This book is a good history lesson about the Panzer IV, but it is not aimed at being a technical reference book, and if you buy it for that reason you will be very disappointed. The book has a nice cutaway diagram of the interior of an Ausf. H and 12 color plates of various Ausf’s in various paint schemes. There are also about 29 B&W photo’s with good captions, but the photo’s themselves are on the small side as they are meant to compliment the text that you are reading.
The first chapter gives a general overview of the historical development of the Pz IV from Ausf. A to J detailing the stages of its development and its general performance in its various Ausf’s. Also detailed is a little bit of the tactical reasoning of how the tanks would have been used in the German Army.
Chapter 2 gives us a sampling of the many variants developed from the Pz IV, such as the Nashorn, Brummbar and Hummel to name a few. Although this chapter is interesting in the variants it covers, you only get some very basic information on these vehicles and that is mostly on what was changed to make the variant.
Chapter 3 has to be my favorite part of the book. The Pz IV Described, which at about 6 pages of text covers a great deal of technical data on the Pz IV. This chapter is subdivided into Armor, Automotive, and Gunnery and Optical systems. Information found here is things like how the welding of the armor plates was found lacking and hits were found to break welds, how often the oil was to be changed, or even the fact that the 75 mm L/24 was rifled clockwise with 28 grooves, to just name a few tidbits.
Chapter 4, Organization and Tactics is an overview of how the Pz IV was organized in the panzer formations, and how they were to be used. This chapter also touches a little on tactical doctrine and how the new Pz IV’s were parceled out to units.
Chapter 5, The Early Campaigns 1939-1942 covers the early deployments of the Pz IV’s starting in Poland, going into some detail about their use in France, then ending in their campaigns in Greece, Yugoslavia, and then going into their use in operation Barbarossa and their attack into Russia. The section give number of tanks in use and types along with casualty figures.
Chapters 6, The East, Details the use of the Pz IV’s in Russia. This section gives quite a bit of detail on the ebb and flow of the struggle for Russia while touching on several key battles the Pz IV’s were in. Again I’ll say that a lot of numbers are tossed in to keep you on your toes.
Chapter 7, North Africa, logically enough covers the use of the Pz IV’s in North Africa, covering Rommel’s capture of Tobruk. You get a bit of information on the struggle for North Africa, and again a lot of numbers to keep up with. These sections give us lots of information and tidbits such as the fact that the British referred to the up-gunned PzKpfw IV as the “Mark IV Specials”.
Chapter 8, North-West Europe is the final installment of the Pz IV story and how they unsuccessfully tried to keep the Allies out of Europe. There isn’t that much in the way of numbers in this section as it’s the smallest of the deployment chapters but you do get some good information such as the last major offensive was the 1944 Ardennes deployment, and that after that the tank was only found in declining numbers.
Chapter 9, Postscript, is a little about their use after the war. This chapter is very short and to the point as its only about a page long, but there are 2 photo’s of post WWII Pz IV’s that were captured by the Israeli’s. One of the most interesting bits of information in the book was found here and that was the fact that the last Pz IV to be destroyed in battle was in Syrian service as was destroyed by an Israeli Sherman in 1967, some 20 odd years after WWII. More information on this battle can be found in the book.
The final section is detailed captions on the color plates found in the middle of the book.
I enjoyed this book as I took it own its own merits and didn’t try to compare it to other books that were written as in depth technical reference books.
So if you are looking for a book with a lot of photo’s and information for building a model of this tank, then this is not the book for you, and you will be disappointed.If however, you are looking for a book that gives you a nice overview of the Panzer IV, and are wanting to learn about its history and how it was used and where, then this book would be useful as a starting point.
Panzerkampwagen IV Medium Tank By Bryan Perrett, Illustrated by David E. Smith and Jim Laurier
New Vanguard series
7.25 x 9.75 inches
29 B&W captioned photos
12 Color plates
1 cut away diagram.
1. Development History
2. Special-Purpose Vehicles
3. Pzkpfw IV Described
4. Organization and Tactics
5. The Early Campaigns 1939-1942
6. The East 1942-1945
7. North Africa 1942-1943
8. North-West Europe
10. The Plates
A good reference book for an overview of the Panzer IV, but not so good from a modellers' point of view.