Almost all books in Tankograd’s “Militaerfahrzeug Spezial” series are devoted to descriptions of vehicles used by the Bundeswehr from its creation in 1956 till today and reviewed volume is one of them. It covers the history of development and service of tank destroyer vehicles in the modern German Army.
“Tank Destroyers Gun / Missile of the Modern German Army” by Peter Blume is a bilingual German/English publication, printed on high quality semi-gloss paper in approximately A4 size. The book contains 64 pages with 51 color and 60 black and white photographs plus two diagrams showing the structure of Bundeswehr tank destroyer units. All text in the book, including photo captions is printed in two languages. The quality of photos varies from decent to very good, with the majority being above average.
There are ten chapters in the book, some of them further divided into sub-chapters:
- “Tank Destroyers Gun / Missiles of the Modern German Army” – this chapter contains short introduction to the history of the Bundeswehr and the use of tank destroyer vehicles by German Army, including some references to the tradition of use of such weapons during WW2.
- “Tank Destroyer, Gun, Kanonenjagdpanzer HS 30 (Jagdpanzer 1-3)” – the chapter covers the history of development of the first, rather unsuccessful Bundeswehr tank destroyer based on HS 30 AFV. It includes three b&w photos.
- “Tank Destroyer, Gun, Kanonenjagdpanzer 4-5” – in three sub-chapters this chapter covers in detail the development and service history and technical description of the first successful post-WW2 German tank destroyer design. Mentioned is also a fate that met some of them when their service life ended in the early 1980s, i.e. conversion to Jaguar 2 vehicles or Beobachtungspanzer (Observation Tanks) or Beobachtungs-/Fuehrungspanzer (Observation / Command Tanks). Included in the chapter are 22 b&w and 9 color photographs, including a few pictures of vehicles converted to observation tanks.
- “Tank Destroyer, Missile, Raketenjagdpanzer 1 HS 30 (Jagdpanzer, Rakete, JPz 3-3)” – the chapter provides a description of the first German anti-tank missile armed tank destroyer, also based on HS 30 AFV. There are eight black and white photos included.
Next three chapters:
- “Tank Destroyer, Missile, Raketenjagdpanzer 2”,
- “Tank Destroyer, Missile, Raketenjagdpanzer JAGUAR 1”,
- “Tank Destroyer, Missile, Raketenjagdpanzer JAGUAR 2”,
on 29 pages filled with text and a lot of b&w and color photos cover the history of development, Bundeswehr service and technical specifications of three missile armed tanks destroyers based on the chassis of Kanonenjagdpanzer 4-5. With the continuous improvements of anti-tank missiles it was necessary to modernize tank destroyers with newer weapons systems: from French SS 11 missiles in Raketenjagdpanzer 2, through HOT in JAGUAR 1, to TOW in JAGUAR 2. At the same time other components of the vehicle, like armor protection, were also upgraded. The book covers these changes in detail.
- “Tank Destroyers in Army Service” – the chapter in detail covers the structure (and its changes) of Bundeswehr units that employed tank destroyers. At the end of this chapter included is also a table with technical specifications of four tank destroyers (HS 30 based vehicles are not covered).
Although the book title suggests that it only covers Bundeswehr experience with tank destroyers, there are also two chapters included that provide basic information on the service of some of these vehicles with Belgian and Austrian Armies (purchased by these two armies from Bundeswehr surplus stocks):
- “Tank Destroyer, Gun, in Belgian Army Service”
- “Jaguar 1 / 2, Tank Destroyers, Missiles, in Austrian Army Service”
While the book provides excellent in depth coverage of development and technical description of German tank destroyers, in my opinion it lacks some information on practical use of them by troops. And I don’t mean the very dry information on unit structures provided in one of the chapters. While none of these vehicles were ever used in real combat, they participated in many NATO exercises, including large REFORGER maneuvers and it would be interesting to find out how German tank destroyers fared in them.
I must admit that one thing in the book annoyed me a lot when I was reading the English text. For a reason known only to him, the translator (Mr. Jochen Volert, the owner of Tankograd himself) decided to use the full official NATO English name every time the vehicle was mentioned in the text... Even when the original German text author used only the short version, like “Raketenjagdpanzer 1” or “Jagdpanzer HS 30”, in the English text we find “Raketenjagdpanzer 1 HS 30 (Jagdpanzer, Rakete, JPz 3-3, Tank Destroyer, Missile” and “Kanonenjagdpanzer HS 30 (Jagdpanzer 1-3) Tank Destroyer, Gun”. Every time – sometimes a few times in one short paragraph! This certainly does not help in easy reading the text and in a way suggests that English text readers, unlike their German equivalents, wouldn’t be smart enough to understand which vehicle the author is describing.
The usefulness of the book for modelers is limited by the fact that no plastic model kits in most popular armor modeling 1/35 scale exist of featured vehicles. Available resin kits are very expensive and require higher level of modeling skills. But the book should prove very interesting for people with interest in modern German Army and tank destroyers in general.
Highs: In depth coverage of development history of vehicles. Large number and good quality of photos.Lows: Annoying way of using vehicle names in the text. The lack of information about practical experiences of crews and effectiveness of vehicles during combat excercises.Verdict: The book should prove very interesting for people with interest in modern German Army and tank destroyers in general, although its use for modelers is limited because of lack of plastic kits.
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About Pawel Krupowicz (Vodnik) FROM: WARSZAWA, POLAND
As first lines of this bio appear under all my reviews, I feel it is important that I start with this information: In March 2005 I ventured into the other side of modeling "industry" - I was not only building model kits, but also helping design them as a consultant for Dragon Models Ltd.. These days...