Allied-Axis, Issue 20. With articles by Jeff Kleinhenz, John Prigent, Pat Stansell and David Doyle. Soft covers, 8.5 x 11-inches, landscape format, 96 pages. Contains 149 B&W photographs. No ISBN.
This latest issue of “The Photo Journal of the Second World War” contains four photo-essays, evenly divided between (surprisingly enough), the Allied and Axis belligerents of World War Two. Furthermore, the vehicle and ordnance types depicted offer some variety as they cover the German RSO tractor and 3.7cm Flakzwilling43 anti-aircraft gun, the French Char 2C heavy tank and various US Army four- and five-ton tractor trailers; there’s something for everyone between these covers.
The first piece is by Mr. Kleinhenz and is entitled, “Raupenschlepper Ost: Tractor for the East”. It contains a total of 39 B&W photographs, with more than half of them from archival sources; the remainder depicts a restored vehicle held in a museum collection. Typically for this series, all of the archival images are printed one to a page, allowing for a clear view of many details. Especially interesting are the unit markings (unfortunately not explained in any way) seen on vehicles in several photos. The original RSO/1 with enclosed cab is shown as is the austere RSO/2 (or 3) and the low-profile 7.5cm PaK40-armed version. Several types of ordnance are seen in tow, including the 7.5cm PaK40, 10.5cm l.FH18 and 12cm Gr.W.42. Large two-axle trailers derived from the horse-drawn Hf.2 (with pneumatic tires for motorized hauling) are also shown. Essentially, the coverage is relatively wide, especially when the article format is considered. These archival images are backed-up by detail “walk-around” photos of the RSO/1 held by the Auto und Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany; the latter depict pertinent external items with further emphases on the cab and engine compartment interiors.
Next up is, “Char Lourds FCM 2C”, by none other than ML moderator John Prigent. Coming from his personal archives, we are treated to a sequence of photographs taken by German troops during the 1940 French Campaign. The images depict two train-loads of these 72-ton giants that had been stopped in their tracks (sorry; couldn’t resist!) by enemy activity; the crews then scuttled their tanks and the resulting scene provided a backdrop for curious Germans on their way to the front. Photos show various details of the tanks as well as the damage done by the scuttling charges and the odd gun-fire penetrations from passing German gunners who thought they’d see if “anybody was home”. The tank’s original French colors and markings are shown and discussed, as are the graffiti “tags” (to use a current term) applied by passing Germans. Again, nearly all of the 15 photos in the article are printed one to a page.
This is followed by Pat Stansell showing and describing the relatively rare “3.7cm Flakzwilling 43”, using a dozen heretofore unseen contemporary photographs. These are pure gold as there is very little generally available on this unusual piece, which had two guns on a single mount, one above the other. The images show a single gun during a training session in near “walk-around” fashion, with several overall views taking up a single page each, as well as a number of detail images.
The final article takes up almost the entire second half of the issue. Coming from David Doyle, it depicts the “Autocar, Federal and White 4-5-ton 4x4 Tractors: Powering the Mainline to the Frontline”. These articulated tractor/trailer combinations provided the US Army’s Quartermaster Corps with the means to haul bulk items in stake as well as fuel tanker trailers. Flat-bed trailers for hauling large pieces of equipment and enclosed van bodies are also shown. The archival photos show the tractors in factory yard condition, as well as in use in several operational theaters, while a series of walk around photos depict two vehicles, a White or Autocar (your guess is as good as mine, since the author ain’t telling!) and a Federal, in private hands at recent military vehicle rallies.
The overall appearance of the articles in this issue includes well-reproduced photographs usually with often (but unfortunately, not always) informative captions. Reference sources are also provided, should the interested reader wish to delve further into the subjects at hand. The RSO, Char 2C and 3.7cm Flakzwilling pieces contain brief introductions; the tractor/trailer article also has an intro, but it is “disguised” as several disconnected captions spread out over the first five photos. As a result, those images do not have any tailored captions. I suppose this segment is the weakest part of this entire issue since such things as the (admittedly subtle) physical differences between the Autocar and the very similar White are not elaborated upon, nor are any of the various trailers given any designation; certainly, such basic information should be at the heart of such a treatment.
In the final analysis, this latest issue will certainly be of use to modelers of the various Italeri RSO kits as well as any resin kits that might be available for the other subjects depicted between the covers. But, it should behoove the editor or publisher to tighten the reins a bit so that what is a fine product can become an excellent one.
Frank V. Curly Stooge De Sisto
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