Panther Medium Tank, Eastern Front 1943

...TankCraft 34, from Pen & Sword

Title: TankCraft 34, Panther Medium Tank, Eastern Front 1943
Author: Dennis Oliver
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-39901-796-1

This is the 5th book in the TankCraft series to take the Panther as the subject. This time it focuses on when it was first deployed, on the Eastern Front in 1943, in both German Army and Waffen-SS units. A 64-page soft-cover book in the now familiar TankCraft style.
The opening pages set the scene, as the first examples of the Panther Ausf D (also referred to in documents of the time as the Panther 1) were issued to units in 1943, but all of which had problems that they ended up being returned to the factory. They were first used during Operation Citadelle, the Kursk offensive. Despite the problems they still scored plenty of successes against Soviet armour and were improved by the arrival of the first proper production variant, the Ausf A. There is also a list of key dates for their use for the period of January to December 1943. Add a couple of pages with detailed organisation charts and then the basic story of each unit which operated those early Panthers, both Army and Waffen-SS. These are all supported with some nice clear archive photos. From page 17 we get 10-pages of fine colour profile artwork to illustrate a variety of camouflage and markings detail, which in turn leads to another 15-pages of Model Showcase, with 4 super builds, 3 in 1/35 and 1 in 1/48. The Modelling Products section of 7-pages concentrates on the kits of the Ausf A and D, including more recent releases by both Meng and Takom, as well as older kits, and also includes the 1/48 kit from Suyata, which includes not just interior detailing but comes as part of a full diorama, including a 16t Strabokran along with a diorama base and accessories. For the final 20 pages we return to reference material on the real thing, with Technical Details & Modifications, which has plenty of detailed information, supported with more archive images and 2-pages of tables listing Panther Production and Allocation records for the period of 1943.
This is another excellent addition to the TankCraft series by Dennis Oliver, well focussed on the Panthers used during their first operational actions. Great material for armour historians and modellers alike I think. Good value for money too.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.

Robin