Tankograd Special No. 5073
Another book in Tankograd Publishing’s continuing line of military vehicle monographs, this volume looks at the development and operational service of the Germany’s home grown Cold War short range antiaircraft system, the Gepard. Designed to use a modified Leopard 1 chassis, the Gepard was the Bundeswehr’s replacement for the American M42 Duster self-propelled antiaircraft artillery (AAA) system.
As with many of the monographs in this series, this book follows a pretty standard format. The first seven pages are text (in both German and English) and hold the details of the Gepard’s genesis, development, manufacture, and service. The rest of the book is broken up into five additional sections: 2 pages of prototype photos (which would have been better used interspersed in the first, text, section where the development is discussed), a section each for the Gepard 1, 1A1 and 1A2 versions and a 2-page section for international user. The amount of information provided is well balanced and suitable for a work of this size. While I can’t speak to the German translation, the English text is quite good. Unusually, for this series, there are full, multiview, 1/35-scale drawings for the Gepard 1 and 1A2 versions and a page of detail views showing the differences between the 1 and 1A1 versions. These are very welcome.
The only real critiques I would level at the text portions of this book are, firstly, that the formatting of the paragraphs does not involve a blank line, which makes reading the small type-size text much more difficult and making the whole thing a bit more tiring to read. It doesn’t lower the technical value of the work, though. My second critique is that having the development and technical sections having no photographs breaks the link between the descriptions and any clarifying images of the development vehicles. This section would have been significantly more useful had there been photographs alongside the relevant text which would have also served to break up the wall of text and make the entire thing easier to read. I would ask the book designer/ layout person to reconsider their approach on this matter.
Unlike some of the books in this series, the photos in this book include a very high number of very detailed photos of specific Gepard details making this an excellent book for model builders. The photos are generally ½ or 1/3 of a page and only some of the prototype vehicle shots are not in colour. Combined with the drawings, these photos make this almost a perfect modelling reference.
The book itself is in standard A4 size and uses glossy paper throughout. The card stock covers show good views of several variants, and, at long last, at least the images on the inside covers are not duplicated within the book. The exterior cover images are duplicated within, which is fair enough as the exterior cover can suffer wear and damage over time.
Very highly recommended. This is a near perfect modelling reference for this vehicle.
Many thanks to Tankograd Publishing for the review sample.
Reviewed by Paul Roberts
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