TankCraft 18, Panther Tanks, German Army and Waffen SS..
...Defence of the West 1945, from Pen and Sword
Title: TankCraft 18, Panther Tanks German Army and Waffen SS
Author: Dennis Oliver
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
Number 18 in the TankCraft series from Pen & Sword is a second on the topic of the German Panther from author Dennis Oliver. As Dennis explains in the introduction, this one doesn't repeat the basic design history of the Panther, as that was covered in the earlier book. This one focuses primarily on the most numerous Panther variant, the Ausf G. The other element of the subject area for this book is that it is covering the use of the Panther on the Western Front in 1945, the closing stages of WW2. This Tankcraft series has already established a common layout to the content, with factual history and archive photos accompanied by sections aimed primarily at modellers, with fine colour plates, a model showcase and a wide ranging survey of suitable models in a mix of scales, along with accessory sets, which are available on the market today.
The historical section is started off with a chronology of events between 16 December 1944 (the launch of the Ardennes offensive) and 7 May 1945 (with the surrender of the German armed forces). Then one by one it goes through the story of each of the regiments/brigades/panzer Abteilungs and even Kompanies which were equipped with the Panther in this late stage of the war. Helpfully there are a couple of useful unit structures illustrated as well. Both Heer (Army) and Waffen-SS units are included, though it is split by the inclusion of 10 pages of excellent colour profile artwork, a Modellers Showcase with 3 fine examples of finished models, 2 in 1/35 and 1 in 1/48. Then the survey of model products available in 1/35, 1/48, 1/56 and 1/72 scales, with the contact details all given on the last page in the book. Then the unit histories carry on, and these include another interesting unit structure for Panzer-Division Clausewitz, the final Panzer Division to be formed, as late as April 1945, and equipped with an unusual mix of AFV types. This leads into the final two elements of the book, looking at Technical Details and Modifications and lastly Factory Applied Camouflage. These last two sections help identify Panthers produced by the different manufacturers and also considers the debates around colours used by each of them as well.
Another excellent addition to the TankCraft series and a useful reference for modellers of this popular model subject as well, as there are some very good models of the Panther om the market these days. Good value for money and well worth having on any AFV modellers bookshelf.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for this review copy.