by: Roman [ ]
Panzer IV is rightly called the «workhorse» of the German army during the WW2 as it was performing various tasks throughout the whole war and underwent many modifications and developments. One of the most important changes that occurred to that design was a change from short-barrelled 75mm gun, which was originally intended for infantry support, to long-barrelled 75mm gun based on the time-tested Pak40, therefore improving anti-tank capacities of Panzer IV on the Eastern Front (primarily).
Transition from one stage to another is known to modellers as Panzer IV Ausf F2 and Panzer IV Ausf G. The change was accompanied by the delay of implementations of various features by several factories producing Panzer IV and this caused a mix of various elements seen on the war time photographs. The recent volume from PeKo Publishing, authored by Craig Ellis is addressing those changes and factory specific features.
The book comes as a standard landscape format with a hard cover (similar to other photobook titles from PeKo) and bilingual narration (Hungarian and English). The introduction takes three pages and here the author explains in detail the observations and factory specific features which will be then used to identify vehicles on the photographs. Different aspects of Panzer IV Ausf G. and Ausf. H from Vomag, Krupp and Nibelungwerke are given as a table and this will become a simple and easy to use reference for a modeller.
The introduction is followed by 100 large size (almost full A4 page) photographs with a caption which points out important features seen on the vehicles allowing identification of production factory. The story starts with a number of Ausf F2. and there is plenty of detail that would serve as a basis for a great model – unique features, original camouflages and various weathering effects seen on the photographs; e.g. polished inner disks on the road wheels, something that is largely ignored by modellers. Winter vehicles show accumulations of mud and snow, very attractive elements to study and replicate on the model.
From Ausf. F2 the book moves to Ausf. G. and here the mixed features of various factories are explained on the photographs. Most of them are previously unpublished and feature original Panzer IVs. Many examples carry minor additions by the crews, e.g. wires to keep the hatches shut, chains on stowage boxes for additional personal items, individual stowage and uniform.
Further, the book follows the introduction of side skirts and their evolution. Ausf. G, early Ausf. H are shown in a plethora of images. Some of those tanks appear as destroyed, while some are being on maintenance or operational. How about making a model of Ausf H with a ladder for a crew to climb on the tank? The title also has photographs of tanks with zimmerit, including zimmerint on side skirts and these late war Panzers have quite interesting camouflages, both factory and field applied.
Finally, there is a number of Ausf J. in that book as well. Those have late type of side skirts (mesh) and one example shown here has all the skirts camouflaged with foliage -very rare and inspiring combination.
Altogether, this is another great photobook from PeKo, the images are new to me and narration from Craig Ellis together with his knowledge make the book an excellent addition to any library dedicated to Panzer IV. Many inspiring photographs which can become a starting point for an interesting model.