Trumpeter T-55 kit number 07284 built as a tank of the Afghani Northern Alliance from the “Zabati” unit near Bagram, 2001. Markings are from Star Decals sheet 72-A 1050, figures are from Paracel Miniatures.
Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East
By Oscar E. Gilbert
Hardcover in dustjacket, 312 pages, photographs, references, and index
Published by Casemate February 2015
Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
Like so many of the modern world’s current political problems, the on-going turmoil in the Middle East can be traced back to diplomatic missteps in the aftermath of the First World War. Those decisions remain with us and are still costing lives on a daily basis over a century later. In the first twenty pages of this book Oscar E. Gilbert traces the modern history of the Middle East which imparts on the reader an understanding of the basis for the conflicts which have plagued the region. This chapter is concise and exceptionally well-written, it alone warrants the purchase of the book and is worthy of periodic re-reading.
The bulk of the book focusses on the use of Marine armor in Iraq and Afghanistan, both the M60 and M1 Abrams main battle tanks along with the lighter LAV-25. The dominance of the better trained and equipped Marines during the conflicts with the Iraqi Army, even when outnumbered, are well described. The use of armor in the drawn-out counter insurgency operations also offers many insights, such as the use of the vehicle’s impressive array of sensors. Tactics used during the Battle of Fallujah illustrates the value of armor in clearing an urban environment, an arena where tanks are generally considered to be at a disadvantage.
The book is well researched and interspaced with first-hand accounts taken from interviews with the participants. This is an engaging read, made somewhat more poignant by the recent decision to eliminate tanks from the Marine Corp’s inventory. This is the second of Gilbert’s Marine tanks histories which I have read, and I can recommend them without hesitation.
I present three dioramas (or are they vignettes) featuring Sd. Kfz. 9 FAMO Halftracks in 1/72 scale. The first is a Planet Models resin kit with Black Dog accessories. The figures are mainly from Preiser set 72505, augmented with others from one of their Luftwaffe sets. The crew has taken a break for lunch in the shade of a tree. The dog is painted to resemble one of my own.
This scene is the Revell FAMO towing an Italeri sFH 18 Field Howitzer, both very nice kits. The cargo is mainly Value Gear in the bed and Black Dog tarps on the fenders. Figures are a mix of Preiser and modified artillerymen from the Italeri kit. Value Gear here: http://valuegeardetails.com/UniversalStowage72.html
I have recently developed an affinity for tank transporters (like I needed another rabbit hole to climb in) so there will likely be more like this scene in the future. This is the Trumpeter FAMO and transport trailer with a Zvezda Panzer IV. Figures are from the CMK set designed for the FAMO and a few from Caesar, Value Gear stowage in the bed again. I like the casual poses, particularly the bored guy on the back of the trailer.
Build links and more finished pictures here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/?s=Sd.+Kfz.+9+FAMO
This is the Zvezda Panzer IV Ausf. H in 1/72 scale, kit number 5017 released in 2018. I replaced the hull Schürzen with sheet plastic and I added Zimmerit made with Mr. Surfacer 500. A nice kit and loads of camo schemes to choose from. Decals are from Kagero Top Colors 32 and depict a Panzer IV from the 116th Panzer Division in Normandy, August 1944. I found the mixed camo patterns of the hull Schürzen and the rest of the vehicle interesting.
Tigers in the Mud, The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius
By Otto Carius, translated by Robert J. Edwards
Softcover, 231 pages plus documents, appendices, and index; illustrated
Published by Stackpole Books, 2003
Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.0 x 1.1 inches
Otto Carius began his war as a loader on a Panzer 38(t) in the 21st Panzer Regiment at the start of operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Sadly only the first few chapters are devoted to his time with the 21st Panzer Regiment. The narrative mainly focusses on events after January 1943, when Carius returned to Germany for officer’s training and eventual assignment to Schwere Panzer Abteilung 502, a Tiger unit.
There Carius was a platoon commander in the 2.Kompanie. He was often right in the thick of the action, as the Tigers were used to bolster defensive positions against attack or to counter Soviet penetrations of German lines. The Tigers were almost always outnumbered but seldom out matched, their superior armor making it quite difficult to put one out of action permanently. But with the armor protection came weight, and the Tigers had to be driven carefully to avoid becoming mired in unsuitable terrain or suffering mechanical failures. Both problems were common.
While scouting the terrain for his Tigers Carius’ motorcycle was ambushed by Soviet infantry and he was shot several times, his life being saved only by his speedy evacuation to a field hospital. During his convalescence he was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross by Himmler. Subsequently he was assigned to the 512th Battalion in the West which was equipped with the massive Jagdtiger tank destroyer. By this time the war was coming to an end and the situation was hopeless for Germany.
This book is regarded as a classic account of German armor on the Russian Front, and rightfully so. First-hand accounts are very interesting, Carius writes well and recounts a detailed description of life in a Tiger platoon. The time in the 21st Regiment’s Panzer 38(t)’s is only given the most basic recounting which is a shame. The reproductions of award documentation and after action reports are an interesting bonus. Carius is highly critical of how poorly Germany treated its former soldiers after the war, he alludes to this several times throughout the book, something which I had not considered – sad, but not entirely surprising in retrospect. A very interesting memoir which I recommend highly.
Sherman in the Pacific 1943-1945
By Raymond Giuliani, twenty color profiles by Christophe Camilotte
Hardcover, 144 pages, heavily illustrated
Published by Histoire and Collections May 2015
Dimensions: 12.3 x 9.2 x 0.7 inches
This book is a photo essay of all US Army and USMC M4 Sherman operations in the Pacific War, from Taupota, New Guinea in October 1943 through the invasion of Okinawa which was secured in June 1945. The photographs are arranged by operation, with each section introduced by a map and a brief paragraph giving an overview. The author then lets the photographs tell the story.
The photographs are, in a word, spectacular. They are the crème of the crop, sharp and in high resolution. Often there are several views of the same Sherman showing the vehicle from different angles or at different times. They are reproduced in large format on glossy paper, and the pages are piled full of pictures. This is a modeler’s dream with crew stowage and modifications being clearly seen, and the vehicles are shown in many situations which would make excellent inspiration for dioramas.
The captions are well detailed and provide insight and context to what is seen in the photographs. There are several instances of some awkward translations in the captions and while these make the descriptions read a little clunky they do not prevent the reader from grasping the meaning. A minor (but avoidable) fault which I found easy to adjust to.
Interspaced among the pictures are twenty color profiles of M4 Shermans and the M32 recovery vehicle, which are displayed along with the photograph(s) which inspired the artist. These are quality renderings and the photographs of the particular subjects only enhances the artist’s credibility. This is a nice standard which I wish more artists and decal manufacturers would follow.
Overall this is an outstanding treatment of the subject and a valuable reference for anyone wanting to model these vehicles. If you can find a copy pick it up, you will not be disappointed!