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The oldest series in the Osprey stable is still going strong and can still come up with worthy new material. In this case, the notorious Waffen-SS gets a totally new treatment. As the titles suggest, this new series covers the 1. to the 38. SS Divisions, as well as the so-called Volunteer Legions. This book deals with the 1. through the 5. Divisions.
The text begins with a description of the initial formation of the Waffen-SS and goes on to discuss basic things such as rank structure and insignia, as well as the variations in the national emblems. Then, each numbered unit is covered in turn. Units covered include: 1. SS-Panzer Division “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”, 2. SS-Panzer Division “Das Reich”, 3. SS-Panzer Division “Totenkopf”, 4. SS-Poliezi Panzergrenadier Division and 5. SS-Panzer Division “Wiking”.
As one would imagine (due to the format of these books), the coverage of each unit in the text is relatively brief, but all the basics are there. Each unit covered is accompanied by a short combat history, the changes in unit name and function (by dates), the principal elements within the unit (usually, but not exclusively in 1944 as a Panzer or Panzer-Grenadier division) and the names of the units’ commanders and the duration of their commands.
The 47 B&W photographs concentrate on the differing cuff titles, sleeve emblems and collar insignia, showing a huge amount of variety. In addition to photos of individuals SS men, there are also several shots that show details of unit-specific cuff titles and collar and sleeve insignia, removed from the uniforms for clarity. The captions describing these are also well done. However, do not expect to see many photos of AFVs, vehicles or heavy weapons between the covers, because the focus here is on the men and their uniforms, and that’s fine with this reviewer.
The well-done color plates cover a wide variety of uniforms including: pre-war, ceremonial and training uniforms; tropical, winter and temperate clothing, as well as the more specialized AFV crew and camouflage garments. There are a total of 26 individuals covered in the eight pages of color plates. Each is accompanied by a detailed commentary at the back of the book.
Visitors to this site who place figures on their AFV models will find this entire series quite handy, as will those who build cameo pieces.
Frank V. De Sisto