Pen & Sword- Stalingrad: Death of an Army
Author: Ben Skipper
Softcover, 64 pages with 200 colour & black and white illustrations
Like the other "Craft" series such as Landcraft and Tankcraft. the Battlecraft series is aimed at new or returning modelers and focuses on specific theaters of operation. Loaded with inspirational photographs and maps, synopses of engagements, and profiles of military leaders- the books give a general overview that usually whets the appetite of the casual reader to research other books that give better overall coverage of the engagements. Technical and historical details of specific vehicles are showcased and there are model builds and overviews of available kits and aftermarket items for the selected vehicles.
This book is a good primer on the events leading up to and through one of the most iconic battle settings of the Eastern Front in WWII. The photos inside vary- some previously published, some new- but they all illustrate the hardships and challenges faced by both sides in this brutal campaign that seesawed between them until time, lack of supply, and Mother Winter seriously tipped the scales in Russia's favor. The book is split into two sections-- with the first section focused on the events of the battle and those involved. The second, Quartermaster's Section, focuses on some key vehicles that played a part in the setting.
The historical section is split into parts as such:
- Setting the Scene- Key Commanders of Stalingrad; the Principal Cast
- Supporting Cast ; Order of Battle from 19 November, 1942
- Prelude: Case Blue
- Act One, Scene One: Ride of the Valkyries
- Act One, Scene Two: The Die is Cast
- Act One, Scene Three: A Sense of Urgency
- Act One, Scene Four: Hubris
- Act Two, Scene One: Storm Front
- Act Two, Scene Two: The Noose Tightens
- Act Three: Futility and Fire
- Endings: 2 February 1943- Humiliation Complete
The text doesn't go into too much depth- and there are loads of B&W and color photos throughout to support the text. The maps are helpful and straightforward.
The Quartermaster's Section focuses on two AFVs and two aircraft that played vital roles. The StuG III and T-34 and the Ju-87 dive bomber and Yak-9 fighter. For each, the book provides a brief history, development and detail, operational history, specifications, camouflage and markings, kit and aftermarket overview, and one showcase build. The photos in the history and development sections are interesting and include an occasional close up detail. The Camouflage/Markings section provides two small color profiles-- I wish they were a bit bigger in size as the details are hard to pick out. This is usually my favorite section of the Tankcraft books but here not much space is dedicated to them. The kit and aftermarket sections are brief but current-- with the Das Werk 1/16 StuG gaining a mention. The showcase builds give a brief summary from the featured modeler and then a number of photos of the completed build. I found a couple images to be blurry but enjoyed seeing the Trumpeter T-34 kit in all its glory again. The book ends abruptly after the images of the Yak-9 showcase with no summary or suggested further reading offered.
Showcase Build Example
This is my first book in the Battlecraft series so I am unsure if they all fall into this same format. However, from what I have seen- it does serve the purpose of introducing a well-known theater to a new modeler who may not have extensive knowledge of the battle and the featured machines. I do prefer the Tankcraft books though as they go into much more detail, but it isn't fair to judge one book from another that is part of an entirely different series. Stalingrad has always interested me, and this book had some new photos I hadn't seen and current information on related modeling products- including newer kits and 3D printed accessories. Not a bad primer for those just delving into Eastern Front military history.
Recommended for those interested in the Eastern Front- specifically Stalingrad..
Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishing for this review sample.
Reviewed by Michael Reeves
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