This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Tank Craft series and on this occasion looking at the Panzer I and II Blueprint for Blitzkrieg 1933 - 1941. 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 I and II as a scale model.
This offering from Pen and Sword is authored by Robert Jackson, who is an author that has written a number of books in the Tank craft series and produced a good number of titles covering aircraft. 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:
Panzer I and II Design and Development
Panzer I variants
Panzer II Conversations and Developments
Panzer I and II in Detail
Camouflage and Markings
Panzer I and II in Combat
The text in this title begins with a look at the tanks produced by Germany during World War 1. Here we see the A7V that was a very poor effort and had a limited production run; I believe I read that the Germans fielded more captured British tanks than they did the A7V. after the war Germany was banned from designing and making tanks and so the Germans were restricted to reading about armour and armoured warfare before moving on to the tank designs made in secret by Germany and tested in Russia. As such this section makes for an interesting read.
The conception of the Panzer I and II are covered next and while it is told quickly it does provide some interesting facts and information which I found of interest. This is followed by a section covering the Panzer I Variants that is short and to the point. This provides a breakdown of the variants and a small amount of text providing information on how each type varied. The period photographs provided here will be of interest to the modeller interested in the Panzer I tank family. It is then the turn of the Panzer II to get the same treatment.
The next area of the book is titled 'Panzer I and II in Detail and I have to say that this did not meet my expectations as it is a very brief section covering the Crew, Armament, Power plant, Armour and Design; I was expecting a close look at areas of interest on the vehicles.
A section providing prints of a fair number of Panzer I and II tanks and the vehicles based on the Panzer I and II chassis is next up. All of the vehicles are shown from the left side and despite this restriction I enjoyed this area and close ups of the turrets from the same side. The other vehicles that get covered here are the likes of the Bison and Luchs which adds a nice mix to the area. The captions that accompany each of the images provide information on the vehicle presented and where it served.
The modelling section starts with a showcase of finished models that are a nice mix of models displayed in vignettes or as stand alone models, and a list of these can be seen after this paragraph. Please take the time to read the provided text on these models as it gives the reader some very useful information on what has been used over and above the base kit.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 1/100th, 1/72nd, and 1/35th scale, and covers injection moulded plastic offerings. No information is provided on aftermarket products other than those mentioned in the built model area.
Panzer I Ausf B, Operation Barbarossa 1941 by Guy Wilde in 1/35th scale. This is a nicely presented model due to a good finish with light weathering.
Panzer I Ausf B, Desert Survivor, Africa late 1943 to early 1943 by Brian Bocchino in 1/35th scale. I did not find this model overly appealing to me but I really like the work done on the crew member.
Panzer I Ausf C, Eastern Front 1943 by Robert Bednarcik in 1/35th scale. This model looks to have used the light colour over a dark base to very good effect and I like the level of weathering applied.
Panzer II Ausf A, France 1940 by Philipp Gross in 1/35th scale. This model I really like as it shows the early brown and grey paint finish so rarely seen along with a well finished figure; I wish the figure was wearing the early style of beret though.
Panzer II Ausf C, Poland by Bill Stewart in 1/35th scale. This offering is showing a very light grey finish with the brown camouflage and is another visually pleasing model.
Panzer II Ausf D, Poland by Bill Stewart in 1/35th scale. This offering is also in the grey and brown finish, but for me it was the very small amount of foliage that has got stuck on the vehicle that really draws my eye.
Panzer II Ausf F, Afrika Korps by Bill Stewart in 1/35th scale. This is a very visually appealing model with the vehicle identification having been placed on the grey colour and the sand colour added with these areas exposed in a natural manner.
Panzer II Ausf J, Eastern Front by Bill Stewart. Bill thank you for presenting a model in a well applied yellow and green camouflage.
With the modelling sections out of the way the book looks at how the Panzer I and II managed in combat. The first outing of the Panzer 1 was during the Spanish Civil War where they faced off against BA 10ís and T 26ís, both of these Soviet vehicles were a match for the Panzer I. The Panzer I could only defeat the Soviet machines at close range and so it was not a stunning venture. The second outing was with the Chinese against the Japanese where they were all destroyed or captured. The third outing was against the Polish at the start of WW2 where Panzer I an IIís went into the fray alongside some of the larger Panzers. Here a combination of surprise and sheer numbers gave the Polish very little time to react to the onslaught and the Polish had very few tanks with the TK 3 being of limited use against the vehicles it faced. When the Panzers rolled into France both the Panzer I and II was outclassed, but they were used in such a way that they succeeded against superior vehicles that were used poorly. For me this is a direct reflection on the brilliance of Heinz Guderian who used the available armoured forces effectively to mob the superior armour of the Allies.
Robert Jackson has done an exceptional job with this title as he has not tried to cover the Panzer I and II from every nut and bolt, but he has tackled it in a way that has presented some interesting facts and in an enjoyable reading style. The period black and white photographs are well chosen and supplied with well written captions. I would have liked to see the print section cover both of these vehicles from more than one angle as I feel there was room if they did away with a couple of the finished models. The section looking at the Panzer I and II in combat is a particularly pleasing read and I found it an enjoyable way to close the title with.
Darren Baker takes a look at one of the Tank Craft series of books covering the Panzer I and II Blueprint for Blitzkrieg 1933 - 1941 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...