by: Bill Plunk [ ]
Introduction The Panzerwrecks series of books by Lee Archer and Bill Auerbach are well known for their diverse collections of wrecked or surrendered German equipment. #6 in the series continues that tradition and the authors always issue the disclaimer that many of the photos were taken by ordinary servicemen in the field using basic equipment and are included for their interest and historical value vs. their photographic quality.
Review The volume is soft bound and consists of 96 pages and 119 black-and-white photos and measures 8.25 x 11" and is printed on high quality glossy paper. The pages are arranged in 4 sections: Panzerjager and Flakpanzers of Meppen, Panzer Remnants on a Czech Road, Flammpanzer 38t in and out, and Quick Fix: Rocket Firing SPWs.
Even with the disclaimer issued about photo quality, the vast majority of the photos are presented as full page photos of the vehicles in question. The editing work to produce as clear a photo as possible is evident as well as the effort devoted to providing multiple photos from the same set of vehicles or scene where possible. The vast majority of the photos come from the private collections of the authors but others are from US Army archives and from other contributors who are thanked in the short introduction on the inside of the cover page. The photos are accompanied by detailed captions which the authors credit much of their information as coming from the Panzer Tract series by Jentz and Doyle. A small handful of the photos represent vehicles featured in other Panzerwrecks volumes but from different angles or with different details featured as the focus of the photo and those are noted in the captions where applicable. In addition the two photos of RSOs on pp. 46-47 and credited to the US Army have recently been published in other works.
A wide range of vehicles are presented in various states and conditions including the following:
Panther Ausf.A w/Flammenvernichter mufflers
Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.D
Sturmgeschütz III Ausf.G
Pz.Sfl.2 für 7.62cm Pak 36 (Sd.Kfz.132)
Pz.Kpfw.Turm II (Normalserie) - Bauform 229 Bugpanzerdach
3.7cm Flak 43/1 auf Sfl. (s.W.S.)
2cm Flakvierling 38 auf Sfl. (Sd.Kfz.7/1)
m.S.P.W. (Drilling) (Sd.Kfz.251/21)
m.S.P.W. (7.5cm Pak) (Sd.Kfz.251/22)
Sd.Kfz.251 w/T-34 'Calliope' rocket launcher
le.S.P.W. (2cm) (Sd.Kfz.250/9) Ausf.B
2cm Flak 38 auf Sfl. (Sd.Kfz.10/5)
As demonstrated by this listing, the contents cover a lot of ground. Many rarely photographed vehicles are present such as the Loki on rail transporters and an intact Sdkfz 234/2 on p. 79. Other photos also show Panzerjager Is and StuG III Ds still in service in 1944-45, most likely pressed into service from training units, but still fascinating to see them show up and in unexpected paint schemes. Likewise for a Marder III Sdkfz 132 sporting dunkelgelb and line camo patterns at Meppen at war's end. Photos are also included showing clear hard-edged camo patterns on Hetzers and Sdkfz 251/22s as well as the Flammpanzer 38.
Of particular interest will be the final two sections in this volume. The "Flammpanzer 38 in and out" section consists of 13 pages and 16 photos of "Hetzers" converted to Flammpanzers with most of them devoted to the interior of the fighting compartment and the arrangements for the flamethrower mechanism.
The other section, "Quick Fix: Rocket Firing SPWs", consists of 16 pages and 24 photos and detailed captions showing the conversion of an Sdkfz 251 and a towed PaK 40 to fit a "Calliope" 60-tube rocket launcher into a "Frankenstein" design by the US Army. Particularly fascinating are the pics showing the use of cutting torches and welders to fashion this design as are the shots showing it being test fired. The captions note that it was necessary to modify the 251 with the PaK 40 in order to provide a suitable stand-in for the "normal" Sherman turret mount of the launcher mechanism.
ConclusionThe excellent standard set in the preceding volumes in the series is continued here in Panzerwrecks 6. The quality of the photos is high even with the poor quality of some of the original snapshots and the presentation of the photos and captions is well laid out. The wide range of subjects insures a little something for everyone and the sections on the Flammpanzer and rocket-firing SPW are a special treat. Highly Recommended.