Under the Gun 3, Westwall: German Armour in the West, 1945. By Dennis Oliver, with illustrations by Claudio Fernandez. Soft covers, A4 size, 32 pages, plus covers. Contains 53 B&W archival photographs, six pages of color plates (including covers), one table, two charts, sidebars (containing time lines) and bibliography. ISBN 978-0-9806593-6-8.
This very recent release from the Oliver Publishing Group, in the Firefly Collection series covers the final months of Germanys vaunted Panzertruppen as they fought in vain to stem the tide of the victorious Western Allies. In typical fashion, a combination of informative text, well-chosen photographs (and captions) as well as excellently-researched color plates, brings the modeler a wealth of information for his next project. All of this is jam-packed into a small, yet quite comprehensive package; not an inch of space is wasted.
The book begins with an introductory text, preceded by acknowledgments, a bibliography and an explanation as to how the color plates were researched and produced. The text is rather brief, being comfined to a single page, but it is ably supplemented by several side-bars, each of which contains a time-line of events. These are not simply dates and units; they also provide brief descriptions of the action.
Further amplification is provided by a table that provides the number and type of full-tracked AFVs in service with specific units in the west beginning in December of 1944. The first chart details the order-of-battle for OB West, to include the make-up of 1., 5., 6., 7., 15. and 19.Armee. One section contains an error in that 1.SS-Panzer-Korps is listed twice; that Korps which includes the 2.SS-Panzer-Division should be titled 2.SS-Panzer-Korps. A second chart details the order-of-battle for the last Panzer-Division, Clausewitz; this goes down to company level.
Of course, we all came for the photo content. The trip is certainly worth the effort, but the modeler should be aware that a fair proportion of the images have been seen before. Regardless, there are enough new images included to keep things interesting and the more familiar ones are rarely seen together in one place. Overall, the photo captions are well-done and informative; in the majority of cases they are extremely extensive. The variety in AFVs and other vehicles, as well as ordnance is welcome. Coverage includes various Panther and Tiger models, the StuG.III, variations on the Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV chassis, Jagdpanzer 38, Sd.Kfz.250 and 251 armored half-tracks, Sd.Kfz.10 and 11 un-armored half-tracks, RSO variations, VW Kubelwagen and Schwimmwagen, eight-wheeled armored cars and ordnance (10.5cm l.FH18/40 and 15cm Nbw.41. Other un-counted photos depict various items of uniform insignia to include epaulets, cuff-bands and badges.
The color plates are quite well-done and are created by Claudio Fernández, a fine addition to the Firefly team. Typically, each plate is presented as a profile, often accompanied by a thumb-nail image of an insignia or a critical segment of the vehicle depicted. Coverage of vehicle types is, again, rather wide. Six plates cover the Sd.Kfz.11/251 half-track and the s.WS, while four cover StuG.IIIs and Pz.Kpfw.IIIs; four more cover variations of the Panther. A pair of Tiger Is are depicted, including one with early turret and steel wheels, but which is not a member of the well-known Gruppe Fehrmann. Variations on the eight-wheeled armored cars, the Sd.Kfz.234/1 and /2, as well as the Sd.Kfz.233 are shown, with the final types being variations of the Pz.Kpfw.IV.
So, altogether, this book contains a wide variety photos and color plates that are sure to prove inspirational to modelers of late-war German AFVs. Virtually every vehicle shown is available in kit form, so with this book in hand, the modeler who is interested in this period is good-to-go.
Frank V. De Sisto
Firefly Collection books are available in North America from DragonUSA, at: www.dragonusaonline.com.
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