Dennis Oliver, Panzer III (Pen & Sword, 2020)
The latest volume in Pen & Sword’s Tank Craft series focuses on the Panzer III during Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Oliver briefly narrates the origins of the Panzer III, which he describes as ‘reliable and sturdy’, and highlights that eleven of the seventeen panzer regiments that invaded the Soviet Union were equipped with them. He helpfully adds a timeline of that assault, so that we can get our chronological bearings, and organizational charts for the panzer units. With that out the way, Oliver gets into all the technical aspects that tank enthusiasts feast on. He does that on a unit by unit basis and, as you might expect, it is very informative.
There are two sections that make these books fly. The first is the colour plates of the tank, illustrating the camouflage patterns while adding more technical details. These are almost uniformly grey with the exception of a whitewashed panzer for the winter and a tropical camouflage for a panzer unit that was supposed to go to Africa but may have been sent east instead. The second stand out section is the completed model kits of Panzer IIIs. These are simply jaw-dropping for a novice like me, though I suspect even the best modelers will be impressed by the attention to detail. Oliver adds a section on model manufacturers so that you can emulate the masters in this book – good luck with that! A number of black and white photographs round out this offering on the Panzer III.
At first glance, this seems rather a narrow topic for a Tank Craft book, but there are enough variations and units to justify its inclusion in the series. Moreover, the quality of information and production are excellent. Anyone interested in tanks will find this book worthwhile; as for modelers embarking on a panzer III on the eastern front project, a copy of this should be on their craft desk.