Reviewed: Three Excellent Haynes Manuals

This must be both a sad, but positive year for Haynes, whose range of books go from strength to strength; the success muted by the death of the company’s founder, John Haynes, who died back in February. The variety and quality of the books coming out of the company’s headquarters in Somerset never ceases to impress me.

First up we have Mark Healy’s superb look at the Panther tank, one of the most iconic armoured vehicles of World War II. Mark had previously given us a fantastic book on the legendary T-34 and it figures he should look at the German response to it.

The book takes us through the design and development of the tank starting with German reaction to combating the KV-1 and T-34 on the battlefield.

There was clearly a need for a new medium tank to counter the Soviet threat and it is interesting to see how early design work gives rise to the old adage about the flattery of imitation. But the designers saw sense and put all their powers into building something much more potent than by simply copying the enemy.

That the Panther had its problems is well known. How they squeezed the Maybach engine into such a small bay beggars belief. Like a lot of German kit the Panther was complicated and, in simplistic terms, over-engineered.

Having seen one run this summer, I was struck by the visual power of the thing, a feeling you cannot get from seeing a static example. An overused word such as ‘awesome’ seems apt.

Mr Healy gives us a strong appreciation of what made the tank tick and what it was like to operate. We also see the tank in action. Formidable in battle, the Panther has earned its place in history and this very tidy book offers a no-nonsense history of how the tank earned such a fearsome reputation. Highly recommended.

Book cover
Book cover

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther (Sdkfz 171)
By Mark Healy
Haynes Publishing
ISBN: 978 1 78521 214 7

Apologies to the author, I have been sitting on this one a while – but better late than never.
Simon Forty’s book fits in to the Haynes range very well, breaking down the uniform, kit and weaponry of the German soldier of World War II.

Modern colour photography sits nicely with archive material and there is plenty to get your teeth into. There is so much to write about I actually think the book could have been twice the size, but the editing is sharp and the end product does the job. history.

The book reminds of a volume I wish I’d had going way back to my mid-teens (so 45 years ago) and I get a strong sense of nostalgia from reading it. Books like this are easy reads serving to draw us in to the history. I would definitely recommend it to casual or younger readers just getting into the world of military history.

Book cover
Book cover

The German soldier 1939-45 (all models)
By Simon Forty
Haynes Publishing
ISBN: 978 1 78521 168 3

If you really need to assess the depth of material coming out of Sparkford look no further than this superb volume looking at the Panhard AML 60, AML 90 and Eland armoured cars of the post war era.

This vehicle has been a huge export success for France and even as I write you can bet a good number are earning their keep somewhere in the world – but notably in Africa. The list of users is extensive and, here again, it must have been a challenge to stop this book being double the size, given all the history available.

Technical history on the vehicles, armaments and ammunition help give depth to the story of the Panhard armoured car, while the quality of archive and modern photography is impressive.

Of particular note is the chapter on the recovery and restoration of two vehicles by Barrimore England-Davis. It is great to see all his hard work come to fruition.

On a superficial level it may seem like an unusual choice of subject matter, but working your way through the book reveals just how important the machine has been to a host of armed forces.

Simon Dunstan has a deserved reputation for producing readable and reliable histories and he has done a first-rate job here. With so much attention given to World War II era kit it really is nice to seeing something different now and again.

If you are interested in post war armour then this book is a ‘must have’ for your library. The finest memorial to the late John Haynes are the books that bear his name and this one is right up there with the best of them.

Another Article From Us: New Capture Story for World’s most Famous Tank: Tiger 131

Book cover
Book cover

1961 Onwards (AML 60, AML 90 Eland)
Haynes Publishing
ISBN: 978 1 78521 194 2

Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.