Towards the end of World War 2 some of the most vicious tank battles were being fought on the Eastern Front as Russian forces pushed their way into the back door of the Third Reich. Although not on the scale of the Kursk campaign earlier in the war, these slugfests involved some of the heaviest, most sophisticated armored units the world had seen up to that point, and most engagements were hammered out between the opposing forces with no quarter given or taken. The atrocities that these two countries had inflicted on each other during the previous five years ensured that.
My father was a professor of history, and he wrote a number of books relying on primary sources. Igor Nebolsin’s book on the subject of these brutal encounters likewise draws on a plethora of first-hand information, from battle reports to statistical data from both sides, to first-hand reminiscences of combatants. Ultimately, this becomes a virtual day-to-day study of this period in history.
Ultimately, this book is mainly a thorough historical analysis, and features multiple pages of charts and tables to display which units were using what equipment, what their manpower was on the front lines and the casualty lists (which are sometimes pretty grim). Maps are included to show the movements as units slugged it out around little-known villages and hamlets along the border and into Prussia and Poland.
For modelers, there are a number of pages of never-seen pictures of the battlefront, which go a long way to personalizing the horrific losses that occurred on both sides, as well as the rather typical studio head shots of various commanders all the way down to individual units. Of all the material in this book, I found the first-hand accounts to be the most engaging, as this is the aspect of history that has always interested me the most – how people felt about what was happening to them at the time. These may offer some ideas for modelers who want to capture that period in miniature.
From the standpoint of a historian, this is an excellent in-depth documentation and analysis of a brief moment in history when two great empires came head-to-head in ruthless combat. For the modeler, this is detailed resource for the rivet-counters among us, to ensure that they have the correct units and equipment depicted for a particular scene or vehicle from the period. I don’t think you’ll ever find a book that does a more meticulous job. My thanks to Helion and Company for a chance to take a look at this monumental book, and to IPMS/USA for a chance to add this excellent tome to my research library.