by: Georg Eyerman [ ]
I am in no way a student of the Italian campaign of WW2. In fact, I think I’ve only built models of 2 Italian vehicles, one in Hungarian markings and the other from the North African campaign. A friend, who I’m tutoring in modeling skills, expressed an interest in building a model of a Panzer IV from the Italian campaign. I began to look for more resources for my reference library. I stumbled across this book in one of my searches. After a bit of a storied search, I ended up receiving a copy from the publisher with the understanding that I would review it.
So here’s the review! My initial impression upon receiving it was good. It’s a first class product, with a nice, tight binding. The book comprises 250 pages, over 400 photographs, 23 maps and 11 color plates. It is broken up into 6 chapters, with additional sections comprising of a preface, introduction, appendix and color profiles. I was heartened to see Steve Zaloga wrote the preface and it was the opening round of truly enjoyable reading experience.
The narrative flows very nicely and is easy to read and follow. Many foreign publishers and authors THINK they can write in English. Sadly, many do not and merely Google translate their manuscript. This leaves a manuscript containing awkward phrases, incorrect wording and flowery complex language that obscures rather than illuminates the subject matter. This is not the case here! The maps are clear and easy to understand. While being primarily aimed at the modeling crowd, the first chapter gives a good overview of the Italian campaign from both sides of the trenches. While this particular volume is focused on the German forces, Allied maps are used extensively. The photos of this section are good assortment of German weapons, equipment, soft skins and combat vehicles. Nearly all are large format and there are very few overly dark or light prints. One particular highlight was the use of maps with annotations of where particular photos were taken (so far as known). Further, the photo captions refer back to the maps. Well done!
Chapters 2 – 6 are the real stars of the show, the vehicles. Each chapter starts with an overview of the vehicle in service followed by the photos; with maps and other documents interwoven into the narrative. Chapter 2 focuses on Tiger I’s used in the campaign and is the largest chapter in the book. The book covers the 3 Tiger units in-country: s. Pz. Abt. 504, 508 and Panzerkompanie Meyer (which was later absorbed into s. Pz. Abt. 508). Many of the photos are new to me. There are some old friends, but again they printed in large format and either are very early negatives or have been electronically cleaned up. Again the narrative and photos work well together giving a good survey of the use of the vehicles. Most of the pictures are from Allied sources as many show destroyed or disabled Tiger I’s. There are a couple of shots that actually has this reviewer thinking about building one of these.
Chapters 3 – 5 cover some of the other vehicles used by German forces: Elefants, Jagdpanzer 38, Wespe and demolition vehicles. Like the Tiger chapter the photos are, for the most part, large and clear. Some of the contemporary photos were quick snap-shots, so are slightly blurry. The Jagpanzer 38 chapter contains a bit of a bitter-sweet photo for me. On page 203 is a photo of a Jagdpanzer 38 and two Brazilian soldiers from the Brazilian Expeditionary Force. The photo belonged to the late Ricardo Bonalume Neto, a friend of mine who was one of my first Brazilian modeling friends. All of the photos in this section are of destroyed vehicles, but this is hardly surprising considering that the vehicle only deployed to the Italian front in late December, 1944 and slightly less than 60 vehicles were delivered. Chapter 5 covers the Wespe, light self-propelled howitzer. As Wespe had a longer service life than the Jagdpanzer 38, many photos of the vehicles are actually in action with German crews. I especially liked the table of vehicles in service, which gives a good snap-shot of which units were assigned them. Chapter 6 is the shortest chapter of the group and covers demolition vehicles; namely the Borgward IV and so-called “Goliath.” There are a couple of “in service” shots, but a bunch of captured pictures as these were of great interest to the Allies. The appendix covers German defensive tactics. The final section covers the 11 color plates. As expected, most are of the Tigers, with one each of the other vehicles covered.
I really enjoyed this one. Even to the point of rethinking some modeling ideas I have for some of the kits in my stash. While there are some spelling and grammatical errors, which is unfortunate, there is nothing egregious that impedes the flow of the writing. I, for one, am looking forward to more volumes of this series. This is kind of half-way between the Panzerwrecks series and Panzer colors as there are plenty of destroyed/abandoned vehicles as well as in-service shots included. Anyway, if you have an interest in the Italian campaign in general or German armor in service there, this book fills a very nice niche. Recommended.
PS- full disclosure, I do occasionally do work for Ammo of Mig doing English/English translations and minor editorial work for pay and product. This particular book was not involved in that agreement.
What? Italienfeldzug: German Tanks and Vehicles 1943 – 1945, The German ground forces in the Italian Campaign
Who? Written by Daniele Guglielmi & Mario Pieri, published by Ammo by Mig Jiminez
When? Published 2019
How much? US$38.90 (from the publisher’s website)