Book Review
German Armored Trains in WWII
German Armored Trains in WWII Volumes 1&2
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by: Dave Shick [ ILLINI ]


Armored trains have existed since at least the time of the American Civil War. The broad range of this lesser-known subject is covered by the Osprey book reviewed here. The use of armored trains by Germany in World War II is the subject of the two books reviewed here. I came across these books while hunting for research material to use with the Trumpeter series of kits that represent the BP42/44 armored train. Interestingly, these were both published almost a decade before Trumpeter began releasing their kits.

However, the trains appear to have been a popular model railroad subject in Europe for many years.
Volume 1 German Armored Trains in World War II was originally published in 1986 in German. It was translated into English by Schiffer Publishing in 1989. Volume 2 covers the years 1939-1945 in detail. Both are available from popular online booksellers for about $10-11 each. The author, Wolfgang Sawodny, has just released a new book, German Armored Trains 1904 – 1945, which retails for a cool $100, but is discounted to about $63 (not in my budget).

The Books

Volume 1 is 52 pages long in a soft cover format with each page standard paper size. The only color is on the front and back covers. The front cover has a nice painting of a BP44 train in action. This is distinguished by the Panzerjägerwagen at the front (the Trumpeter kit is reviewed here). It begins with a general introduction of the history of armored trains, primarily in Europe, then follows chronologically through WWII with an introduction for each period, and including several pictures of the subject. All of the photographs are black and white, and are very well-captioned. The periods covered are:

• From the outbreak of the war to the summer of 1941
• Summer of 1941 to the end of 1942
• Armored train units BP42 and BP44, and armored scout cars and railcars
• 1943 to war’s end

Volume 2 is also 52 pages long, and in the same format. The cover art is just bad: very tall skinny people apparently manned this train. The author indicates he published Volume 2 as a result of a “sellout” of the first volume. That may have been true of the German edition, however the English edition of both volumes are readily available. He also makes a plea in both for contributions to a larger “work in progress.” I assume this became the tome mentioned above.

The second volume has a similar, but longer introduction than the previous book. It then follows pretty much the same sequence, but concentrates on the years up to 1945 (most of the war). It’s difficult to be certain, but I think all the pictures in this volume are different from the earlier one.

The Review

For the price, these books provide an excellent overview of the use of armored trains by Germany in WWII. If you are planning to build any of the Trumpeter armored train kits, then at least one of these would be a great reference. In my opinion, Volume 2 provides better coverage of the BP42 and BP44 trains, which are available in kit form. My only disappointment was a lack of clear pictures of the locomotive (the recent BR57 kit). I plan on doing an in-box/partial build review of that kit soon.


Since the Trumpeter kits led me to these books, I think it’s fair to say a brief word or two about them. It looks to me like they are doing an excellent job of representing this unique subject. My only gripe is the cost– especially for an entire train (or half-train, since each car was used twice). All cars of the 42/44 trains have been released or announced, except for the tank-carrying car, and the “pusher” (could be just the gondola kit). I also think the company will release the tender as a stand-alone kit, since two of these were part of a complete train. The clue is that this is the only part of the BR57 kit that has any detail where the tender and locomotive meet.


If you’re building any of the Trumpeter armored train kits, or are just interested in the subject, then these books are a must (at least one of them). I learned a tremendous amount about a subject I knew little or nothing about by reviewing these (pun intended).
Highs: Excellent coverage of a little known subject. Many photos of all aspects of these trains.
Lows: No detail photos of the BR57 locomotive.
Verdict: A must-have for those building the Trumpeter kits on this subject.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Suggested Retail: $10-11 online
  PUBLISHED: Aug 30, 2010

About Dave Shick (Illini)

Copyright ©2021 text by Dave Shick [ ILLINI ]. All rights reserved.


Thanks for posting this Bill,I bought Osprey`s New Vanguard Book on armoured trains and was very dissapointed with the content within. I would warn anyone about this if they (like me) are planning to do the Trumpeter 1/35 scale kits as the book only contains two images of a BP42,one is just an illustration,the other is so covered in camoflage that no detail is discernable. Hope this helps my fellow modellers out there. Now all i`ve got to do is find someone who sells these !.
SEP 03, 2010 - 08:37 PM
Amazon has all of the above, and more
SEP 04, 2010 - 03:48 AM
Here is a little Youtube video featuring an armored train and a Panhard scoutcar, LINK It's pretty neat. They show how they converted the Panhard from road to rail. Jeff
SEP 16, 2010 - 06:15 AM
Thanks for sharing that. If I'm not mistaken, the artillery on the train was the sIG 33? The only scenes missing from the newsreel are them stringing up the partisans and burning their villages....
SEP 16, 2010 - 06:27 AM
I'm not sure if this is one I came across doing the research for this, but there is one you tube that's an excert from a movie (Polish I think) called "The last armored train". I can't access this from work, I'll send the link tonight.
SEP 16, 2010 - 06:46 AM
Bill, artillery on BP-42 was 10 cm F.H.14/19 (p) and 7,62 cm F.K. 295/1 (r). First one polish origin and second russian. I just got Waldemar Trojca´s book "Panzerzug BP42/BP44" book from Jadar-Hobby and it has lot of technical data and pics of BP42 plus 1/35 scale drawnings. Bad thing is, that text is polish only. Other book I´m getting from Book-Depository in U.K is Wolfgang Sawodny´s "German armored trains 1904-1945" published in April this year. What comes to that newsreel, I believe it´s made completely by german propaganda office.
SEP 16, 2010 - 07:18 AM
Yes...the inconvenient truth not shown to the home audiences. But it's still an interesting film...nicht wahr? Jeff
SEP 16, 2010 - 07:19 AM
Dave, I think this is the link you were talking about: LINK It's from a Polish war movie called "Jarzebina Czerwona". The destruction around the set was probably actual damage from WWII. Jeff
SEP 16, 2010 - 07:24 AM
Thanks for clearing that up, Kimmo! You actually can see buildings burning in the distance in the last scene. They also call the partisans "bandits." This is a modeling forum, but let's also make sure we remember the dead and never forget what went along with Blitzkrieg:
SEP 16, 2010 - 07:35 AM

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