by: Roman [ ]
While everyone gets excited about Tigers, Shermans and T-34 I often find me interested in rather rare vehicles that did not play such major role on the WW2 battlefield but are unique in their design. Royal Hungarian armour is such an example – Toldi, Turan, Zrinyi, Nimrod, these names are not so widespread and I did not see many model of these tanks or self-propelled vehicles, but I follow carefully the release of these kits and have a few built pieces in my collection. Not only the kits are not so popular, but also the available information is rather limited. Hopefully, slowly growing interest in these vehicles will help to produce more material as this requires going into national archives and digging out the information and then translating it into English.
PeKo publishing is mostly known for their “photobook “series, although they also publish other titles, including unit’s diaries and massive issue on the King Tiger. “40M Nimród tank destroyer and armoured anti-aircraft gun” book authored by Attila Bonhardt is a second volume in the “Armour of the Royal Hungarian Army” (first volume was dedicated to Zrinyi). It has a similar layout to “photobooks” – A4 size, hard cover and excellently printed on a high quality paper.
The content is exactly what I was looking for – first, you get detailed information on development of the vehicle. Nimrod was originally designed on the base of L-62 vehicle developed in Sweden (similar to Toldi tank), although it has a slightly different hull than Toldi tanks. Hungarians changed the design of the superstructure according to their goals and vision of that vehicle in the battlefield (not only anti-aircraft but also anti-tank). This process is well explained in the book including information from trials. Then the narration follows the production of Nimrod and includes numbers, adjustments and shipment into the army. Interestingly, it also gives inside on the “controversies” with regards to internal processes in the Hungarian Command, in particular when it comes to anti-tank role. The battle performance of Nimrods is also described in this book. While it was clearly a suitable vehicle for infantry support and anti-aircraft role, the ground targets at the Eastern front were very difficult to deal with, not only due to armament, but mostly due to weak armour of Nimrods, most of them were lost on the battlefield. In conclusion, the introductory part also has information about vehicles designed on the chassis of Nimrod – Lehel ambulance and troop carrier, which never went into mass production. Finally there are several tables with technical information – dimensions, engine data and so on. All in all, the introduction is very comprehensive and should be sufficient for anyone interested in the vehicle.
The photographic part of the book is even more interesting. It includes no less than 104 black and white photographs, which are printed in a similar way as “photobook” series – one photograph per page, with image taking the majority of the space and caption under it. Unlike “photobook” series that one is only in English, if you are interested in Hungarian edition – you have to order it separately. What can you find here among those photographs? Plenty of original images, many of them from personal archives of veterans that served on Nimrods. Prototype shots, trials and training units – it has them all. Until I read this title I did not know that to get out of Nimrod the driver has to remove the steering wheel – this book even has a picture of it. While the driver on the photograph is smiling due to that feature of the vehicle, I am sure such design could have taken lives of several drivers for both Toldi and Nimrods. Many photographs show various other design features of the vehicle, including the shots of the inside of the superstructure, inside of the driver’s cupola or open headlight cover on the upper glacis plate. There are not that many photographs in action which can be understood – the crews simply had something more important to do than taking pictures. But those images that show Nimrods on the battlefield are also interesting – one can see various camouflages, mud and so on. At the very end of the book there are few photographs of Lehel.
What should I say – a truly interesting and very welcome publication. Definite must have for anyone interested in Hungarian WW2 vehicles and I only hope to see something about Toldi and Turans from PeKo in the future!