Prolific author David Doyle is at it again, this time with a new publisher of his works: Schiffer Books. This is the first volume in a new line of proposed works entitled Legends of Warfare - Ground. It will be quite interesting to see what future volumes in this series cover.
The subject of this volume is the workhorse tank of WWII's German Army, the Panzer IV, including all of it's many versions built ( numbering more than 8,500 in total ) as the war progressed. While never inspiring quite the fear and dread as it's bigger brothers ( the cat tanks; Panther and Tiger models ), the Panzer IV was a very capable tank, and a hobbyist could make a career of building just the many Panzer IV variants. The Panzer IV was there at the beginning and at the end of WWII, serving on all fronts, making it a very good choice of subject for launching a new line of books on iconic AFV's.
Format - hardcover, square format
Page Count - 112 pages, heavyweight, glossy paper
Size - 9.25" x 9.25"
Photos - 180+, Black and White and Full Color throughout the book
Tables / Drawings / Diagrams - tables with technical data for each Panzer IV variant
All text and photo captions are in English
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Panzer IV Ausf. A
Chapter 2 Panzer IV Ausf. B
Chapter 3 Panzer IV Ausf. C
Chapter 4 Panzer IV Ausf. D
Chapter 5 Panzer IV Ausf. E
Chapter 6 Panzer IV Ausf. F
Chapter 7 Panzer IV Ausf. F2/G
Chapter 8 Panzer IV Ausf. H
Chapter 9 Panzer IV Ausf. J
The book begins with a short but very informative 4 page introduction where the author discusses the German efforts to develop heavy and medium tanks during the inter-war years. Clandestine design work ( due to the Treaty of Versailles ) led to the code-named Neubaufahrzeug tanks, which were critical learning steps along the way to the development and production of the Panzer IV series just in time for the kick-off of WWII. The author does a great job of presenting informative background information in a small space, also including several nice images of the evolutionary predecessors to the early Panzer IV tanks.
As can be seen in the table of contents above, each major Ausfuhrung ( model ) of the Panzer IV is treated to it's own chapter. NOT covered in this volume are the various other conversions based on the Panzer IV chassis, such as the flakpanzers, bridge layers, ammo haulers, etc.
Each ausf. of the Panzer IV is treated in the same manner; with several quite informative opening paragraphs of text discussing notable features and development time-frames for the version, several pages of great images of the version covered in that chapter, and tables of detailed technical data for each version.
Image sizes vary throughout the book, from quarter page size up to full page size. Regardless of size, the photos are uniformly sharp and crisp, and evidently chosen for their interest ( I found them all of great interest ).
Above - quarter page sized images are still plenty large enough for details to made out quite easily.
A general note on the photos - these images in this volume are almost all crisp and clear, with details easily made out. There is a useful mix of period "in action" photographs and "walk around" style contemporary images taken in some of the world's most notable armor museums. The museum photographs are well composed and taken under decent lighting conditions (sometimes tough to achieve in some museums).
The (very) few less than perfect images found in this volume are of quite interesting subject matter, taken in the field in less than perfect conditions. This is quite acceptable, as a couple of mediocre photographs in this case is far preferable to no photograph at all.
A note on the Photo captions - I have been fortunate enough to have reviewed a great many reference books, and have looked with a critical eye at probably thousands of captions. In my humble opinion, David Doyle has the equivalent of a PhD in caption writing and could teach a course in it. Mr. Doyle's caption writing is just that good. Without exception, he provides as much information as he can on the photograph in question, covering very well the who's, what's, where's, and when's...even the how's if needed. Areas of special interest in the photographs are pointed out as well.
The volume's walk-around style photographs of surviving Panzer IV examples were taken in several of the world's finest armor museums; in Bovington,UK, in Munster, Germany, and Samur, France. These photographs are a great compliment to the period photos featured in the book. Areas of special interest in these photos are well covered by comprehensive captioning.
This volume is packed with Panzer IV goodness from cover to cover!
If you've read this review to this point, you'll see where this conclusion is headed.
This book is packed absolutely full of great photographs, great informative text, and wall to wall coverage of the iconic Panzer IV line from pre-war to end of World War II.
As noted above, the photographs chosen for this lead off volume of this new book series are uniformly well chosen by the author, the vast majority being bright, crisp and clear. The sort of detail sought out by modelers and vehicle aficianados alike is present and easy to make out. The mix of contemporary and period photographs is both interesting and useful.
The captioning and other text contained in this volume is comprehensive, wide ranging, and well written, with exceptionally fine photo captioning in particular.
Coupled with all of the above, the very modest price ( 19.99 USD ) of this book makes it an exceptional value for anyone with any interest at all in the Wehrmacht's workhorse tank of World War II. It will be a pleasure anticipating ( and then obtaining ) further volumes in this series!
NOTE - for a limited time, this volume is on pre-sale at www.daviddoylebooks.com for $18.00.
Highly Recommended! ( A Must Have for Panzer IV fans )
Thank you to David Doyle Books for the review copy.
Reviewed by Chuck Aleshire, AMPS Chicagoland, AMPS 1st Vice President
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