Some of you who have followed along on my main site, MilitaryModels, will be aware that one of my builds that stalled last year was an Academy Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H which was been backdated to a final production Ausf.G. One of the key reasons for that build stalling was that I encountered a problem with the markings that I had planned for it.
My original wish was to depict a vehicle in February 1944 on the road back after the rout at Korsun and so I started with the unit factbook pages on Feldgrau to find a suitable unit. I didn’t want to do yet another SS unit so when I came across this one HERE at Feldgrau it seemed perfect. The 3rd Panzer Division took part in the battles around Tscherkassy in the opening months of 1944. So far so good.
Then I moved to Axishistory factbook pages for a little more info and found THIS. Things were looking better, the 3rd Panzer Division was known as the Bear Division, and the bear emblem was something I liked so now I had my unit based on the images at the bottom of the page in that link. Much more reading followed and other images cropped up identifying several 3.Pz.Div vehicles and I found that they belonged to the 6th Panzer Regiment which used a shield made up of an old 4th Panzer Division emblem above crossed swords on a shield. The most common explanation given being that this emblem was taken to 6.Pz.Reg.3.Pz.Div from 35.Pz.Reg.4.Pz.Div by a commander who moved from one to the other.
Seems all good right ? So I ordered the appropriate markings from Archer but while waiting for them someone gave me a set of decals from the Tamiya Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H kit which includes decals identified as 3.Pz.Div with the shield and bear included. So I put those on. And then the Archer decals arrived and here began the problem. The Archer decals titled these as 4.Pz.Div. I consider Axishistory to be reliable so I was a little confused. I asked on Armorama and had it confirmed that the bear was indeed 3.Pz.Div.
And here then is the problem. It isn’t. Of the three vehicles identified on the Axishistory page only the middle one is 3.Pz.Div. The top and bottom are 4.Pz.Div. They both have a bear emblem, 3.Pz.Div has a white one on a black shield and it’s small and usually located toward the rear. 4.Pz.Div has the simplified rearing bear which is red with a white outline for the 1st Abteilung and white for the 2nd Abteilung. There is no evidence of a blue or a black one used by 4.Pz.Div.
I learnt this after several days of solid research while taking the new tack that everything I knew was wrong and starting with a view that I would look into the history of each unit. Quite evident really when you find there is a well recorded unit history for 4.Pz.Div. with plenty of validated photos.
On top of all that I learnt that the shield usually identified as that of 6.Pz.Reg.3.Pz.Div is actually that of 4.Pz.Div which was added to all divisional vehicles in March 1944 after the Division Commander Dietrich von Saucken was awarded the Swords to his Knights Cross ( awarded in January, accepted on February 20th 1944 ). He returned to command 4.Pz.Div on the 1st of March at which time the shield was adopted.
So I found myself with a vehicle that was supposed to be with 8th Army as part of Army Group South leaving Korsun in late February bearing markings of a vehicle that was with 9th Army as part of Army Group Middle in March at the earliest. Bummer. Time to find a new unit, new markings, or a new scenario. Build on hold
So the moral of this story ? Never take one source as gospel, no matter how learned it seems, even the best get it wrong from time to time. Check, double check, tripple check, and if there seems to be contradictions go back and do it all again.