This volume comes in the usual 64-page format with 111 colour pictures, three sketches and four exercise maps.
It covers the German-French army exercise Kecker Spatz which took place in September 1987 in southern Germany. As usual the texts and captions are both in German and English.
The book is divided into two parts each one following the chronological course of the exercise from its setting to the redeployment of the units which took part in it.
The first part covers the historical background of the exercise, i.e. the Cold War and the reinforcement of the military co-operation between France and Germany decided by the German chancellor Helmut Kohl and the French president François Mitterand. It shows that even if France had withdrawn from the NATO integrated command, it was still concerned by the commitment of its forces in Germany in the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact.
The exercise setting faced a number of constraints due to the withdrawal of France from the integrated NATO command. This resulted in Kecker Spatz being a strictly bilateral exercise while in reality the French 1st Army would have worked within the NATO structure.
The scenario of the exercise was based on the NATO assumption that the Warsaw Pact would violate the neutrality of Austria to break through NATO CENTAG defensive positions in Southern Germany while a second move in the North of Germany would encircle NORTHAG. Kecker Spatz scenario focused on the southern part of the anticipated Warsaw Pact aggression.
After describing the exercise area, the book focuses on the participating forces with their order of battle then it presents the phasing of the exercise.
The first part concludes with a presentation of the French Force dAction Rapide (Rapid reaction force) which was the corps level unit involved in the exercise.
The second part is a pictorial report of the different phases of the exercise. Phases 1 (deployment) and 2 (attack) involved German units only so the 13 pages present Bundeswehr vehicles from both camps.
The 17 pages dedicated to Phase 3 (defense and counterattack) start by the air dropping of French paratroopers with their light equipment such as Lohr fardiers or Hotchkiss Jeeps. Among the other French assets involved were Puma and Gazelle helicopters of the 4th airmobile division. Again this chapter shows a majority of German tracked vehicles.
Phase 4 (exploitation) is covered in 19 pages with a good balance between German and French vehicles. While on the German side, Leopards 1 and 2, Marders and M113s are the most present vehicles, on the French side the AMX10RC, the ERC90 Sagaie and again the Jeeps are the most shown.
Phase 5 (restoration) was a map exercise with no unit in the field. The only page for this phase shows vehicles during the dynamic demonstration and the static display. For the first time, a wooden mock-up of the Tiger helicopter was publicly displayed.
The variety of vehicles makes this book a valuable source of inspiration for dioramas and in-situation vehicles. The modeller willing to detail his models could be a bit frustrated as there are no close-up pictures, however other sources fill this gap.
Highs: A thorough historical background, the large variety of vehicles shown.Lows: If I must mention one : the book is more a documented historical study than a modeler guide.Verdict: It is worth buying to see what the large field exercises were during the Cold War. It can be a source of inspiration for some dioramas and vignettes.
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About Olivier Carneau (bison126) FROM: CORREZE, FRANCE
I have been in the hobby for years and I'm still learning.
As a modeler, I only build 1/35 modern military vehicles, mainly armored ones.
I also run a website where I share a lot of walkarounds. Just click on my banner to pay a visit to it.