The late war years in the Eastern regions of the Dritte Reich were hectic to say the least. The German army still held the belief that they could hold the eastern front. And that the allied forces and their possible invasion would be defeated. With the summer of 1944 approaching it turned out that this would not be a realistic outcome. With the Soviet troops gaining the upper hand, and the roads between retreat and advance more often then not crossed each other leading to fierce fights. Units being cut off, freed from the soviet hold only to find themselves in another pit of vipers. One of the units that experienced a very hot summer indeed in 1944 was the 5. SS Panzer Division “Wiking” while fighting in Poland.
“Viking Summer, 5. SS Panzer Division in Poland 1944” number 1 from the Firefly collection by the publishing house ADH Publishing is a nice glossy A4 sized soft cover; consisting of 33 pages. The cover is full color inside and out, the inside is part black and white and part full color.
Basically the book can be divided into 3 sections. The first 10 pages deal with the actions of the Division from roughly the 3rd of March to End of October/beginning of November. Starting with an introductory text on how the situation of the division was after the heavy fights during the breakout from Cherkassy. The next chapter is called the “Panther Pounce at Kovel” where the Division’s second Abteilung led the attack to relieve the German troops that were surrounded by the soviets in the city of Kovel. A very interesting read that details every action during that attack.
Then you get 2 pages that dive into the units build up and the tanks that the 1st and 2nd abteiling had to their possession, showing the vehicles of both 1st and 2nd abteilung in silhouettes. What is expecially interesting from a modelers standpoint is the schematic of 2nd abteilung or Panther Abteilung as most of the Panthers have been identified by type so if you wish to built say Panther 522 from 5 Kompanie it is identified as a Late Ausf. A. Not all have been identified but most are. The pages after that deal with the part the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking took in the defense of Warsaw. The pages are well detailed with several maps and photographs to illustrate the text, and the amount of information is well researched, very complete and extensive.
The second section of the book consists of 12 pages with color illustrations of the vehicles in use of the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking. Which not surprisingly deals a lot with Panther tanks but there are also other tanks and supporting vehicles. In total you get drawings of 27 different Panthers, 6 SdKfz 251 D halftracks of several varieties, a Bergepanther, 2 PZkfw IV J’s, a Stug IV and on page 33 you get an additional 3 drawings showing 2 SdKfz 251/9 stummels, and a Jagdpanzer IV L/48. Pretty much all of the drawings are backed up by period photographs from the book, and every drawing has a bit of information to go with it detailing the specifics of what is shown.
Pages 23 to 31 can be seen as the third section and is filled with black and white photographs of the unit at the front. Nice big photographs that are supported by captions of what is visible. The pictures are overall of very good quality. Not all are equally sharp but then again the circumstances were not always right during that period to create world press award winning photography. A lot of the pictures show Wiking Panthers in the field and you get a lot of pictures of troops and commanders. A very nice collection of photographs.
Page 32 shows the tank strength of the Division from 1 January 1944 to 1 November of 1944 and all the replacements it received complete with additional details.
Mr. Oliver really did his homework when he was putting together Viking Summer. And the amount of detail described in the book are amazing. Aside from a large number of well known websites he lists no less then 37 publications that together helped put together a book that deals with the actions of one of the best known units of WW2 during the Summer of 1944. All chronologically described and the information seems to be extremely complete. I’d recommend this book to both the history buff as well as the modeler. There is solid info here. And for the modeler the drawings will be a great help to get the vehicles exactly right.
Pluspunten: Interesting subject. A lot of information. Good photographs. Very well made illustrations. Minpunten: The small type used can make reading sometimes a bit confusing but then again. There is no way the amount of info would fit in this book otherwise. Eindoordeel: A must have for the history buffs and modelers bookshelves.
Over Robert Blokker (FAUST) VAN: NOORD-HOLLAND, NETHERLANDS
Started modelling when I was about 7 or 8 years old had a little break in between (school, girls partying) and eventually returned when finding this site in 2002. Main interest WW2 German army, wheeled vehicles and radio and communication troops or every other thing that manages to catch my interest...