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Reference, The Olover Group, Workhorse: Panzer III in North Africa; Battleline 1

October 9 2011 at 5:26 PM
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THE OLIVER PUBLISHING GROUP

Workhorse: Panzer III in North Africa; The Firefly Collection, Battleline 1. By: Claude Gillono, with illustrations by Dennis Oliver. Soft covers, A4 size, 32 pages, plus inside and back covers. Contains 68 B&W photos, six pages of color art (including rear cover), one line illustration, three tables, one chart, chronology and bibliography. ISBN 978-0-9806593-5-1.

The latest title from the Firefly Collection is a photographic chronicle depicting the service of the Pz.Kpfw.III in North Africa from 1941 to 1943. Following the usual format for books offered by this publisher, this title contains text, photos, color plates and tabulated data, aimed at the scale modeler. With the relatively large amount of appropriate kits of the Pz.Kpfw.III available on todays market, this booklet ought to prove to be extremely useful to modelers.

To begin with, the text describes the various battles in which the Pz.Kpfw.III, always the most numerous mittlerer Panzer in the theater, took part. Although relatively brief, the text is nevertheless informative and it clearly shows the authors familiarity with the subject. This is backed up by three annotated tables. The first details tank strength through the end of 1941, the second through the end of 1942. The third one covers tank strength after the arrival of 10.Panzer-Division and the various schwerer-Panzer-Abteilungen. This is quite useful to modelers who wish to place a specific AFV into a locale or time frame. The inside of the back cover provides a graphic organization chart for the composition of a typical Panzer-Regiment in the May 1942 time period.

Of course, this books strength and appeal lies in the archival photographs included between its covers. The majority of the images take up half of a page, allowing for close scrutiny of their markings, paint schemes and local modifications. Some images cover a full page, while several are smaller. All are well reproduced on glossy coated paper stock, with the exception of several that are on the inside front cover; the finish there is matte. The author provides extensive and very informative captions, which is something I always appreciate. I only take exception with his frequent use of the term Rommel Kisten, when describing the more properly-named Gepäckkasten (baggage bin) fitted to the back of some Pz.Kpfw.IIIs. I have my doubts about the historic authenticity of the former term; I believe it is nothing more than a modelers convenience. But, this is a mere distraction and should not in any way put off a prospective purchaser.

The second main attraction in this book is the color plates by the publisher, Dennis Oliver. Previously, modesty had prevented him from crediting himself, but after some badgering by yours truly, he has relented and listed himself as the contributing artist on the title page. This is only fair; credit where it is due!

At any rate, the color plates are extremely well-rendered and really quite inspirational; it is hoped that Bison, as they have in the past, will follow-up with a decal sheet some time soon. A total of 20 specific Pz.Kpfw.IIIs are depicted either in full profile or as smaller detail drawings when they cover a variation on a theme. In addition, there are a number of detail thumb-nail renderings showing variations in unit insignia, tactical numbers and paint schemes. Technically, the color plates are quite accurate with only one small glitch. By this time, the Ppz.Kpfw.III had its forward-most return roller moved closer to the drive sprocket; the color plates show them evenly spaced. Again, this is a small thing, but modelers are cautioned not to use these as a guide to return roller placement on their replicas.

So there you have it. This is a fine, well-researched and reasonably-priced effort, aimed directly at modelers. Students of the DAK and those with a soft spot for the Pz.Kpfw.III (like me!) will be well-served having this extremely useful reference on their shelves.

Frank V. De Sisto

Oliver Publishing Group books are available in North America from DragonUSA at: www.DragonUSAonline.com

Visit frankdesisto.com.

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