The very popular Concord Armor at War Series has now released PANZER VOR! Volume 5continuing the excellent combination of modeler/author par excellance, Frank V. DeSisto, with parent company Dragon Models as publisher. This edition doesn’t include the author’s bio, but Mr. DeSisto is one of the original founders of AMPS, has been published elsewhere, is a font of knowledge that he readily shares in his books, and as an advanced modeler and professional photographer, chooses photos that will offer great interest to the modeler. Following the format of the previous four volumes, there are 16 color platesby Laurent Lecocq and 175 black and white photos, all with high quality, detailed captions written by a modeler, for modelers.
A three page “Introduction” provides the historic background for the photos that follow. Titled “Panzertaktik” or Panzer Tactics, Frank states early on that Germany’s early success in WWII was due to tactics, not superior numbers or weaponry. Immediately after WWI the Germans prepared for WWII. We’ve all heard how nations like Russia accommodated them, allowing Germany to secretly build up within their borders, but Mr. DeSisto reveals that “foreign corporations such as Sweden’s Bofors, and Holland’s Fokker were surreptitiously purchased by German firms…” so that Germany could circumvent the Versailles Treaty. ”By the time the first German Panzer crossed the Polish border… nearly 20 years had been devoted to the formulation of…” Panzertaktik and the organization, tactics, weapons and support they’d require. I’m writing this on the 10thAnniversary of 9-11, and I am amazed at how the expression that “History Repeats Itself” rings so true.
The author defines the separate mechanized combined arms forces and their roles, and then photographically illustrates them. The photos range from pre-war through to war’s end, covering the variety of vehicle typesfrom the Panzer I to the heavy Tiger II and a Maus, along with StuGs, Jagdpanzers, armored cars, halftracks, rail and road transports “and more.” Northwest Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Eastern Front theaters are touched upon. The photos were chosen primarily for what they have to offer the modeler.
At first glance, PANZER VOR! Volume 5 is a photo album. What makes this and the other four editions of the GERMAN ARMOR AT WAR 1939-45 series stand out are the highly detailed captions. Frank De Sisto’s thorough knowledge of German vehicles, markings and tactics provide thorough information regarding each photo. When his careful research makes it known, he defines vehicle types, units and theatre to the finest detail. His sharp eye catches and reveals insightful and informative details that even the most critical experten might miss. Modelers will find a wealth of unique modeling ideas for stand alone vehicles and dioramas that will make their modeling efforts stand out from others.
The superb color plates by Laurent Lecocq, are the icing on this cake. Laurent has transformed two dimensional black and white images into the appearance of three dimensional models in the actual colors of weathered German armor. He has included an inset when necessary, to show markings otherwise hidden in a side view. The modeler will be well rewarded to replicate Laurent’s use of highlights and shading on his model! Each plate has an incisive caption by DeSisto.
I can heartily recommend PANZER VOR! Volume 5 whether or not you collect the other four editions, though if you can do so, all five volumes belong on your shelf. This book stands on its own merits, and is not a continuation of the other volumes. In other words, they complement each other, but do not build upon one another. It is well researched and written by Frank V. DeSisto, a noted modeler, historian, author and photographer. It is filled with especially excellent photos and illustrations chosen specifically for modelers and enthusiasts. And it is published by Concord, a Division of Dragon Models, who’s own “combined arms” of marketing provides us with ever new state of the art military models with references like this, to help us build them. Thanks to Concord for the review sample.