Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks: German Army and Waffen-SS
Normandy Campaign 1944
Tank Craft Vol. 25
by Dennis Oliver
The Tank Craft Series by Pen & Sword books is quickly becoming a favorite of many modelers due to the comprehensive approach that each volume takes in providing a nice vehicle history, vehicle employment time lines, maps of specific unit combat actions, beautifully built model examples of various scales, aftermarket goodies, and distinctive features of the vehicles developments over time. Volume 25 of the Tank Craft series continues this format with great results. The Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks volume is a continuation of the significant impact that both vehicles made in the second World War and in armored warfare development.
The book is broken down into 8 chapters including the introduction, The Normandy Battlefield, The Tiger Units, Camouflage & Markings, Model Showcase, Modeling Products, Technical Details and Modifications, and Product Contact Details. The historic photography throughout the book includes both well known photographs of the Tiger I & II as well as several less common photographs. I really like how the book focuses in on a specific campaign of the employed Tiger I and Tiger II's in Normandy. Certainly not many of these vehicles were as numerically present as several of the Allies counterparts, but with the reputation that both vehicles quickly garnered following their debuts, it's easy to see why so many German AFV's were so often mistakenly identified as a "Tiger" by several GI's and Tommies in the thick of battle.
The introduction refers to this books predecessor, Tiger I and Tiger II Tanks: German Army and Waffen-SS Eastern Front 1944, where Dennis Oliver unpacks the developments of both vehicles technical developments, and tables of organization. Similarly, TankCraft 10 Tiger I: German Army Heavy Tank, Southern Front, North Africa, Sicily, and Italy 1942-1945 examines aspects like the organization and employment of these combat vehicles.
The Normandy Battlefield chapter begins with a map of the Normandy region showing where main German units in Normandy and Brittany were located on June 6th, 1944. A comprehensive unit action history is provided from June 6th through the campaign's conclusion on September 5th, 1944.
The chapter on Tiger Units inception is spelled out, noting how early heavy tank formations of the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS units initially included pairing Tiger I with Panzer III's. A significant reorganization from 1943 is noted where the lighter tanks were removed from such units, leaving the heavy Tiger I's to often conduct their own reconnaissance and surveillance. A history and accompanying unit tables for Schwere Panzer-Albteilung 503 is provided along with histories and photographs of vehicles in Panzer Kompanie (Funklenk) 316 and its unusual remote controlled "Borgward BIV" demolition vehicles, Schwere SS-Panzer-Albeilung 101, and Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 102.
My favorite chapter in this book, and really the series of Tank Craft books overall, is the full color plates of several vehicles which are neatly provided. My only critique with them is that they strangely interrupt the Tiger Units history chapter on page 17, which doesn't pick back up again until page 49. This is now my third review of books in this series, and the issue has carried over with each new volume that I've reviewed. It's not a big deal, but it makes the layout of the book somewhat awkward in my opinion. Nonetheless, the excellent quality of each color plate is very pleasing and several are accompanied with black and white period photographs. Color plates for 11 "late" production Tiger I's, 3 "mid" production Tiger I's, 3 "Henshel" or Serein-Turm turreted Tiger II's, and 3 Krupp production (often erroneously called the"Porsche" turret) turrets are offered.
The Model Showcase chapter provides the reader with built models in 1/35, 1/48, and 1/72 scale. The photography of works in progress and completed builds is simply stunning and quite a source of inspiration. Brief descriptions of each model are provided including some of the added aftermarket or scratch built details are listed.
The Modeling Products chapter lists major kit manufactures who provide kits of the Tiger I and Tiger II with many up to date releases noted. Herein lies a pitfall of a book like this as inevitably a modeling subject as popular as the Tiger I and Tiger II will become dated in a short order with the volume of new kit releases and even newer kit manufacturers that are offering a growing list of products suited to modeler's demands. Tamiya, DML (Dragon), Academy, Trumpeter/Hobby Boss, Rye Field Models, Takom, and Meng are all noted for their various Tiger I and Tiger II kits available on the market today. Of the accessory producers, Hauler, Model Artisan Mori, RB Models, Eduard, Aber, Panzer Art, E.T. Models, Voyager Model, Griffon Model, ROCHM Model, and Royal Models, and a few examples of after market tracks round out the chapter.
The Technical Details and Modifications chapter covers details of the Mid and Late production Tiger I tanks as well as the "Krupp" and "Henschel" produced Tiger II variants. This chapter is certainly not exhaustive by any means, but it does provide several helpful pieces of information which will benefit both the beginner as well as the more advanced skill modelers who are seeking to improve the accuracy of their builds with reliable information.
I really enjoyed this book as I have the other Tank Craft volumes that I've had the pleasure of reviewing in the past. Their specific and concise nature of the information provided in each chapter is helpful in both inspiring creative ideas and background information for modelers wishing to build kits relating to the subject of each volume. On page 64, Dennis Oliver credits his sources for the books information including previous works on the topic by well known and knowledgeable experts such as Hillary Doyle, Thomas L. Jentz, and Wolfgang Schiebert as well as many others. Contact information for several model kit and after market accessory manufactures are listed in the Products and Acknowledgment chapter. The color plates are a terrific centerpiece of the book, and I heartily recommend any of these volumes by Pen & Sword to modelers. I look forward to adding more of these books to my library soon.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders of the Tiger tank.
Thanks goes out to Pen & Sword Books and Casemate Publishing for this review sample.
Reviewed by Ben Brandes
AMPS Central SC Wildcats
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