Nazi Germany produced some of the better self-propelled artillery of WW2. The only other country to seriously rival it was the Soviet Union. The German war machine also was under tremendous stress after being over-committed to war on multiple fronts. To compensate, German armaments procurers stripped Germany's captured weaponry with immense efficiency, creating a plethora of vehicles and gun types that both extended the Wehrmacht's fighting capabilities, and exacerbated its chronic logistical problems with a dizzying array of guns, calibers and ammo types.
Craig Moore, a retired London cop, has immersed himself in the subject of German self-propelled artillery, producing a comprehensive overview that brings the topic together in a format that falls under the "if you're only going to buy one book about self-propelled guns, this is the one."
The 128-page book is printed on high-quality paper in a 6.8" x 9.8" format. It is divided into 21 chapters covering German pulled artillery and the application to self-propelled platforms (Selbstfahrlafette) that covers. All the major German guns are covered, including the 15cm SiG33 infantry gun, 10.5cm leFH 16, 18/1 and 18/3 field howitzers, and rarer guns like the 7.5cm Gebirgshaubitze mountain howitzer. Behemoths like the 17cm K72 L/50 and 21cm M18/1 "mortars" have their own chapter, and rarer captured items like the combination Soviet 12.2cm field gun mounted on a French 37L tracked supply vehicle have their star turn moment.
The book has solid value for modelers and even for armchair historians. For example, it includes a 3-page glossary of (mostly German) terms from the mundane to the obscure (Zur besonderen Verwendung) or "for special deployment or assignment"). It is also filled with useful information such as how Germany hid its rearmament (forbidden by the Versailles Treaty and the League of Nations) by designating modern weapons with false development numbers. The 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 18 field howitzer entered service in 1933 and not 1918 as the designation implied.
Each chapter includes the development history of the vehicle, and is usually filled with interesting details. For example, the German High Command objected to the 15cm sFH 18/1 auf Geschützwagen being called a Hummel ("bumblebee") because it seemed demeaning to a very powerful gun. The specs of the vehicle and its variants are included, along with its operational history.
As a writer, Craig Moore is more exuberant fan than polished craftsman. The book is typical of amateur writers who love their topic, but could perhaps use some additional shaping and pruning. The material is presented in a well-organized format, but could have used more of an organizing narrative.
In spite of that, however, German Self-Propelled Artillery Guns of the Second World War is a valuable resource for modelers looking for a detailed, semi-encyclopedic reference. The illustrations are black & white, and suffer from poor reproduction. Details are muddy, and the additional contrast looks as though they were hastily-reproduced from other sources. Despite their darkness, the sheer number of illustrations, many of obscure vehicles I have never seen before, make them a valuable addition to your reference library.
Despite some reservations about the quality of the writing, the wealth of information makes this a worthwhile purchase. The illustrations are unfortunately murky overall, which detracts from what otherwise would be a bountiful selection of camo patterns and markings, but the amount of illustrations is bountiful. The net-net for the book is positive, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a single reference work to cover these sorts of AFVs.
An additional advantage of this reference is that it's available as an e-book on Kindle, iBook, Nook and GooglePlay.
Thanks to Fonthill Media for providing this review copy. Be sure to say you saw it reviewed on Armorama when ordering yours.
Highs: A comprehensive overview of German artillery and its application to self-propelled platforms. Copious illustrations.Lows: Unfortunately the illustrations are often muddy and dark, as though reproduced from color plates taken from another resource.Verdict: An excellent overview of the topic with lots of details and photos for modelers.
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