Under the Gun 2, First Blood, US 1st Armored Division in Tunisia
On 14 & 15 February 1943 elements of the US 1st Armored Division was severely handled in a serious of engagements by elements of the Fifth Panzer Armee and of Rommel’s Panzer Armee Africa. This publication covers the results of these first encounters.
The publication, published in A4 soft cover format, is primarily a photographic collection of pictures captured from the German archives. The photos were taken while many of the subjects were still burning on the battlefield. They are drawn from a collection taken by German Propaganda Companies, their equivalent of US Army Combat Camera Teams. Although the photos consist of destroyed US tanks and tank destroyers, no dead bodies appear in any of the pictures.
There are more than just photos of the battle damage. The author has included a narrative of the organization of the 1st Armored Division, its organization for combat and a brief description of the two day conflict. On page 4 is an organizational chart of the division in March 1943, page 23 lists the tank strength of the division in Tunisia, and on page 32 is a battlefield survey sketch indicating the location of each of the destroyed vehicles on 15 February.
The photos alone are a great reference for modelers of American armor in Tunisia. The vehicles photographed include M4 & M4A1 Shermans of the 1st and 13th Armored Regiments, late production M3 Light Tanksof the 81st Reconnaissance Battalion and of the 1st Armored Regiment and M3 GMC tank destroyers from the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
What makes this book of more use to the modeler are the numerous full color and gray-tone drawings showing the markings and camouflage of the vehichles of the 1st Armored Division in Tunisia in early 1943. Page 14 has full-color side views of four Shermans, page 18 shows full-color side views of an M2 halftrack, an M3 halftrack and two M3 GMCs with 75mm guns. Both pages also contain scrap views showing vehicle names and tactical marklings. The back cover conains full-color side views of four more Shermans, while page 26 has gray-tone sketches rendering the differences between the different versions of the M4A1s involved in the engagements. The centerfold, on pages 16 & 17, provides the reader with an excellent review of the tactical markings used on the combat vehicles of the 1st Armored Division.
Is this publication worth almost $40? The photographs are large and remarkably clear and provide views of American armor not normally found in other publications. You may have to acquire several different books to obtain the photos and color drawings of four different types of armored vehicles. If you model early World War II American Armor; in particular those from the North African Campaign, then you will find this book of value.
I highly recommend ths publication to those with a military history interest in early American armor engagements and to those looking for modeling references on the same subject.
Thanks to IPMS/USA, and Dragon Models USA for my review copy.