6538, The Siege of Sevastopol and the German Crimea Campaign 1941-42. By: Hans Seidler, with illustrations by Dmitriy Zgonnik. Soft covers, 8.25 x 11.75-inches, 52 pages. Contains: 135 B&W photos and four pages of color art. ISBN 962-361-178-1.
Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Mansteins conquest of the Black Sea city of Sevastopol in July of 1942 firmly established his reputation as one of the Third Reichs premier field commanders. As a reward he was presented with his Field Marshals baton and went on to further glory in early 1943 during the see-saw battles for the Soviet city of Kharkov. This recent title from Concord presents a photographic chronicle of the men and equipment used by von Manstein to conquer the Crimea and Sevastopol.
The book begins with a two pages of text that provide a broad outline of the campaign, including a brief Order of Battle for the German and allied Romanian units that took part in various phases of the campaign. While forming a basic foundation for an understanding of the campaign, the OoB info is rather incomplete and makes no mention of the comings and goings of units as battlefield priorities changed.
Regardless, the main reason one purchases books such as these is for their photographic content. This book is well-served in that regard with a great deal of interesting images from archival sources. Accounting for the quality of the original images, their reproduction, on glossy coated paper stock, is quite fine. It is quite probable that some images are not from the campaign, but that is most likely not a major concern.
The photo captions are, in the main, just general descriptions of what the image depicts, without very much in the way of analysis or specifics. Some are just plain incorrect, such as when the 5cm PaK38 is extolled for its virtues during the 1940 campaign in the West; in fact, this anti-tank gun saw no action during the above-mentioned campaign. In one instance, fully eight images, spread over two pages, are served by a single caption. This is rather disappointing since a large variety of wheeled vehicles and a Soviet tracked tractor (STZ-5) are depicted, but not a single one is identified.
A number of other photos depict vehicles and ordnance that are not identified at all, or incompletely identified. A number of images have their subjects completely misidentified. Some examples include:
Page 11, top: 2cm Flakvierling 38 and 10cm K18; not 15cm s.FH18 and 2cm FlaK38.
Page 32, bottom: 10.5cm l.FH18, not 10.5cm l.IG (both designations are in the same caption).
Page 44, bottom: ex-French Canon leger de 25 antichar SA-L mle.1934 L/72 anti-tank gun; not a Russian piece.
Page 48, top: ex-French Canon de 47 antichar SA mle.1937 Atelier Puteux L/53 anti-tank gun.
Page 50, top: WW1-era 15cm K16, not 21cm Mrs18.
The four color plates depict the following individuals: Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein, an infantryman of the 16.Infanterie-Division, an Unteroffizier (NCO) of the 8.Kavallerie-Division and a Kanonier (gunner) of schwere Artillerie-Batterie 458. Each plate is accompanied by a detailed and informative block of text. Mr. Zgonniks work is quite excellent in presentation and technical detail; there is no mistaking von Manstein as his likeness is extremely well-represented. In fact these plates are the basis of a recently-released four-figure set in 1/35th-scale from Concords sister company, DML. Thus, if the modeler is suitably inspired by these illustrations, there are styrene figures already available.
If the modeler wants a good, economical source of archival photographs accompanied by excellent color plates, this book will prove to be of value. However, if one expects a balanced, although necessarily brief, run-down on the campaign, and informative photo captions, this book will most probably disappoint.
Frank V. De Sisto
Concord Publications titles are available in North America from DragonUSA at: www.DragonUSAonline.com
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been working on books for Concord Publications. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
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