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Pen & Sword- Hetzer Jagdpanzer 38 Tank Destroyer German Army and Waffen-SS Western Front 1944-1945

ISBN Number: 9781526791184 Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
Published: Wednesday, September 29, 2021 Retail Price: $24.95
Reviewed By: Joseph McDaniel

Hetzer Jagdpanzer 38 Tank Destroyer

German Army and Waffen-SS Western Front 1944-1945

Book Details

Tankcraft 29

Author: Dennis Oliver

Softcover, 64 pages with 32 black & white photographs of actual Hetzers; 20 color profiles, some with inset photo or color details; and 75 color photos of models and aftermarket products.

What´s in a Name?

I have seen discussions on various model forums about whether or not the Hetzer name should be used to refer to this Jagdpanzer. Mr. Oliver addresses that in the book's introduction: "The name Hetzer was definitely used by operational units, as several surviving documents prove, but it was not a term coined by troops in the field as Guderian suggested to Hitler in December 1944. Rather, it was the name assigned to the E-10 project and as this vehicle may have been mentioned in the first meeting of the designers at BMM (Böhmisch-Mährische Maschinenfabrik plant in Czechoslovakia) and representatives of the HWA (Heereswaffenamt - Army Weapons Directorate), its later use when referring to the Jagdpanzer 38 could have been the result of a simple misunderstanding."

Unfortunately, Mr. Oliver does not provide any information in a footnote or appendix identifying which operational units or in which surviving documents this usage occurred. Interesting to me, as I had never looked it up, according to an online translation tool, Hetzer means "agitator, rabble-rouser". Well, the argument over the name certainly agitates certain forum members.

What's Inside

Table of Contents

Introduction: This three-page section, in addition to the information about how the name Hetzer became associated with the Jagdpanzer 38, provides background on how and why the Hetzer entered production and service from March 1944 to April 1945. General Guderian was instrumental in the development and ensuring it stayed under his authority, unlike the Sturmgeschütz which belonged to the Artillery Inspectorate. The right page below provides production figures at BMM and Skoda, to include Bergepanzer 38 production. The final paragraph of this section states the Hetzer was "one of the most successful tank destroyers of the Second World War period."

Hetzer Units of the Heer: Pages 4-16 and 49-53 list 49 Army units which were allocated Hetzers. These brief descriptions range from several paragraphs to one line directing the reader to another unit under a different designation, such as the one for "Panzerjäger Abteilung 235. See Jagdpanzer-Kompanie 1235 below." This section also depicts the table of organization and equipment for a Volksgrenadier divisions's Hetzer company and another page depicts the TO&E for an Army Panzerjäger Abteilung equipped with Hetzers.

Camouflage & Markings: Pages 17-26 portray camouflage and markings on two Hetzers per page, along with brief captions about the vehicle's unit, differences in suspension, toolboxes, exhaust, driver's visor, gun mantlet, etc. The Hetzers are nicely rendered, the captions are helpful, and the occasional thumbnail photo or color drawing showing a closeup of a vehicle detail or marking are a nice touch.

Model Showcase: Pages 27-40 showcase five model builds, two using the Tamiya 1/48, two using Tamiya's 1/35 scale Hetzer, and one using Dragon's OOP 1/35 Command Hetzer. First up is 13 color photographs showing the build and painting of a 1/48 Hetzer by Torlap Intararangson that has thrown a track. Next up is a 1/35 Hetzer by Eric Wisdom with five photos showing a Hetzer with two crewmen, stowage, a base, but no build photos - just the finished vehicle from different angles. The third build by Lim Kian Guan is a twofer - three photos of Tamiya's 1/35 kit built mostly out-of-box, and two photos of Dragon's 1/35 Command Hetzer. The final showcase is ten photos of a build of Tamiya's 1/48 kit by Ramon Segarra built OOB.

Modeling Products: Pages 41-48 gives a brief synopsis of when the first Hetzer kits and their scale were released by which manufacturers (1972: Italeri 1/35, Bandai 1/48, ESCI 1/72, Fujimi 1/76 - now you're ready for Model Trivia Night!) lists Hetzer kits and aftermarket products by manufacturer, such as Tamiya, Dragon, Academy, Aber, Eduard, Griffon, Hauler, etc.This is a nice feature, and I've already referred to it to order PE for my Tamiya and 1/48 and 1/35 kits.

Waffen-SS and other Hetzer Units: Page 54 notes that most SS units equipped with Hetzers served on the Eastern Front. This page gives a brief description of two SS units and four ad-hoc units, to include one that had sailors, men from Waffen-SS replacement units, and Hitler Jugend. As noted in this unit's description, 'The ten Hetzers promised to the battalion were never dispatched."

Technical Details and Modifications: Pages 55-63 provide description of the early (April-May 1944), mid (June-September 1944), and final (January-April 1945) production models, pointing out differences between road wheels, idlers, sprockets, gun mantlets, tow brackets, exhaust mufflers, tool boxes, driver vision port, hull nose plate, engine deck, hatches, schürzen, factory-applied camouflage, tracks, etc. A nice touch are the photos of one of the three prototypes; an early production, and a final production which point out some of the differences between the different versions using letters and arrows, as shown below.

Product Contact Details: Page 64 provides snail mail addresses and websites for the model and aftermarket companies mentioned in the book. There is also a brief acknowledgement of Hetzer-related books and other researchers which were helpful to Mr Oliver while researching this book.

Pros: There's a lot of information provided about how the Hetzer was approved for production, production numbers by month and year, brief history and fate of Army units equipped with the Hetzer, sample TO&E for Army and Volksgrenadier units, information on model products, and information on major differences from the prototypes to the final version that should be helpful to the modeler interested in converting a mid-production kit to the final, or vice-versa.

Cons: There are no interior photographs or drawings. I would have preferred two more detailed SBS builds of the 1/48 and 1/35 kits, instead of "beauty shots" of completed builds. The majority of the photos, despite their age and probably amateur photographers, are helpful, but interestingly, almost all photographs depict abandoned, surrendering, or knocked out Hetzers; it would have been interesting to see photos of Hetzers deployed in ambush positions or manned by their crews. I found the insertion of the color profile drawings and model products in the middle of the section listing Army units equipped with Hetzers an odd thing to do, and would have liked a more logical progression from one section to another. 

Highly Recommended for anyone interested in the Jagdpanzer 38, AKA 'Hetzer'.

Thanks goes out to Pen and Sword Books for this review sample.

Reviewed by Joseph "Mac" McDaniel


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