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Posted on Jan 28, 2008 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Panzergrenadier Divisions 1939-45 Book Review

By Phil Driscoll

armored.jpgBook Review – The Essential Vehicle Identification Guide: Panzergrenadier Divisions 1939-45, by Chris Bishop. Published by Amber Books Ltd 2007 ISBN 13-978-1-905704-29-3

Physically the book is well constructed. It is hard bound and uses low gloss heavy weight paper. It features more than 200 same scale, full-color artworks of all the major armored fighting vehicles that formed the German panzergrenadier divisions and a variety of black/white photos of the units in action. The book is organized using an Introduction, three chapters detailing Early Motorized Divisions, Wartime Motorized Divisions, and Panzer Grenadier Divisions along with Appendices and an Index at the back.

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The Introduction is a brief description and history of the development of the German Motorized forces.

Each German Motorised/Panzergrenadier Division has its own section which includes a battle history of the division including organizational changes, an OOB for each division in all its various forms, a listing of its various commanders and several color drawings of vehicles employed by the units. The OOBs can be useful to game/scenario designers in identifying elements of these divisions. These drawings include not only AFVs, but trucks, and other auxiliary vehicles. Each vehicle has an information section attached to the photo which gives basic information about the vehicle. The Reader will find the 29th Motorized Division involved with the 1941 Drive on Moscow and destroyed at Stalingrad, and reborn and participating in the Battles for Italy. Other famous and less famous divisions receive the same broad coverage of each division’s battle history and organizational evolution.

At the end are several appendices the reader will find useful- SdKfz definitions listing all “Special Purpose Motor Vehicles” designed specifically for military use and a separate Kfz definitions listing of soft-skinned ‘powered vehicles’. Along with the index, these appendices must be used to identify and find the various vehicles displayed in the book.

Unfortunately this is a necessity as there is no list of vehicle drawings that allows the reader to rapidly find a vehicle. The vehicles are not grouped in any sort of order so that it is necessary to identify the vehicle and then find the pages it is displayed on as usually each vehicle/gun appears more than once and makes it necessary to flip between pages. The author does not discuss special features displayed in the various drawings of the same vehicle i.e. one will see a MKIV both with/without scheurzen (armored skirts) or with/without smoke dispensers but no note of these differences is made nor of the various camouflage schemes. In this respect, the military modeler will require other sources to fill in the required information.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the book and feel it would make a worthy addition to anyone’s library along with Mr. Bishop’s Companion volume The Essential Tank Identification Guide: Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions 1939-45.

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