The following introduction is as provided by Pen and Sword:
When the Allied armies landed on the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944 the backbone of the armoured reaction force awaiting them was made up of 758 Pzkpfw IV tanks, a number which represents almost half the fully-tracked vehicles available for the defence of the West. The first models of these tanks had entered service in November 1937 and although replacements had been considered, the original design was continually up-gunned and up-armoured. Perhaps lacking the glamour of the Panther and Tiger, the most recent variant, the Pzkpfw IV ausf H, was at least the equal of the best British and American tanks. Drawing on official documentation and unit histories Dennis Oliver investigates the formations that operated these deservedly famous vehicles and uses archive photos and extensively researched colour illustrations to examine the markings, camouflage and technical aspects of the Pzkpfw IV tanks that served on the Western Front during the critical summer of 1944. A key section of his book displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined, providing everything the modeller needs to recreate an accurate representation of these historic vehicles.
This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Tank Craft series is number 35. This release is authored by Dennis Oliver, who has written a number of books in this series. The book itself is a soft backed book, printed in a portrait style and contains 64 pages of a glossy paper protected by a reasonably thick glossy card covers. The contents of the book are presented as follows:
The Western Front, Summer 1944
The PzKpfW IV Units
Camouflage and Markings
Technical Details and Modifications
Product Contact Details
Anybody who has looked at one of these books previously will know exactly what to expect. Dennis Oliver having tackled a number of titles in the series, knows the style of layout and follows it closely here. He has managed to provide a good level of detail on the subject, despite the limited number of pages available to him. The book concentrates on the units, where they were, and what they were engaged in and is presented in a chronological style. This book does exhibit one of the critques of the series, and that is that the modelling section is placed in the middle of the factual content, and so it is almost as if you have a stutter between factual content and modelling content. With that said, the author has inserted the modelling content in a natural break in that you have not got the same chapter of the book in two separate locations. The written content by Dennis Oliver is well presented, and easily read and understood. The font and font size has been well chosen, to be read regardless of age, due to deterioration of vision. The period photographs included are of a good size, and clarity and while many of them cover vehicles that have been knocked out they are not so destroyed that they don’t provide visual reference. The written section at the rear of the book, points out details to help someone indentify what type of Panzer IV they are looking at and will help the reader look at any picture of a Panzer IV and enable a good stab at what variant it is.
Moving to the middle of the book, and the section covering camouflage and markings. You will find a number of Panzer IV’s viewed from the left and right side with a good number of different camouflage patterns utilised on the Panzer IV, including in some cases photographs of the actual tank covered in the artists impression. Plus a short write up on the vehicle represented and the camouflage utilised.
The modelling showcase section is laid out as follows:
Panzer IV, SS-Panzer-Regiment 12 by James Nigel Panganiban in 1/35th scale
Panzer IV, SS-Panzer-Regiment 12 by Theodorus Kalamatas in 1/72nd scale
Panzer IV, Panzer-Regiment 22 by Wvan Garnier in 1/35th scale - This does show progress of the build and its inclusion in a small diorama.
Panzer IV, SS-Panzer-Regiment 12 by Konstantinos Kalogeropoulos in 1/48th scale
And the section comes to a close with a look at some of the model kits and products available for adding those special touches, especially liked that the MiniArt offerings have been included here.
This is another nice addition to the Tank Craft series of books, and another of Dennis Oliver’s additions. I would still like to see the modelling sections and the camouflage sections inserted at the rear of the book, rather than in the middle of the factual content as it causes a bit of a hiccup when reading. In all other regards a very pleasing release, with a good level of information, despite the limited number of pages.