Book Review
Magyar Steel
Magyar Steel

by: Pat McGrath [ EXER ]

The battles fought by Hungarian forces in world war two are usually depicted in history books as footnotes to those fought by the German Army. This book tells the story of how, though vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the opposing Soviet forces and ill used and badly served by their German Allies, the Hungarian Armoured formations on the Eastern front fought bravely in a hopeless cause.

The book
The book is divided into 7 sections

Hungarian armoured troops at the River Don
The short operational history of Hungarian Armoured units in WW II
The first two sections are a history of Hungarian armoured formations on the eastern front. A lot of history writing can be dry but that is not the case here. Giving an almost day by day account which includes numbers and types of both Hungarian Vehicles and of Soviet Vehicles engaged in battle and using quotes from contemporary first hand accounts these chapters give a real flavour of what Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front must have been like for the Hungarian troops and also makes the book very readable. Mention is made of several Hungarian “aces”, the most notable of whom was Ervin Tarcsay who, because of his record, was promoted out of turn (almost unheard of in the Royal Hungarian Army) to Captain in 1945. The author also delves a little into the ill feeling between the Hungarian troops and the German Army and how the Hungarians were let down on occasion by their own Generals failing to stand up to the German Commanders. These chapters are well illustrated with 70 B&W wartime photos.

The short history of the Hungarian Armour industry and vehicles in WW II
This chapter details the development of Hungarian armour from the 39.M Csaba armoured car through the Zrinyi I & II SPGs to the 44.M Tas which only reached the prototype stage before the Hungarian armaments industry was brought to a halt by American bombing and lack of access to raw materials in 1944. This chapter also covers the manufacture and development under license of foreign vehicles such as the Landsverk L60 and L62 which under Hungarian development became the 38.M Toldi and the 40.M Nimrod. Although Hungarian units were equipped with German Armoured vehicles, either loaned or bought from Germany, Hungary failed to gain a license to manufacture any German vehicles. Included are tables of foreign AFVs in Hungarian service from 1935 -1945 and of Hungarian Manufactured AFVs from 1939-45

Scale Plans
There are 30 scale drawings in 1/35 scale covering the Straussler F4 prototype tank, the Csaba 40M,the Csaba 39M, the Nímrod, the Tas SPG (Concept Drawing), Heavy Tank Tas (Concept Drawing), Light tank Toldi 1, Light tank Toldi IIa, Light tank Toldi III, Toldi tank destroyer, Medium Tank Turán I, Medium Tank Turán II, Turán III, Zrinyi II Assault gun and Zrinyi II 105mm Assault howitzer

This gives the list of sources such as archives, books, articles and original manuscripts the Author used in preparing the book.

Colour Photos
Only one Hungarian manufactured AFV remains in Hungary, a Nímrod tank destroyer which is currently being restored at the Hungarian Military academy and some photos of this are included. Photos of an Ansaldo tankette in Belgrade the rest of the photos are from the Kubinka Armour Museum in Russia and seem to have been taken under that museum’s restrictions as to using additional lights.

Colour Plates
The 47 colour plates are well done and cover a range of Hungarian manufactured AFVs and German AFVs in Hungarian service including Hetzers, Stugs and Tigers and even a captured lend lease Stuart in Hungarian markings.

Although I knew nothing about Hungary’s role in WW2 before I started this book and my main modelling interests are Allied, I greatly enjoyed reading it. The easy style of the author Csaba Becze is very readable and the wealth of detail make this book of value to modellers and historians alike.

  • Written by Csaba Becze and illustrated by Mariusz Filipiuk
  • 84 pages (24 in colour)
  • A4 format on high quality glossy paper
  • Soft cover
  • ISBN number 978-8389450296

Available from MMP Books through their online shop, price Ł15.

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Highs: The style of the author and the contemporary descriptions together with the detailed colour plates and line drawings make this a very valuable reference book for modellers and historians alike
Lows: Although there are plenty of photos of Hungarian armour crews in the book there are no details in the text about their uniforms.
Verdict: This the first reference for Hungarian Armour that I'm aware of and as such it is very welcome. Not only is it a good reference it's also a very good read.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: 4101
  Suggested Retail: Ł15
  Related Link: MMP Books
  PUBLISHED: Mar 13, 2007

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About Pat McGrath (exer)

I served three years in the Irish Army. Then I studied fine art for five years. Acted professionally since leaving college (Look me up on IMDB- Pat McGrathIII) Interested in Allied Armour 1942-45 and German SPGs. Other interests are figures and Sci Fi models

Copyright ©2021 text by Pat McGrath [ EXER ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks Pat. A very well thought-out and written review. We appriciate the time that you and all our review contributors (and staff) take to bring your impressions of things to us. Cheers, Jim
MAR 13, 2007 - 11:37 PM
Pat, Sounds like an interesting area to explore, the Hungarians along with the Romanian and other Axis forces often don't get the level of attention they are due, this book sounds like an intriguing area to dive into!
MAR 14, 2007 - 12:00 AM

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