Model Centrum, began, in their Armor Color Gallery series of books, to bring some much-needed coverage of the 'Other' Allied combatants of WWII. Considering the significant participation (bearing in mind their relatively small populations) of countries such as Australia, New Zealand or Canada, now, with this book, the attention turns to South Africa's contribution.
This New book continues a series which has included 3 volumes on New Zealand Armor, 2 on Canadian and this, the first of 2 books, on the South African Armored forces. The focus on this book is from 1943 - 45 and covers the 6th Armoured Division in the North African and Italian Campaigns.
the book: In brief
Camouflage & Markings of the 6th South African Armored Division 1943-45 / Part 1: Armored Vehicles is a 64 page, softcover, A4 book which is written by William Marshall with color plates executed by Arkadiusz Wróbel. The book is published entirely in English and includes 109 B W photos and 16 commisioned Color Plates in 1/35th scale. For those who require it, it carries the ISBN 978-83-60672-12-9.
the book: In Detail
The primary objective of this book is remarkably simple: to present a guide to South African AFV markings and color schemes. Although the latter follow closely their British equivalents, the former, inevitably, present unique 'challenges' as this is NOT the most documented area...
The second 'objective' is to present an overview of the vehicle types which were on strength within the 6th AD. This, for the modeler, is particularly interesting as the South Africans used a good variety of vehicles.
The Introduction to the book also serves as a brief history of the 6th Armoured Division from its formation in 1943 until the end of the War in 1945. The Regimental components of the Division are also listed within the introduction as is a (necessarily) brief history of the unit's Campaign History.
From the Introduction the book moves onto the sections covering the principal AFVs used. There are 11 Chapters which begin chronologically with the Crusader & Grant. The book then follows on with the Sherman (North Africa), Priest, M4 in Italy, M10, Sexton, Stuart Recce, Universal Carrier and Half-Tracks. The purely 'vehicle' section ends with a look at the Scout/Armoured Cars which were on strength with the Division. Copious notes are provided about replacement vehicles (the Sexton replacing the Priest for example) and, where possible, actual numbers of vehicles. Inevitably the 'stars' of these sections are the images. Originating from the Author's private collection along with the South African Defence Forces Archives, I can honestly say that I haven't seen a single image previously. The images are, on the whole, excellent. A few, which aren't so clear are included because of their relevance. A good example of this, is the ONLY image of a South African Staghound. As they had only 4 on strenth (according to the Author's research) this is a pretty rare image... As we have come to expect from Model Centrum's books, the quality of the images is excellent. Add to this the excellent captioning, the vehicle coverage is superb.
Within the four pages of the Appendices there is real gold. Unit Tactical Markings and Arm of Service Markings are covered, as we would expect, but, as an added bonus, are presented in full-color. A useful area with the Appendices - minor perhaps, but very useful, are details of the Counter-Shading on the 17Pdr Barrel. It clearly shows that THREE shades were used (rather than the TWO in other sources). Admittedly this was a late order (November 1944) but interesting nevertheless. The final part covers three areas briefly (but concisely), namely Camouflage Colors, North African Theater Colors and Italian Campaign Colors. As these were pretty standard amongst Commonwealth Armies this is also 'mullti-functional'.
The final section contains the 16, 1/35th scale color plates which cover a number of interesting subjects. Each of these vehicles includes notes on the Markings and color schemes and a nice little touch (which I haven't seen very often) is a small box listing the principal paint colors along with a Federal Standard equivalent. This is useful as only one manufacturer produces British Standard matched shades, whereas a number (the majority?) produce FS colors. Quality of these color plates is amongst the best I have seen and each vehicle is produced individually rather than the 'template' used by some pubishers.
This is an exceptionally well-produced book. Well-edited and logically presented, it allows one to find what precisely you're looking for without wading through dozens of images. Quality of the Wartime images is VERY good (on the whole) and have been well scanned to bring out the maximum of detail. With the commentary on each image by the author as in the BEST books of this type, it's easy to start putting together a potential subject for a model.
The work of Arkadiusz Wróbel, with the color plates, also deserves a mention. Clear and clean images are the order of the day with the markings clearly presented also.
My only doubts, and this is in NO way a reflection of the work of the Author or the Commisioning Editor, is just how popular a subject will this prove to be? Whilst the latest 'plastic marvels' in 1/35th scale get 'Ooohed and Aaaahed', books do tend to get overlooked (no matter HOW popular the subject area). Unfortunately, a book like this may (sadly) not get the coverage or sales it SO deserves. South African Armor is NOT a wildly popular area although, with the increasing importance of Commonwealth subjects from the major manufacturers perhaps this may just fire the imagination? Hopefully this may also encourage some of the Decal manufacturers to produce sheets with less Iron-Crosses and a few Springboks?
My thanks to Wojtek Gawrych of Model Centrum, for the opportunity to Review this book!
Highs: Editing, presentation & image quality are all first-class. This really is anincredibly well-exected book covering a subject which has been overlooked for far TOO long.Lows: It may have limited appeal. That does NOT reflect badly on the Author or Publisher (both of whom have shown REAL imagination with this book) nut more in the difficulty in persuading modelers to try something different...Verdict: Want something different for those Grants, Crusaders or Shermans? Look no further.
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAńA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...