Tankograd Publishing have launched a new series which focuses on the vehicles and equipments of the East German Nationale Volksarmee (NVA)
The Nationale Volksarmee (National Peoples Army) of East Germany was established on the 1st of March 1956 out of the previous KVP or Barracked Peoples Police. When conscription was introduced in East Germany in 1962, the NVA’s strength rose to around 170,000 troops, and control over the army was established via the appointment of party loyalists to top positions in the officer corps, as well as intensive political education for all ranks.
In terms of its military equipments, the NVA was considered at the time to be the most technologically advanced and well equipped of all Warsaw Pact armies behind the USSR, this was particularly down to its strategic location. Much of the NVA’s equipment was of Soviet origin, with a number of vehicles and weapons systems being of native origin or from other Warsaw Pact countries. Despite its military capabilities and strength the NVA never took part in any combat operations beyond responding to airspace incursions, although reports suggest the presence of East German military advisors on a number of occasions in Communist African states during the cold war.
Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall the NVA was disbanded in 1990 with much of its equipment being either scrapped or sold off to other countries.
Because of the relatively obscure nature of NVA military equipments and the presumably limited interest from modellers as well as military vehicle enthusiasts, Tankograd has taken the decision to release this new title in a limited print-run and has also cut back in a number of areas, particularly the amount of translated material. This new publication is very similar to the Militar Fahrzeug quarterly, with a range of articles covering an eclectic mix of NVA subjects and English summery on the back pages.
The following articles featured in this first issue:
• AT-S Tracked artillery prime mover
-16 Black and white photographs of this vehicle, mainly on manoeuvres
• F9 Kublewagen
-4 Black and white photographs of the vehicle in service
-1 Colour photograph on the inside of the front cover of a preserved vehicle in Germany
• 45mm M42 Anti-Tank Gun
-10 Black and white photographs. 3 of which are the gun in WW2 Soviet Service and 2 in Wehrmacht service
-1 Colour photograph on the inside of the front cover or a preserved gun in Germany
-7 Black and white photographs of NVA infantry equipped with RPG-7
-1 Colour graphic of collapsible airborne RPG-7D (on inside of rear cover)
-2 Colour photos of NVA infantry equipped with RPG-7 (1 on inside of front cover, 1 on inside of rear cover)
• Soviet ATGM’s in NVA Service
-1 Technical manual graphic
-11 Black and white photographs of both the individual ATGM rockets, as well as ATGM’s mounted to vehicles
-3 Colour photos on the inside of the back cover
• T72TK Armoured Recovery Vehicle
-12 Black and white photographs of the vehicle in both NVA service, as well as several preserved examples
• SK II Water Cannon Truck
-14 Black and white photographs of the vehicle in NVA service
The written summary in the back of the magazine spans over just 2 sides and is certainly quite brief, with about 4-5 paragraphs for the larger articles, and 1 or 2 for the smaller ones. Despite this, in the usual Tankograd fashion, the written information is very concise and detailed. Most of what is written outlines key dates of production and service, technical designations along with NATO designators to aid the reader (particularly as often or not these equipments are described under NATO names) and historical information. I really can’t fault the written text, although brief it’s so highly informative and cuts straight to the point and is definitely better than a poorly written extensive piece. All of the photos in the main magazine are accompanied by a brief dual language caption which provides further information, and in many cases describes the location of the vehicle photographed as well as unit details.
As with all Tankograd publications the main value of this magazine lies in its photographic reference. The quality of the photos published here is very good and generally show off the various vehicles and equipment to good effect. Most of the vehicle shots are the typical 3 quarter angle and show the vehicles in the field or on parades, so don’t expect too much in the way of detail shots, although the T-72TK article does have some good over-head photos of the ARV. Some of the older photos are a little grainy which is to be expected, but overall the quality is good considering their age. My only negative comment regarding the photos would be that some of the pictures in the M42 Pak article are of the gun in service during WW2, whereas I would have preferred more shots of it in NVA service.
This is a very welcome new addition to the Tankograd range, and one that I hope they choose to expand-perhaps covering more Warsaw Pact armies. This certainly isn’t an account of the NVA’s history, its formation and units. The articles cover subjects and topics which I doubt would find their way into any other publication. It’s a really fantastic reference material which is packed full of highly useful and interesting information on the NVA and the vehicles and equipment featured, and I can certainly see this having an appeal to anyone with even a slight interest in Warsaw Pact military equipment.
The real big bonus must certainly be that for the first time enthusiasts of East German military equipment have a publication focusing on a diverse range of subjects previously uncovered in written, or indeed any other form, with many new and unseen photographs and information in English (I have found several publications on the NVA, but many are in foreign languages)
Overall a very good magazine, with good quality pictures and informative, albeit brief, written information. Highly recommended.
Highs: First serious publication focusing on the vehicles and equipment of the NVA. Lots of useful information and good quality, previously unseen photographs.Lows: Perhaps more translated material would have been useful for English readers, and I would have liked to see just a few more photographs.Verdict: A great first issue of this new series and one which I hope Tankograd continues.