In 1940 the Nazi Germany was consideri the invasion of the UK by crossing the English Channel; however this operation (code name "Sea Lion") was never carried out owing to lack of air and naval superiority by Germany. Nevertheless, the German army planned and tested the use of deep-wading tanks “TauchPanzer”. These Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs tanks were modified in way that allowed them to become waterproof. These tanks had all hatches and air intakes sealed and had a number of distinctive features for wading. In total 160 Panzer III and around 50 Panzer IV were converted, but as the invasion of Britain never happened they were sent to USSR instead. At the Eastern Front they mostly performed as regular tanks with only a few episodes involving river crossing with fully employed wading equipment.
With the subject being rather obscure the pieces of information available about those tanks are quite limited and Craig Ellis, the author of the book spent several years collecting the photographs of Tauchpanzers. He was able to reconstruct the markings used on TauchPz IV as well as which units were operating them. He had previously included some bits of that information into his “Volume 2” of "PzKpfw IV at the front" series, while the currently reviewed title is dedicated solely to Tauchpanzers.
Similar to other books in the "PzKpfw IV at the front" series this is a 20x25cm photobook printed on high quality photo paper by Blurb (you can preview quite a number of pages online). Depending on the wishes of the purchaser these books can be ordered with a soft cover or a hard cover (no e-books for that particular volume). In total there are 120 pages, each has one or two photographs, most of them of a very good quality, unless the page is occupied with a diagram or text. Apart from few photographs all of them come from thye authors collection.
The book starts with the general introduction about Operation "Sea Lion" and how the Panzer IVs were converted into Tauch variants. A detailed description focuses on changes for both Ausf. D and Ausf E. Panzer IV variants, their differences and similarities as well as adjustments of the deep wading system after the "Sea Lion" was cancelled and "Barbarossa" was planned. The author mentions that although usual sources describe Tauch Panzers only in 18th tank division they were present in at least 6 German divisions and performed different tasks.
The first chapter is dedicated to pre-Barbarossa days, winter 1940/41 and spring 1941. Here we can find initial batch of Tauch panzers in 18th PzDiv during the training in the field, sometimes together with Schwimmpanzer (modification of Panzer II for river crossing). The photographs here provide good overview of specific features like sealing bracket for gun mantlet, radiator overflow pipe, and various sealing mechanisms for hatches. The unit markings and specific insignia for particular regiments are clearly visible in those photographs.
Chapter 2 starts with allocation of Tauch panzers into different divisions and here the author introduces drawings that show the features of tanks belonging to one particular unit with explanation of stowage and markings. The photographs are grouped according the units to support the observations and conclusions of the author. 18th PzDiv tanks were placed into three different companies and while they had common features they also differed a little from one unit to another when it comes to location of spare tracks, wheels and so on. The photographs are from both summer and winter actions, including white washed tanks and there is a number of photographs in this chapter when Tauch panzers are crossing the rivers, although not submerged more than the hulls roof. Several images show knocked out tanks.
After the information about 18PzDiv similar sections come for 3rd, 4th, 10th, 14th and 17th divisions organized in the same way – general information on the unit, drawings that illustrate the features with text explaining these schemes followed by extensive photographic evidence. It should be noted that every image in this photo book has a legend with noteworthy features and explanations.
The Appendices section is where one can find information and photographs of TauchPanzer III, different diagrams, including the scheme for radiator overflow pipe system on TauchPanzer IV, an identification chart that summarizes the drawings from the book and a section dedicated to modelling. The latter focuses on both Ausf. D kit from Tristar and Ausf. E from Dragon. Here the kits are reviewed focusing on the important features and where to find the correct parts for kit-bashing an accurate model. A number of photographs show Craig’s models with close ups of the above mentioned features.
Overall, this photobook would be very useful for modellers interested in Tauchpanzer IV. What you get from this title is a plenty of documented evidence focusing on features of particular tanks and units that used them. The modelling section is a very comprehensive one and I believe that since Tristar was acquired by Trumpeter/Hobbyboss we will see the Tauchpanzer being re-released again.
Highs: Well researched book with plenty of original photographs. Modelling section dedicated to both Dragon and Tristar kits.Lows: None so far.Verdict: Highly recommended for those interested in Tauch panzers.