in particular will have a field day (no pun intended) with this book.
Our Thanks to Narwal Press! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...