by: Peter Wood [ ]
Lukas Friedli and Panzerwrecks have produced a hard-cover landscape format book that is a unique work, with a great level of detail and insight.
With glossy coated paper stock, this first in a two-volume series covers numerous aspects of the way German armed forces recovered, repaired and returned to service various AFVs, wheeled vehicles and semi-tracked types. The format chosen for this work is ideal for the modeller, as it remains open easily and the pictures are crisp and large, with no obvious touching up or airbrushing.
As a history buff, you also get the insight of the 'fiddles' the best mechanics used to get the parts they needed.
As mentioned on Panzerwrecks website:
How did Germany keep its infamous Panzers running throughout six years of war? How did the German army prepare for motorized warfare? What mechanic was competent for what kind of damage? What special vehicles and recovery equipment were used by the maintenance units? How were they organized? How much supply reached the front during Operation 'Zitadelle' and how was it distributed among the battered divisions?
Over seven chapters Friedli draws upon reports and field notes to bring the reader into the world of repair and ingenuity as parts, men and supplies grew evermore scarce.
The chapter headings let you know what insights you are in for. They are as listed:
• Overview and Background
• I-Dienste of the Field Troops
• The Panzer Werkstatt
• Armee, HGr and Homeland
• Wheeled Vehicle Maintenance
• Campaign Experience
• Causes of Panzer Losses
The numerous anecdotes from the reports, pictures, drawings and tables all tell the tale of an arm of the services rarely written about. The 291 pictures alone make this a valuable addition to your research materials. What I found fascinating were the period drawings showing the proper method of extracting a wrecked Panzer out of numerous situations.
The jury-rigging process and the other ingenious methods used by the maintenance groups show the extent that they went through to keep them running. Not only were they dealing with a war being lost on so many fronts, but a hierarchy that refused to believe the inevitability of defeat. Add to this ongoing scenario the ever-heavier iterations of tanks and what might be a sleepy scholarly tome becomes riveting reading.
Never, at any time, did I feel the material or narrative did not fit, or was overly redundant. Friedli balances from page to page between the technical aspects and the voices of the countless reports that were going back and forth between the front line units and Berlin. Some of the reports clearly show the growing frustration, and sometimes gruesome reality of clearing bodies out of vehicles or the horrific conditions maintenance sometimes dealt with.
There is so much to say about this book, but I hope you'll discover the treasure trove for yourselves. Panzerwrecks have raised the bar yet again and command a special place in this reviewer's bookcase.