“Panzers in the Sand” is Volume 1 of the history of Panzer-Regiment 5, and covers the period 1935 – 1941. The book is produced by Stackpole Publishing and written by Bernd Hartmann. Originally produced in German, the entire book has been translated into English, and the translation is excellent.
About the book
The book consists of 298 pages in six chapters. Included are 386 black and white photographs and 49 maps, diagrams, and various tables. There are photographs scattered throughout the text, with the bulk of the photographs included at the end of each chapter in a two or three to a page format for up to 15 pages in each instance.
The foreword is written by the author, who is the spokesman for the Veteran’s Association of Former Panzer-Regiment 5. A word of introduction has also been included by a former battalion commander from Panzer-Regiment 5.
Chapter One (39 pages) deals with the period after World War 1 up to the formal creation of the regiment as part of Panzer-Division 3 on 15 October 1935. This period includes the secret training carried out in Russia at several locations, and the introduction of the Panzer 1 (Ausf A and B) and the eventual move of the regiment into garrison at Wunsdorf.
The photos cover training exercises mainly with Panzer Is, and a lot of detail of ceremonies and the garrison at Wunsdorf.
Chapter Two (61 pages) covers the period from 1936 until the end of August 1939 and deals in detail with the development of tactics. Also covered is the introduction of Panzers II, III and IV during this period, Some units of the regiment served in the Spanish Civil War, which is covered briefly.
Photos of this period are mainly of training exercises, with numerous good clear shots of early versions of all marks of Panzers I to IV.
Chapter Three (25 pages) is devoted to the service of the regiment in the Polish campaign of 1939, during which the regiment suffered its first battle casualties and learned the strengths and weaknesses of their vehicles, small though they were against the inadequately equipped Poles.
This chapter’s photos show some good action shots from the Polish campaign, including some that show that the German tanks were not always winners.
Chapter Four (43 pages) deals with the regiment’s service in France, where they found that while their tanks had been very effective against the Poles, the same could not be said for the British and French forces, particularly the Matildas. This resulted in a number of requests for modifications to the tanks.
The photos in this section are again very crisp and clear, covering the French campaign, with a couple of photos which would make the basis for dioramas.
Chapter Five (20 pages) covers the early days of the regiment’s service in North Africa, where it was one of the first units to arrive and formed part of 5 Light Division. This chapter’s photos are mainly of the regiment’s transport to North Africa, including one very good one of a Panzer II on guard duty aboard ship.
Chapter Six (98 pages), the final chapter, is devoted to the period up until the end of 1941 and the Battleaxe battles around Tobruk. It is this chapter that contains the most detail, with very clear maps and tables of organization and equipment.
The photographs are very interesting and cover the early battles in Cyrenaica, with good clear shots of damaged and destroyed tanks both Allied and Axis, and some fascinating shots of life for the panzer crews in the desert. I particularly liked one shot of a Panzer III crew member who has managed to sling a hammock alongside his tank – the photo is just made for creation of a diorama!
In summary, this is an easy to read publication, containing a large number of excellent illustrations, the great majority of which I have never seen before.
Highs: Excellent illustrations including many that I had not seen before and numerous diorama possibilities. Good clear text. No obvious spelling, grammar, punctuation or typographical errors.Lows: None that immediately spring to mind.Verdict: Highly recommended – I look forward to Volume 2.
About Rob Williams (wedgetail53) FROM: QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
I've been modelling in total for about 45 years (yes, I'm ancient) and concentrate these days mostly on mid to late war German, British and American armour, although I'm not averse to an occasonal artillery piece or even a softskin.
I'm a member of AMMS Brisbane, and editor of the newsletter, wh...