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Pen and Sword, Tankcraft 34, Panther Medium Tank, German Army & Waffen SS, East Front. Summer 1943

ISBN Number:
978-1-39901-796-1
Published:
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Publisher:
Pen and Sword Books
Retail Price:
$24.95 USD
Reviewed By:
Chuck Aleshire

TankCraft

Panther Medium Tank

German Army and Waffen SS, Eastern Front, Summer 1943

The Tank Craft series is noted for it’s ambitious coverage of the subject vehicles in these books. In a mere 64 pages these books cover much material in examining both the historical story of a specific vehicle, as well as from a model builder’s perspective. Past volumes in the series that I’ve looked at managed both of these functions well.

This book examines the ever popular German Panther Medium Tank, considered by many to be one of the best tanks fielded during the Second World War. Interestingly, this volume addresses just a relatively short time frame in the already fairly short service career of the Panther tank, the summer of 1943, when the Panther tank was a new trouble-prone design and a massive, war-changing tank battle was fought on the Russian steppe…Operation Citadel.

Vital Statistics

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?

Above - the book’s Table of Contents. While this book is just 64 pages long, the TOC shows that there is a lot of ground covered in those 64 pages.

Following a brief Introduction by the author, a map giving an overview look at the Eastern Front, Summer 1943 is provided. Roughly centered in the map is the Kursk salient, which pre-occupied Adolph Hitler’s thinking to the degree that he ignored all recommendations from his staff and field commanders, with fateful and predictable results. His prized new Panther formations would attack into a meat grinder of massed Soviet AT guns, tanks, and extensive minefields….again with predictable results.

Following the map page, four pages of dates where significant actions on the Eastern Front are listed with brief descriptions. These dates run from January of ‘43 until December of 1943. Some of these dates / actions fall either before or after the events of the summer of 1943, but they’re most likely intended to convey the causes and results of the actions that took place that fateful summer. This listing of actions makes for an interesting read, sort of like speed-reading about the notable events on the Eastern Front in that time frame.

Above is a two page spread showing the table of organization and equipment of a Panther equipped Panzer regiment is the summer of 1943. Panzer Regiment Von Lauchert was purpose built for Operation Citadel, with two battalions of brand new Panther D tanks, 96 per battalion. On July 5, 1943 the attack commenced. By July 10 the regiment was reduced by Soviet action and mechanical failures to just 10 operational Panthers.

The volume contains a whopping ten pages of single aspect full color renderings of 1943 vintage Panther D tanks in a wide variety of painting and markings schemes. These images are very well captioned, with units identified ( if known ), approximate time frames and locations mentioned. The author also calls out areas of specific interest in each example, such as modifications and special features on the tanks. Most of the images are paired up with small photos of the real tank in the field.

After the color profiles section, the book switches gears, moving to the scale model perspective of the Panther tanks.

The scale model section of this book opens with the Model Showcase, which provides detailed looks at four built-up Panther models, three in 1/35th scale and one in 1/48th scale. The coverage of these four builds is photo heavy, with no text other than the photo captioning. The captioning gives the readers a pretty good idea of what they are looking at, while the most of the close-up detail images are uncaptioned.

The book next moves into an examination of the scale model kits available for building a Panther tank. A total of seven pages are allotted for this sampling of Panther models, all in the scales of 1/35 and 1/48, and all focused on the appropriate Panther models seen in the summer of 1943 time period covered by this book. 

The next section reverts back to the real world Panther tanks, with an in depth look at technical details and the inevitable modifications that the Panther tank required once the field use began. This section of the book is 15 pages in length, with some nice drawings ( as seen above ) and some very nice period photographs showing Panther components in detail. 

A month by month look at modifications made to the Panther Ausf. D tanks is done, all the way up to the introduction of the Panther Ausf. A in August of 1943.

Above - this chapter contains some very sharp and crisp images of these early Panther D’s.

This final chapter of the book also contains a two page table showing the production numbers of Panthers Ausf. D and A on a monthly basis by the several firms producing the tank. This table provides chassis numbers, numbers produced / accepted and units that the tanks were delivered to. Interesting stuff!

The volume’s final page contains contact information for the producers of scale model Panther products as well as the author’s acknowledgment of his primary source material. 

Conclusions

As stated above in the opening lines of this review, this slim volume is ambitious in the range of content that it examines, especially as it is a sort of hybrid book combining the historical account AND addressing the scale model aspect of the subject matter. Fortunately, in my opinion, the author is well up to the challenge.

The author manages to cover a lot of ground in a logical, methodical manner, all the while conveying a wealth of information on these early Panthers. This book is not a “one stop shop” for information on all things Panther, but for the segment of the Panther story that it’s intended to address, the book does cover this segment quite well.

This book would be a nice addition to your bookcase, especially so for Panther fans or those with an interest in the Battle of Kursk.

 

Highly Recommended!

Thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy

Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland

AMPS 2nd Vice President, Midwest Region

 

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