Battle of the Bulge: The Last Counteroffensive in the West
By Ben Skipper
Part of the Battle Craft series, this heavily illustrated new volume combines history and modeling in a compact package of efficiently delivered historical information, historical photos, and builds of selected models, all on the Battle of the Bulge theme. The Quartermaster section will be particularly interesting to model builders, as its showcased subjects include modern detail photographs of restored vehicles and glamor shots of completed kit builds. I highly recommend the book to aficionados and interested modelers.
Before he takes us through the actual battle. Mr. Skipper begins by covering the military biographies of the commanders, going into greater detail than I’d expect for the book’s compact format. Honestly I’d have preferred less about the general’s previous commands so more space could be given to the battle and the models, but in fairness I did learn some interesting tidbits.
What came to be called the Battle of the Bulge was arguably the largest battle in US Army history, involving over 750,000 American troops and encompassing innumerable clashes spread over a complex and enormous landmass. It’s notoriously difficult to explain. The author does a remarkable job turning all that chaos into a readable, coherent narrative without losing important detail. Despite having a shelf full of Bulge books I fully expect that Mr Skipper’s excellent summary will become my go-to reference when I need a quick orientation.
The book’s equally excellent selection of photographs complements the text. While they are drawn from open sources (US Army Historical, NARA, DoD, Imperial War Museum, and Bundesarchiv), quite a few of these images are new to me. I was also particularly enamored of the nine historical situation maps reproduced at half page size; they’re familiar but much easier to examine in larger hard copy than they are on a computer screen.
Modelers will be most interested in the 28 page “Quartermaster’s Section.” Skipper chooses four modeling subjects, two of which are sensible armored vehicles and two of which are strange turretless objects with “wings.” (The subjects are the M18 Hellcat, the Pzkw VI Tiger II, the Me262 Schwalbe, and the P-47D Thunderbolt). Each topic starts with a brief history, illustrated with detail photos and some historical shots. There is then a brief catalog of available kits with a few comments about each, and a list of some detail sets. The subsection then closes with a few dozen color shots of a nicely built model. While the M18 and the Schwalbe have a few in progress shots, the emphasis of these sections is clearly on the beautiful, clean builds. (Deliberate emphasis on “clean” here, as the examples show great craftsmanship but very little weathering.)
A little more depth on the M18, to give a feel for the Quartermaster's Section and the Build photos. Here are samples of the detail shots and available kits
The M18 pages show us both build and glamor shots
The Tiger and the Schwalbe get the same treatment; the Panzer has more shots of the completed kit, while the Me262 has more in progress shots
Gotta say it... I do absolutely love me some Jugs - and this Section is loaded with lots of pictures of really big ones!
(Talking about P-47 Thunderbolts, you perv)
Battle Craft’s Battle of the Bulge pulls off an impressive combination: a historical battle survey, a history of several platforms that fought in the battle, a historical photo resource, a modeler’s detail photo resource, a catalogue of kits, and glamor shots of completed models. This book was a blast to read, and should be seriously considered by modelers interested in the history and the models.
Highly Recommended for history buffs, model builders, and everyone else.
Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishing for this review book!
Reviewed by David Morris
If you liked this review, consider joining AMPS. Your annual membership
includes six copies of AMPS's magazine, Boresight,
and helps to support our ongoing reviews.
Click here for more information about joining AMPS