Book Review
Panzerkampf im Kalten Krieg
Panzerkampf im Kalten Krieg, German Armoured Corps in Cold War Exercise “Schneller Wechsel ‘74”
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by: Jason Bobrowich [ LEOCMDR ]


The Cold War took place between 1947 and 1991. It was most visible on mainland Europe during the decades of military forces in standoff positions waiting for a military conflict to erupt in the form of a conventional battle, a nuclear battle, or a combination of each. Troops deployed in Europe conducted regular exercise in order to validate tactics that would be used in the real battle. Many of these exercises were conducted outside of the training areas and in civilian areas in order to expose the troops and those commanding the troops to the real life issues they would encounter if actual combat occurred. Throughout the Cold War, massive troop and equipment movements took place by road and rail in order to set the stage for the exercises.

One very notable exercise took place in the fall of 1974. It was called “Exercise Schneller Wechsel” which translates to “Exercise Rapid Change”. The exercise comprised of the German Bundeswehr’s III Korps. The exercise was designed to test III Korps with massive unit movements over great distances, fast paced tactics changes, and combined arms operations of the Bundeswehr, the Luftwaffe, and the Territorial Army. Unimaginable today, the bulk of the exercise area was 40 x 80 kilometers. This allowed, on several occasions, for simulated armoured battles to take place with 600 armoured vehicles at a time. 80,000 Troops comprising the Blue Force, the Red Force, and Umpire/Controller staff from the militaries of Germany, France, Belgium, and the United States who participated in the exercise. Between the dates of September 16 – 19, 1974 the battle between Blueland and Redland took place in a very dynamic way. Luckily for us a variety of military enthusiasts with cameras took a variety of photographs and they have been brought together in this book to chronicle Exercise Schneller Wechsel.


Tankograd Publishing has presented Exercise Schneller Wechsel to us with their book Panzerkampf im Kalten Krieg, German Armoured Corps in Cold War Exercise “Schneller Wechsel ‘74” by Walter Böhm. The book is soft bound and has 64 pages. The text is provided in both German and English. There are 119 photos in total, of which 110 are B&W and 9 are colour. Now, one must remember that in 1974 there were no digital cameras. It was good old fashioned SLR cameras using 35 mm film. That being said the images in the book are outstanding given the era they were taken in. I suspect that from looking at some of the images that many more could have been included in the book in colour and may have been published B&W instead.


Far beyond just a pictorial account of the exercise, the book provides a complete written breakdown of the development of the exercise, the logistics of the exercise, the three phases of the exercise, and the result of the exercise.

The text portion of the book is broken down into the following:
Preface - An overview of the development of the exercise.

Introduction - Reasoning for the exercise.

Exercise Objectives - What was to be tested and accomplished during the exercise.

Exercise Control and Umpire Service - How the control and umpires were organized.

Exercise Area - A description of the area used in Germany for the exercise.

Strength of Forces - A breakdown of the 80,000 troops taking part in the exercise.

Exercise Scenario, Initial Stage Redland - The background of the political and military moves for the enemy forces.

Exercise Scenario, Initial Stage Blueland - The background of the political and military moves for the friendly forces.

Exercise Phase I - An overview of the exercise events and the forces involved.

Exercise Phase II - An overview of the exercise events and the forces involved.

Exercise Phase III - An overview of the exercise events and the forces involved.

Conclusion - An overview of the exercise after action to determine if the training objectives were met.

The photographs with captions portion of the book is broken down into the following:
Deployment Phase - This shows a portion of the massive rail movements during the exercise and includes images of Bundeswehr M48A2Cs, Leopard 1A1s, and M113A1Gs.

Exercise Phase 1- Fighting Withdrawal - Photos of the Bundeswehr forces conducting river crossings and defensive operations with the Hotchkiss, M113G, M42, Airborne KraKa, M48A2C, Leopard 1A1s, and Marders. Other photos include U.S. M60A1s, M113s, M577s, and M551s of the 11 ACR in the wonderful MASSTER trial camouflage and the very unique French EBR 75. Bundeswehr CH-53Gs, Allouette IIs, and UH-IDs are also shown conducting missions during the exercise.

Exercise Phase 2- Objective Taubertal - Photos of the Bundeswehr M107s, M48A2C, Hotchkiss, Kanonenjagdpanzer, Marder AIFV, and the M113A1G.

Exercise Phase 3- Blue Counterattack - Photos of Bundeswehr M109Gs, M113A1G, Hotchkiss, Leopard 1A1, M48A2C, Bergepanzer 2 Standard ARV, Biber AVLB bridge sections, and Leopard 1A2s.


The book provides any reader interested in the Cold War and the evolving German army a true glimpse at what would have been an amazing armoured exercise whether as a participating member of the military forces or simply as a civilian watching tanks drive through your streets or your fields. The photographs are well preserved and offer a great amount of details for the reader. Unique aspects of the photos provide easy comparison of the old M48A2C with, at the time, the very modern Leopard 1A2 as well as the Hotchkiss compared to the newly deployed Marder AIFV.

The text background on the exercise provides a great understanding of why exercises of this magnitude were so important and that the objectives were in fact validating tactics that may have had to be used on Warsaw Pact Forces if in fact the Cold War had erupted into full blown combat. The book is an excellent resource for those interested in Cold War armour and I highly recommend it.

To order Tankograd Publications worldwide:
and please mention that you saw this on Armorama.
Highs: Unique photos of Cold War armour.
Lows: It would have been nice to have included more colour images.
Verdict: Top notch book on a very important exercise in Bundeswehr Cold War history.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 5028
  Suggested Retail: 14.95 Euro
  Related Link: Item Page
  PUBLISHED: Dec 16, 2010

Our Thanks to Tankograd Publishing!
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About Jason Bobrowich (LeoCmdr)

Copyright ©2021 text by Jason Bobrowich [ LEOCMDR ]. All rights reserved.


Already got this one and I like it very much, especially the MASTER CAMO on the US Army vehicles. For me a Bundeswehr M48 is also becoming more and more of interest to build, but a later version in NATO camo. The author Walter Böhm is also involved in these new DVDs: LINK LINK Cheers Christopher
DEC 15, 2010 - 10:20 PM

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