Saturday, 14 September 2013

the next series of Updates

With all the units markings and other identifying features from the Western campaign in 1940 discovered it seems logical that this could now become an update of its own. I'll also use the same process to look at Poland. 

I had started two updates; one titled "Kurz" and the other "Lang". The decision is now to split that original "Kurz" into three separate updates each with a specific agenda. Here are the provisional covers:

One dealing with the previously mentioned French campaign, another looking at the Balkans, North Africa and continuing the Barbarossa, another with pre-war and Poland.

The "Lang" volume will be focused on how the production was different in each of the three factories that were involved during this period. In Vol 3 & 4 the tables illustrate generic production and overall orders, helpful for identifying vehicles up to a point. However vehicles with chassis numbers visible have revealed anomalies to these tables.

I have been making new table showing monthly chassis numbers for each factory, which may help show how changes were implemented at different rates at each factory.

All are well under way but there is no particular order planned for the publication of these Updates. They will appear depending on which images and what information comes my way.

Monday, 9 September 2013

System for France and the Low Countries during 1940

So after finding a couple of days to focus on the problem and printing out some more photos (nearly 200 in total on the final wall) I think I have managed to crack it. 90% of the units now have a style of numbering or some other signifier identified. With a set of drawings starting to looks for more specifics:

This is how the wall works: each column is either a Rgt or Abt and below each of these is a four way elevation of a PzIV showing the specifics in the same way as appendix in the "Barbarossa Stowage" supplement.

On the right are the photos that are difficult to identify because there are no specific features. These may well be replacement vehicles. Along the top are a few anomalies that have features that don't quite fit i.e. what looks like PzAbt66 - 7th PzDiv number style but without a white outline?

2nd PzDiv has been difficult to really sort out and is the only really big hole remaining. I have two distinct styles of markings but no more. This could mean that both Regiments used different styles or that each Kompanie within the regiment was different but both Regiments did this. Either way it is not yet possible to say confidently what's what.

So the issue is sorted now i just need to find enough photos to make a Frence 1940 equivalent to "Barbarossa Stowage", this will be one of the next updates to come out.

additional image for Update No.1

I came across these three images that match my photo on p 59 of the first update.

I hadn't realise that that image of mid G, turret number 403 was part of a sequence. They seems to show a PzIV "lang" involved in the old "kurz" practice of close infantry support; firing HE at an occupied house. As yet the unit is unidentified.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Unit markings and distribution of PzIVs during 1940

Having sorted out 99.9% of PzIVs in the East, my eyes now turn to the West (Fall Gelb & Rot), the campaign through France and the Low Countries. Partly driven by the error with 8th PzDiv described a couple of post ago.

I have started out with the same approach as the one that was so successful sorting out  "Barbarossa Stowage". Pick out the well know and clearly identified units and start a survey of all known images against a visual structure of the known units. Here is the first attempts, with knowns attached and a pile of ?s to sort through: from 1st PzDiv on the left to 10th PzDiv on the right, excuse the weird perspective it's the only way to get it all on a panorama shot.

Although there were less Panzers Divisions in 1940 than headed East in 1941 each Division had two Regiments and some also had an extra PzAbt assigned to it, which ultimately means there are nearly as many individual units to sort out in 1940; a total of 35 Kompanien to identify.

First efforts have gone well and have given me quite a few things to check and cross reference, with couple of things cleared up too.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

additional image for UPDATE No1

I recently came across this image that shows the scene on p71 of UPDATE No1 from another angle. In the book we get a left hand side view of the stricken PzIV, which made spotting the rare use of lifting loops on the superstructure front quite difficult.

Although this image is quite pixilated they stand out well against the snow on the roof of the driver's compartment. It also confirms the use of the hoops on vehicles fitted with bolted tow points.

I have tracked down the location to Nenning, which would drake the PzIV a 11th PzDiv vehicle. The building is called the Schloss Berg and is now a luxury hotel.

Friday, 14 June 2013

2nd Update available on BLURB

UPDATE no.2 is now complete and uploaded to bulb. Click on the cover to get get a temporary full preview.

The next update will cover the long barrelled versions from 43 - 45 and associated later variants. It will be entitled "LANG".

A major part of this update will be the exploration of the relationship between the three factories producing PzIV at this point and how new information is starting to shed light on the impact they had on the complexities of dating and categorising vehicles. It will include a series of tables for each factory that align specific chassis numbers with specific months.

And further down the pipeline is Update No.4, which will cover the "KURZ" version of the PzIV with a specific emphasis on description of photograph through the early war campaigns in Poland and France.

corrections for Vol 2

In volume 2 it is stated that the "X" Divisional symbol was not used until 1941 when it was introduced by 5th PzDiv to replaced their inverted "Y" and dot, used during 1940. This appeared to be the common orthodoxy with a number of text dealing specifically with German markings clearly stating this.

However, the images available to me clearly showed PzIVs in france in 1940 with this marking, which lead me to speculate that this marking may have been used by one of the regiments within 5th PzDiv during this campaign.

This speculation is wrong. The "X" marking was indeed used in 1940 but by 8th PzDiv. This appears to have been missed by most generalist volumes on German markings but is described in German language books dealing specifically with this Division. It is even incorrectly used in the excellent "PANZERWAFFE Vol 2 - The campaign in the West 1940" by Mark Healy, so that makes me feel a bit better about getting it wrong.

Here we see a badly damaged Ausf D with the "X" of 8th PzDiv just behind the Balkenkrues and below the upside down"Y" with dot of 5th PzDiv.

Photographic evidence seem to point to both units having PzIVs in both 3rd and 4th Ks during this period. Here is 331 that is seen in the middle distance on p40 of Vol 2.

And finally two examples of the "X" in use in 1941, from a PzRgt 31(5th PzDiv) photo album during the Balkan conflict. Note the large box on the superstructure side:

So the correction to Volume 2 is: 
the vehicles on page 38 & 39 are from 8th PzDiv
page 40 & 41 are both 8th PzDiv in France

Monday, 10 June 2013

Update No 2 (Barbarossa stowage) ready to publish

Eventually the next "PzKpfw IV at the front" update is ready to go to press. The delay has been for good reasons, that is the constant arrival of new and helpful images. This means that this book now has 118 photos in it, which continue to add to the information laid down in the Barbarossa Stowage supplementary volume published back in Aug 2010.

This update manages to fill most of the gaps left in the original volume and add some newly discovered information. 

The gaps addressed include:
how 1st PzDiv stowage changed in the build up to Barbarossa plus a driver's eye view of first days of action, more coverage of 4th K - 4th PzDiv, unusual turret markings in 6th PzDiv, rear marking details for 4th K - 8th PzDiv, the use of and stowage for Ausf Fs in 9th K - 9th PzDiv, a bit more light shone on the numbering system of 11th PzDiv, Kompanie specifics for 16th PzDiv, all round detail for 9th K - 17th PzDiv (ex-Lehr), unusual turret bin makings on 19th PzDiv and 5th PzDiv during the Winter of 41/42, 20th PzDiv rear stowage, 2nd PzDiv Stab markings & 5th PzDiv right hand stowage.

Along with this unit specific information there are a few things discussed that are of general interest. Including: 3 examples of cupola AA MG use and an 88 under tow!

The format of the book follows that of the main Volume, each Division is dealt with like a chapter. Where there are new general issue they are discussed as a heading and then individual Kompanies are described. followed by specific turret numbers and Ausf for other vehicles not shown in the book.

Although this volume is an update to the previous edition it can still work as a stand alone book, as there are examples of all Kompanies included. So it could be useful either to drill down for that really specific detail or to get a sense of the vehicles and epic landscape of this gargantuan conflict.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

11th PzDiv images in Vol3 (part 2)

There are a series of images from one source on pages 90 - 92 of Vol3 that show an Ausf F2(G); turret number 623 undergoing some maintenance in a wood. I have found some other images of the same location:

The second one shows "mein Arthur" again. 623 carries the 3 vertical bars over a horizontal bar (upside down cricket stumps) symbol used by 11th PzDiv from 1943. This is often confused with the symbols used by SS Divs during Kursk. 

I also came across this image from the same period, some of the same crew are still around. This view shows the large box on the engine deck rear plate still in place, it was fitted earlier in 42 on vehicles sporting the ghost rider emblem.

Another well known image from the same unit and time frame.

It appears that 11th PzDiv were supplied, around the time of Kursk with a mix of new late Gs with Schurzen, upgrade early Gs with schurzen and some, as 632 below, in their original set up. Images show this mix in both 9th and 6th Kps.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Supplements to 11th PzDiv images in Vol3 (part1)

By chance there are a number of images of 11th PzDiv early Gs in Vol3. There are a group that show them during the Summer of 42 with the famous Ghost-rider (p50-53)and others that show them surviving through to the following Summer carrying the Kursk three vertical bars (p90-92). 

However I did not think the photo on page 48 of an Ausf F2(G) falling through a small bridge was anything to do with this unit. There seemed to be no clear unit markings, it wasn't until I came across this link to a trooper's album from III/PzRgt 15 - 11th PzDiv ; 

that the subtle emblem on the turret side became evident. The emblem is a "Wildesaukopf" = Boar's head, which is apparently an association to the estate of one of the third Abteilung's Leutnant's. 

This image of the incident from the album shows the interaction with the bridge more clearly as well as that Boar's head applied to the side of the turret.

This close up gives a good view of what the Boar's head looked like and how easily this unit's markings disappeared beneath even a thin layer of dust and grime.

Another image from a different source, this time the Archive of Modern Conflict (AMC). The emblem is visible here although hard to spot behind the open turret door and the watermark. 

The spare wheel fitted on the right superstructure side was also fitted to the other Abteilung vehicles in 11th PzDiv PzIV's during this period. These early vehicles pictured during the Summer of 42 still carry the smoke discharger on the rear plate of the engine deck.

Another well known image that I have never seen identified within the context above:

In all the images of Gs around this time I never see the Boar's head and the Ghost-rider together but both units have the Divisional symbol of the circle with bar. Does this mean that the Ghost and boar were Regimental or Battalion symbols at this point? There was only one Panzer Regiment within the Division in 41 so it was a moot point that the Ghost-rider was seen on all Division's Panzers. With the restructuring in early 42 this appears to have changed and the famous Ghost was not subsequently carried by all.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Vol4 supplementary images (Kursk)

In Vol 4 page 52 an early H from 2nd PzDiv circa Kursk; turret number 634 is described and reference is made to a film showing the same irregular number size. Here is a clip from that film showing 624 along with another image that may indicate the size issue was isolated to the digit 4 alone. 

On the the following page (p53) what is described as a late G or early H is shown rearming again during the Kursk offensive. 

This second image shows the scene from a slightly wider view, which allows a more concrete identification as a late G because of the now visible location of the aerial.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

AFV Modeller review of 1st Update

The latest edition of AFV Modeller (no69) reviews Update No1 in their "new releases" section:

"We've been very impressed by the previous releases from the author Craig Ellis featuring his 8wheels-good collection of period photographs of Panzer IVs and variants. This latest release will certainly be of interest if you have the volumes 1-5 of the series as the book is split into chapters updating information and using newly obtained photographs for each volume. Some of the shots include new angles of vehicles previously featured in the usual large format. The rare nature of the photographs means that quality varies from very good to excellent but the real beauty is the subjects, fantastic modelling inspiration with very detailed captions. As well as being a must to anyone with the previous releases in their collection, this Update volume serves as an excellent taster of the series as it covers early to late vehicles and variants. Indispensable reference on the PzKpfw IV with a great mix of interesting un-seen photographs and well researched detailed captions. The titles can be ordered from the Blurb website, go to "bookstore" and put "8wheels-good" into the search box to see all of the titles available".

supplementary editions reviewed on

Thomas Hartwig has added reviews of the two supplementary editions to hie excellent German language military modelling site. In his email informing me he summed them up as "REALLY interesting and very helpful to depict a special vehicle of a special unit".

The full german language review and sample pages can be found by following this link, along with those previously written on the 5 volume series:

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

PzRgt 8: White wheels (DAK)

The topic of white road wheels and return rollers on PzRgt 8 vehicles in North Africa in 41 pops up quite often. I have managed to obtain a few (7) photos myself that show the phenomenon, these are in Vol2 and the first Update. But occasionally there are still sceptical voices and surprisingly it still hasn't been picked up by the modelling community.

So I thought I would try and bring the evidence together. Here is the first discussion (some images and the original album long deleted) from ML in 2007:

 The Regiment was shipped to Tripoli as part of 15th PzDiv arriving between the 24th of April and the 6th of May 41 on three consecutive convoys. The 2nd & 3rd Kps landed on the 2nd of May and the 6th & 7th Kps on the 6th. It consisted of 20 PzIVs of the followings types: 10 basic Ausf Ds, 5 PzIV Ausf Ds with zusatzplatten and 5 PzIV Ausf Es with zusatzplatten.

And here are images showing the white wheels on PzIVs and PzIIIs.

 I will just add images to this post as and when I find new ones


Tripoli parade

Action in the desert

Summary: So a very short lived activity, specific to this unit within a narrow time frame. Only seen on PzIV & III and some softskins (blitz, kubelwagon) up to this point. There are images of aircraft in NA with similar. Reasons and process as yet are still unknown.

Other vehicles (soft skins, below) in the unit, some of which also appear to exhibit the white painted wheels.