Book Review
From Normandy to Beltring
'Living History' - A survey in Photographs taken at the War and Peace Show 1996-2006
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by: Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]


As I mentioned in the introduction, I see many advantages in using restored vehicles as a source for data on particular vehicles. However, there are also a number of pitfalls. Military museums and private collections have frequently been accused of concentrating more on the mechanics of a vehicle than finishing it in an authentic manner. Many times, vehicles are finished in an 'illustrative' rather than historically accurate manner. For the casual observer, this isn't any kind of problem - outside AFV modelers, few will be able to differentiate between a Post-War and a WWII M4 for example. There are however some clear advantages to using photos like these in this book as a source. Firstly, in settings such as the annual Beltring Show, the vehicles are 'put through their paces' actually shown in movement rather than the static vehicles in museums. The owners of these vehicles take enormous pains to present the vehicles in authentic markings and add items such as stowage. Beyond contemporary images of the vehicles in theater this is about as real as it's liable to get!

Tankograd's New Book

From Normandy to Beltring, 'Living History' - A survey in Photographs taken at the War and Peace Show 1996-2006 is published by the German military publisher Tankograd Publishing and marks an interesting change in direction from the type of publications from the company. The book is published in A5 Landscape Format and consists of 128 pages. Apart from a brief introduction of just three pages by the Author/EditorJochen Vollert the book is a photo essay of 120 images.

In Detail

Beginning with the introduction always seems like a good point to begin. In the 3 pages, the author succintly looks at both the advantages and drawbacks of Shows like Beltring - in particular the 'reenactment' part, which is where these particular photos originated. He also, very candidly, says that the photos are his personal choice with a clear bias towards the Re-enactment side rather than an attempt to present a technical overview. As Tankograd Publishing's catalogue is overflowing with technical material of an extremely high quality, this is perhaps the most 'personal' book they have published..

The Images. These cover ten years of the Beltring Show and the first impression one has is of superlative quality. Apart from a few images showing re-enactors, the overwhelming majority of the images are on one page. In the case of some vehicles the same vehicle is photographed from different angles with the TLC lavished on these vehicles and the addition of stowage, their 'operators' dressed in authentic gear and the use of items such as foliage gives a very realistic 'feel' to the photos. The book is broadly split into two halves - one covering U.S. Army vehicles/troops and the remainder covering a variety of German subjects. Vollert's photos are very well done - there are no 'anachronisms' entering into the images (Camper vans parked beside Jimmies?) and if these images were reprinted in black and white they would be pretty convincing.

The subject areas: There are some very diverse subjects presented through the book. On the U.S. side, three different variants of the M4 (M4a1, M4a2 and M4a4) along with vehicles such as the M18/M36 TDs and the M2 & M5 Halftrack. Some nice examples of the 'staples' of these shows are also presented in the form of the GMC 2.5 ton truck and various Jeeps. Amongst the 'not-always-seen' category, are the M5 Light Tanks and the M24.

On the German side, once again there is a nice mixture of vehicles and equipment. The re-enactors are, once again, pretty convincing. There are however a few pitfalls in the subjects covered. Essentiallly, due to the rarity of many German vehicles, the difficulty in restoration and their virtually priceless value as historical artifacts, not all of the vehicles photographed are in fact originals. One of the two Stugs, one of the JagdPanthers, one of the Hetzers, the Tiger I (VERY understandably), a Kubelwagen and several of the Sd.Kfz 251s (post-war Czech OT-811s?) are listed in the captions section at the end of the book as being reproductions. This, in my opinion, doesn't take away from the images in any way.


It's a nice change to actually see images of preserved vehicles and re-enactors in their 'natural' environment. It's also a homage to the many individuals who spend all their spare time (and large wads of cash) putting 'Classic' military vehicles back into shape. It isn't a book without it's value to the modeler at all - both the 'soldiers' and the vehicles look pretty convincing. Once again, speaking personally, and without any intention to offend anyone, I still hold a few doubts as to why anyone would actually want to recreate Waffen SS troops - it still gives me an uncomfortable feeling. As to the book, the photos are absolutely stunning and it's worth buying just for the sheer enjoyment of seeing this quality of image in one book. Highly Recommended
It goes without saying that restored vehicles are a good (and accessible) source of information for modelers. However, for many, the problem is also one of access - not everyone lives near the big vehicle rallies. Therefore, a book like this is extremely welcome - providing a summary of 10 years of images of one of the biggest shows on the calendar, the 'War an Peace Show' at Beltring in England.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: Beltring
  Suggested Retail: 14.95 Euro
  PUBLISHED: Oct 01, 2007

Our Thanks to Tankograd Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jim Rae (jimbrae)

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Rae [ JIMBRAE ]. All rights reserved.


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