by: Roman [ ]
The latest volume of the “World War Two Photobook Series” is dedicated to one of the most popular modelling subjects – StuG III, famous German tank destroyer. It should be noted that this is already 4th book from PeKo dedicated to StuG III and all four volumes are authored by a Hungarian researcher Mátyás Pánczél.
Similar to other books from PeKo it is an A4 sized title with a hard cover, landscape layout and 112 pages. As usual, the book is written in both Hungarian and English language and has an introduction and the main part with over a hundred black and white photographs. The photographs are of great quality and in majority of the cases come from private collections of Peter Kocsis (owner of PeKo) and a few other collectors. Some of the images originate from archives like Archive of Modern Conflict or Russian RGAKFD.
The introduction is written on two full pages and it describes experience of German StuG crews on Italian, Western and Eastern fronts between 1943 and 1945. The information about tactics and problems on the Italian front was especially interesting for me. One can find statistics of the Allied tank hit distribution and information about worsened conditions for StuG III on the Eastern Front simply because they were becoming outdated for newest Soviet equipment. Noteworthy is a very controversial statement of the author that the Western Front became the main theatre of war since its opening. Nevertheless, quite good introduction which I enjoyed reading and found useful information in it.
While the introduction discusses events of the second half of the WW2, the photographs start from the beginning of the development of StuG III with a shot of a trial vehicle in 1937 that was built on the chassis of Panzer III Ausf. B. Another prototype, this time of a long barrelled StuG III is also shown, photograph was taken in 1940, long before long-barrelled assault guns were produced in numbers. After a couple of training vehicles one follows to the early days of the Barabarossa operation with plenty of short-barrelled StuG III Ausf. B and Ausf. D. Here the StuGs are present on the move, during reloading, while towing other vehicles and in a damaged condition. Importantly, the caption under the photograph always points to the important or unique features that identify unit or are interesting to show on a model (battle damage, unique stowage, camouflage, markings).
This is followed by photographs of StuG III Ausf. F with a longer barrel and again there are a lot of interesting examples of vehicles on the move and during reload. A number of those have side skirts, additional armour and very interesting camouflages. In particular, StuG III Ausf. F in winter camouflage should be a very popular subject for modelling and one can find many examples to choose from, including vehicles with personal names.
Finally, approximately half of all images show StuG III Ausf. G in various variants. Different field modification and vehicles from various factories are captured. Some of the images clearly show the concrete armour on the front of the superstructure, or other field protection measures like tracks from T-34. One of those examples is really extreme and would be a great idea to replicate in miniature! StuG III Ausf.G photographs are also a mix of theatres of war, while the short barrelled or Ausf. F were all from Eastern Front, Ausf. G photographs depict vehicles in Italy and Western Front as well. Closer to the end of the title there are also photographs of StuH. 42 Ausf. G, a modification of StuG III with a 105mm gun, including one example with a muzzle brake from leFH 10.5!
Clearly, this is a very interesting volume that will be a great source of inspiration for a modeller. Grab your Dragon kit, find a suitable version, modify it according to the references and make yourself a unique model. This is what a good reference book is about!