“Churchill Tanks” by Dennis Oliver

Another excellent publication from Pen And Sword’s Tank Craft series arrived for me before Christmas and it has taken me a while to sit down properly and give it my full attention.

The Churchill tank is another iconic armoured vehicle from World War Two. Its unique boxy shape and tracks make it one of the more unusual looking tanks from the war. It was also developed into various different engineering models,  including a bridge layer and flamethrower version.

Dennis Oliver covers every aspect of the Churchill in great detail and this is a good book for anyone with a historical, modelling or wargaming interest in the tank. He goes through the use of the vehicle in all of its units at the back end of the war. I particularly like the details on individual tank names that were used and that’s something I plan to adopt when i am building my next Churchills. The historical details are accompanied by numerous excellent illustrations and photographs, more great inspiration for whatever you want to do.

There is also a comprehensive guide to the various choices modellers have to build their own Churchill kit in most scales. This is aimed more at 1/35 scale modellers but inspiring none the less for everyone. There are more great pictures of completed kits by highly skilful modellers. I love reading about and looking at tanks, so if you are like me you will like this book!

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“Setting The Scene” by Pat Smith

I was lucky enough to order a copy of Pat Smith’s awesome book “Setting The Scene” before Christmas and it turned up on my doorstep recently. What a happy way to start the New Year!

Now I have always been a big fan of Pat’s amazing 28mm modelling on his Wargaming With A Silver Whistle blog and this new production just continues on Pat’s excellent work. I am not a 28mm modeller and was not planning to do any Winter games or scenes right now, but none of that matters. There are so many good ideas and tips and inspirational photos this book is not to be missed if you are a keen wargamer and modeller who likes to build stuff. This is relevant to whatever scale or period you are interested in, but I guess even more so if you are cemented in World War Two like me.

Pat covers many aspects of terrain building from creating a mat, making trees, rivers, bridges and also tips on painting vehicles and figures. So much eye candy and amazing photos of his stunning results I cannot help but keep flicking through the pages. If you are looking for some inspiration and a standard of terrain to aspire to then I suggest you sign up for the reprint which I am guessing will get a run. Drop Pat a note on his blog and get your copy!

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“Objective Saint-Lo” by George Bernage

Anyone with an interest in the Normandy landings would be keenly interested in the action around Saint Lo that happened in June and July of 1944. This book, published by Pen And Sword, who kindly provided me with a copy, goes through day by day accounts of the action. Beginning at Omaha beach it gives various accounts of the American and German actions from there up to the attacks on Saint Lo. George Bernage has collected actual first hand notes from various people who were actually involved as well as his own version of events.

From a factual point of view this book has lots of information, including a lot of maps and a lot of details of units involved in each engagement. So if you want to find out factual information regarding this period then this is a source. Trouble is i found things very difficult to follow throughout the whole book. The text does not flow and the story is often lost as there is no linked narrative that takes the reader easily through the story. I often found myself lost in facts and lists and had no clue where we were. Even when first hand accounts are directly quoted i sometimes found it difficult to place them in context of the overall story. Adding to the confusion are the maps which quite often are very difficult to interpret. Maybe i am being harsh but i found this book very tricky to read and follow exactly what was going  on. As a bunch of individual tales and events from around St Lo it is a informative book. As a story with a beginning, middle and an end, and a feeling at the end of satisfaction that your story is complete, this book fails.

As a bunch of information, historical facts, unit details, first hand accounts of events that happened at that time, plus maps of all the areas involved for reference, this book succeeds. Its a bit like someone making a scrap book with all sorts of relevant information and not really linking them all up together. The abundant photographs are fantastic and well worth having a look at. I think if i want to recreate any engagements from this part of the war on my battlefield this book will come in very useful. But from an enjoyable and exciting reading perspective it misses the mark.

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“Small-Scale Armour Modelling” by Alex Clark Osprey Publishing

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Another great little purchase i found at Book Depository for a crazy price delivered to my door step! Books in Australia are little on the pricey side so i am amazed at the low cost of on line books that are shipped for free to the Southern hemisphere. I think most of the time i enjoy the building, modelling and painting parts of our hobby more than any of the playing. But then i guess some of the time my opinion changes. This book definitely inspires me in the building and modelling section, and will do the same for you too.

Alex Clark is a very talented and skillful model maker and he does his best in the book to pass some of his knowledge onto the rest of us to help us improve and learn in our own missions, whatever they may be. The first thing that caught my eye is the awesome number of brilliant models illustrated throughout the book. There are also many excellent photos detailing all the tips and tricks that Alex writes about. Aimed totally at modellers in 1/72 or 20mm scale this was perfect for me. Everything is covered from building, converting, and detailing all the way through to painting, weathering, finishing and basing. So whether you are making models for wargaming, display or just for fun there will be something in here for you. Definitely inspiring stuff and a volume that you will go back to again and again. Some of Alex’s finished models are so good you will be surprised they are not bigger than 1/72 scale. I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in World War Two or later vehicles to pick a copy up!

 

 

Tanks Of The Second World War by Thomas Anderson

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Let’s face it we all love our tanks. I love building tanks, painting tanks, moving tanks around a wargames table, and also reading about tanks. From the imposing Tiger tank on the front cover i was immediately hooked and swiftly read this awesome volume from the top of its turret to the bottom of its tracks.

The first thing you notice are the abundant black and white photos of every kind of tracked armoured fighting vehicle. Every page has original images of vehicles in combat or lying wrecked on the battlefield. Accompanying the photos are specifications of each tank including armour, armament and speed. I figured these stats would be especially handy if i wanted to design my own wargames rules as they would supply all the relative information needed to come up with each tanks characteristics and abilities. All the photos are a great source of inspiration for anyone with an interest in tanks.

Mr Anderson begins with a brief history of tanks in World War One and the inter war years. He then goes through a chronological history of World War Two and how tanks developed in their design in each period. There is just enough text to accompany the photos to keep you engaged but not bore you with unnecessary information. The book is also grouped by theatre of war, as each had its own impact on the development and use of the tank. Some countries developed their tanks at different times and in different ways depending on how they were involved. Its all fascinating reading. He finishes by briefly touching on tank development after the war and onto the Cold War.

If you have an interest in tanks this book is for you. I would have like maybe some colour plates, plans or illustrations showing camouflage schemes or dimensions, but that would be my only criticism. Lots of great pictures, precise technical info and well written concise historical text. This is a must for anyone with a healthy appetite for a wider understanding of how the tank developed through the Second World War.

 

Notes Of A Russian Sniper by Vassili Zaistev

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Another fine book from Pen and Sword Publishing in the UK. I think they made a movie out of this a few years ago. Its the true story of Vassili Zaistev and his role as the greatest Russian sniper in the battle for Stalingrad. From humble beginnings in the Urals hunting animals he becomes the most famous sniper accounting for a reported 242 German scalps.

It is a great, first hand account of the house to house, factory to factory, close quarters fighting of Stalingrad and the role of the sniper in that fierce and bloody conflict. Vassili goes into detail about sniper tactics and how he learned his art through the rubble and twisted metal of a devastated city. If you are modelling or gaming any part of the Stalingrad period this would be a good book for you for inspiration and information. You get a very real impression of how the fighting occurred and what sort of engagements were fought. Snipers had a crucial role in the city and could swing a battle in their favour.

I think i will have to search out the movie now and watch it again after reading this. Overall an excellent read and one you can certainly whizz through in a few days.

German Assault Guns and Tank Destroyers 1940-1945 by Anthony Tucker-Jones

Another excellent book from Anthony Tucker-Jones, published by Pen And Sword books. For fans of German World War Two armour and all you modellers out there looking for some inspiration this book doesn’t disappoint. All the important tank destroyers are featured within its pages, including the Jagdpanzer, Hetzer and Marder, all copiously illustrated with some awesome photos.

Each vehicle has its own chapter with some history behind its design and creation, its combat performance, production numbers, and distribution. Some tank destroyers were born out of necessity with designs that were a product of what was available at the time with restricted resources, rather than anything else. Plenty of success and failure both.

The photos are excellent, with pictures including vehicles in combat and also plenty of destroyed and wrecked vehicles in situ. This is a great reference book for anyone with an interest in the lesser known German armoured vehicles of World War Two. I am immediately going to run out and grab a couple of Hetzers to start with. I think Unimodel make a 1/72 scale kit i need to find!!!

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