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 by Vladimir Francev, Charles K Kliment and Milan Kopecky.  MBI Publishing house, ISBN 80-902238-9-3.

John Prigent 

The MBI armour books just get bigger and better!  This one has 114 pages split as usual to give both English and Czech versions, and it covers not only the Jagdpanzer 38 (t) in German service but also Czech insurgent vehicles, the Swiss G13s and post-war use of the Hetzer by the Czech Army.  For good measure there are sections on the experiences of Czech T-34 crews against the Hetzer and on both German and post-war Czech developments of it.  And yes, I know Hetzer isnít the correct title according to German records but the authors reckon it was given this name by its crews so Iíll use it here for convenience.

A brief introduction sets the scene with reasons for the Hetzerís introduction, and is followed by chapters on the design and production, the various changes made in BMM production, and the Skoda-built Hetzers.  Lots of good photographs here, many new to me, and sketches of the various changes to gun mantlets, engine deck hatches, wheels, idlers etc.  Then follow five pages of 1/35 four-view plans showing Hetzers of various vintages plus the prototype with a 15 cm sIG 33 in an open-topped conversion.  Excellent!  Had you noticed that some Hetzers have roadwheels with 32 bolts and others have them with 16 rivets?  The reason is here, together with the date of the change. 

Next comes the ďBergehetzerĒĒ, and apparently only the prototype had the big spade given in the New Connections conversion kit, followed by that sIG 33-equipped vehicle, the flamethrower Hetzers, the Jagdpanzer 38 Starr with its rigid gun mount, and the proposed Jagdpanzer 38 D with its lengthened hull and diesel engine.  Not so much on these vehicles, but the few photos are clear and sketches clarify things further.  The chapter ends with something quite new to me Ė a steam-powered Hetzer chassis!  This was built to a German requirement for steam-powered tractors and only one of the several designs progressed to a running chassis before the warís end - a photo is here to prove that it existed. 

Next come two pages about the production figures, with a table showing how many were built by each of the four factories involved month-by-month to the end of the war.  Then a full chapter covers the post-war Czech production of Hetzers and new variants.  Here you find out what changes were made for he new Czech Army - great for Cold War modellers!  Artillery and logging tractors were also built on the chassis, as well as a turreted flamethrower version which looks really weird to eyes accustomed to the low, sleek Hetzer! 

The next chapter goes into the Hetzerís combat career, with details of some known unit allocations and use, and also covers the Hungarian, Russian Liberation Army and Polish use of Hetzers.  Yes, the Poles captured some and used them against their former owners. 

An evaluation of the Hetzerís pros and cons is followed by eight colour pages, with side views of 14 vehicles, four-views of the main factory-applied camouflage patterns, and four colour photos inside a preserved Hetzerís fighting compartment and engine bay.  (The post-war Czech Army camouflage scheme is shown in four views on the back cover.)  Five pages of tables follow, showing the known German user units, day-by-day shipments from the Skoda Works, Unit holdings at the beginning of April 1945, replacements shipped from 7 to 17 April 1945, and the chassis and Czech Army registration numbers of Hetzers remaining after the war.  These are not complete, thanks to the destruction of records, but they do give as much as can be gleaned from the remaining archives. 

Then comes the short chapter on Czech T-34s against Hetzers, followed by the Czech insurgentís use of Hetzers and the combat record of the Jagdpanzer 38 Starr.  Yes, thatís right Ė combat use!  Separate chapters then cover the use of Hetzers by the post-war Czech Army and the Swiss export version, and sketches and detail photos show the Swiss modifications.  The book ends with sections on Hetzers in museums, camouflage and markings, and finally a chapter with a detailed technical description.

 All this is well up to the expected MBI standard, and the book needs to be in the library of any Hetzer modeller.  Those who already have the Osprey New Vanguard on Hetzer will need this one too, the books are complementary rather than alternative choices.  My thanks to Czech-Six Publications for the review copy.

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