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Book Review
German Panzers 1914-18

by: Eric Bass [ SAVAGE ]

The mere mention of the infamous Panther- and/or Tiger tank and you risk igniting a heated debate. Yet Kegresse, Holt, Vollmer and K-Wagen bring not the slightest glimmer of recognition to even some of the most hardened WW2 Panzer devotees. All information to the above has ‘gone astray’ in the seemingly lack-lustre annuals that make up ‘The Great War’. Steven Zaloga addresses some of these knowledge imbalances in his new “German Panzers 1914-18”.

Right from the outset it is clear that the author has done his homework, as this book neither regurgitates nor précis’s other WW1 works, and that original research has been done into the subject. There are times when the author cuts through some of WW1’s debated issues (e.g. use of captured light tanks by German forces), that will most certainly spark more than a slight reaction from a few of the more learned amongst the WW1-literate folks. Even with these few ‘poetic licence’ incidents, there exists (that I’m aware of) no evidence either written or photographic that can contradict his conclusions on these issues.

With the introduction you are already drawn to the contrasts in thinking (with respect to a tank force) between the Allied British and French forces and opposing Central powers, the different mental attitudes are clearly defined in the lop-sided production figures. The journey continues on to the various theories, proposals, and prototypes up to the formation of the infant German tank force. Here the different projects, submitted ideas, prototypes and variants are touched upon, as well as the key players. An insight into the complicated German weapons procurement system, the occasionally short sightedness of its- and the military leaders regarding armour is given.

The newly formed German tank force’s training, baptism of fire and operational use forms the basis of the next chapters. Herein the first tank versus tank action, plus the German’s first victorious tank versus tank engagement is briefly described. Additionally the greatest contributor to the German tank program is unveiled to the reader, namely the British Army with the Mark IV tank. At this time the recovery operations, refurbishment and composition of the Beutepanzer (Captured tank) force is explained.

The last few chapters contain the rebuilding and inevitable demise of the small tank force. Besides this, there is a very short chapter on armoured car usage, in the German Army. Whilst the inclusion of the K-Wagen at an initially estimated 150 tons and armed with four 77mm guns, shows the deep-rooted desire for ‘super’ Heavy tanks so clearly demonstrated by the Germans in WW2. In ‘Plan 1919’ the proposed future of the German Armoured forces are laid out. This chapter also incorporates a few future events and the author imparts some thoughts on a few issues. Next a commentary on the colour plates is given. This commentary is invaluable to WW1license model builders as the “heavy ordinance” markings and different paint schemes are clarified.

As with some of his other books the author includes a piece on ‘further reading’, this concise list most certainly contains some of the best literal works on German tanks of WW1.

Comments by the reviewer
This book does cover multiple aspects of German armour and armoured forces during WW1, but let there be no doubt that the A7V Sturmpanzer takes centre stage. The A7V’s history is traced, from humble origins, through its development phase, including the multiple variants it spawned, culminating in the combat history and final demise of the type (post WW1).
One thing Steven Zaloga does not do is to clearly differentiate between A7V-U ‘Hedi’ and the better-known and much-photographed post-WW1 “A7V” ‘Hedi’, an A7V Geländewagen chassis converted to an improvised, although non-armoured, ‘tank’.

The Photographs and Brian Delf’s illustrations superbly demonstrate the diversity of both the vehicles and colour schemes that made up the German Armoured forces of WW1. Thankfully with the colour plates, the usual concentration on one specific type or vehicle is avoided. This results in a very nice balance of diverse vehicles in both early and late, camouflaged and non-camouflaged, paint schemes.

in Conclusion
It is difficult to remain neutral when you enjoy the contents of the item to be reviewed. “German Panzers 1914-18” although not aimed at model builders per se, this book is for everyone, right from the armchair historian’s requirements of a lesser amount of information/data, up to the more serious historical types looking for a good grounding on the subject. WW1 model builders will find the background information useful and Steven Zaloga gets the information (and more than an opinion or two) across without the reader becoming bogged down in the quagmire that is symptomatic with WW1 reading.

Despite a difference of opinion, with the author on one or two minor points, I would strongly recommend this book as a good starting point on German Armour of WW1, an all too often neglected field.

The layout of the book is typical of the New Vanguard Series, consisting of 48 pages, 8 of which contain the colour plates including the cross-sectional/cutaway of the main subject. Also included are 43 Black and white photographs of some of the subjects covered. Over the 14 chapters (including introduction and an index), spanning anything from a paragraph to several pages, Steven Zaloga in this publication, briefly examines the origins, construction, operational use, demise and proposed future of the German Armour of World War One.

This book, although limited in size, manages to convey a large quantity of information and yet does not bore you with constant facts and figures.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 1841769452
  Suggested Retail: £9.50
  Related Link: Osprey Publishing
  PUBLISHED: Sep 11, 2006

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About Eric Bass (Savage)

Took an 18 year absence from scale modelling, quite a bit has changed (for the better, that is). I enjoy building Armoured vehicles, gee what a surprise? As I always support the underdog in business, I am hoping that the ‘new comers’ to scale modelling production, Trumpeter, Ace, Maquette, Mirage...

Copyright ©2020 text by Eric Bass [ SAVAGE ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks Vinnie and Eric. I will probably have to add that one to my library. Thanks, again, HARV
SEP 11, 2006 - 03:27 AM
Wow, this is cool. Great review, Eric. A very interesting subject indeed I will pick up a copy of this one. I dont have much info on WWI German tanks. Good to go ! Thanks for posting, Vinnie Cheers !! Robert
SEP 11, 2006 - 05:39 AM
Thanks for the comments guys and thanks Vinnie for the opportunity to review this item. The greatest thing that put me off building WW1 Armour, especially the German A7V (I have Tauro’s A7V in the stash), was the lack of affordable reference material. Although the Internet is slowly changing this, making more books available, as many people start to sell off 'unwanted' books through eBay and the like. The really nice thing about this book is how it focuses your thoughts in respect of future reading requirements. It’s great as a quick reference guide and at the list price, its real value for money. Make no mistakes, there is tons of material on the net, but vetting it and trying to remain focussed is a very real problem. An example is reading up on the A7V. Firstly, you’ll probably run into A7V ‘Hedi’, not a WW1 tank, but post war. Then you’ll either miss info on the Geländewagen and the different variants built on the chassis thereof. Most probably the A7V-U will be either missed totally (only 1 was built) or you might think it a British type.
SEP 11, 2006 - 05:24 PM
I'll be interested to see how it compares to Hundleby and Strassheim's magnum opus when I get a copy. There's always Peter Kempf's Landships site if you're pining for Great War armour and much more besides. David
SEP 11, 2006 - 09:06 PM
Actually David, I don’t think they are comparable. It would be like comparing Hunnicutt’s Sherman book, to some of the Vanguard series’ Sherman books. I’m of the opinion that ‘German Panzers 1914-18’ is aimed at a totally different market, more toward the novice end of the market and as ‘light reading’. I’ve unfortunately only been able to browse through Hundleby and Strasheim’s book, and as Steven Zaloga expresses in ‘further reading’; “The Hundleby and Strasheim book remains the best and most detailed source in English.” Maxwell Hundleby and Rainer Strasheim’s “The German A7V Tank and the Captured British Mark IV Tanks of World War I” (Haynes 1990) is presently the definitive English publication on German Tanks during WW1. Pity it’s out of print and where available is comparable in price to RP Hunnicutt’s Sherman book. If you are fortunate to own one, I’m very green with envy. The Landships website is also mention as “Another excellent source of information…”.
SEP 11, 2006 - 09:52 PM
Sorry - I should have posted a link to Landships, but I'm spending quality time in a field near Colchester and I don't see my PC much at the mo'. I was interested to see the artwork uses a neutral grey rather than Feldgrau as the base colour for the A7V, Steve Zaloga usually bases his work on good documentary research and I wondered if he'd come up with a source for the usage. Think I bought my copy of Hundleby and Strassheim at the same time as Hunnicutt. BTW there is a also a Schiffer book on the A7V by Strassheim, but that doesn't have much colour content. David
SEP 12, 2006 - 08:59 PM

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