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Book Review
Downfall 1945
Downfall 1945 The Fall of Hitler's Third Reich
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:

Downfall 1945 The Fall of Hitler's Third Reich by Osprey Publishing LTD recounts the Allied offensive against Germany in the last 3 months of the war. The 96-page book is catalogued as Campaign 293 (CAM 293) and has the ISBN 9781472811431. The book is written by historian and modeler Steven J. Zaloga, and illustrated by Steve Noon.
    As the final month of fighting in Europe in 1945 dawned the Allies embarked upon a series of mopping up operations, destroying the last centres of German resistance as the essentially defeated Wehrmacht fought on in increasingly desperate conditions, driven on by the explicit no surrender order issued by Hitler.

    Yet at the same time, the Allied alliance was already on shaky ground, as German resistance was crushed the Allies began to eye each other nervously across a battletorn Europe, with the politically driven military decisions to have a huge impact on the future of the continent. This book traces the final operations of the war, from the liberation of Denmark, the Allied drive towards the Baltic straits, incursions in Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and engagements in Eastern and Western Germany, whilst also analyzing how the Allied strategies in the final days of the war were a hint of the future difficulties that would drive the Cold War.
    - Osprey

Downfall 1945 is delivered through 11 chapters and sections in 96 pages:
    Opposing commanders
    Opposing armies
    Opposing plans
    The campaign
    The campaign in perspective
    The battlefield today
    Further reading

The content covers January 12, 1945, to the end of the war with the Soviets. Mr. Zaloga wrote this book in a manner that is easy to read and interesting to follow. He does a good job of blending tactical and grand strategies with the considerations of the politicians and generals. If you are looking for text relating small unit actions, this book is not for you.

A great deal of information and data that helps put in perspective the decisions made in the headquarters is presented. Even personality clashes between generals. Mr. Zaloga includes tables showing personnel and tank strengths (by tank types, including losses) of the four forces - American, British, German and Russian. Forces committed and lost, and Germans captured, are included. The fierceness of the fighting in the last months of the war are presented with hard and estimated numbers showing that the final couple of months devoured men and material at exponential rate.

The Campaign is recounted in three main sections for the Americans, British and Soviets. It focuses on battles like the Ruhr, Seelow Heights, the UK's northern Germany campaign, and the liberation of Prague. Allied apprehension about the National Redoubt and Allied counters against it are discussed.

To assist readers in understanding symbols and abbreviations, the beginning of the book offers a glossary and a key to military symbols.

Photos and art
Modelers will find a gallery of fascinating photographs. There are at least a dozen images that have inspired diorama concepts in me. Many photos have been around as long as I can recall, yet there are many that are new to me. Four photos are color, including one exceptionally good study of late war German three-color camouflage taken with high quality American film. Artist Steve Noon's artwork is, as usual, extraordinary.

Graphics include:
    1. The final campaign in Germany, April-May 1945, with five FEBAs.

    2. Seventh Army G-2 assessment from March 25, 1945, about the "Nationa; Redoubt" (color photo).

    3. THE REDUCTION OF THE RUHR POCKET, April 1-18, 1945: bird's-eye map with 15 events; 20 German units; 15 Allied units.

    4. Advance to the Elbe, April 1945.

    5. Seelow Heights battle map.

    6. BREAKTHROUGH ON THE SEELOW HEIGHTS, April 16-17, 1945: bird's-eye map with 22 events; 17 German units; 17 Soviet units.

    7. Advance on Berlin, April 16-25, 1945.

    8. THE BATTLE FOR BERLIN, April 26-May 2, 1945: keyed with 13 events; 26 Red Army units; 19 Nazi units.

    9. Advance in the north, April-May 1945.

    10. Advance in the sorth, April 24-May 11, 1945.

    1. Delivery of German AFVs by theater, by East/West theaters, Total, five periods.

    2. German tank and AFV operational strength, April 10, 1945.

    3. German divisional strength, east and west, 1945: 13 theaters; six dates.

    4. German Army casualties 1945: Russian/Balkan/Western/Italian Fronts; Killed/Wounded/Missing; January-April.

    5. Red Army order of battle, deployed forces, May 1, 1945.

    6. Allied strength in the Borthwest Europe Campaign, April 30, 1945: Army/Air Force/Total for USA/UK/France/Other Allies.

    7. British tank strength in NW Europe 1945: Jan. and May 1945; tank types.

    8. US Army ETO tank and AFV strength 1945: Jan-May by types.

    9. German 9.Armee strength, April 16, 1945.

    10. German operational Panzer strength on the Berlin Front, April 10, 1945.

    11. Soviet tank and AFV casualties, 1st Belorussian Front: April 14-20 by destroyed/knocked out/other/total.

    12. Soviet casualties in the Berlin operation, April 16-May 8 1945.

    13. German casualties in the Berlin operation, April 16-May 9 1945.

    14. red Army casualties in 1945 by campaign.

    1. Centerfold - ATTACK ON THE SEELOW HEIGHTS, April 16, 1945: soldier-eye view between IS-2s and artillery fire.

    2. Centerfold - ROBOT FLYING BOMBS OVER THE ODER, April 1945: FW 190/Ju 188 Mistels.

    3. Centerfold - LAST OF THE KINGTIGERS: BERLIN, MAY 1945.

Those graphics great enhance the text and put the forces and losses in perspective.

Downfall 1945 The Fall of Hitler's Third Reich was easy to read considering I am not usually drawn to macro campaign overviews. Yet Mr. Zaloga did a neat job of weaving the campaigns of the Americans, British and Russians together through the overall collapse of the Third Reich. The dozens of maps and tables help put the text into perspective.

The superb artwork by Mr. Noon is a special treat. The photographic support is wonderful; if modelers can't be inspired by this gallery of images, it will be shocking.

I have no real complaints about this book. Modellers and historians and enthusiasts of the final months of the Third Reich should value this book. I recommend it.

Please remember to tell vendors and retailers that you saw this book here - on ARMORAMA.
Highs: Excellent selection of photographs and artwork. Excellent data.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: Modellers and historians and enthusiasts of the final months of the Third Reich should value this book.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: 9781472811431
  Suggested Retail: $24
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 05, 2016

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. All rights reserved.


If you ever get a chance to watch the movie of the same name,it is great.This book does look to be interesting though.
AUG 05, 2016 - 08:23 AM
Fred, great review! You've convinced me...I'm buying it!
AUG 08, 2016 - 11:25 AM
Sounds like a must have!
AUG 10, 2016 - 12:19 PM

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