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BOOK REVIEW: German and Russian Tank Models: 1939-1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, June 28, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: German and Russian Tank Models: 1939-1945

by Mario Eens

As a kid, I used to build plastic models, but nowhere near the capabilities of Eens, who transforms mere plastic into art forms that would put most museum dioramas to shame. He covers four tanks -- 1/35 Panzer IA of DAK in North Africa, 1/35 T-34/76 at Kursk, 1/72 Pz VII Maus, and 1/48 SU-152 in winter camouflage -- a Soviet tanker for the T-34, and a 1/35 Soviet infantryman in 1945.

All chapters offer complete, step-by-step, detailed instructions on building, painting, adapting, and otherwise kitbashing the tanks with all sorts of little touches to create impressive models. It's all documented with a plethora of photos and captions per model. How many? I counted 191 photos of the Pz IA, 154 photos of T-34 and crewman, 119 for the Maus, 204 for the SU-152, and 64 for the infantryman. That's 732 photos. I think I counted them all, but I might be off by one or two.

The only thing not explained is the 1/48 scale tool clamps used on the 1/35 scale Pz IA (page 32). I know, picky among all the jaw-dropping talent on display.

If you're painting 1/285 scale models, the book is overkill, but as you go up the scales, the tips and techniques become more and more useful. Enjoyed it, or more properly, awed by the end results.

Tags:  Eastern Front  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Hitler's Wave-Breaker Concept: An Analysis of the German End Game in the Baltic

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, June 28, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Hitler's Wave-Breaker Concept: An Analysis of the German End Game in the Baltic

by Henrik O. Lunde.

The analysis starts with dissecting Hitler's strategic thinking as well as the planning and execution of Barbarossa. As the war continued and fortunes reversed, the 'Wave-Breaker Concept' as I understand it relates to never giving up an inch of ground and if no choice, leave forces behind in cities that were turned into 'fortresses.' The idea is that the Soviet forces needed to surround said cities would be many times that of the garrisons trapped behind enemy lines. Initial and successful efforts to resupply by air, followed by punching through a relief column, convinced Hitler that all of such fortresses could hold out, even though air superiority fell to parity and then inferiority through the four years.

When it came to the Baltic, retreating army units to the coast meant the Navy resupplied said pockets, much to the chagrin of the Navy. As the Soviets pushed westward, these 'fortresses' never quite lived up to the visions in Hitler's mind. Stalin once joked that the Courland pocket of 250,000 Germans was a POW camp where the Germans fed themselves.

Of particular note was Hitler's rationale that maintaining such forces on the Baltic coast, especially in Courland, kept Finland in the war. Although such pockets did have some effect, as 1943 turned into 1944, the Finns were negotiating for peace with the USSR. Interestingly enough, the USA hadn't declared war against Finland until late in the war and indeed, warned the Finns against launching any offensive against the Murmansk rail line. This also had the effect of dissuading Finland from pressing an offensive against Leningrad, too, much to German frustration.

Hitler's Wave-Breaker Concept covers more than the 'end game' and delivers interesting analysis throughout. Well written, too.

Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Eastern Front  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March on Germany 1945

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Thursday, June 13, 2019

by Christopher Duffy. Good operational overview of the Soviet attacks from the Vistula River to the Oder River in early 1945 peppered with first-hand anecdotes.

One thing wargamers rarely do, but Duffy explains well, is the pre-attack artillery bombardments. For example, Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front first prep fire used 300 medium and heavy artillery guns -- PER KILOMETER – at 0435 for about five or so minutes to cover infantry probes of the German outposts. The second prep fire at 1000 lasted 107 minutes, ranged behind German lines to depth of 10km, and destroyed 2/3 of German artillery and 1/4 of German infantry (pgs. 67-71). The main attack started at 11:30, the 2000 (two thousand) tanks went in at 1500 and by 1700 the tanks were 20km (about 12 miles) behind German lines.

Numbers intermixed with analysis and anecdotes make this a fascinating book. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Eastern Front  WW2  WWII 

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BOOK REVIEW: Das Reich: The Military Role of the 2nd SS Division

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Tuesday, June 4, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Das Reich: The Military Role of the 2nd SS Division

by James Lukas

Written with cooperation of veterans from the Der Fuhrer Regiment of the Das Reich Division, this thin 1991 book provides an overview of the creation of the division and its military operations 1939 to 1945, from Poland to last defense of Germany in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

It barely mentions any atrocities and at times reads like SS propaganda. Skirmish gamers might cull the text for small action scenarios. Of note, a road march from Southern France to Western Romania in 1941 took eight days (p.51). Compare that to 17 days needed to get from Toulouse to Normandy after D-Day (p.128). Overall, this overview provides a sense of ebb and flow of combat over the war years.

Tags:  Eastern Front  Normandy  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: Fighting in Hell: The German Ordeal on World War II's Eastern Front

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
edited by Peter G Tsouras. A trio of WWII German generals (Rauss, von Greiffenberg, and Erfurth) explain in post-war debriefs how the Germans fought the Soviets. This edited reprint of US Army historical publications explains strategy, tactics, tendencies, and techniques on the Eastern Front, including how the Soviets became smarter as the war went on. One meme throughout is how overwhelming Soviet quantity of men and material kept the Germans from victory until smarter use of such quantity led to Soviet victories. Enjoyed it.

Tags:  Eastern Front  reviews  WW2  WWII 

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Book Review: On a Knife's Edge: The Ukraine November 1942 - March 1943

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, May 3, 2019
by Prit Buttar. This basically covers from Stalingrad to the German Kharkov counterattack and once again, Buttar delivers a well-written and documented operational overview of the plans, battles, and command decisions that went into these campaigns. If I had to nitpick, it would be his over-relying on inserting first-person accounts -- a few add flavor, even the obvious propaganda of the Soviets, but too many leave you yearning for Buttar's crisp analysis of situations and events. Still, enjoyed it.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Eastern Front  reviews  WW2 

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BOOK REVIEW: Kursk: The Greatest Battle Eastern Front 1943

Posted By Russ Lockwood, Friday, April 19, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2019
BOOK REVIEW: Kursk: The Greatest Battle Eastern Front 1943

by Lloyd Clark. 

This mistitled book is about 400 pages, with the first 200 covering the rise of the German military. The last 200 pages deal with the Kursk battle with reasonable operational and tactical coverage, although overly crammed with dry and somewhat formulaic 'this unit went here, insert first-person account,' and then 'this other unit went there, insert first-person account,' and rinse and repeat. It was sometimes heavy slogging through the prose like panzers through minefield belts.

Tags:  Eastern Front  Kursk  WW2 

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