Reference, Firefly Collection, To the Last Bullet, Germany’s War on 3 Fronts, Part 1, the
July 3 2010 at 12:24 PM
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To the Last Bullet, Germanys War on 3 Fronts, Part 1, the East. In Color 1, The Oliver Publishing Group. By Dennis Oliver. Soft covers, 8.25 x 11.75-inches, 35 pages. Contains eight B&W archival images, 74 full-color AFV profiles, numerous additional thumbnails, two maps, one organization chart, one order-of-battle chart, two vehicle availability charts and bibliography. ISBN 978-0-9806593-4-4.
This latest title from the prolific Dennis Oliver is rather unusual in its approach. Rather than being filled from cover-to-cover with contemporary photographs, complimented by a relatively small section of color plates, it is just the opposite. The content includes only eight archival images, a few of which are familiar, but there are over six dozen color plates and many smaller thumbnail renderings.
An introductory text describing the last year of the war on the Ostfront is included, complimented by several maps and various charts. The charts give information on AFV availability in May of 1944 and March of 1945, while the two maps show a general layout of the battlefronts in June of 1944 and April of 1945. An order-of-battle chart details a Panzer-Division 1944, and is complimented by an illustrated organization chart of a 1944 Panzer-Regiment. These compliment the text and the color plates rather well, providing the broader picture in a statistical format.
The color plates are the center of attraction in this slim book, so the bulk of this report will concentrate on them. The vehicles depicted are all late-war types, with a smattering of earlier types, as well as a few Beutepanzer (captured, or booty tanks. The following types are depicted:
Sturmgeschütz III: one Ausf.C, two Sturmhaubitze Ausf.Gs and eight Ausf.Gs.
Pz.Kpfw.III: one Ausf.L and one Ausf.N.
Sturmgeschütz IV: two.
Jagdpanzer IV: one L/48 and one L/70 (V).
Flakpanzer IV Wirblewind: one.
Pz.Kpfw.IV: four Ausf.Hs, two Ausf.Js, one Beobachtungspanzer and one emplaced turret.
Panther: two Ausf.Ds, six Ausf.As, 18 Ausf.Gs and four Pantherturm emplaced turrets.
Tiger I: one early, three middle and three late production versions.
Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.D: two /1s, one /3, one /7, three /9s, one /21 and one /22.
One captured M4A2 75mm and one captured T48 57mm GMC.
One thumbnail rendering of a Grille 15cm s.IG33.
So, as you can see, there is a wide variety of AFV models and sub-types; this should be very appealing to modelers who like to replicate a large number of variations on a particular vehicle. Personally, I find the plates of the mittlerer Schützenpanzerwagen Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.D to be quite inspirational, especially since there are current and older kits of all of these half-tracks available in my chosen modeling scale, 1/35th. The markings on all of them are really quite colorful, especially when it comes to unit insignia. The follow-ups for variety are the various Panthers and Pz.Kpfw.IVs. The remainder of the vehicles that are covered are also quite colorful, which is (naturally), why they are included here in the first place. One would hope that a companion water-slide decal sheet will soon be available from Bison; that would really be icing on the cake!
The renderings, by Mr. Oliver, are clean, with fine interpretations of the camouflage colors and patterns. In most cases they are technically very, very accurate, the exceptions being the incorrect spacing of the return rollers on the drawings of the StuG.IIIs. The majority of the AFVs covered are given as a single complete side profile view, while a few are rendered as bow and stern views. Many have perspective thumb-nail views accompanying the main rendering, and nearly every page has one or several insignia renderings showing details that may be missed on the main profiles.
The captions are extensive and often tell something about the unit; they do not simply describe what the reader can see for himself, although they, of course, do that as well (and rightly so). I noted a slight glitch in the description of the Beobactungspanzer IV; it is labeled as a Befehlspanzer in its title, but is properly described within the accompanying commentary. So, chalk this one up to a minor editing error.
The few photos included are nevertheless quite interesting. Three are seen in several publications (including some of my own), while the remainder are new to me. Perhaps the most interesting one is that which depicts a Luftwaffe FlaK crew huddled about their deployed 3.7cm FlaK36/37. The next most interesting pair depicts various Sd.Kfz.251 Ausf.Ds, one of which clearly shows some nifty markings. Reproduction of these images is well-done, of course depending on the quality of the originals, and captions are extensive.
There is an extensive bibliography at the beginning of the book, which lists all of the publications and some web-sites from which photos were used to create the color plates. This section could do with a small bit of improvement, however. For instance, only authors names and book titles are given, but no publisher. This may make it difficult to search for these as reference back-up for the authors color plates. In addition, it would greatly facilitate the same if the page number where a specific image was found was also listed somewhere within the individual commentaries. Perhaps Mr. Oliver, with whom I am in regular contact, will consider these points when creating future editions in this series.
Regardless of these small glitches, this book is certainly a worthwhile addition to the reference library. The format is quite unique, and after the modeler gets over his shock at the apparent lack of photographs, I think this series will gain wide acceptance.
Frank V. De Sisto
Note: Since May of 2005, I have been writing books for Concord Publications, a sister company to DragonUSA, the North American distributor of Firefly Collection publications. The reader may wish to take this into consideration. For my part, I will attempt to maintain an objective viewpoint when writing these reports.
For more information, see the publishers web-site at: www.oliverpublishinggroup.com. Firefly Collection books are also available in North America from DragonUSA, at: www.dragonusaonline.com.