|JENTZ & AUERBACH - Sd.Kfz. for the Nebeltruppen|
A look at the first in a new series from the publishers of Panzerwrecks...
Sd.Kfz. for the Nebeltruppen
Authors: Thomas L. Jentz and William Auerbach
Softcover; A4, 100 pages
This is the first title in a new series examining from mainly a photographic perspective, the role and organisation of special purpose vehicles within the German Army during WWII.
The book purports to examine how the Germans organised and used special purpose vehicles or Sonderkraftfahrzeuge (SdKfz.) during the war. It could end up being quite a long series. This first in the series begins with a look at the vehicles used by the Nebeltruppen or 'Chemical Troops'. Initially charged with defeating those chemical weapons deployed by the enemy, and tactical use of their own chemical weapons, their role was quickly changed to the one of transporting, deployment and support of Nebelwerfer in 1940, when the expected use of chemical weapons never materialised.
Although mainly photographic in nature, there is nevertheless a large amount of textual information contained with this title, beginning with the introduction, and then quickly followed by a section showing the information on the Tactical Doctrine for Nebeltruppen, as laid out in a secret pamphlet issued to these troops originally issued in February 1942. Interestingly, this section describes the German viewpoint on various practises such as the use of poison gas. This is quite a lengthy section for a book of this sort, although broken up by some pages of photographs, it continues with eight pages of organisational tables.
The period black and white photographs that make up the bulk of the book, over eighty of them, are mostly reprinted one to a page, with informative captions describing which version of the Sd.Kfz.11 or 10 we're being shown, along with any other pertinent information. For some reason, all the captions are in large, bold print? I would have preferred this space to be used by either more information, if there was any, or slightly larger reproductions of the photographs.
The photographs themselves are not always crystal clear, wonderfully contrasted images, but instead are shown because of the nature of their subject matter. As the authors point out, these are actual photographs taken by the men on the ground using these vehicles during World War II, and photographic quality was probably not at the forefront of their mind at the time of taking them. Having said that, some of the detail shown by these photographs is quite remarkable given their age and the conditions under which they were originally made.
As the first of a new series, this first title may just herald the beginning of what should become a major series. There's certainly no shortage of subject matter, almost all German vehicles being issued with the Sd.Kfz. appellation. The content balance is just about right for any but the serious researcher, the overwhelming portion of the book being photographic in nature and therefore likely to become one of those titles you'll pick up again and again, each time finding something you never noticed during an earlier visit. Highly recommended.
My thanks to Lee Archer of Panzerwrecks for the review sample.