In both economic and strategic terms, the 'acquisition' of the Czech Skoda, Tatra and CKD plants following the German annexation of Czechoslovakia, was an enormous boost to the German military's production capabilities. One of the vehicles which was being produced, was the TNH - S (sometimes named as the TNH - P) , the later designation of which was the LT vz.38s - the version which was to see such impressive service in German hands under the designation PzKpfw 38 (t) Ausf 'A', the first in a long line of vehicles which was to finish with no less than 6,686 vehicles using the basic 38 (t) chassis.
The Book - in brief
Panzerkampfwagen 38(t) is written by Terry J. Gander and is the second in Ian Allen Publishing's series Tanks and Armour. The book consists of 96 pages, with a considerable number of black & white photos along with several color plates and one page of 1/35th scale plans.
The book is divided into five chapter headings which are: Development
PzKpfw 38(t) Description
About this review
In the next section, i'll attempt to evaluate each chapter and finish the review with an overall opinion about the book's value for the modeller.
The first of the five chapters - Development, covers two importand areas in the history of the vehicle, the initial history of its development and the vehicle being put into production. This, although apparently NOT of paramount importance to the modeller, does suggest one or two possible projects (a Persian 38(t)?) and has a number of excellent contemprary photos which do show some significant detail. In this chapter, appears the only plans in the entire book, a reproduction of the original TNH vehicle, which have been rescaled to 1/35th scale. Another of the projects suggested by this chapter, are photos of the LTH export version for Switzerland which was armed with a 24mm Oerlikon cannon. The most attractive aspect of this vehicle is undoubtedly the three-tone color scheme although no indications are given by the author as to what these actually were.
In the second chapter, PzKpfw 38(t) Description, the chapter is edited according to the various elements of the vehicle - Drive Train, Radio Equipment, etc. Much use is made of contemporary photos to illustrate the relevant areas and once again, some interesting photos are included of more export versions along with some excellent photos of the inside of the vehicle. One of the later sections of the book covers in some detail the different 'Ausfs' in German service (Ausf. A to Ausf S). This section is particularly useful as it does serve as a good introduction to identifying the respective vehicle variants.
Chapter 3, Armament, both the prinbcipal gun, the 3.7cm, is covered in considerable detail - not just through text, but also with a series of valuable photos of the disassembled gun - particularly noteworthy for details of the breech assembly. Also, of particular interest to the modeller, are the detail photos of the secondary armament - the Ceskoslovenska Zhvrojovaka Brno (ZB) MGs. These are again shown in excellent detail with two especially useful photos of the complete mounting.
The penultimate chapter, In Service, has two pages of explanatory text followed by six pages of VERY good photographs of the vehicle in service. A variety of different Ausfs are shown in various combat situations.
The fifth and final chapter, Variants, covers the evolution of the 38(t) chassis from 1942. The subject of this chapter are 10 pages on the Marder III, seven pages on the Grille, three pages on the Flakpanzer 38(t) the next section covers (in surprising detail), the Hetzer with no less than 21 pages devoted to this vehicle. All of the variants are covered (including the Bergepanzer 38) in some detail, with the quality of the images being the best in the book. The Bergepanzer 38 is covered in two pages, with a variety of photos including overhead views. The final three pages of the book are concerned with three variants - the post-war MP-1 flamethrower tank, the Leichter Waffenträger which mounted an 88mm gun and as a curiosity, a postwar conversion to a tracked crane... Also included within this section are a number of color plates of various vehicles (including the Persian Army TNH) which although well executed, tend to take away from the content of this chapter.
At first, I have to admit that (initially) I regretted having bought this book. However, when going through the book in some detail, it's quality and usefulness began to become apparent. There are one or two areas which made me a little doubtful. First and foremost, the lack of 1/35th, 1/48th or even 1/72nd scale plans, is something that virtually every publisher is providing nowadays. True there is ONE page of plans in 1/35th scale but as this is of an early vehicle and NOT a vehicle which is liable to be built by a modeller, it is of little, real, practical value. The second doubt (and here, I return to one of my common themes!), although many of the photos are particularly well-reproduced (re-scanned?) there are a few images which would have benefitted from a few hours work with a photo-editing program. The choices made by Terry Gander of the images used in the book, are, in my opinion, excellent. The author has chosen photos which are of ENORMOUS value to modellers - particularly the interior and armament shots. Perhaps more of these images could have been published rather than the 'in-action' shots although I would strongly suggest that this (or another) publisher does a book concentrating ENTIRELY on 'theater' photos of the 38(t) and variants in-service. On a similar theme, perhaps a book on the 38(t) and a second on its variants would have been better.
On the whole, I am happy with the book. There are a few niggles, but, on the whole, this is a well-thought out book which will serve as an excellent introduction to a complex and interesting subject. It would also be remiss of me, NOT to praise the qualty of the color plates. Of all of them, although well-documented in other books, are the `superbly executed images of the Hetzers, showing a two-tone and an 'ambush' camouflaged vehicle. For those hooked onthe Marder III, Hetzer or the 'plain-vanilla' 38(t), this book has a great deal to recommend itself.
With a number of new kits being released (or on the horizon), the 38 (t) and its variants, the more reference material available on the subject, the easier life becomes... This recent publication from Ian Allan Publishing, serves as a reasonably priced introduction to one of the most used chassis' during (and after) WWII.
About Jim Rae (jimbrae) FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA
Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...