by: Darren Baker [ ]
This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Tank Craft series and is on this occasion looking at the STUG III & IV, German Army, Waffen-SS and Luftwaffe, Western Front, 1944-1945. This book as with all of the titles in this series are I feel an attempt to offer the modeller a combination package covering both reference on the vehicles and a look at the models available to replicate the Stug III & IV Tank-Destroyer as a scale model.
This offering from Pen and Sword is authored by Dennis Oliver, Dennis Oliver is the author of over twenty books on Second World War armoured vehicles including Codename Swallow: British Sherman Tanks at Alamein, To The Last Bullet: Germany's War on 3 Fronts, Westwall: German Armour in the West 1945, Viking Summer and A Sound Like Thunder. This is a soft backed book with a good card cover protecting 64 pages of semi gloss paper. The contents of this title are laid out as follows:
Assault Gun Units of the HEER
Camouflage and Markings
Assault Gun Units of the Waffen-SS
Assault Gun Units of the Luftwaffe
Technical Details and Modifications
Product Contact Detail
The text in this title begins with a short history on the on the Stug and how it was originally used and the uses it was intended for; use as an anti-tank weapon was not its intended use and of course having the short barrel at the start had to engage armour at less that 500 metres to insure a kill. The advent of the 7.5cm L/48 long barrelled gun changed that situation. The Stug saw service in every theatre of operations with the exception of the invasion of Poland.
The next section looks at the Stug in service with the HEER. The units are well covered despite the limited space and provides information on areas such as date formed, areas of operation and information of interest. The photographs shown here are especially useful as it identifies peculiarities of Stugs serving with some units that I really appreciate. A number of brigade structures are covered in this area which depending on your interests could prove useful.
A section providing prints cover a fair number of Stug III and Iv's is next up. All of the vehicles are shown from the left or right side with some inclusion prints present covering unit badges and the like. The prints provide a number of camouflage patterns used and the units that used them which is a great inclusion, of particular interest to me at least was some of the unusual Schurzen layouts
The modelling section starts with a showcase of finished models that are a nice mix of models displayed as standalone models, and a list of these can be seen after this paragraph. I am very pleased to see the number of finished models covered reduced and this has resulted in a more informational spread on the builds presented. The text covering these models is limited but is far more informative than I have seen in many of the books in this series.
Stug IV Late Production, in 1/35th scale by Roland Sorgner. This model is a real Frankenstein build using a Dragon Panzer IV and an Italeri and Academy Stug IV, the result is a very nice looking model with a great dusty look to it.
Stug III Ausf G Late Production in 1/35th scale by Qi Bin, this kit is Dragon Models offering heavily improved with ET Model photo etch.
Stug III Aljett Ausf G, Western Front, 1944, in 1/35th scale by Naomasa Dairaku, this is a Dragon Model kit with photo etch from ABER and interior detail from CMK. I really like the waffle pattern zimmerit on the model as it is a pattern I have struggled to replicate.
The section covering the kits available is a reasonable section for the modeller who wants to see where to aim his or her pennies at, but beware what is available changes rapidly. Most of the majors are well represented and the models in 1/72nd, 1/48th and 1/35th scale are looked at. The models covered here are all injection moulded plastic offerings from a number of companies mentioned here. The Stug is a popular subject for modellers even if it does not have the draw of a Tiger or Panther, the aftermarket companies are well represented offering a good mix of traits. I was very pleased to again see individual track links covered in more than jus metal.
The two sections covering Stugs in use with various Waffen-SS and Luftwaffe units is presented in the same style as that of the earlier HEER units and so is well covered despite the limited space available to the author. The photographs here again offer some reference, especially on oddities such as the Stugs used by Panzer Brigade 150 and an assault gun version which appeared in 1945 with a lot of simplifications and lots of concrete.
The last section in the book provides a great breakdown of alterations that took place and when they occurred; this information is backed up with photographs to help anyone that needs further clarification on the changes.
Dennis Oliver has garnered a place with me as a firm favourite due to his writing style and how information is presented to the reader. This is the last of the Tank Craft series for me to cover at the moment and I had to wait for this one to be restocked, but that wait was more than worth it. I do not know if it is because I have a soft spot for the Stug or that the book has a more appealing layout, but I really enjoyed this release. The text was a joy for me to read and I was especially impressed with the photographs showing some of the oddities that occurred when the Stug was in use with certain units, Things such as curved schurzen and rain guard over the gun opening; a feature I have not observed before.