Cruisers of the III Reich. Vol. 2.
The author, Wikold Koszela, has written 25+ books on warships – mostly British, United States and German battleships/cruisers, and modern Polish and Soviet Navy warships. Twelve of his publications are in the Kagero Top Drawing series. For this and other books, Witold also supplied the line and color drawings, and they are top quality and very helpful for modelers. I could not find additional information on Witold.
What You Get
You get a hardbound book, 11.875 X 8.5 inches (A4 size), 136 pages – not counting the covers and blank pages fore and aft. Unlike the 1st Volume, there is no 3-D photos or glasses. Cruisers of the Third Reich Volume 2 is loaded with 141 B&W photographs, nine tables and 24 line drawings. The last two pages of the book have four color plates, showing starboard and overhead profiles of Nurnberg, Admiral Hipper, Blucher and Prinz Eugen. After one Title and Table of Contents page, the book is arranged by ships:
Nurnberg – The Last Cruiser of the Third Reich
Admiral Hipper – A Symbol of Triumphs and Defeats
Blucher – And Her Tragic Story
Prinz Eugen – Meaning “Ship of Austro-Hungarian Tradition”
Seydlitz and Lutzow – The Fate of Wasted Ships
And More On German Cruisers
Volume 2 covers the final light cruiser (Nurnberg) and five heavy cruisers of the WW2 German Navy. Each chapter gives details on the origins of each ship, their constructions, technical specs, appearance changes/refits, service careers and fates. Although Nurnberg was a light cruiser, it was quite different from the ships discussed in Volume 1 and served as the guide for the heavy cruisers discussed in Volume 2. Nurnberg and Prinz Eugen escaped late-war destruction by bombers and sailed into Copenhagen to await the end in good shape. The career of the Nurnberg in post-WW2 Russian service (as Admiral Makarov) until the late 1950s is seldom found and a welcome source of information.
The chapters on Admiral Hipper and Prinz Eugen detail active and harrowing careers of each, with Prinz Eugen (Bismarck’s consort that escaped) undergoing extensive testing by the Americans before ending up slowly sinking unattended into the Kwajalein atoll lagoon, highly irradiated but little damaged from the two nuclear bomb tests conducted at Bikini atoll. You can dive on her today if you are so inclined.
The chapter on the two cruisers that did not reach service for Germany showed what happened to these unlucky ships – Seydlitz was in transition to becoming an aircraft carrier after being almost completely finished (90-95%) as a heavy cruiser, but was never near finishing and was scuttled when Russian troops were near – in 1947 the final disposition of remaining German ships was determined amongst the victorious countries and Seydlitz was scuttled in spite of Russian plans to finish her. Lutzow was finished to the point of being floatable and armed with one 8 inch turret operational, renamed and sold and towed to the Russians near Leningrad as the Petropavlovsk, shelling German troops. She was silenced by German 8 inch artillery, repaired and fired again at German troop in 1944, but was in such poor condition that she became a warehouse hulk, renamed the Dnepr, at scrapped in 1958. This chapter also described that at first, Seydlitz and Lutzow were to be armed with 12 6 inch guns in triple turrets. These plans never came to fruition.
The last chapter is quite interesting in that it took over the careers and fates of the two sister ships to the Graf Spee – Deutschland (became Lutzow) and Admiral Scheer at the end of 1940 because they were reclassified as heavy cruisers – not much happened until their demise near war’s end. Interestingly, the armed merchant cruisers were each described quickly, as they performed what real cruisers were meant to do – prey on merchant shipping. Finally, the M-class cruiser project was outlined. These were 6 inch cruisers scaled down from the 8 inch Admiral Hipper class, which they closely resembled. Their construction was stopped when WW2 started in 1939.
This book is an excellent resource for modelers and curious historians, as the photographs show details of ship sections. The color plates and line drawings are extremely useful for modelers, and the photographs help with determining camouflage paint schemes, but this book is less a reference for modeling than a thorough history of each cruiser in service with the Kriegsmarine (including Volume 1), benefiting from the hindsight of time and research to clear up the facts about each ship.
Models of most of these ships are few. In 1/700 scale there are at least 2 kits of the Nurnberg in 1943 fit (H-P Models, Samek). There are numerous kits in both plastic and resin in 1/700 scale for Admiral Hipper and Prinz Eugen, and Blucher is represented in 1/700 scale by H-P Models, and in 1/720 scale by Revell Germany (although it is not to that scale and poorly detailed).
My only regrets with this book are the lack of photographs of Prinz Eugen at the end of her career undergoing nuclear bomb tests and photographs of ex-Nurnberg as Admiral Makarov. Grammar is sometimes odd but easy to understand and saying more than a native English speaker in a more entertaining way – telling it like it really was. This book was an extremely fast read and always captivating. The book’s price is rather high, but for the lesser-known ships (Blucher, Nurnberg & Lutzow/Seydlitz), there is little factual data on their history, modifications and appearances, so any modeler of these ships would get worthwhile value from this book. The rare photographs (most from private collections) and excellent line drawings and color plates are well done and useful for modelers. Recommended for serious WW2 naval history buffs, ship modelers of Kriegsmarine cruisers, or anyone else wanting a behind-the-scenes look into what it was like to be in the German Navy during WW2.
Thanks to IPMSUSA for the privilege of reviewing both of these superb reference Volumes!
Thanks to Casemate Publishing & IPMSUSA for the review copy!
Figure 1: Front Cover of Cruisers of the III Reich: Volume 2 – Bow view of Admiral Hipper
Figure 2: Rear Cover of Cruisers of the III Reich: Volume 2
Figure 3: Color plates of starboard and overhead profiles of light cruiser Nurnberg in 1940
Figure 4: Admiral Hipper after aerial bombing sank her dockside in 1945
Figure 5: Color plates of Prinz Eugen, in March 1941 accompanying DKM Bismarck
Figure 6: Planned appearance of Seydlitz conversion as an aircraft carrier
Figure 7: Unfinished ex-Lutzow being towed to Russia in 1940
Figure 8: Line drawing of planned M-class Cruiser