After an interesting title dedicated to history of a particular unit (Totenkopf's Panther-Abteilung), PeKo publishing are back with another “photobook” volume. This time it is addressing the “workhorse” of the German army during the Second World War - the infamous Panzer IV tank.
The book is authored by Craig Ellis, also known to internet community as “8wheels-good”, a dedicated researcher on Panzer IV. Craig collected an enormous amount of photographs and was able to do a very good research through years credited by various Axis subjects expert including author of Panzer Tracts Hillary Doyle.
The format of the book should be familiar to our readers if they have seen previous World War Two photobooks from PeKo publishing or Panzerwrecks books – it is a landscape oriented publication with a hard cover, 112 high quality printed pages that contain an introduction on the subject and a little over 100 black and white photographs from private collections. The text is in both English and Hungarian.
The introduction is very well written and covers the background of Panzer IV development, challenges faced by this tank with thin armour in Poland and later in France, various upgrades and final days in the second half of the WW2 when it was used in defences and served as a chassis for various self-propelled guns and tank destroyers. Although the text here is only 2 pages long it has an excellent narration and you can feel the attitude and passion of the author to Panzer IV’s.
The photographs take most of the page space with 4-5 sentences in the image legend that focus on the features observed. Here we can appreciate knowledge of Craig Ellis as he points attention to very specific details corresponding to particular version of Panzer IV or unit where it is important. Starting with Ausf A. in training units before the war the book takes us to Poland and Western Europe (France). Here one can find Panzer IV Ausf B and Ausf C in action and on the move. A number of wrecks are also present and one can see how unprotected these tanks were at this time point when even small calibre anti-tank weapon could have penetrated them easily.
Ausf D and E with additional armour plates are depicted in Balkans and early days of Barbarossa operation. Some images deal with Tauch (diving) version as well, including a wreck of it. Ausf F1 and F2 photographs show first winter in USSR and North African campaign. In this time frame the tank got one of the major upgrades with longer barrel and thicker armour plates increasing its performance. One can appreciate the authors focus on specific elements like stowage and markings again, especially when it comes to z.B.V. 66, unit that was supposed to invade Malta, but then was transferred to the Eastern Front. The photographs dedicated to DAK tanks got my attention as I did a model of Panzer IV Ausf F2 in 2015 and many of the images presented in the book are new to me.
Second half deals with Ausf G, H and J. Here we can see winter campaign at the Eastern Front, appearance of side skirts on the turret and hull, crew’s attempts to increase protection with tracks and so on. Many of those images can be a great start for a model, including crew uniforms. A diversity of zimmerit patterns, battle damages and camouflages are worth checking as well. Further on, Western front comes back and we see a number of wrecks and abandoned tanks with field applied zimmerit coating, quite often these photographs are from Allied sources. At the end of the war Panzer IV was rather outdated and not meeting the increased firepower of Axis opponents which is also well depicted by this book.
I think this is another winning title from PeKo publishing. Panzer IV is one of the favorite subjects for modellers and Craig Ellis is a great narrator for those images. There are plenty of tanks in different versions presented and one can have a very good read and inspiration from that book.
Highs: Another great title with plenty of quality images narrated by Craig Ellis who is a known expert on the subject. Lows: none so far.Verdict: Highly recommended for those interested in Panzer IV references.