The Wiesel 1 was developed by the German Army to provide a mobile armoured (heavy) weapon transport solution for it's Airborne Troops. Development started in 1969, when the doctrine of the Cold War envisaged the use of those Airborne Troops in Enemy Breakthrough hot spots, and at that time only the unarmoured Kraftkarren was suitable for the purpose. A lengthy design process by Porsche led to test trails being completed by 1978, but the orders for production were suddenly canceled in 1979. The (urgent) need for a replacement for the Kraftkarren remained however, and in 1981 a renewed tendering process was initiated. This resulted in Porsche eventually receiving the contract to develop and produce the Wiesel in two variants, a TOW launcher and a MK (20mm Maschinenkanone), in 1985. Delivery to the troops was during 1990-1992. Additionally, in 2005 a new reconnaissance version was produced by Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH.
Chapter One - Development History:
- Militaerfahrzeug Spezial No 5022
- Author: Ralph Zwilling
- Pages: 64
- Photos: 139 colour photos
- Language: Complete German and English Text and photo captions
The book begins with a detailed account of the development of the early Wiesel, in both German and English, using the standard Tankograd lay-out of German text in the left column, and English in the right. The 17 photos in this chapter show a number of interesting proposed variants and alternative armaments for the commercial market, none of which are currently in service.
Chapter Two - The Chassis of the Wiesel 1:
The second chapter deals with the basic chassis, including all the non armament related details, and goes into some detail about the development of the tracks. The 14 photos in this chapter include early prototype shots, as well as views showing how the vehicle can be transported inside a helicopter, or as an under slung load.
Chapter Three - Wiesel 1 MK (Maschinekanone):
This chapter deals with the 20mm Dual Feed Machine Cannon armed variant, and explains in detail the development of the weapon, and associated systems. 15 photos show the Wiesel 1 MK in various theatres, and the chapter ends with a 4 page walkaround of 16 close-up photos, including the driver and commander stations.
Chapter Four - Wiesel 1 MK with Command and Control System:
This chapter is only four pages, and contains 12 photos and no text. The Fuhrungsinformationssystem Heer (FuInfoSysH) is a computerised command and control system which has been in service from 2007. The photos in this chapter include more detailed interior shots, as well as four shots of a comprehensively camouflaged Wiesel on exercise.
Chapter Five - Wiesel 1 Tow:
Chapter five introduces the TOW variant, which must be a front runner for the 'Most Cramped Vehicle To Crew' award. Unlike the MK armed version, the Wiesel 1 TOW has a crew of three, and needs to find room to stow 6 missiles (plus one missile 'in the tube' ). 26 Photos show the Wiesel 1 TOW in all weathers, and deployed in theatre as well as on exercise. Included are two pictures of the original prototypes, and a picture of a Wiesel prepared on the special platform, for a parachute drop. This chapter also ends with a walkaround of 12 close-up photos over three pages, and includes a small section about the TOW system itself.
Chapter Six - Wiesel 1 Reconnaissance:
The reconnaissance variant was only introduced in 2005, although it's use for this task was envisaged from the start. Using the chassis of the Wiesel 1 TOW, the principal changes are a raised rear super structure and the addition of comprehensive surveillance and communication equipment. Armament consists of the personal weapons of the three man crew (G36A1 Assault rifle), a single MG3 machine gun, and a 40mm grenade launcher. 11 photos show how this variant differs markedly from the others, as this variant includes extensive external storage, as well as external equipment.
Chapter Seven - Wiesel 1 with Driver Training Equipment:
The final chapter of the book shows the driver training school variant, which consists of a large cabin on the rear super structure in which the instructor and a second pupil can sit. The vehicle has a full secondary set of controls to allow the instructor to override if required. The cabin is glazed all round, and fully air conditioned. 12 photos show a good all round picture, including the interior of the cabin.
Tankograd have a justified reputation for publishing high quality reference books, often dealing with the more obscure or less covered subjects. This new title is no exception, as the Wiesel 1 is one of those vehicles that is so much overlooked. WaffenTraeger Wiesel 1
(Wiesel 1 - Mobile Weapon Platform) gives a concise account of this diminutive vehicle, and the photographs in this volume span the full range, from training exercises to deployment in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
The text is as always in German and English, as are the detailed captions of the photos. The lay-out of the text sees the left column for the the German text, and the right column for the English. This can occasionally be slightly confusing, especially when you are trying to find a specific reference, but on the whole it poses no problem. The captions have a tendency to use the full vehicle designation every time, which can be a bit tedious, but the excellent photographs over come this small niggle easily, and are a great inspiration for Modern Armour modellers. It is particularly good to see the addition of close-ups of the exterior and interior, which will be very helpful for those wishing to add more detail, or even the interior, to the AFV Club kit of this vehicle.
The book is printed on heavy gloss paper, and has a hard card cover. The initial impression can be deceiving, as the stapled spine makes it look like a magazine. But the stapled spines actually makes it easier to open up, and lay it opened up as a reference whilst you are building a kit. These books stand up very well to repeated use, as my heavily used copy of the Land Rover title has proven. Unlike 'traditionally' bound, or glued, books, the Tankograd books don't split, and the cover retains it shape and gloss finish.