Concord Publications continues its Armor at War series with #7070, titled Panzer Divisions in Battle 1939-45, written by Tom Cockle. Though the title includes, or suggests, that this book covers the war throughout, the introduction states that it covers the invasion of the Soviet Union beginning in 1941.
This book is in the usual softcover 8.5" x 11" format and includes 72 pages of black and white wartime photographs. Eight pages of those include 16 color plates by Laurent Lecocq, with two pages dedicated to the forward introduction. All of the 169 photographs and 16 color plates include a small caption describing the subject in the image.
a look inside
There are around 31 types of vehicles shown as a main subject, not including the variants nor the vehicles, armor, and support shown in the background. Here is a basic list of what you will see:
w/15cm K16 barrel
Sd.Kfz. 8 mounted Flak 18
Sd.Kfz.252 w/Sd.Ah 3 1/1
Sd.Kfz. 251/3 B
Sd.Kfz.251/1C w/Pak 38
Sd.Kfz. 251/16 C
Sd.Kfz. 251/10 D
Pz.Kpfw. 38 (t)
Sd.Kfz 138 M (Marder III)
Pz.Kpfw. I A&B
Marder II D
Stug IV w/ammo trailer
Panther D,A,& G early
Tiger I early,mid, late
Tiger II Porsche
As you can see from the list you get quite a variety in one book, and that is a condensed list! The majority of the photographs are crisp and clear. Unfortunately many of them are distant photos which makes it difficult to identify the unit or variant. While that may seem disappointing, it actually gives you some great diorama ideas. Plus many of the distant photos also have up-close photos to go along with the subject. There are a lot of photos I havent seen, but then again, I spotted a few that were already published not only in other books, but in other "Armor at War" series of books. One thing that stands out to me is the order of time period of the photos, which seems to jump back and forth from early, mid and late parts of the war.
The majority of the photos show in service vehicles, but there are some that include knocked out vehicles. Two examples are a completely destroyed Marder III ausf. M and a damaged Panther A. One photo shows a repair depot of disabled armor being used for parts or awaiting repair, one of which is a Stug IV that appears to be towing an ammunition trailer. This Stug IV is also the color plate, on the cover. You will also be pleased to see six photos of the 234 series, including the Puma.
Following the norm of the At War series there are 16 color plates by Laurent Lecocq, all very crisp and nicely done. Each image includes a description detailing the model, unit (if known), and the RAL number used for the camo as well as any identifying markings. From what I can find, all but one of the color plates depicts one of the vehicles shown in the wartime photos, the exception being a Stug III G w/deep wading exhaust. I scoured the pages in search of this Stug, but could not find it. Though, like the Stug IV, it may just be in the background and not easy to spot. Here is a list of the color plates:
Pz. I ausf A unknown unit Germany
Pz II ausf A-C(?) unknown unit Russia
Pz.Bef.Wg III ausf H Pz. Rgt. 6 3.Pz.-Div Russia
Pz IV ausf C Pz.Rgt.2. 1.Pz-Div France
Panther ausf A Pz.Rgt.6 Pz-Lehr-Div Normandy
Tiger I early s.Pz.Abt.503 Kursk
Tiger II Porsche s.Pz.Abt 507 Germany
Sd.Kfz 7 SS-Div. Reich Russia
Sd.Kfz. 251/10 ausf D unknown Russia
Sd.Kfz 250/5 ausf A 24.Pz-Div. Russia
Stug III ausf G Pz.Abt Feldherrnhalle France
Stug IV unknown Russia
Pz.Bef.Wg 38(t) ausf F Pz.Rgt.25 7.Pz-Div Russia
Sd.Kfz 232/2 Pz.Aufkl.Abt.2 2.Pz-Div France
Sd.Kfz 135 Marder I unknown France
Panhard 178 CDM 1. Sicherungs-Rgt France
Each photo, or series of photos, includes a brief but nicely detailed description. These can include the description of the vehicle, what its doing, the paint scheme, the unit its with if known, even details such as identifying the manufacturing number. Heres an example from a photo of a Pz. II . "The straight front plate and drivers visor along with the chassis number '28059' positively identify this whitewashed Pz.Kpfw. II ausf. F in Russia during the winter of 1941-42. Production of the Pz.Kpfw.II ausf F began in March 1941 with chassis number '28001' making this one of the first off the assembly line. Other changes include a new commanders cupola, a redesigned idler wheel, thicker frontal armor and a dummy visor mounted to the right of the drivers visor. A total of 523 vehicles were produced to December 1942"
There are also 'series' of photographs, one being a column of Panthers on the move, with a description of the series. There are some captions that do not identify the particular 'ausf' shown in the photo, some of the Pz. IIs are identified as ausf. A-C, instead of it being identified as an A, B, or C. Other key points of the captions include when and where the particular photo was taken as well as details about when changes were made to certain variants. For example, when turret and hull Schurzen began being installed on Pz.IVs, or when the designation of the Sd.Kfz 233 was changed to the Sd.Kfz.231.
Faced with a wide range of available kits, its difficult for the average modeler to keep up a good library of reference material. For someone like myself, who doesnt count rivets the majority of the time, its hard to afford the kit along with the aftermarket goodies, let alone the reference for each vehicle. The majority of my 'technical' library is devoted to Panthers, Tigers, Pz IIIs and IVs. But, what if I decide to build Dragons Sd.Kfz 7/1? Armed with Concords Armor at War series, I know there will be photos of it in at least one book of the series.
Thats the beauty of these books, each volume is a library in its own. While not the book to have for rivet counters, it is a book for the modeler. Youre given enough information and photos to at least have an idea of where youre going with the model at hand without spending a fortune on books. The downside is you dont get all the technical details, just a sample of enough to build 'that Panther that is shown in the one or two photos'. With crisp photos covering a wide range of the war, and detailed captions to boot, its certainly one inexpensive addition Im glad to have in the library.
Highs: Lots of clean, crisp photos covering a wide range of subjects of the German forces in WWII. Captions for each photo with useful information that is well written and researched. Lows: Some repetitive photos already seen in the other 'At War' series. Many of the photos are distant and only useful for diorama ideas. Verdict: With 72 pages,169 photos,and 16 color plates,each with a descriptive and informative caption, how can you go wrong for around $18 USD?