Book Review – OPG/ADH Publishing: Viking Summer, 5.SS Panzer Division In Poland, 1944

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First just a little clarification for those of you who aren’t familiar with these books. This book is considered the first book in the “Firefly Collection”, a form of joint venture between Oliver Publishing Group and ADH Publishing. I’ve already reviewed several of the OPG titles but this is their first joint venture with OPG handling all the editorial side of things and ADH handling the physical printing, marketing and distribution. That should be a good thing as these are fantastic books and they’ve had a few hard years, starting as part of the Factory Publishing series then breaking away into Oliver Publishing. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of seeing more and more of these titles hitting the shelves.

As to this book itself, well the title pretty much sums it up, in a nut shell it’s a look at 5.SS.Pz.Div “Wiking” and their time in Poland in 1944. As with most of the OPG titles this mixes historical narrative with vehicle identification and artwork aimed at providing modellers with reference for builds. The strongest influence here is for the Pz.Kpfw.V Panther which is not surprising once you read the make-up of the division which at the time was well stocked with the Panther and a bit light on other armour.

The historical narrative fills out the first ten pages and covers the Division’s time in Poland with particular emphasis on the relief of Kovel and the defense of Warsaw. It is accompanied by diagramatic charts of the make-up of the two Abteilung, the first equipped (or rather underequipped) with Pz.Kpfw.IV and StuG.IV and the second with Panthers.

The text is excellent and the authors enthusiasm for the story he is retelling comes through clearly which makes for a far more enjoyable read than an impersonal account of dates and figures. I should also note that although the narrative may sound brief at only ten pages that the font is small and the borders at a minimum. Coming from a background in books I can say that I could easily have pushed this text out to fifteen or more pages simply by increasing the font size and adding more white space. It’s a good read and the accompanying map wit the section on Kovel tends to have you plotting their movements as the narrative progresses.

And so to the second section of the book, the colour plates. Here you get twelve pages plus the rear cover (inside and out) with colour plates of thirty eight individual vehicles depicted including Panthers, a Bergepanther, Pz.Kpfw.IVs, StuG IV, Hummel, Jagdpanzer IV L/48, Sd.Kfz.251/1, 251/7 and 251/9. As mentioned earlier these are dominated by Panthers so if the big cats take your fancy then this one is a must have. The illustrations are excellent with many referenced back to period photos also in the book. There’s also a photo on the rear cover of a 1/35 Panther representing one of the Kovel cats built by Glenn Bartolli.

The third section is nine pages containing eighteen period photos with accompanying text. For the most part these are two to a page with one having a single page to itself and one page having four photos of crewmen. These are all very good reference photos. (On a side note as ADH is the publisher of Military Modelling International magazine there will be linked articles running in MMI including the current one expanding on the Kovel story ).

The book gets rounded out with the mandatory Tank Strength chart outlining the principal tanks on strength with 5.SS.Pz.Div “Wiking” throughout 1944. It’s rather interesting to run through these numbers to see how they were regularly depleted and rebuilt throughout the year. 

Conclusion. Simple, modeller or historian, get this book. These are simple yet entertaining reads and they go beyond the usual collection of photos of period vehicles to give you the story behind them. For those of us who like to place a build in a time and place then these are the sorts of references we need, and a quick read through the acknowledgement section at the front of this underlines the level of research that goes into these. I seriously see these books as being up there with the best.

On a personal note (meaning this is just my opinion of an area not directly related to this title but to WWII reference books in general) I love the vehicle histories of the Jentz and Doyle PT and Osprey books and the pictorial histories of the likes of Panzerwrecks. For me books like this one and it’s stablemates add the third part needed, the historical narrative that makes it all more “real”. I can’t really find the right word. When you build a diorama of a scene in time that scene is the photo in P-W, the technical accuracy maybe comes from P-T or similar good reference books. But the “story” to the diorama is what happened before that scene and what possibly happens after it. That’s the narrative and a good narrative isn’t just a reference for a build, it’s often the inspiration for the whole build in the first place. “First Blood” makes you want to build a 37mm M3 wreck, this one makes you want to build a Panther on a traintrack.

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Author & Illustrator :  Dennis Oliver
Publisher :  ADH Publishing (www.adhpublishing.com)
Pages : 34 (Including covers) containing B&W Photos and colour artwork plates
Binding : Softcover
Size : 212mm x 297mm
ISBN :  978-0-9806593-9-9
 

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Guest Review – Stratus Books : Polish Tracks & Wheels No.3, Polish Vickers Part 2

My thanks to Ray Mehlberger for providing this review.

Stratus Books Polish Tracks & Wheels No.3 Polish Vickers Part 2

Polish Tracks & Wheels No.3, Polish Vickers Part 2

Author: Adam Jonca

Stratus is a publisher based in Sandomierz, Poland. They are partners with Mushroom Model Publications who is based in the U.K. Mushroom Model Publications has all their books printed in Poland by Stratus in English. Stratus publishes their books in both Polish and English.

This new book was sent to me directly from Stratus in Poland. It was wrapped in cardboard sheet and inside a bubble wrap lined envelope to protect it in the mail. Very well packed.

This new book complements the well-established and successful “Polish Wings” series on aircraft in the Polish Air Force. This book is the third in a series on Polish Army vehicles and is the second volume about Vickers tanks.

It tells the story of four major tanks of Polish origin used by the Polish Army in the 1930’s, some still in use at the time of the German invasion.

DESCRIBED TANKS:

  • Medium Mark D, Six Ton
  • Vickers-Carden-Loyd Mk. VI
  • 4 Ton Artillery Tractor
  • 4 Ton Light Tank 7TP
  • Vickers-7TP
  • 7TP forced

Training and operations with these tanks are described and illustrated with 190 black and white wartime photos. There are 17 full colour profiles included. These are of :

  • Vickers Medium Tank Mk. D
  • Vickers Mark E, Type B
  • Vickers Mark E, Type A
  • Carden-Loyd Tankette Mk. VI
  • Vickers 4-ton Artillery Tractor
  • Vickers 4-ton Artillery Tractor with 105mm Wz 29 cannon in tow
  • Vickers Light Amphibious Tank A4E12
  • 7TP 7-Ton without armament in turret
  • 7TP Twin-turreted tank (3 profiles of this. One is a 2-view)
  • 7TP Single turreted tank (7 profiles of this. One is a 2-view)
  • 7TP Single turreted tank in captured German markings.

There are 2 black and white photos of 2 different 7TP engines and line drawings of the 7TP chassis out of a technical manual.

Included also are 2 Light Tank Battalion Command & Speciality Platoon Organizational charts. One Supply Company organizational chart. A page of unit symbol codes in colour used in 1939,

On the last page of the book are two 3-view line drawings in 1/72nd scale of the 7TP twin-turreted and the single-turreted tanks.

This book will be of interest to military historians and modellers alike. Highly recommended.

I want to thank Dr. Roger M. Wallsgrove, Editor in Chief of Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) and the folks at Stratus in Poland for this review copy.

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Polish Tracks & Wheels No.3, Polish Vickers Part 2
Stratus Publications (www.mmpbooks.biz)
Author: Adam Jonca
ISBN: 978-83-61421-50-4
MSRP: £13.99

Guest Review – MMP Books : Classic Warbirds No.13, D-Day to Berlin

My thanks to Ray Mehlberger for providing this review.

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Classic Warbirds No.13 : D-Day to Berlin
Author: Malcolm Laird

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Mushroom Model Publications is based in the UK. They have all their books printed in English in Sandomierz Poland by Stratus. Stratus also does their own series of books in Polish and English. Apparently Ventura also is associated with Stratus as this book was sent to me directly from Stratus. It was packaged in several layers of heavy cardboard along with a second book. Both books arrived in pristine condition.

This book is soft cover and 72 pages long in 6 ½” x 9” page format.

“From D-Day to Berlin” is a revised and expanded reprint of Classic Warbirds No. 5. Most of the new material is Luftwaffe “broken eagle” photos from 1945 and an RAF Beaufighter story with previously unpublished photos from private collections. Stories from the mid 1944 until the post war occupation force are included. When possible, each chapter is based on interviews with individuals who were there. The book endeavours to avoid repeating “potted histories” of various air battles.

For the fighter squadrons of the RAF’s Second Tactical Air Force and the USAAF 8th and 9th Air Forces this period was particularly intense. From supporting the Normandy invasion itself and later encountering increased Luftwaffe opposition as the air war was fought increasingly over German soil.

Add to this the increasing sophistication and sheer magnitude of the 8th Air Force strategic daytime bombing campaign over the Third Reich. From these campaigns comes the content of this book and a wealth of material for modellers and aviation enthusiasts alike.

Where possible, each chapter is from the perspective of individuals who were there. Each story is illustrated with many photos. There are 110 black and white wartime photos in the book. Fifty-six of these photos are of pilots and crew members in front of various aircraft. There is one photo of the No. 451 Squadron logo.

Aircraft shown in the photos are: Mustang III, Beaufighter, the tail of a Ju-88, Seafire L.III, Liberator, Hellcat, Typhoon Mk. Ib, Spitfire Mk. IXc, Spitfire IX, Spitfire LF.XVI, Spitfire VII, P-51D, P-51B, P-51D-5, P-51C, Mosquito NF.Mk. 30, Spitfire FR. XIV, FW-190F-8, Gloster Meteor Mk. II and Mk. III, Hawker Tempest Mk.V, Bf-110G-4, Me-410, Mosquito NF.XVII, P-61 “Black Widow”, Ju-88G-6, Do-17, Siebel Si-204D, Bf-109G.

Colour profile illustrations are:

  • 5-view of a Spitfire Mk. VII named “Isabel II” with a line drawing of the cockpit and retractable tail wheel. This aircraft was flown by Flight Lieutenant Jack Cleland.
  • A Mosquito NF. XVII
  • A Spitfire Mk. XVI as a 2 view.
  • A Spitfire Mk. IXc
  • A Spitfire FR. XIV
  • A P-51c as a 2-view and a 3-view.
  • A Hawker Tempest Mk. V as a 2-view and illustrations of upper and lower invasion stripe patterns for the wings.
  • A P-51D as a 3-view, with nose caption “OL FLAK JO”.
  • A F-6D as a 3-view, with nose caption “Lil Margaret”.
  • A Spitfire LF. XVI as a 4-view and a 1-view.
  • A Beaufighter TF-X
  • A Spitfire FR. XIV as a 2-view

On the back cover of the book are 6 more color profiles. They are: 

  • A Seafire L. III
  • A Hawker Tempest
  • A Mosquito NF-30
  • A FW-190D-9
  • A Beaufighter Mk. X

There is a loose sheet inserted into the back of this book that has the bibliography at the top and shows the cover arts for 5 other aircraft books that Ventura does: Spitfire Star of Israel, Spitfire Camouflage and Markings, Classic Warbirds No. 8 Pacific Twins, Classic Warbirds No.9 Fighter Archive and Classic Warbirds No. 12 The Anzacs.

I want to thank Dr. Roger M. Wallsgrove, Editor-in-Chief of Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) and the folks at Stratus and Ventura for this review copy.

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Classic Warbirds No. 13 : D-Day to Berlin
Author: Malcolm Laird
Mushroom Model Publications/Ventura/Stratus (www.mmpbooks.biz)
ISBN: 978-0-9864653-1-4
MSRP: £9.99