by: Darren Baker
Haynes is well known as a producer of car manuals covering the ins and outs of taking them apart and getting them together again; what is not so well known is that they also produce a number of titles covering aircraft and armour and have now added artillery to their range. Haynes has decided to cover the famed and feared German 88, an anti-aircraft gun that became more feared when utilised as an anti-tank gun, a role the 88 excelled at. This offering is authored Chris McNab.
This offering from Haynes is of the usual size favoured by them, that is a little shorter and a little wider than an A4 sheet of paper. This book is a hard back offering and I am not aware of Haynes offering soft backed offerings. Between the covers there are 172 pages of a good quality semi gloss paper. One thing I will say about books produced by Haynes books is that they hold together and last well for decades; I have car manuals produced by Haynes that have been out in all weathers and they are still in good nick, but there are some grubby marks from being thumbed through with oily hands.
The contents of this book are broken down into 11 sections with a number of sub sections as laid out below:
1. Flak 18, flak 36 and flak 37
2. The flak 41
Design and basic operation
1. The barrel and the breech
2. Recoil mechanism
4. Sighting and fire control
1. Shell cases
5. Pak 43 and tank gun ammunition
Crew roles and gun operations
1. Manning the 8.8cm flak
2. Handling the gun in action
3. Theatre challenges
At war Ė anti aircraft operations
1. Organization of flak units
2. Controlling the fire
3. The effectiveness of the 8.8cm flak
At war Ė anti tank operations
1. North Africa and the Western desert
2. The Eastern Front
3. Fall in the West
Transportation and maintenance
1. Half-track prime movers
2. Inspection, trouble shooting and maintenance
1. Bibliography and further reading
2. 8.8cm flak 36 gun specifications
As you can see from the breakdown listed above this offering has something for both the modeller and the individual interested purely in the 88 and its history. As stated in the introduction of this book there are very few artillery pieces that make it into psyche of the average person, these positions usually being reserved for tanks, aircraft and of course cars. I believe this is true because of its attributes in the field that endeared it to those using it and the fear and respect it garnered in the minds of those facing it.
The section covering development of the 88 is really a section for the person with an interest in the gun rather than from a modelling stand point, but it should be remembered that the book itself was not written to meet purely the needs of the modeller. It does however provide information that will be of interest to the modeller and the photographs provide some nice coverage of the 88 gun as an artillery piece and an AFV main gun.
The section covering the design and basic operations is a great place to look for those who want to super detail a model. The photographs mostly consist of close up shots showing specific detail that may or may not be present on the model kit you have, and help with placement and orientation of parts included or scratched by you. The text in this section is quite technical due to the subject matter, but has been written in such a way that what is described is easily understood.
The section looking at the ammunition for the 88 will be of great benefit to the modeller who purchases this book. The title covers well the various ammunition types, the colours the shells were painted and to some extent their storage for transport; no more will there need to be a question of what colour was X,Y and Z. Images of crews handling the ammunition will also prove useful. The text itself goes into quite a lot of specific information on the shells which I found quite interesting from a purely knowledge aspect.
Next up is a section looking at the crew roles and gun operations and one section that the modeller should take the time to read carefully as well as looking at the pictures. The photographs present show crews preparing positions, moving the gun and of course in action, also again we are provided with a nice selection of detail images a large number of which are of the Muckleburgh collection example and axis track services. The section covering desert operations was an area I found a particularly informative and enjoyable read.
The next section of this offering from Haynes looks at the 88 at war in its anti aircraft operations role. I will be honest and say that this was an area of the title that was not of particular interest to me, the anti aircraft role while being what the 88 was designed for it was its role against ground targets that grabs my attention. With that said the flak towers caught my attention and an image of an 88 with a frame attached to the barrel for the addition of camouflage did catch my eye. I will say that if the anti aircraft role is a personal interest then this section should answer some of the questions you may have.
The section looking at the 88 at war in anti tank operations is section in which I read every word at least twice as I found it very informative in all aspects. The 88 being looked at in the three main areas of conflict provides the reader with a host of information, some of which is very specific as regards to how the gun is utilised and set up. The 88 proved most effective in the desert as the mostly flat unobstructed terrain enabled the 88 to take on targets at great range that prevented effective counter fire. The sand proved the real enemy of the 88 as it got everywhere causing lots of issues in operation and coverage of what to cover up when not in use is invaluable information to the modeller. Looking at conflict in the East offers up some images that show the effectiveness of the 88 and the devastation it could inflict. The conflict in the West is perhaps best described by the words of those fighting in the area. There words and after action reports richly increase the enjoyment of reading this book and build images in the mind of the reader.
The section that really can be considered as bringing the book to a close is the transportation and maintenance section. The focus of the title is the 88 itself but no title would be complete without a wink to the vehicles that got the 88 where it needed to be. The areas covering maintenance of the 88 is pure Haynes and may prove of interest to anyone looking to recreate a very specific set of circumstances.
The last two areas of the title as listed earlier are self explanatory.
I have purchased quite a few of the Haynes manuals covering aircraft and armour and never been disappointed in what they offer as regards contents and value for money. This offering covering the 88 fits in nicely and met my needs as regards content and value. The insights straight from the men who both operated and faced the feared 88 in combat are a fantastic inclusion that I found to be a particularly pleasing aspect. This is a nice title to add to your reference library.