Duel in the Mist 2, the Liebstandarte During the Ardennes Offensive. By Timm Hassler, Roddy MacDougall, Simon Vosters and Hans Weber, with illustrations by Hilary Doyle and Simon Vosters. Hard covers, 8.5 x 11-inches, 233 pages. Contains 106 B&W photographs, nine color photographs, one color illustration, two tables, one organization chart, 12 full-color maps, three sets of full-color 1/35th-scale line drawings, appendices and bibliography. ISBN 978-0-9841820-6-0 (for the USA); ISBN 978-1-908320-2-7 (for the UK).
In 2007, the first volume of this subsequently acclaimed chronicle was released. Based on exhaustive research by a team of enthusiasts and supported by excellent photos and art-work, an extremely high standard was set. The first volume detailed the exploits of 1.SS-Panzer-Divisions spearhead unit, Kampfgruppe Peiper, during the Ardennes Offensive, Hitlers so-called Last Gamble in the west. In particular, it detailed the units initial assault on the Belgian town of Staumont, on December 19, 1944. This title was previously reported upon here on MLs Time on Target page.
Several years later and with a new publisher, Panzerwrecks, the second volume has been released. With a minor change in format (there is no separate dust-jacket, so we are not treated to a Ron Volstad cover) but with no discernable change in quality, the saga of KG Peiper and their stalwart American opponents continues. In fact, there is no synopsis to bring the reader up to speed; the authors jump right in!
Broken down into 17 chapters and accompanied by three appendices, the action begins with the re-organization of the opposing US forces on the night of December 19-20 as they gird themselves for Peipers renewed assaults. The text ends with elements of the US 82nd Airborne Division pushing Peipers men out of Cheneux late on December 21. The text is extraordinarily exhaustive and supported by numerous and detailed foot-notes. The latter is necessary and a credit to the team of authors, since a fair number of the original sources conflict with one another. Veterans were interviewed, original records consulted and battlefield tours were conducted by the books team of authors. For those students of history and this period in particular, it doesnt get any better!
Two of the appendices ably support the main text by providing the Order-of-Battle for 3.Kompanie SS-Panzer-Pionier-Batalion 1 and an extended segment on the re-equipping of the Panzer-Grenadieren attached to KG Peiper. The latter is accompanied by two tables showing vehicle types and assignments. An extensive bibliography is also provided on the last few pages to aid those who would like to delve further into the saga.
The actions described are accompanied by a dozen full-color maps, each with extraordinary detail. For instance, not only is the terrain, unit dispositions and the locations of the towns detailed, but information is given regarding the location of specific vehicles and the precise configuration of local structures.
The photographic content is, likewise, extremely well-done. A large number of the archival photos are new and several are accompanied by images recently created by the books team of authors in an after-the-battle format. It is rather extraordinary to see how in some cases very little has changed since 1944! The archival images devote most of their coverage to German AFVs, ordnance and military vehicles, with coverage of US equipment being relatively lesser. Not to be ignored are the men, from both sides, who took part. All-in-all, the coverage is far more than simply adequate. The images are reproduced on glossy, coated paper stock for the best possible quality. Captions are often extremely detailed and properly identify not only vehicle types, but in some cases who the manufacturers of specific vehicles could have been. In a number of cases, multiple views have been obtained of the same scene by vigilant search. These guys have indeed done their homework.
There are less pages of color drawings in this book (three, compared to eight in Volume 1), but what is given is germane to the story. Not to be forgotten in this regard are the full color after-the-battle images, which actually provide this book with more pages of color than the original volume. Regardless, the three vehicles covered are: mittlerer Pionierpanzerwagen Sd.Kfz.251/7 Ausf.D, mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen (7.5cm Kanone) Sd.Kfz.251/9 Ausf.D (four views of each) and a Panther Ausf.G with all steel wheels (two views). These drawings are based on the highly-regarded scale plans of Hilary Doyle, with color added by Simon Vosters. Specifically, the drawings provide fairly precise visual information regarding the colors and patterns in use at the time, while the Panther also shows tactical numbers (211) and markings of a specific tank as commanded by SS-Ustuf. Kaufmann.
While this book should appeal to modelers due to its photographic content, it is first and foremost an historic account. To do justice to the authors, the potential reader should consider approaching this work with that ideal foremost in mind. But, modelers, especially those interested in this period, will still be extremely well-served.
Frank V. De Sisto
Panzerwrecks publications are available worldwide from their web-site at: www.panzerwrecks.com. In North America e-mail Bill Auerbach at: email@example.com; in the UK, Lee Archer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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