Monday 21 September 2020

Book Review: Mittlere Geländegängige Lastkraftwagen (o) - Holger Erdmann (Nuts & Bolts, 32)

I'm gradually discovering that I'm borderline obsessed with WWII German rear-echelon stuff. I especially love their trucks. So Nuts & Bolts #32, dedicated as it is to a group of German trucks, would seem made for me. Published by a German company, the title is rather verbose and unwieldy, as indeed the German language itself so often seems to be: Mittlere Geländegängige Lastkraftwagen (o), The medium cross-country lorries 3 ton (6x4) of the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht. What a mouthful! I can imagine an American version being titled 3-ton Trucks of the Wehrmacht, or something equally pithy and to the point.

I'm illustrating my review with sample pages from the publisher's website

I bought this rather costly but very nicely produced tome - as well as being very well printed on good paper it's also satisfyingly thick and weighty - at a model show in Folkestone, several years ago now. Since buying it, I've enjoyed numerous episodes of slavering over the huge array of contemporary photos, ranging from the 1920s to wars' end. And as well as plenty of black and white archival imagery, there are scale line-diagrams, colour profiles, plentiful colour-photographs of surviving vehicles in great detail, and several model builds. A real treasure trove!

Some of the photographic material is stunning.

The bilingual body text and captions are in English and German. I found the textual content pretty heavy going. It's incredibly detailed, and not always couched in prose of the finest clarity (this might in part be due to translation issues). Indeed, the body text is so arduous I've only dipped into it thus far.  

If the main text can be challenging, the photographic captions are where, for me, things occasionally become note-worthily poor. It's rare that the year or exact location of a photo is given, and sometimes the associated captions comment on some tiny detail whilst ignoring other more fundamental or interesting aspects of the image. Personally I think that all the archival images in such a book should give both date and location info (or a best guess), as a matter of course. 

Scale diagrams are useful. 

As are the excellent colour profiles.

And in a similar vein, the way the model builds appear (one is thrown straight in on the inside cover, for example, part way through and with no contextualising info at all), combined with the lack of clear signposting re the scale or the name of the manufacturer of the core kit, seems remarkable. And, until now, I haven't even mentioned the total lack of either a glossary or index. These publications exist in a hinterland between books, where such things are more normal, and magazines, where they aren't. But as this is clearly a reference work, they would make it a far better one, if included. So, for me there are a few issues that, if addressed, could markedly improve this book. 

Surviving examples are sumptuously illustrated.

Several models of these vehicles are built and illustrated.

Nevertheless, this is still a terrific resource, and a very welcome reference work for the wargamer, modeller or WWII materiel buff. I hope they do more publications on similar subjects. I'd certainly like to acquire their titles on Maultiers and RSOs. But, as great as this is, there's certainly still room for improvement. 

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