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The Quest for Accuraccy

by Thomas L. Jentz and Hilary L. Doyle

The highest possible accuracy is the standard set by the Panzer Tracts team. This goal can only be achieved by researching all available original material on a subject before each book is written. A high degree of accuracy can't be achieved by simply reading the original works by Walter J. Spielberger or compiling notes from hundreds of other books that reuse the material that he published or make assumptions based on photographs. A lifetime's effort must be expended in gathering an extensive database of original source material.

During the past 35 years, we have collected data, reports, surveys, manufacturer's drawings, and photographs from many sources, including these major establishments (and the search still goes on):


National Archives in Washington, D.C. and College Park, MD (innumerable visits to search through thousands of rolls of microfilm, boxes of records, and boxes of photographs)

Militaerarchiv in Freiburg, Germany (over 40 trips to dig through all of the original records and drawings on Panzers and Panzer units not on microfilm at the National Archives)

Bildarchiv in Koblenz, Germany (over 20 visits, often of several days, searching and examining over 300,000 photos)

Bundesarchiv in Koblenz and Berlin, Germany (3 visits)

Deutsche Museum, Munich, Germany (3 visits looking through records and photographs)

Wehrtechnische Sammlung in Koblenz, Germany (10 visits looking through records and documents)

Tank Museum Library at Bovington, England (over 40 visits of several days searching through hundreds of boxes of records and thousands of photos)

Imperial War Museum - Records Library in London and Duxford, England (over 25 visits often of several days, looking through hundreds of boxes of records)

Imperial War Museum - Photographic Records in London, England (over 20 visits examining tens of thousands of photos)

Public Records Office in Kew Gardens, England (over 30 visits of several days looking through hundreds of records)

Company Records and Archives

- to search through hundreds of files:

Daimler-Benz in Stuttgart, Germany (3 visits)

Henschel in Kassel, Germany (2 visits)

Krauss-Maffei in Munich, Germany (6 visits)

Krupp in Essen, Germany (3 visits)

Magirus in Ulm, Germany (1 visit)

M.A.N. in Augsburg, Germany (1 visit)

Maybach in Friedrichshafen, Germany (1 visit)

Porsche in Zuffernhausen, Germany (2 visits)

Rheinmetall-Borsig in Duesseldorf, Germany (2 visits)

RAL in St. Augustin, Germany (2 visits)

Wegmann in Kassel, Germany (3 visits)

Zeiss in Germany (1 visit)

Armour Museums

- to accurately measure, survey and photograph hundreds of vehicles:

Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen, MD (over 100 visits)

Patton Museum at Fort Knox, KY (over 30 visits)

Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada (2 visits)

Worthington Park Museum at Borden, Canada (5 visits)

Tank Museum at Bovington, England (over 50 visits)

Imperial War Museum at Duxford, England (4 visits)

Musee des Blindes in Saumur, France (10 visits)

Artillerieschule in Idar-Oberstein, Germany (1 visit)

Auto+Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany (6 visits)

Militaerhistorisches Museum in Dresden, Germany (1 visit)

Motor Technica Museum at Bad Oeynhausen, Germany (1 visit)

Panzer Museum in Munster, Germany (7 visits)

Wehrtechnische Sammlung in Koblenz, Germany (about 15 visits)

Panzermuseum in Thun, Switzerland (3 visits)

Nationaal Oorlogs- en Verzetsmuseum at Overloon, Holland (1 visit)

Tank Museum in Brussels, Belgium (3 visits)

Museo della Guerra per La Pace in Trieste, Italy (1 visit)

Museo Storico dell Fanteria in Rome, Italy (1 visit)

Museo Storico della Motorizzazione Militare in Cecchignola, Italy (3 visits)

Pansar Museet at Axvall, Sweden (2 visits)

Panssarimuseo at Parola, Finland (4 visits)

Sotamuseo in Helsinki, Finland (3 visits )

Institute of History in Budapest, Hungary (2 visits)

Citadel in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (1 visit)

Vojenské Technické Museum at Lešany, Czech Republic (1 visit)

Armored Corps Museum at Latrun, Israel (1 visit)

Defence Forces Museum in Jaffa, Israel (1 visit)

19 private collections of vehicles and monuments throughout Europe.

We have been fortunate to have the support of some fellow enthusiasts who have surveyed vehicles in museums and private collections that so far have been inaccessible to us.

Private collections

Walter J. Spielberger Collection. In addition to unlimited access to Walter's collection over the past 35 years, we co-authored Walter's last four books and prepared the scale drawings for his complete series. Prior to donating the bulk of his collection to the Panzer Museum in Munster, Walter gave us whatever original documents and photographs we required.

Jarrett Collection in Carlisle, USA

Icks Collection in the Patton Museum, USA

Col. Obry Collection in Saumur, France

Fritz Wiener Collection, Vienna, Austria, via Spielberger

Oberst Icken Collection, Germany, via Spielberger

Becker Collection, Germany, via Spielberger

Charlie Yust Collection, Bel Air, MD

Fellow enthusiasts have shared original documents and photographs over the years. Among them are: Peter Chamberlain, Bill Auerbach, Dr. Werner Regenberg, Karlheinz Muench, Marcus Jaugitz, Wolfgang Schneider, Steven Zaloga and Thomas Andersen.

The Jentz/Doyle collection is now one of the most comprehensive private archives in the world. The collection contains copies of tens of thousands of original documents, the largest private collection of manufacturer's drawings in the world, thousands of photographs of surviving vehicles, prints of thousands of original wartime photographs, hundreds of manuals, and tens of thousands Fahrgestell Nummern.

We are doing our homework! This is why the Panzer Tracts authors goal is to produce the highest quality books possible - with new data, new drawings, new photographs, and new information! And best of all, you can be assured that they are based solely on the content of original documents written during the war by those who actually took part in the design projects, production, distribution, and use of the Panzers in combat. They are totally free from the thousands of mistakes, misinterpretations, guesses, and tall tales present in hundreds of other published books.

To reach the Panzer Tracts standard of quality in our new drawings, we cross-check measurements of surviving vehicles with the manufacturer's specifications and available photographs. An accurate record of the monthly production by each assembly plant and Fgst.Nr. series assigned to each was compiled as an aid in placing identified modifications in chronological sequence. We always search for the Fgst.Nr. (and other identifying numbers and manufacturer's code letters) of each Panzer so that we know where and when it was assembled.

It takes over 30 hours on-site to accurately measure each existing vehicle in detail. It takes several visits to ensure all the necessary details are accurately recorded. We measure as many vehicles from a series as possible. How else could we discover that the gun mantlet of a Panther Ausf.D is narrower than that of an Ausf.A? We take hundreds of detailed photographs of each Panzer for aid in drawing. Then comes the hard part, requiring skill, tenacity, and patience to spend the hundreds of hours needed to create the final product - an accurate scale drawing. We believe in creating a product that we can be proud of and spend the time to do the job right - as can be easily observed by comparing our product with any others.

These scale prints are not created by scanning the distorted drawings from manuals or copying the original large-scale drawings - for the simple reason that these originals are not as-built drawings. Most of the original drawings are overviews of a vehicle made early in the project prior to the creation of the thousands of detail drawings actually needed to produce it. These were rarely corrected to reflect changes needed to produce the parts and do not represent the completed product. Compare the original drawing from a manual of the Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D with the as-built drawing of a Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D completed by Hilary. Scale drawings created by Hilary L. Doyle are usually the first accurate record of a Panzer as it was actually produced.

See larger image

See larger image

In addition, every Panzer in a museum or private collection has parts missing, and many have inaccurate replacement parts added during restoration attempts. We conduct the detailed research necessary to recreate accurate scale prints with the same details as when the Panzer originally left the factory. If we can't find what an original part looked like because the records or photographs didn't survive (such as some details inside the Ostwind turret in Panzer Tracts 12) we now leave it off - or tell you exactly when a reconstruction has been attempted (such as the rear deck of the VK 30.01 and VK 36.01 in Panzer Tracts 6).

With regard to historical accuracy, it isn't enough just to collect original sources. One must know the language in which the records were originally written and have the technical background needed to understand them. The temptation must be resisted to fill in missing information where the original records have not survived. This lesson was learned by us long ago (but not before the Encyclopedia was printed). Anytime "logic" was used to fill a gap in the record, invariably this "logical answer" was proven to be false when original records were found. It is impossible to guess the right answers when data are missing. The designers came from a WWI perspective and were forced by dire circumstances into decisions that we can't visualize - we know where they went, but can't imagine how they got there. Sufficient time has to be spent digging out the surviving original documents before a book is attempted. After exhausting all the trails, it is also necessary to be disciplined enough to leave the missing gaps where original data have not survived.

Infrequently, conflicting data appear in the original records and must be properly sorted out. Technical data can usually be resolved by examining a surviving Panzer and finding the original designer's reports. Historical data on unit strengths and composition can usually be resolved by performing a material balance and comparing reports at all levels from issue to disposal. Other conflicting data and statements can usually be resolved when a comparison is made between records created at the time by those not directly involved with those who were. For example, the postwar report stating that Ford and GM did not produce Panzers for Germany because of their affiliation with the U.S. - is false. It was made by an individual in a responsible position at the end of the war - but he was not in office when the actual decision was made to reject Ford-style assembly line methods as incompatible with necessary design changes. Most of the immediate postwar interrogation reports are full of this type of error - the right questions asked to the wrong people.

And now it is 56 years later. When personnel involved with the projects and campaigns were interrogated and wrote reports (without access to their original documents) directly after the war couldn't produce reliable information, what chance is there of obtaining any useful information by questioning veterans today? Should information from documents created at the time by the participants be replaced by stories told by veterans fifty years later? While war stories may be entertaining, they are not a reliable source of accurate information. For example, schwere Panzer-Abteilung 501 in Tunisia in late 1942/early 1943 was outfitted and organized in accordance with the applicable K.St.N.s for the period as shown below (copyright Thomas L.Jentz from Germany's Tiger Tanks - Tiger I & II Combat Tactics. As recorded in January 1943, the tactical numbers were stenciled on the tank turrets of the 1.Kompanie as follows:

Tigers Pz.Kpfw.III

Kp.Tr. 11 12 & 13

1.Zug 111 & 112 113 & 114

2.Zug 121 & 122 123 & 124

3.Zug 131 & 132 133 & 134

4.Zug 141 & 142 143 & 144

As seen in this well-known photo (No.1070/84 reproduced with permission from the Tank Museum), prior to capture this Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N (tactical number 242) was with the 2.Kompanie/schwere Panzer-Abteilung 501. So why would anyone interested in accuracy publish a diagram showing the company commander's Tiger numbered "100", Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.M in the 1.Kompanie instead of Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.N, no Pz.Kpfw.IIIs in the 2.Kompanie, and the second Tiger in each Zug numbered 212, 222, 232, and 242?

st history". It simply eliminates previous mistakes in order to create an "original" accurate record. But it takes time to do the job right. Did anyone ever wonder why Panzer Tracts are not released in numerical order? We are still constantly making research trips to find new information. We also constantly revisit previously reviewed material to discover new facts as our subject knowledge improves. We don't put our names on the cover until the facts are in and accurate drawings completed.

Other Panzer Facts Installments:

Facts about German Camouflage Paint in World War II

Creating an Accurate Tiger I Model