Book Review
SPz Marder, The Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle of the Modern German Army
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by: Christophe Jacquemont [ C_JACQUEMONT ]

The Vehicle's Background

Historically a very important fighting vehicle of the modern era, the Marder was first put into service in 1971. It was a true pioneer in the AIFVs (Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicles) field, along with the Soviet BMP-1 introduced in the late sixties. It is therefore alll the more surprising that no book had been dedicated to the Marder until now, and this opus by Peter Blume fills a gap in the libraries of armour enthusiasts and scholars worldwide. Peter Blume had already written a volume of the FAHRZEUG Profile series “Der Panzergrenadiere der Bundeswehr 1956-Heute” (number 4, ISBN 3-927132-28-4) which had a high Marder content but was more focused on the units, tactics and soldiers than on the vehicle itself.

The Marder is a fully tracked armoured infantry fighting vehicle armed with a 20mm automated cannon and from 1977 a Milan anti-tank missile system. It carries in battle 11 troop (9 in later variants) in a package capable of keeping up in the field with the Leopard 1 and 2 main battle tanks. In service with the German Bundeswehr since 1971, it was not to be exported until very recently. I understand the Greek Army is to get several hundreds Marder 1A3s from Bundeswehr stocks (this is, unfortunately, not mentioned in the book).

In Brief

This is the latest book in Series 5000 from Tankograd - (in the words of the publisher “MILITÄRFAHRZEUG Spezial Technical Description and Service of the Vehicle-Types and Vehicle-Technology Modern German Army, NATO, Central Europe”). Like other books in this series, it has full dual English/German text and a mixture of colour and black and white photographs. The English translation by Jochen Wollert is first rate and eminently readable, I just noticed a couple of unusual (but understandable) expressions in the whole text.

In Detail

The first two chapters deal with the predecessors of the Marder in the modern German Army, the lengthy development of the various prototypes and the initial production machines. This section has a number of mostly black and white photos, printed clear and large. A brief mention is made of the specialized variants, both those that made it to production (two types of driver’s training vehicles and the anti-aircraft Roland) and those that did not (a mortar carrier and the weird Giraffe anti-tank system with elevatable firing platform). Most interesting also is a photograph of an experimental system to make the vehicle fully amphibious with large inflatable buoys, but that one was not pursued either. The Roland AA system is only hinted at but will be covered in depth in a future Tankograd publication. As an aside, it’s interesting to note the German bias of the book’s coverage : no mention is made of the use of Marder suspension components in the Belgian version of the Jagdpanzer Kanone tank destroyer and no mention either of the Argentinean TAM family of vehicles, heavily based on the Marder.

The following chapter deals with the first modernisation efforts namely the Marder A1, A1 A, A1 ( ), A1 (-), A1 A2 and 1 A2 with relevant black and white pics. Those upgrades dealt with weapons systems (20mm gun, Milan), night vision, etc.

The next chapter has more photos, including some detail shots, and is dedicated to the Marder 1A3, A4 and A5. This is the first time I read about the 1A4 variant which is a command vehicle. The close-ups are quite useful for modellers wishing to add some details to their models, I was most interested in the photo showing the opened storage compartment contained within the rear access door! The large, clear photos of the 1A5 are also most welcome as those are hard to come by.

This is followed by a chapter on the technology of the vehicle with a very detailed written analysis of every major component.

The biggest chapter in the book, entitled “The Marder AIFV in active service”, is crammed with black and white (a minority) and colour (a majority) photos of various Marder types in the field, spanning from NATO maneuvers to Kosovo with the German contigent of KFOR. This is a goldmine of reference for modellers, be it for markings, camouflage schemes or weathering and those pictures will no doubt inspire many a diorama.

At the end, more a postscript than a final chapter really, mention is made of the ill-fated Marder 2 and last but no least a photo is shown of the Marder’s successor, the very impressive Schützenpanzer Puma.
Highs: Only reference book on this vehicle. Expert writer, large array of interesting photographs. Value for money.
Lows: Limited coverage of specialized variants, low number of detail pictures, no mention of TAM family.
Verdict: All in all this is a great book on the Marder, maybe not as immediately attractive to modellers as those walkaround types, but very useful nonetheless. At that price it should be on the reference shelf of any modern armour afficionado! Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: Miilitärfahrzeug Spezial N°5017
  Suggested Retail: 15.5 Euros
  Related Link: http://www.tankograd.com/cms/website.php?id=/en/in
  PUBLISHED: Oct 22, 2007

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About Christophe Jacquemont (C_JACQUEMONT)

Copyright ©2021 text by Christophe Jacquemont [ C_JACQUEMONT ]. All rights reserved.


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