Combat History of Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654
The long awaited "twin" to JJF's classic 653rd book is finally here. This behemoth spans 663 pages and contains a staggering 700+ photos. The book is printed on very high quality paper in a large 9" x 12" format.
Coverage begins with the abteilung's start as a towed AT unit using the little 3.7cm Pak 36 and later the 7.5cm PaK 40 and 7.5cm PaK 97/98. Two of the more interesting photos in this section doesn't belong to the 654th's inventory, but feature the elusive "Dicker Max" 10.5cm K18 (see sample below). Coverage then shifts into full gear and begins with both textual and photographic examination of the abteilung's training and combat experiences with the Ferdinand tank destroyer. Photo coverage is excellent with 145 pages of photographs in this section alone. Anyone building Dragon's recent kit of the Ferdie will want to take a gander at these photos as there are plenty of AFV marking and diorama ideas.
The book then moves into a meaty portion of pages of text describing the abteilung's training and combat action with the Jagdpanther tank destroyer. This is great stuff with combat diaries full of after action reports and personal viewpoints on the the unit's actions and their experiences with the JP. Included in this section are great illustrations from the formal training guidelines on the Jagdpanthers showing optimal placement for combat, march and line.
The next 200 or so pages are the best part of the book for modellers. Over 200 photos of Jagdpanthers in almost every configuration possible, the vast majority of the photos unpublished. Early, mid and late Jagdpanthers are everywhere, including some nifty combinations like earlies with 2 piece 8.8cm barrels and lates with one piece monobloc barrels. Camouflage schemes are extremely varied and include plain dark yellow, green/brown on yellow, green base with secondary yellow/primer and the latter with winter whitewash. Support vehicles are also captured in photographs and include Mobelwagens, Whirbelwinds, Famos, Kubelwagens and bergepanthers. The 654th also used 3 Panthers as command vehicles and these are also covered in photographs (one of which has an interesting striped whitewash scheme).
The book then ends with 1/35 scale drawings by Hilary Doyle, 30 pages of colour plates by Zbigniew Kolacha and organisational tables by Waldemar Troja.
In summary, no fan of German WWII armour should be without this book, it is only matched in size and value by it's companion volume on the 653rd. The 200 or so photos of the rare Jagdpanthers alone are worth the price of admission.