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Men-at-Arms 53: Rommels' Desert Army

by Martin Windrow, with illustrations by Michael Roffe

Osprey Publishing Ltd: ISBN 0-85045-095-0, 40 pages.

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This is the fourth printing of this early Osprey title, which was first published in 1976. Such longevity should come as no surprise since Rommel and his Panzerarmee Afrika, along with its Afrika Korps, has obtained legendary status among students and participants of the battles in the deserts of North Africa. This title should be considered as a companion to MAA 66, Montgomery’s Desert Army, also reviewed on this site.

Mr. Windrow has combined 29 B&W photos, four charts, eight pages of color plates, one map and an index, along with text, photo captions and detailed color plate commentaries, in to quite a tasty dish. The text provides a concise run-down on the campaigns fought in the desert from the Italian’s initial sorties against the British in 1940, to the eventual surrender of the Axis forces to the Allies, early in 1943. There are also fairly detailed orders-of-battle listings for two periods: 15 August 1942 and 1 March 1943. These are followed by a brief list of German divisions that took part in these battles, from the time of their arrival until the final surrender in May 1943.

The photos are mostly chosen for their depiction of uniforms, insignia and personal items. There is very little specifically on tanks, other AFVs, ordnance or individual weapons. The four charts feature detailed line drawings of Italian insignia, while several photos contain specific details related to the head-gear worn in-theater by German troops. These are all well-captioned and informative. The color plates depict a total of 24 individuals, split almost evenly between Italians (and a Colonial levee) and Germans. The commentary for these plates is more extensive than in later books, apparently a hall-mark of these early titles. The art is pleasing, if a bit less technically-orientated than the subject might require. But, overall, there is much that will be of help to the figure modeler with a keen eye. These early books also consisted of 40 pages (instead of the current 48), so the potential buyer should beware.

This book was, and still is, an excellent primer on this most fascinating subject. For those who wish to get a basic idea regarding the composition, campaigns and appearance of the Afrika Korps, this re-print will serve very nicely.


Frank De Sisto
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