Sturmgeschütz III on the Battlefield (4)
This is the fourth volume of photos showing the Stug in service in WW2, and clearly adds to our knowledge about this well-known vehicle. The focus of the writing in this particular publication is the period 1943-45 in Italy and in NW Europe, and the period 1944-45 on the Russian Front. However, the photos actually cover a wider span, with some referring to 1940-42.
The author, Mátyás Pánczél, has done an excellent job in putting together a wide range of photos to illustrate different versions of the Stug, The book has 110 pages, and is fully bilingual English / Hungarian, and while I cannot comment on the quality of the Hungarian text, the English text is very well-written and detailed. None of the mangled English that can appear in some books. The captions are full of specific information about units and vehicles, and there is much here that will please modelers. I love the unit markings and vehicle decorations that were found in the Stug units. They kept their heraldic unit badges for far longer into the war than most other units seem to have done.
The book begins with a two-page introduction describing the use of the Stug, and I found this brief summary to be full of really useful and interesting snippets of information. This short text is well worth a read.
The remainder of the book consists of one photo per page, printed very large and as clear as the original negative would allow. This permits the reader to study the image carefully, looking for specific details that would be helpful in making an accurate model. The captions are very specific, and in many cases point out whether the particular vehicle is produced MIAG or Alkett. Speaking for myself, I need to sit down and revise the differences between the two factories, but I'm sure that Stug experts out there will appreciate being told the types and the production dates. This can be very important when making an accurate model.
Pages 10 to 32 cover the short-barrel (L/24) vehicles - Ausf. A, B, C and D (E and F not shown). The pictures often include associated vehicles and equipment, and this sort of contextual information is of major value to anyone setting their model into a diorama.
A couple of photos show the L/43 version, and the rest of the book covers the classic L/48 version (pages 35-99) with the last ten pages looking at the Sturmhaubitze version with the 10.5cm howitzer, of which 1300 were produced.
It is tempting to include quite a few further pictures in this review, but the simple fact is that this book is an excellent resource and is well worth the asking price if you like Stugs. I found a lot of interesting details, and I'll share just a couple. First, the local use of concrete armor seems to have been more widespread than most of us realise, but what is interesting is that it was often applied over the top of existing track-link armor, so that the guide horns stick up through the concrete. That would be quite an unusual feature on a model. Indeed, one photo appears to show the from transmission hatches covered with concrete, which would make maintenance and emergency exit a bit of a problem!!! This picture shows the use of T-34 track for protection, and underneath the concrete.
The second feature that I found interesting is the scruffy application of camouflage in some cases, which would certainly raise a few eyebrows if replicated in model form. The appearance of the real vehicles actually makes my models look good!
Although I have a great number of Stug books, this particular book has truly earned its place in my library. The pictures are new, large and clear, with lots of useful information in the captions. Overall, this is a very useful publication for those interested in reading about Stugs and making models of these vehicles, and I would certainly say that it is truly worth the price.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Peko Publishing for this review book.
Reviewed by Chris Lloyd-Staples, 2VP (International)
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