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Book Review
Panzerhaubitzen der Bundeswehr
'Panzerhaubitzen der Bundeswehr' M7-M52-M44-M55-M109 Modern German Armored Self Propelled Howitzers
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by: Rob Harvey [ AFV_ROB ]


Originally published on:
Armorama

Introduction

The second world war saw the first serious effort, particularly by Germany and the USA, to mechanize their artillery pieces into self propelled guns and howitzers. The key characteristics adopted by both armies where artillery pieces mounted on existing tank chassis with armoured hulls and an open topped fighting compartment (one of the main drawbacks of these early designs). After WW2 most NATO armies disbanded many of their towed artillery pieces in favour of self-propelled systems, while the Soviet Union took some years to reach such a level and up till the 1970’s still relied heavily on towed artillery.

The post-war Germany army, or Bundeswehr, relied entirely on SPH’s purchased from the US, with the first such vehicle to enter service with the German Corps of Artillery being the M 7 B 2 Priest 105mm SPH. This was followed by the M44, M52, M55 and finally M109, with several of these vehicles in use at the same time until all were totally replaced by the M109 in 1964. The Bundeswehr carried out a number of modifications to the vehicles it received, particularly the M109, with the final M109 A3 G being fitted with new tracks, gun tube, smoke dischargers, increased ammo storage, and a revised breech among other features.

In 2007, following extensive defence budget cuts and reduction of size of the German Corp of Artillery, the last M109’s were withdrawn from active service signalling the end of an era for German artillery. Going into the future German artillery units will be equipped entirely with the German designed and manufactured Panzerhaubitze 2000 (Militar Fahrzeug Special No. 5025) an SPH which has already gained a reputation as being one of the best designs in the world.

*A note about designations: In German Panzerhaubitze defines a self-propelled artillery piece mounted in an armoured superstructure, and thus does not include vehicles such as the M110 SPH which lack armor protection. To prevent confusion the publication uses the term ‘armoured self-propelled howitzer’ throughout.

Tankograd Publishing’s Militar Fahrzeug Special 5000 series focuses on Bundeswehr related military vehicles and equipments.
This latest book in the series takes a look at modern German self propelled howitzers-the M7, M52, M44, M55 and M109, and provides a detailed account of each vehicle along with extensive photographic reference as well as written information, spanning over 72 pages. It’s a subject rarely covered in book form before and is therefore a welcome release from the company leading the way in military vehicle reference material.

Review

Written by Peter Blume who has previously authored other Tankograd titles including ‘Panzertruppe 2010’ and ‘U.S. Army German 1945-1969’, this latest 5000 series title focuses on the Bundeswehr’s five main armoured self-propelled howitzers in service from the end of the second world war, up to the first decade of the new millennium- The M7, M52, M44, M55 and M109. As mentioned in my note about designations above, the vehicles examined in this book are all characterised by their armoured fighting compartments. Hopefully though, Tankograd will produce a publication examining other artillery pieces such as the M107 and M110 at a later date.

The book follows the standard Tankograd format with complete dual German and English text and captions, and is as always, written to a very high standard, free from any errors as far as I could tell. At 72 pages there’s a lot of material and it’s the pictures and detailed text which makes these books a truly invaluable source and easily the best vehicle reference publications currently on the market.

The first page is given over to a brief introduction providing general background information and historical context. Then the book is broken down into six different sections or chapters with each one covering the specific vehicle in historical order; M 7 through to M 109 A3 G. I will list each section now with brief details on extent of written information and the number of photographs and drawings in each section. Please bear in mind that each page of text has German text on the left column and English on the right. The written part of each section is further broken down into sub categories consisting of a brief intro, ‘Development’, ‘Technical description’ and ‘German Army Service’.

M 7:
•1 and a half pages of written text
•8 Technical manual graphics of M7B1 (presumably lifted from Tankograd Technical Manual 6007 M7 Priest)
•2 Black and white standard interior shots
•9 Black and white photographs of M7B2’s in German service
•5 Colour photos of a preserved B2’s in Germany

M 52:
•1 and a half pages of written text
•8 Technical manual graphics
•12 Black and white photographs of vehicle in German service
•1 Colour photo of preserved vehicle in Germany

M 44:
•1 and a half pages of written text
•12 Technical manual graphics
•13 Black and white photographs of vehicle in German service
•3 Colour photos of preserved vehicle in Germany

There is an error on page 32, a photo of an M 55 has made its way incorrectly into this section, so technically there are 14 B&W photos in the M 44 section.

M 55:
•1 and a half pages of written text
•7 Technical manual graphics
•8 Black and white photographs of vehicle in German service
•1 Colour photo of vehicle in German service

As well as the photo incorrectly placed on P32.

M 109 G:
•2 and a half pages of written text
•3 Technical manual graphics
•11 Black and white photographs of vehicle in German service (including four close up detail shots of specific German modifications)
•10 Colour photos of vehicle in German service

M 109 A3 G/GE A1/GE A2:
•2 and a quarter pages of written text, broken down into 3 sections describing each upgrade
•3 Black and white photographs of vehicle in German service
•45 Colour photographs of vehicle in German service, including a section of 15 A3 G detail close up photos and three interior photos. One of the pictures is also on the inside page of the back cover.

Strangely, the page of text describing the M109 in German service is right at the back of the book at the end of the M 109 A3 G chapter. Whether this is an error I don’t know, but this page would be better placed at the beginning of the chapter on the M 109 G

Finally, there is a page of three colour photos of the M 109 driver training vehicle and a page featuring a chart listing all of the technical specifications of all five vehicles featured in the book. On the very last page there is also a picture of the Panzerhaubitze 2000 with a small caption.

The written text in each chapter is highly informative and detailed as I have come to expect from Tankograd books. The author gives details of the various main components of each artillery piece fitted onto the vehicles, extensive technical information such as engine details, ammunition capacity etc. In addition to this each chapter outlines the vehicle use in German service, detailing the number of vehicles purchased by the Bundeswehr and the units the respective vehicle served in. This kind of detailed information is absolutely critical in my opinion, in informing the reader and would be very difficult to find out without a lot of research.

The photo captions are very good as well and provide yet more information for the reader. The captions give additional information such date and location of the particular vehicle pictured, or the exercise it is taking part in, as well as in many cases the unit the vehicle is serving with and some description of what is pictured-pointing out specific German modifications etc. My only gripe would be that I did find a few captions which repeated information previously written elsewhere, such as one photo caption on page 8 which just repeats the vehicle specs already mentioned in the main body of text.

Photo’s and graphics are again of a high standard. The inclusion of technical manual graphics is a useful addition, and provides a clear picture of the vehicles for modelling reference, although be aware that these graphics show the standard vehicle in each case, minus any German modifications. Many of the graphics have arrows labelling key components of the vehicles such as tool stowage, periscope locations etc. All of the black and white photographs are of a very good quality and very clear, with only a couple of photos of the M 44 on a firing exercise being a little blurred and out of focus.

Many of the photos are 3 quarter shots which show the vehicles on exercises or manoeuvres, but illustrate the vehicle details well. The most coverage is given to the M 109 due to its extensive use, and there are a number of very good quality black and white as well as extensive colour photos of both wide shots of the vehicle as well as extensive close ups. Two pages of detail shots of the M 109 A3 G will provide incredibly useful reference material for anyone wishing to model this vehicle. There are also some colour photos of the M 109 sporting an experimental camouflage scheme which are quite interesting.

Conclusion

This book is a very valuable reference source for anyone interested in Bundeswehr artillery or indeed Bundewehr military vehicles in general. It combines detailed written information with over 150 photographs to provide what has to be the most detailed account of modern German armoured self propelled artillery pieces to date. Other than the few little errors I mentioned in the review, such as the misplaced M 55 picture and strange location of the ‘M 109 in German service’ page, there really is nothing negative to say about this book. This will make an excellent addition to the reference library of anyone interested in post war SPH’s and is an invaluable reference source for modellers of Bundeswehr self-propelled artillery. My only wish now is for some main stream model releases of some of these vehicles.

Further Reading:
• Verlinden Warmachines Photofile No.1 M108-M109-M109A1/A2
ISBN: 90-70932-18-0

• Concord Mini Colour Series 7512 ‘Rolling Steel’-NATO’s Self-Propelled Guns
ISBN: 962-361-679-1
SUMMARY
Highs: First extensive pictorial and written reference on post war Bundeswehr SPH's, high quality photographs with highly detailed and informative text make this an invaluable reference.
Lows: Nothing worth mentioning.
Verdict: I simply cannot recommend this enough to anyone interested in post war self propelled artillery. A very high quality publication!
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 5056
  Suggested Retail: 14.95 Euro
  Related Link: Tankograd Publishing Website
  PUBLISHED: Oct 14, 2010
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.33%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 90.19%

Our Thanks to Tankograd 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 Rob Harvey (afv_rob)
FROM: ENGLAND - EAST ANGLIA, UNITED KINGDOM

Copyright ©2018 text by Rob Harvey [ AFV_ROB ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of TankRat's. All rights reserved.



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