German tanks of World War II continue to enjoy a great deal of attention with books appearing constantly while website chatter seems endless. Only this summer I got to see a Panther running for the very first time and I can tell you it was a special moment.
After all my years on the circuit I’ve eased off from doing a lot of the events I used to attend religiously but rare armour will always get me buzzing.
The big cats will always have their groupies, but it is fair to say there is much, much more to learn about the hardware employed by the Germans.
They possessed a remarkable ingenuity when it came to adapting weapons to make them more formidable, and while their efforts were not universally successful, there are plenty of subjects to get your teeth into. Craig Moore’s latest book offers us a perfect case in point.
This volume looks at the self-propelled artillery developed by the Germans. Many of the guns were mounted on a plethora of otherwise obsolete or captured vehicles and the marrying together of all this kit created some pretty interesting combinations.
Craig starts us off by looking at the guns themselves, because, as with most things German, the designations and official names can be a tongue twisting exercise to get our heads round. The 10.5cm leFH 16 (Sf) auf Geschutzwagen Mk VI(e) is a prime example.
This snappily named beast is the chassis of a captured Vickers Mk VI light tank wedded to a Great War era light howitzer made by Krupp.
Only six of these vehicles were built and none survived the war, but they reveal the thought process of a military establishment willing to make the most of all the kit available to them. Needless to say there are bigger and better combinations to appreciate over the course of the book.
Mr Moore gives us a pen portrait of the service career of each vehicle type, most of which do not ultimately end so well; and we also learn about the relatively few survivors. This all adds to the package. I am well aware of how much time the author spends trawling through archives and this book underlines how all this footslogging must eventually pay off.
The author takes us through twenty different vehicles and the range of guns fitted to them. The text is concise and well-presented alongside the neat artwork of David Bocquelet which offers a range of camouflage schemes and configurations.
The author does the apparently simple stuff really well and the point here is to emphasise there is no simple stuff. I’ve seen a number of jazzy but sloppy books down the years and there is none of that nonsense here. The book title tells us exactly what to expect and you really cannot go wrong with books like this.
Craig Moore is an ebullient character who has established a strong presence on the military scene in recent years. He can be found at many events scouring round the tank parks and beyond for things to photograph and measure.
He is always full of stories and details and clearly loves what he does. Rest assured the books will keep on coming. Fair play to him.
I really like this book. I particularly appreciate the section on the artillery guns and can easily see a place in the market for a book like this.
This a well presented, solid package that checks all the boxes and I’m sure the volumes to come will be just as diverting and efficient. Top marks.
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Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online
GERMAN SELF-PROPELLED ARTILLERY GUNS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR
By Craig Moore
ISBN: 978 1 78155 695 5