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Book Review
German vs Soviet Stalingrad'42
German Soldier vs Soviet Soldier Stalingrad 1942–43
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Introduction
German Soldier vs Soviet Soldier, Stalingrad 1942–43 from Osprey Publishing LTD explores the training, tactics, weapons, and other characteristics of the combatants in the brutal close-quarter war in Stalingrad. The 28th title in the series Combat, this 80-page book is authored by Chris McNab and illustrated by Johnny Shumate. Bearing Osprey's short code CBT 28, it is catalogued with ISBN 9781472824561 for the paperback. It is also available in PDF and ePub formats.

This book should be prized by modelers for detail and equipment descriptions, and great gallery of photos to inspire dioramas and vignettes. Osprey also published the book German Pionier 1939–45 Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht, which you can access via the link in the summary box.

"Stalingrad" is a name that immediately invokes thoughts of the brutal battle that is considered by many as the turning point of the European war. This book focuses on the performance of the elite Pioniere (pioneers, or combat engineers) against rank and file Soviet soldiers. As Osprey describes this subject;
    By the end of the first week of November 1942, the German Sixth Army held about 90 per cent of Stalingrad. Yet the Soviets stubbornly held on to the remaining parts of the city, and German casualties started to reach catastrophic levels. In an attempt to break the deadlock, Hitler decided to send additional German pioneer battalions to act as an urban warfare spearhead. These combat engineers were skilled in all aspects of city fighting, especially in the use of demolitions and small arms to overcome defended positions and in the destruction of armoured vehicles. Facing them were hardened Soviet troops who had perfected the use of urban camouflage, concealed and interlocking firing positions, close quarters battle, and sniper support.
    This fully illustrated book explores the tactics and effectiveness of these opposing troops during this period, focusing particularly on the brutal close-quarters fight over the Krasnaya Barrikady (Red Barricades) ordnance factory.

Stalingrad is an iconic fight. The German Army Blitzkrieg of World War II was spearheaded not only by German panzers and aircraft. The Wehrmacht’s various engineer units often paved the way for the panzers. First and foremost specialist assault troops, Pioniere destroyed natural obstacles and fortified positions with demolitions and flamethrowers, thus enabling the panzers to burst ahead and the infantry to consolidate. Pioniere were assault troops first and construction workers second. In defense they constructed fortifications and shelters, erected obstacles, laid minefields, planted booby traps, cleared fields of fire, erected camouflage, and maintained supply routes. This book presents to us the battle between the assault troops and Red Army soldiers.

Content
German Soldier vs Soviet Soldier, Stalingrad 1942–43 is 80 pages in length. Content is presented through 10 chapters and sections:
    Introduction
    The Opposing Sides
      Personal weapons
      Training
      Tactics
    Assault Towards the Tractor Factory, 14-15 October 1942
    The Barrikady Gun Factory, 11 November 1942
    The Assault Around the Kommissarhaus, 13 November 1942
    Analysis
      Lessons learnt: the Germans
      Lessons learnt: the Soviets
    Aftermath
    Unit Organizations
    Bibliography
    Index

Text includes the author's presentation and also first hand quotes and excerpts. A 1942 US War Department analysis of the Soviet submachine gun (SMG) troops is reproduced. Quotes include this from a 24. Panzer-Division officer wrote:
    We have fought for fifteen days for a single house with mortars, grenades, machine guns and bayonets. Already by the third day fifty-four German corpses are strewn in the cellars, on the landing, and the staircases. The front is a corridor between burnt-out rooms; there is a thin ceiling between two floors... There is a ceaseless struggle from noon to night. From storey to storey, faces black with sweat, we bombed each other with grenades in the middle of explosions, clouds of dust and smoke... Ask any soldier what hand-to-hand struggle means in such a fight. And imagine Stalingrad; eighty days and nights of hand-to-hand struggle.

That part of Introduction is followed by a great deal more. The book describes the background of community, culture, organization, and the specialized training and equipping of the shock troops, as well as the Soviets. The Opposing Sides details general and specialized weapons and equipment in each side's TO&E (Table of Organization and Equipment). Pionier equipment such as smoke candles, demolition charges, and four main types of Flammenwerfern (flamethrowers).

The Soviet side is also described, including the logistic shortages:
    How long will an anti-tank rifle last if it only had six boxes of cartridges? That's why many of our men threw themselves under tanks with grenades - it was sheer desperation. And many of our troops has no proper weapons at all - just a spade and a knife.

Not only that but a Red Army soldier of the time may only have had one or two weeks of training before being ferried across the river into the maelstrom. However, Stalingrad proved to be a training ground for the Red Army and tactics and doctrine were hammered out in the battle. Another US Army report quotes a captured German officer in the 1943 publication 'Tactics of Street Fighting on the Russian Front'. Those first 30 pages of this book prepare the reader with knowledge and understanding of the combat to come in the heart of this book.

Assault Towards the Tractor Factory, The Barrikady Gun Factory, and The Assault Around the Kommissarhaus comprise 40 pages of high-intensity action. Quotes from survivors enrich the text with descriptions of operations from small unit actions, to company and battalion operations. Two callout boxes profile two soldiers: Obergefreiter Franz Meuller; sniper Vasily Grigoryevich Zaitsev (subject of the book Enemy At The Gates). The fighting detailed in these pages is absorbing and made an impression upon me, despite having read other works on Stalingrad.

The book closes out with eight pages of Analysis and Aftermath. I did not find any new revelations in these chapters.

Unit Organizations is interesting as it describes the constitution of a Pionier-Battillon and a Soviet rifle regiment. Manpower, weapons, vehicles and tactics are presented. The official TO&Es are presented with the caution that at Stalingrad, ad hoc was the norm.

Photographs, Artwork, Graphics
Osprey strengthens their texts with extensive galleries of photographs. While this book features mainly black-and-white exposures from WWII, it also features original Wehrmacht color photographs, i.e., Pioniere forming up to assault with grenades and small arms, flamethrower in action. Stalin made sure there were plenty of action photos of Soviet soldiers and whether staged or candid, they are both fascinating and horrifying to behold. I have seen many before and yet many are new to me.

Artwork

Artist Johnny Schumate produced several interesting original works to enhance the text.

A. Obergefreiter, Pionier-Bataillon 162, Barrikady Gun Factory, 11 November 1942: a two-sided illustration of this heavy-laden NCO charging with a MP 40, demolition charge, grenades, and other kit, keyed to 10 items of weapons, dress and equipment.

B. Red Army soldier, 768th Rifle Regiment, Barrikady Gun Factory, 11 November 1942: another two-sided illustration of this lightly-armed PPSh-41 gunner, keyed to 8 items of weapons, dress and equipment.

C. Split-view centerfold: Street fighting, western Factory District as seen from German and Russian vantage points; Germans advance with a tank along a street into Soviet machine gun, rifle, and anti-tank rifle fire.

D. Action centerfold House clearing, 13 November 1942: Germans in a burning building assaulting a Soviet Submachine gunner, barricaded atop stairs, with grenades, despite the danger of being caught in their own blast.

Maps

i. Operation Blue, July-November 1942: colored maps of Stalingrad, the city region, and its place on the globe; its caption fills a full page.

ii. Assault towards the Tractor Factory, 14-15 October 1942: two-page presentation keyed to 7 events. Included is Battlefield Environment, a description of environs the Germans attacked over, including a photograph of the ruins during the battle.

iii. The Barrikady Gun Factory, 11 November 1942: two-page presentation keyed to 8 events. Included is Battlefield Environment, describing the ruins the combatants fought over, including a photograph of a German machine gun nest in ruins.

iv. The assault around the Kommissarhaus, 13 November 1942: two-page presentation keyed to 7 events. Battlefield Environment describes fighting in buildings, including a photograph of a Russians climbing a staircase, SMGs at the ready.

Conclusion
Once again my era of playing Avalon Hill's board game Squad Leader created an interest that supports my hobbies today; Stalingrad was my first S.L. scenario with combat engineers and Soviet SMG troops annihilating each other across the hexagons. Thus this book is especially interesting to me. In the 75 years since the battle a huge volume of books and articles and papers have been written analyzing and dissecting the battle from every aspect. I've only read a minuscule fraction of them. Thus, this has been a fascinating book.

The level of technical detail penned by Mr. McNab is well worth the cost of the book alone. As are the combat narratives and descriptions. Photographic support and other graphics enhance the value of thus book.

Unlike two other recent Combat titles, there are no photographs of individual weapons. I think graphics of Pionere special weapons would be particularly welcome.

Regardless, I am very enthusiastic about German Soldier vs Soviet Soldier, Stalingrad 1942–43. This book should be prized by modelers for detail and equipment descriptions, and great gallery of photos to inspire dioramas and vignettes. I highly recommend it.

Please remember to mention to Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on Armorama.
SUMMARY
Highs: The level of technical detail penned by Mr. McNab is well worth the cost of the book alone. As are the combat narratives and descriptions. Photographic support and other graphics enhance the value of thus book.
Lows: Unlike two other recent Combat titles, there are no photographs of individual weapons. I think graphics of Pionere special weapons would be particularly welcome.
Verdict: This book should be prized by modelers for detail and equipment descriptions, and great gallery of photos to inspire dioramas and vignettes.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: Combat 28
  Related Link: German Pionier 1939-45
  PUBLISHED: Jun 15, 2018
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.03%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.22%

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2018 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.



   

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