Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks
German Army and Waffen SS
The Last Battles in the East, 1945
Based in the UK, Pen and Sword Books has been around a very long time. Beginning with solely military titles, they’ve branched out into publishing books on a myriad of subjects, putting out something like 350 titles per year.
The subject of this review is one of a series of books which target specific military vehicle types. This book is #31 of the self-explanatory Tank Craft series, which examine the title subjects in the context of a specific area and/or time frame. This particular book focuses on the German Tigers (both the I and II versions) as seen in the final months of WWII on the Eastern Front. This volume appears to be a blend of historical and scale model related content.
This is first time I’ve examined a book from this series, and am looking forward to it with interest.
Format - softcover, portrait format
Page Count - 64 pages
Size - 11.75” x 8.25”
Photos - B&W period images, color images in the model products sections
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - full color single aspect renderings of tank camo and markings schemes, some unit organization tables
All text and photo captions are in English
What’s in the Book?
The book’s table of contents (seen above) outlines this volume’s very ambitious scope of covered topics. There is quite a bit there, given that this volume covers both historical and scale model related topics.
Following the two page Introduction, the book provides an overview of the situation on the Eastern Front in 1945. This overview includes a full page map, as well as a timeline of significant events taking place on the Eastern Front from Jan 1st until May 11th 1945, when the fighting finally ceased in the East. A good amount of interesting detail is contained in this timeline treatment.
A Note on the Photos - the period photographs in this volume are in some cases just a bit dark, grainy, or sometimes taken at a distance. However, given the chaotic conditions existing in 1945 on the Eastern Front, these photographic issues can easily be forgiven as the subject matter is of high interest.
The reader is provided a quick look at Tiger formations of the German Army which includes thumbnail histories of these formations along with a couple of nice diagrams showing how a couple of Tiger units ( including the one trapped in the Kurland Pocket ) were equipped.
As seen in the above image as well as the one seen below, full color, single aspect renderings are provided showing historical camouflage and markings schemes. The captions given for these renderings are informative and well written. Some of these renderings are also accompanied by small inset photographs of the actual tanks depicted by the renderings.
Above - the renderings includes examples of the Tigers I and II as seen in the Eastern Front combat of 1945.
The scale modeling content of this volume includes several pages of built up models constructed by some talented modelers, including Jose Luis Lopez Ruiz, whose very nicely done 1/48 scale Tamiya Tiger I is seen above. Not terribly much in the way of captioning is provided for these model photographs, other than some rather basic information.
The book also has several pages showing some examples of Tiger models that are commercially available, along with some info on the manufacturers. The major manufacturers are all represented with a photo of one of their products and a thumbnail biography of the company.
Also included in the scale modeling section of this book is a nice sampling of aftermarket items designed to improve the base kits. These aftermarket product manufacturers ( photoetch sets, resin sets, and tracks ) are treated in the same manner as the kit manufacturers, with a thumbnail company biography along with some nice photos of their products applied on models.
Following the scale model related sections of the book, the book’s content reverts back to historical accounts of the Tiger units, including the Sept 1944 reorganization of Panzer units which resulted in new formations called neuer art Panzerkorps. Descriptions of the actions that these units were involved in is provided.
As the war in the East drew to it’s inevitable bloody conclusion, an increasingly desperate Third Reich formed new panzer units to throw into the meat grinder. These units were armed with Tigers taken straight from factories, repair facilities, tank training schools, anywhere they could be sourced from. Records on some of these units are sketchy, as some of these units were formed and destroyed shortly thereafter. The author has provided some very interesting information on some of these units. I found this section of the book to be particularly fascinating
The book closes with a section concerning technical details and modifications. This section applies only to the Tiger II, and modifications etc., from January 1944 onward. For information that applies to the Tiger I, the author directs the reader to earlier books in this series. There are a couple of nice drawings on these modifications as well as detailed photographs showing these late war changes to the final Tigers.
Quite a bit of what is here in this volume can be found in greater detail in other, more singularly focused books. However, as a single source reference, this book manages to cover quite a large amount of ground. It would be very difficult to provide in-depth examination of all the varied topics seen here, even in volumes much lengthier than the 64 pages provided by this book. That said, the author has done a nice job utilizing the 64 pages here, in a well organized manner.
As mentioned above, some of the historical photos are a bit less than perfect, but this is acceptable in my view given the subject matter and time frame. The authors text and photo captioning is good, providing good information in an easily read manner.
I believed initially that the author had cast too wide a net, and included too many varied points of focus in this book. But upon detailed examination of this volume, I’d now say that while this book is packed with a lot in just 64 pages, the author amazingly does justice to it all.
This is good book for fans of late war Tigers!
Thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland
AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region
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