Images of War
German Self-Propelled Artillery at War 1940-1945
Pen & Sword Books are not new to the plastic modeling industry. The UK-based publishing company has been around since 1990 while churning out titles covering subjects from military, aviation, maritime, and other areas of history. With over 228 books in the "Images of War Series," Images of War - German Self-Propelled Artillery at War 1940 - 1945 is their latest edition published in October 2023.
About the Author
Ian Baxter is a much-published author and photographic collector whose books draw an increasing following. Among his many previous titles in the Images of War Series are Hitler's Boy Soldiers, Nazi Concentration Camp Commandants, The Ghettos of Nazi-Occupied Poland, German Army on the Eastern Front - The Advance, German Army on the Eastern Front - The Retreat, The Crushing of the Army Group (North) and the SS Waffen Division series including SS Leibstandarte Division, SS Totenkopf Division at War, Waffen SS of the Baltic States, Waffen SS at Arnhem, and Waffen SS in the Ardennes. He lives near Chelmsford, Essex.
This 7.5-inch x 9.5-inch paperback book contains 111 pages with 300 black and white illustrations, mostly two to a page. All images have captions written by the author describing what the reader is viewing. The book is comprised of an introduction, three chapters, with two appendices. Each chapter starts with 1-5 pages of text followed by several black and white images. The images are clear with an enormous amount of detail given the time frame they were taken.
Chapter One 1940 - 1941
Comprising a mere five pages, the author describes how the inception of motorized artillery became a reality for the German army after the invasion of Poland in preparation for the war against the West in 1940; and subsequently the war with the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. The author's writing style leads to a better understanding through his approach to clarity and in-depth research. This descriptive style of writing can be better understood by his technique of adding clear and concise captions to the images. A good example is seen on page 19 of a Bison 115 cm sIG 33 advancing along a road. The author describes in detail what the reader is viewing.
There are two excellent illustrations on page 31 of Bisons during the summer and winter of 1941. One Bison is in a winter setting with a whitewash paint scheme versus a Bison in a summer setting further illustrating the versatility of the vehicle. Here again, the author's captions are rich in descriptive content.
Chapter Two 1942 - 1943
In Chapter Two, it is revealed that after operation Barbarossa, the German military recognized the need for sturdier and more robust motorized artillery vehicles. The urgency of this requirement became apparent, especially when the Bisons mounted on Panzer 1 frames were either destroyed or became non-operational, leaving just two operational units.
Throughout the following five and a half pages in this chapter, the author delves into the development and adaptation of various vehicles into motorized artillery pieces. These include the utilization of Panzer II, III, Ausf. H and Wespe chassis as platforms for the 15cm howitzer, the repurposing of captured French Lorraine 37L tracked vehicles, and production of the Hummel, famously employed during the Battle of Kursk.
On page 43 the author introduces the readers to one of the motorized vehicles discussed, namely, the Lorraine Schlepper, along with its crew in France.
Enhancing the significance of this military history book is an outstanding image on page 47 featuring the iconic Hummel with its crew. The author provides extensive textual context within the caption, adding depth to the illustration.
On page 67, you'll find an illustration of a Wespe, a self-propelled artillery vehicle mounted on the Panzer II Ausf. F chassis, in an Eastern Front setting.
Moving forward, we encounter on page 72 two photographs showcasing a field crew engaged in the replacement of a 10.5 cm howitzer. These images have the potential to be used for creating an exceptional diorama, particularly in capturing the crew's activities, if desired by a modeler.
Chapter Three - The End: 1944-45
Over the following three pages, the author provides a detailed exploration of the war's final stages, with a particular focus on the Panzerwaffe and its remaining motorized artillery weapons. I was particularly intrigued by the author's ability to cover the war's conclusion in just three pages, making it a compelling and concise read.
Reinforcing the book's value as a significant reference, page 93 features a photograph capturing two Sturmpanzers on an Italian street in 1944 - a subject that would make for an excellent diorama.
Appendix I - Vehicle Specifications
The author includes a two-page appendix providing detailed specifications of the Panzerwaffe" most commonly used motorized artillery vehicles - a convenient and informative reference guide.
Appendix II - Camouflage and Zimmerit
In this final section, the author offers a brief overview of the use of paint, paste, and foliage for camouflage purposes. While no photographs accompany this section, it still provides an informative read.
Although this 111-page book contains a few short brief chapters, the author has included an assortment of images that give the reader an excellent overview of Germany's self-propelled artillery weapons during WWII. In the typical "Images of War" style, the images allow the reader to gain knowledge by merely reading the captions with the image. The author has brought to print another excellent reference book that will be most helpful to the historian and the scale modeler. The images are surprisingly clear and detailed given the time they were captured. The author's writing style adds clarity for the reader, making it easier to understand and follow. The inclusion of numerous rare images significantly enhances the value as a reference for any library collection.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks go out to Casemate Publishing and AMPS for this review book.
Reviewed by Phillip Cavender
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