Bringing in the New Year, Tankograd Publishing celebrates the 30th anniversary of the ShKH vz.77 DANA through its latest publication delivering 96 pages of high quality photographs and in-depth English text across the standard A4 format.
Both HobbyBoss’ announcement of a 1/35 DANA and Tankograd’s release of a publication dedicated to this vehicle were welcome surprises, and I was thrilled to get a chance to review this book.
Introduction: Section 1, (pg 2-7)
• Brief history of evolution of Self-Propelled Howitzers (pg 2)
• Background of the DANA (pg 2-4)
• DANA Technical Description (pg 4)
• Czech Army Camouflage and Markings (pg 4-5)
• Modernising DANA (pg 5-6)
• Relatives of DANA (pg 6-7)
I have to admit that I was disappointed when I first opened this book and skimmed through it as it seemed to fall short of the claims made on Tankograd’s website. However, when I actually found a moment to sit down and start reading, my disappointment quickly turned into excitement. What I had not realized is that the text in this book is small, very small, and you should be prepared to have your reading glasses handy when you’re ready to take a look at this book. The amount of text and information that they crammed into the first few pages was amazing, and I found that I could not stop reading as the material was very engaging. There is certainly plenty of in-depth technical and historical detail that can be added, but what Tankograd did was provide you with a great overview that is short and to the point while still containing all of the necessary details and factoids to keep it interesting without becoming overwhelming.
The introduction is broken down smartly and flows in a very logical pattern. The “Brief History of Evolution of Self-Propelled Howitzers” was oversimplified, but will get the hearts of any artillery fans pumping and is a great lead in to the rest of the book. Something that I noticed right off the bat was that this publication clearly pointed out the strengths, and more importantly the weaknesses, of Self-Propelled Howitzers and in particular the ShKH vz.77 DANA. These details are pointed out clearly throughout the book in all of the right places.
The next section of the introduction, “ShKH vz.77 DANA”, gives a smart account of the origin of this unique vehicle and production factoids. The third section, and arguably the most interesting and useful part of the introduction, is very aptly titled “DANA Technical Description”. This is a very detailed and concise description covering all of the major bases of technical data regarding the Tatra-based DANA including details such as platform, powerplant, layout, armament, optics, and capabilities. This is logically followed by “Czech Army Camouflage and Markings” which is rather brief but is well illustrated later in the book through pictures. Following this we have “The Future and Modernizing DANA” discussing what has and hasn’t been implemented in efforts to modernize this unique Self-Propelled Howitzer. Following last in the logical order of the introduction is a look at similar modern vehicles titled “Relatives of DANA”. This section includes a brief comparative look at the 155mm G6, 155mm Caesar, 155mm Atmos 2000, 130mm Bereg, 120mm 2S23 Nona-SVK, and 155mm Archer.
ShKH vz.77 DANA: Section 2, (pg 8-18)
Other than appearing to be from a single battery, I’m not quite sure what the purpose of this section was other than to provide a place for photos that were not otherwise allotted, which may explain the name for this chapter. In truth most of these photos could have easily been inserted into other sections. The first four pages illustrate the new multi-tone camouflage color scheme using examples from a single battery. The next page highlights the compartments followed by another large photo highlighting the new camouflage pattern. Pages 14 and 15 are the most interesting and useful from this section displaying a small handful of photos of a battery practicing railroad loading procedures. The following two pages capture a single unit in motion during what appear to be a driving exercise. Page 18 gives us the final photo of this section highlighting the stabilizers while the Howitzer is in firing position.
Technical Details of the ShKH vz.77 DANA: Section 3, (pg 19-29)
• Driver’s compartment
This section contains a collection of close-up photos from the exterior of the vehicle accompanied by several blocks of text explaining the details that are being focused on. Pages 19-23 focus on the central turret showing many useful photos of the external gun system and the gunner’s optics. Next we see two pages detailing the roof and rear bulkhead of the Driver’s compartment. This is followed by a handful of pictures detailing the top of the engine compartment and the engine as viewed through several of the hatches. The last two pages give us a detailed look at the 152mm howitzer and DShK-M 12.7mm heavy machine gun. This would have been an excellent section to show further images of the engine and other components of the drivetrain either in or removed from the vehicle, as well as a providing a detailed look at the underside of the chassis.
Inside the ShKH vz.77 DANA: Section 4, (pg 30-33)
This section is almost exactly what you would expect from the title. It is comprised of 4 pages of detailed overviews and close-ups of the driver’s compartment and turret interior accompanied by detailed text blocks. Unfortunately there are no pictures of the right turret compartment that houses the ammunition handler.
ShKH vz. 77 DANA Camouflage and Markings: Section 5, (pg 34-49)
As there are few markings on these vehicles, this is mostly a detailed look at camouflage color schemes. This section is very useful to anyone who is going to be modeling the DANA. It details several variations in colors and patterns and even includes a rare photo of an older whitewashed DANA with its crew in winter. Also addressed here are environmental aspects such as mud, sun fading, and brush as well as camo nets. The bulk of older, grainy photos are included in this section, and are still quite high in quality.
As far as I can tell almost all of the ShKH vz.77s featured are Czechoslovakian, the single exception being a photo of a pair of DANAs in Polish service. This would have been a potential place to include additional photos of DANAs in service with other countries.
ShKH vz.77 DANA Walk-Around: Section 6, (pg 50-83)
Aptly named, this section is a true walk-around containing 33 full pages of photos and includes enough information to be a book in its own right. This section is what one would have come to expect from a walk-around and delivers a high quantity of quality visual information starting with the basics and progressing into the more detailed aspects. Of particular note is the odd alphanumeric labeling system used on the storage bins, which seems to have been addressed as well as possible by the author. The walk-around section is also a great resource for getting those little details correct and for fine weathering including footprints.
ShKH vz.77 DANA Live-Firing: Section 7, (pg 84-90)
The live-firing chapter is a short section dedicated more to the 152mm howitzer rather than being a dedicated gallery of live-firing photos. The first two pages would suggest otherwise as they provide photos of a battery and single units either while firing or having just been fired. The next two pages provide large pictures of olive drab DANAs from what I’m assuming are the same battery at rest in a depot. The rest of the photos are dedicated to the ammunition for the 152mm howitzer and are very useful.
ShKH vz.77 DANA on Display: Section 8, (pg 91)
By far the shortest section, this contains a single photo of a DANA as displayed at the Military Technical Museum Lesany, located in the Czech Republic.
ShKH 155mm ZUZANA/ZUZANA vz. 2000: Section 9, (pg 92-96)
The final section illustrates the ZUZANA over the remaining five pages. There is a single photo on page 93 illustrating a ZUZANA during a live-fire demonstration. The remaining photos are of a single ZUZANA vz. 2000 in Slovakian service, and details the major external differences between this modernized version and the original 152mm DANA with a fair amount of text expanding on the information provided in the introduction.
The first section of this book is a great little read and really got me pumped up about the DANA, as well as Self-Propelled Howitzers in general. The amount of text seems deceptively short at first glance for how much information is actually there, and the only thing I can say is that I wish there was more. The second portion of the book seems like it is redundant and perhaps should have been redistributed into other sections of this book.
The rest of the book is laid out quite well and reflects the texts in the introduction very nicely while providing a wealth of photographic information and additional accompanying in-depth text. There is actually enough information in this book to justify a table of contents and/or an appendix, definitely not your standard walk-around publication. There are only a few minor spelling errors that seem to be the result of the translation process more than anything else. The one thing that I felt let down on was the lack of information on DANAs in other armies, especially those in Polish service.
Highs: Timely release of a publication covering the ShKH vz.77 DANA. Highly comprehensive collection of photos and information.Lows: Lacking sufficient information on DANAs serving in other countries. Lacks information on recent deployment.Verdict: This is a great collection of information on this unique vehicle, and while not fully comprehensive, is an excellent resource that will provide most of the information that modelers will need. Highly recommended!
Our Thanks to Tankograd Publishing! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Jeremy Hengest (vonHengest) FROM: TEXAS, UNITED STATES
I've always had an avid interest in history, machines, art and learning. Scale modeling seems to be a natural conduit for bringing these things together, and I strive to further broaden my knowledge and skill bases as I inevitably continue to discover more throughout my life.