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STRATUS/ MUSHROOM MODEL PUBLICATIONS
Green Series 4110, 9.Panzer-Division 1940-1943. By Marek Kruk and Radoslaw Szewczyk, with illustrations by Thierry Vallet. Soft covers, A4-size, 144 pages. Contains 156 B&W photographs, 14 pages of color plates, 12 general arrangement line drawings, five maps, four organization charts, one Order-of-Battle chart, appendices and bibliography. ISBN 978-83-61421-29-0.
In early 1940, the 4.leichter-Division, a veteran of the 1939 Polish Campaign, was re-formed as the 9.Panzer-Division. This division went on to fight in France (where it traveled further than any other Panzer-Division), in Yugoslavia and Greece and then on the Ostfront, where in 1943 it participated in the titanic clash of armor during the failed Kursk offensive. Following Kursk, the division was used in typical Fire Brigade fashion in reaction to various Red Army thrusts and by 1944 it was sent west to rest and re-fit. After the Allied invasion of France in the summer of 1944, the 9.Panzer-Division fought in the west until the wars end, surrendering in the Ruhr Pocket in 1945. As a result of these actions, 56 members of the division were awarded the Knights Cross to the Iron Cross, the second highest number after the 84 awarded to 4.Panzer-Division.
So, to say the 9.Panzer-Division was in the thick of things may actually be an understatement.
The text details the units formative years, but does not cover its parent unit, the 4.leichter-Divisions exploits during the Polish Campaign. As the sub-title suggests, coverage begins with the French Campaign and ends just after Kursk. The divisions actions in the west after the invasion of 1944 are merely suggested in one paragraph. What coverage that is given is detailed and well-done. The campaigns covered include France, 1940; Yugoslavia and Greece, 1941; Barbarossa, 1941; Operation Blau, 1941-42; Operation Wirblewind, 1942-43, and, finally, Operation Zitadelle (Kursk) in the summer of 1943.
Interspersed within the text are organization charts for May 1940, June 1942, October 1942 and July 1943; these provide a snap-shot of the sub-units at these specific times. Where charts are not given, for instance at the beginning of the Balkans Campaign and Operation Barbarossa, the text gives up-dates in unit strength and structure. In addition, the appendices include a list providing the names of divisional and sub-unit commanders, as well as a table showing what higher commands the division was assigned to, as well as where and when employed. The extensive bibliography included covers published articles, books and related web-sites.
This is all very comprehensive and I came away with a good understanding of the trials and tribulations of the division.
The photographic content of the book is really very fine. The authors have gone to great lengths to ensure the proper illustrations are used in the proper place and time. All sorts of AFVs and military vehicles are covered, including those of the divisions antagonists. Aircraft as well as locales are depicted, as are the men involved in the actions. Captions are for the most part informative and the photo reproduction, on glossy, coated paper stock is very good. Throughout the book several line drawings are presented, depicting several AFVs as used by the division. They are nice, but they add little to the story and two of them (both on page 31) are misidentified. Several maps are spread throughout and these are quite helpful in placing the divisions locations as well as showing just how far and how often the 9th was moved from place-to-place.
The final graphic bits are the color plates, by Mr. Vallet. They are well-rendered and accurately designated, except as listed below. They depict a total of 14 tanks and other AFVs to include the following: Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.D, 1940 (overall Dunkelgrau, when it should also have Dunkelbraun as a factory-finished camouflage pattern); Sd.Kfz.222, 1941; Sd.Kfz.250/1 Ausf.A, 1943; Sd.Kfz.251/1 Ausf.B, 1941; Sd.Kfz.231, 1943; Pz.Kpfw.II Ausf.C, 1941; Marder III Ausf.H, 1943; Bef.Pz.III Ausf.H, 1942; Bef.Pz.III Ausf.E, 1941; Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.F, 1941; Beobachtungs-Panzer III Ausf.G, 1943 (misidentified as a Befehls-Panzer); Bef.Pz.III Ausf.E, 1943; Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.H, 1943 and Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.L, 1943. Overall, these are quite useful and with the exceptions noted, can be used as references to paint and mark a model.
From the point of view of a student of history, this book gets high marks. The story is well-told and has loads of detail. Modelers seeking subject material will appreciate the photographic content as well as the color plates that are included in this well-balanced presentation.
Frank V. De Sisto
Stratus/ Mushroom Model Publications books are available in North America from Casemate Publishing at: www.casematepublishing.com.