Hitler's Eastern Legions 1942-45
OK, so this is another title from the awesome OSPREY publishing house, where there seems to be a never-ending flow of outstanding publications, covering useful topics in a fairly inexpensive format. This particular book is written by Dr. Nigel Thomas, who has a very detailed knowledge of the units covered in this book, over 64 pages and supported by eight pages of colour uniform drawings, plus other colour pages of badges and insignia.
As the list of contents shows, the coverage is detailed and precise, and explores the units raised in the south east of Russia from ethnic groups on the Eastern Front, but in some cases deployed in Europe. Indeed, some of these units opposed the US landings in Normandy (see Dragon figure set 6277). It becomes clear that the number of personnel in these various units is far higher than we generally recognise, and the Germans made use of these for secondary support, guarding areas of the front, hunting partisans, and keeping the civilian population in check. Many of the units were raised in the parts of southern Russia (Caucasus, Crimea, Turkestan) where the population was not exactly in love with the Soviets, and therefore the units were prepared to wear German uniforms and to fight against the Red Army. Although initially not taken too seriously by the Wehrmacht, these Eastern Legions gained a certain respect for their role.
For me personally, the most interesting part of the book resides in the artwork, and it is easy to imagine simple conversions from existing figures to create these guys, with only minor painting required.
To tell the truth, the text written by Nigel Thomas is rather too technical for my personal taste, with extensive lists and charts, and not much in the way of narrative or description.
Now, if I wanted to study these units and try to research particular units, this may be extremely useful, but I didn't feel that I could truly understand these units and what they did. There is no real description of the units in action, how well they fought, what issues they faced..... and how the Soviets treated any who were captured! The author has assembled a huge amount of information about unit organisation and uniforms, which is to his credit, but the end result is not very readable to the average modeller or enthusiast. In the end, my mind glazed over and I looked like this guy:
Overall, then, the book covers a topic that has been largely ignored up until this time, and that is absolutely fantastic news. However, in my personal opinion, the text is actually TOO detailed, and there is insufficient narrative to go around the details, given the target readership. I hope that I'm not being too harsh, and I really encourage AMPS members to view this book and enjoy the artwork as a way to get more variety of subjects into our hobby.
Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders.
Thanks goes out to Osprey for this review book.
Reviewed by Dr. Chris Lloyd-Staples, 2VP (International)
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