German Self-Propelled Guns
by Gordon Rottman, with color
plates by Arkadiusz Wrobel
Concord Publications ISBN 962-361-630-9.
Recently, whenever I review any of Mr. Rottman’s new books, it
may seem to those few of you that have been paying attention, that I may
have something against him. I do not have any personal grudge; I simply
want to see a better product from someone who has certainly been around
long enough to know better. Alas, even with the able assistance of Tom
Cockle as a “Technical Editor”, this latest book from Mr.
Rottman still needs help!
Still, there are certainly redeeming features to be seen between the
covers. For instance, many of the 176 B&W photos in this book are
new to me. On the whole, the reproduction of the photos is good. The photos
are presented in a type-by-type (SP artillery, SP anti-tank and SP anti-aircraft,
and then, within each group, from the smallest to the largest caliber
gun) fashion, which will allow someone searching for a particular vehicle
to more easily find it. Only one or two vehicles are misidentified, a
first for this author, but that’s something I feel is probably due
to Mr. Cockle’s assistance. The color plates are well done and a
fine aid to the modeler, although the comments on color are sometimes
either incorrect, or simply conjecture; modelers need to be a bit wary.
But, so far, so good.
It is in the captions that this book falls apart, almost dismally so.
I counted over two-dozen photo captions that were either incorrect for
some reason or another, or which consisted of such grossly twisted-English
that I sometimes laughed out loud or simply scratched my head in wonder.
Regardless, there may be some out there that will take some of this very
flawed information as “gospel”. This may cause confusion further
down the road; these comments are for them. However, as my time, and ML’s
space is limited, I’ll confine myself to the more obvious examples.
Page 13, center, the author states that, “It is sometimes difficult
to differentiate between the 10.5cm Wespe and the 15cm Hummel, if the
muzzle brake cannot be seen…” I would only agree if all you
were looking at was the bore end of the gun tube.
Page 18, top, the author states that, “…guns are still in
travel lock position, it does not appear they expect to be firing…”
Of the three Hummels shown, only one has the tube locked.
Page 23, top. The Pz.Jgr. I Ausf. Bs 4.7cm gun was capable of penetrating
up to 60mm of armor, with tungsten-core rounds. This means that even the
French Char B and British Matilda could be defeated under favorable circumstances
(according to authentic after-action reports quoted in Panzertracts 7-1),
even from the front. So, I thought it odd that the author would state
that the gun “…proved to be inadequate owing to its comparatively
low (I assume we are talking about “muzzle”) velocity.”
He also states elsewhere that the 5cm Pak was not used for this conversion,
because it was not ready for service at the time. Panzertracts 7-1 makes
absolutely no mention of the 5cm Pak being considered for this Panzerjager.
Page 24, top right, “…numerous boxes and CREATES for tools…”
I usually store stuff in CRATES.
Page 30, top. Later in the war, most Luftwaffe troops, be they from
Fallschirmjager units or not, were not parachute qualified. No argument
there. But how can the author possibly know for certain that, “None
of THESE men are parachute-qualified.”, when describing the crew
of a Marder II?
Page 31, top. The caption states that “Some were re-chambered
for German 7.5cm Pak 40 ammunition…”, when describing the
Soviet 76.2mm F-22 gun, which was mounted on Marder IIs and IIIs. I am
quite sure they all were re-chambered.
Page 58, top. The apparent Sd.Kfz. 10/5 is in fact a field expedient
conversion. The caption misses the mark by saying that, “The sideboards
have been removed from this vehicle.” There is a thick wooden platform
fixed to the troop compartment, which covered it, but the fender layout
from the Sd.Kfz. 10 tractor version is easily apparent. There is also
a silly typo here as well. For protection, vehicles are not usually dug-in
to a “…portion”. They are usually dug-in to a “position”.
Page 60, bottom left, shows an up-armored Sd.Kfz. 10/5. The caption
says that we are looking at, “…later models, which were fitted
with a forward armor shield BEHIND the driver’s compartment…”.
The photo shows (of course!) that the armor is obviously in FRONT of the
Page 65, bottom. The caption says “…this vehicle lacks droppable
sideboards.” Wrong again, a look at the vehicle’s shadow will
clearly show them.
Page 68, bottom. The author describes the 8.8cm Flak 18 Selbstfahrlafette
auf schwere Zugkraftwagen 12t (Sd.Kfz.8), as being “…intended
for dual role uses of anti-aircraft and anti-tank.” Besides the
sentence structure being suspect, the vehicle was never intended for use
as an anti-aircraft weapon, since it could only elevate the gun tube +15
degrees, and only had a direct-fire sight. In addition there were no such
things as: “…two light outrigger jacks…fitted to eac
side to give the top-heavy weapon stability.”, fitted to the vehicle.
Besides all of this, this piece of equipment was originally conceived
as an anti-BUNKER gun.
Page 72, bottom, shows a rare photo of a field-converted 8.8cm Flak
gun mounted on a Pz.Kpw. IV chassis. The caption says something about
a serial number on the hull front that, “…does not correspond
to known chassis numbers for the OBVIOUSLY Ausf. H hull.” Nonsense!
The drive sprockets indicate that we are looking at an Ausf. E, F or G
hull, or possibly one of the first 30 Ausf. H hulls. The chassis number
80431, is for an Ausf. C as per Panzer Tracts #4. In other words, “obviously”
has nothing to do with this photo.
There are some other “beauties” here and there, but by now,
you get the idea.
In the final analysis, this book will be a good addition to the modeler’s
library, because there are enough previously unseen photographs between
the covers. The purchaser (especially the novice) should, however, take
the captions with a very large “grain of salt”.
Recommended with reservations.
Frank V. De Sisto
Concord Publications are available from retail and mail order shops,
or from the publisher at: www.concord-publications.com.